Finalizing My Investment Approach

Hello everybody

I’ve been reading FIRE subreddits, forums, blogs and books for a bit more than a year now but I haven’t commited to it yet. Here’s what my plan looks like:

Current situation:
20 years old
150k portfolio (50% cash, 50% individual stocks)
12k 3rd Pillar
100k yearly gross income

Planned situation:
150k invested in a global lowcost ETF portfolio (vanguard funds) on InteractiveBrokers (lump sum)
12k 3rd Pillar invested with Viac
additional monthly investment of around 5-6k+maxing 3rd Pillar


  1. Do you guys use any specific creditcards in order to capitalize on some kind of miles or points? I’m currently using a Visa card where I accumulate “surprize” points. However, I don’t think they provide great value. The best deal are the reduced 20CHF coupons for 2300points.

  2. I’ve read that on Interactive Brokers tiered fees are often times cheaper than fixed fees. Is there some kind of simulation to compare those fee types?

  3. I’ve been using a pretty rudimentary google spreadsheet to track my expenses. Are there any good tools/apps around that you can use for this? I’d like to have expense categories, charts and monthly changes.

  4. Regarding the IB SIPC coverage. Do I understand it correctly that as a swiss resident I’ll be only covered by UK’s FSCS (85k GBP)? Does that exclude the value of the ETF’s?

  5. Considering my change from banks as brokers to IB: Would it be cheaper to sell the stocks and transfer them to IB after that or should I transfer the stocks to IB and sell them there? Does anybody have any experience in this regard?

  6. ETF Allocation: After reading through quite alot posts in Investing/Portfolio I’ve been considering 4 different portfolios:
    I can’t really decide between these. Please give me some guidance.

  7. My viac target asset allocation currently looks like this:
    3% Cash
    35% CSIF SPI Extra
    60% CSIF World ex CH or iShares Core S&P500 (what are the differences?)
    What should I do with the remaining 2%? I’ve noticed that it still gives me the option to invest these 2% into CSIF CH Real Estate. Could this be an option? Or just leave them in cash?

Is there any room for improvement? Or do you have any other recommendations for me?

Thank you so much for reading through this post. Looking forward to any responses :slight_smile:


Hi @preparations!
Before we get into your questions, you’ll have to tell us how you managed to save 162k at 20 because that’s very impressive… Entrepreneurship? Please teach us your ways… :grinning:


Regarding credit cards

Duo of Cashbackcards : 5% cashback with Amex for 3 months (max 100chf), then 1% cashback “only”

Fnac Mastercard (de facto french-speaker only I guess) : Your fnac fidelity card is free and you get 10 chf to spend at Fnac if you spend 500+ chf during a month. This is a 2% cashback if you spend exactly 500 chf a month.

Cumulus Mastercard and the Coop card whatever the name : 0.33% cashbach + 1% cashback at Migros/Coop

  1. There are limitations. You can’t invest 65% in the SP500, max. is 35%. World is all 23 industrial countries and SP500 is just USA. Try to play with the settings to see what the limitations are.

I suggest you don’t buy real estate in your third pillar as you won’t get the real estate fund tax advantages (because 3rd pillar is already tax free). Maybe add it in your main portfolio (later?). If you get richer (500k or so), you can buy RE funds that own directly the buildings (no wealth tax and all dividends are tax-free (some of them are in the CS fund that Viac propose)

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Can you please add a bit more on that?

What would be the difference between investing say “CSIF CH Real Estate” in the 3a pillar account vs doing it in the main portfolio?

I thought those dividends would be taxed as part of income and that’s why it’d make sense - for those interested in having real estate - to have them in the tax-free account.


You can’t exactly buy CSIF CH Real Estate as a product in your main portfolio if you are not a qualified investor (maybe there is an other version) but you can buy the composants. But let’s be theoric with this product.

Today’s net asset value is 1607.36 CHF. The fiscal value on 31st decembre was 871.56 CHF (source : Let’s say that it will be 950 chf in december 2019.

If your marginal wealth tax rate is 0.2% assuming you don’t live in for ex. Vaud and you’re not rich, you will save (1607.36-950)/1607.36 * 0.002 = 0.082% of your RE investment per year assuming you have something else of the same value in your 3rd pillar instead.

Now let’s look at earning’s tax. Let’s take a 30% marginal tax rate. CSIF CH Real Estate owner get a 26.9 CHF taxable dividend and a 9.48 CHF tax-free dividend in 2018. 9.48/(26.9+9.48) = 26.1%. Assuming 2.3% dividend yield, that mean you have a 0.023 * 0.261 * 0.3 = 0.0018% wasted double tax examption. But the product you will put inside your 3rd pillar instead has maybe a 3% dividend yield. Difference between what you don’t pay anymore (0.03 * 0.3) and and your “new” earning tax on your “exiting” RE (0.023 * 0.738 * 0.3)= 0.004 %

Total = 0.082+0.004 =0.086% of your RE investment which not anymore in 3rd pillar per year.

Imagine you are really rich. Then your RE portfolio will be 100% tax free products and not 26% tax free subproducts. Your wealth tax will be higher and your earning tax as well.


Hi there,

I will answer only points that I can maybe add some value to:

There are several examples spread across this forum, I think. I have tried tiered vs fixed myself and for sums in the low 5-digit area, I did not notice any relevant difference (speak: cents) buying US domiciled ETFs.

For reasons of privacy and data safety I do only use offline spreadsheets for this.
You might want to check out beancount / beans, there is a current thread around this topic on this forum as well.

I am wondering about this as well. Similarly, I have read different things about the fact that your investments in US domiciled funds > 60k are subject to estate tax - some say they are not (or rather the amount is way higher) as Switzerland has a tax treaty with the US but have not yet managed to find an official document who clearly states this. Maybe someone can chime in here and provide such a source?

I have thought long and hard about this and decided to go for VT only. VTI + VXUS is basically VT with a small cost benefit (currently unweighted TER 0.06 compared to 0.09 for VT). This marginal difference, for me, was not worth adding complexity to the portfolio. I cannot say much about the other ETFs except that I have looked at them and decided that solo-VT is, taking everything together, the non-inferior version for me.

Thank you for starting this interesting topic and best of luck (to all of us for that matter)!


My guess is rich parents. Somebody with a daddy who is willing to give such a big lump
sum at a young age + provide a job (in family business or through vitamine b), is probably not needing advice from an internet forum. Just listen to your parents and they will have you covered.

Maybe, maybe not, international dealings tend to get complicated and for liability purposes you would not get a straight answer out of anyone. SIPC would apply if IB UK holds your stocks in ombibus accounts with IB LLC, as they seem to claim. If they don’t, yes, only FSCS.

Flip a coin. It pretty much does not matter, all are just slight variations on a global index. Assuming proportional allocation in each case, performance will all be about the same. Only if you want to do a custom allocation, like perhaps overweight US (VTI), only then would you see a non-neglible difference

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I’d rather not have this money. It was an inheritance.


You’re right. I haven’t noticed that. So you’d suggest to go for CSIF World ex CH as it’s more diversified?

I do have some real estate in my main portfolio. It just seemed like a good way to invest the additional 2%, but I totally see your point. What would you suggest me to do with those remaining 2%?

VT is large and mid caps only. VTI + VXUS add small caps to the mix, along with the reduced overall TER.
Disclaimer: this is actually the mix I’m using.

Regarding VIAC I started an experiment, the period is still too short to draw tangible conclusions but here it is:

  • one Global 100 portfolio, performance is 7.26% with 0.52% total expense
  • one custom portfolio, performance is 5.02% with 0.53% total expenses

Here is my custom portfolio (inspired by people here):
17% CSIF SPI Extra
51% CSIF World ex CH
9% CSIF Emerging Markets
3% Cash

The goal was to overweight Switzerland as little as possible, and Global 100 seems to do a better job overall so far.
(as said before, performance is over a rather short period, from April 2019 to now)

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That’s not true. By definition Large/Mid Caps are either 85% (MSCI) or 90% (FTSE) of the market cap. So while VTI+VXUS will add more companies, you still won’t have more than 10% in Small Caps. There won’t be a difference in performance.


Thanks for correcting, I did not know the difference was so small. I recall a graph showing the difference (and probably misleading me) but I cannot find it any more, I’ll add it to this message if it resurfaces.

I’m sorry for your loss. Good on you to want to make something of this money instead of spending it wastefully.

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It sounds like you are set up for success, not just because of your current assets but also by spending the time and energy to think about this at the start of your career.

Anyway, my approach to your questions:

Your should have 2 credit cards in your wallet for Switzerland:

  1. Swisscard Cashback Card (American Express) - use this anywhere that accepts American Express for 1% cashback
  2. Either the Migros Cumulus MasterCard or Coop SupercardPlus - use this anywhere that doesn’t take American Express for 0.33% cashback in Migros or Coop points

I would also suggest picking up a 3rd card for spending in any other currencies. If you pay in EUR with the Migros Cumulus card you would pay 2-3% in fees which isn’t great.

  1. Revolut - use for any EUR/USD/other currency payments

I didn’t even know this was a thing so can’t give you much detail. It looks like tiered fees can be slightly cheaper and there are some simulations here. IB is very cheap either way.

I’m a big fan of just customising as I like in a spreadsheet. We don’t have some of the US solutions in Switzerland yet (e.g Mint).

I don’t worry too much about things like SIPC. In the extremely unlikely event that a large broker like IB went insolvent and wasn’t correctly using custody accounts the damages would be so big a government would step in. And governments tend to always bail out in full as there is too much systematic risk if they don’t. Perhaps others will have a different view :stuck_out_tongue: .

I think you have to look at what your bank charges here and run the numbers.

I would suggest sticking to VT in the beginning. Makes it very easy, no worrying about allocations or declaring a complex split on taxes etc. You’ll find that keeping it simpler is often the best approach.

I currently hold a combination of VTI + VXUS (US market + Non-US market). This gives me slightly more diversification, slightly lower costs, and allows me to stick to a US/Ex-US allocation I deem fit for my personal situation (mostly tax efficiency). However, the differences are really negligible compared to holding just VT.

Going for a split also puts you in a dangerous spot of being able to overweight/underweight markets. This can lead to chasing gains and much lower returns in the long run.

I had a poke around VIAC’s asset options and concluded that just taking their Global 100 strategy was already near optimal.

They select an allocation which is very tax and fee efficient and covers the global market as best as possible under 3rd pillar regulations.

CSIF World ex CH is a fund of stocks from all around the world excluding Switzerland.
iShares Core S&P500 is a fund of the top 500 stocks in the USA.

My general advise is to try and keep your approach simple. That often ends up giving you the best returns when it comes to passive investing. VIAC Global 100 + VT with IB and you’re set.


I can’t be the only one who is curious about the 100k Fr / year salary at 20 years old! I know only a few 30 year-olds cracking the 6-figure mark (but then again I don’t know many software engineers).