How do you build up a pension as a self-employed person?

Published on: 17 July 2020

Patroesjka Zuurhout, strategic product developer at APG, gives tips. And why is it that many self-employed people are not (yet) involved in a pension scheme? Her column was published today on


As a self-employed person it is best to start building up a pension quickly.

The majority of employees accrue compulsory pension through their employer. As a self-employed person you are responsible for arranging pension income, in addition to the AOW. The possibilities are also there. What prevents self-employed workers from saving for their old age?


The number of self-employed people has continuously increased in recent years. In 2019, the Netherlands had 1.1 million. If you also count those who earn extra money as a self-employed person, this number will be even higher.


Many self-employed people have been hard hit by the corona crisis. It is therefore logical that their attention is now mainly focused on "daily bread". A pension is then of later concern.


Still, it is smart to think of 'later'. Because the earlier you start saving, the longer the investment can pay off. This not only prevents a drop in income; it also means that less investment is simply required to achieve the desired pension.


But how do you build up such a pension? Saving, investing, paying off the mortgage (extra) or selling the company are some possibilities. However, you miss the tax benefits that specific pension solutions do offer.


Sometimes, however, these advantages are available. For example, if you terminate a permanent employment. In some cases it is then possible to continue your former employer's pension scheme voluntarily. Legally this is even allowed for ten years.

Are there also options for a supplementary pension with tax benefits that are accessible to all self-employed persons without employees? Yes. Think of annuities and bank savings accounts. You can also take advantage of the Fiscal Old Age Reserve (FOR). This means that you can enter part of the profit on the balance sheet as a pension reservation. You must of course really put that money aside for this.


All options naturally have their advantages and disadvantages. First, consider how much money you can afford right now. And, more importantly, what you need later. And what do you want to arrange for your next of kin? Does the pension product provide for this? Wijzer in Geldzaken provides information about pensions for self-employed professionals: link

In addition, you naturally want to have a buffer for setbacks, illness and disability.


There are often good intentions. However, most freelancers do not act on that. That threshold fear is partly based on ignorance - how and where should I arrange it? - and partly on ostrich behavior. Behavioral scientists have carefully analyzed the barriers. 1. Affect: not wanting to think about being old and stop working. 2. Present bias: procrastination. 3. Social comparison: others are not concerned with this either. 4. Complexity: it is difficult to properly understand options and consequences.


In short, the thresholds need to be lowered urgently. And the great thing is: that is going to happen. Self-employed workers are also addressed in the new pension agreement. More recently became known about the further elaboration of this and the package of measures for the self-employed. The various sectors will work with social partners and self-employed organizations to investigate how (more) self-employed persons can voluntarily join the pension scheme of the sector or organization for which they work. This is a real opportunity.


The pension fund for the construction industry (bpfBOUW), for example, is one of the providers that develops a low-threshold pension product for self-employed persons. Participation in this is voluntary. For example, you can accrue pension at bpfBOUW as an employee and as a self-employed person.

There are, of course, no suitable pension plans overnight. There are still some experiments beforehand, with the new legislation.


And freelancers also require a change in thinking. From "now" to "later". From "wait and see" to "action". After all, support among self-employed persons is a precondition for the realization of carefree old-age provisions.



Patroesjka Zuurhout has a background in economics and business economics with a specialization in strategy, entrepreneurship and financial economics. As a strategic product developer at APG, she is responsible for developing products and services related to income for later.