Remote-controlled cars, electric trains and flying drones – as head of the technology department at Franz Carl Weber, Dieter Leopold works with the most exciting toys every day. He’s seen some things in his 46 years at the company – like the night two children stayed in the store overnight. However, slowly but surely retirement is approaching.
Mr Leopold, what excites you about your job at Franz Carl Weber?
At Franz Carl Weber we like to say that we earn a living by playing. We play with and test out new toys, and at the end of the month we’re paid for it.
What was the most exciting thing you’ve experienced at Franz Carl Weber?
The most exciting thing was when the Shah of Iran and his wife Farah Diba and their two children came to the store. I was an apprentice and about 17 years old at the time. Rennweg was full of black limousines because there were so many security guards. That was amazing for me.
But the most incredible thing – it’s hard to believe now – was when two children stayed in the technology department on the second floor overnight. We hadn’t noticed them. We locked up the store and the caretaker went home for the night. The children then spent the night playing with Märklin model trains, opening a number of boxes and setting up tracks everywhere. The next morning, when we came to work we saw what they had done, of course.
What makes the culture at Franz Carl Weber so special for you?
Franz Carl Weber has a long tradition. Every child in Switzerland knows who we are because we’ve been around so long. We publish a Christmas catalogue every year. Children look forward to it because it lets them tick off what they want. I think we’re the ultimate toy store. When people are looking for toys they go to Franz Carl Weber.
What are your hobbies?
I like hiking in the mountains and skiing. And because I work with toys all day long, I collect them too. I have hundreds of model cars, and I collect tin trams, old games and a lot of things from Franz Carl Weber, like old Christmas catalogues and products.
What was your favourite toy when you were a child?
My favourite toy was an amphibious vehicle made by Schuco. It could go underwater like a submarine and drive on land too. I received it as a Christmas present having wanted it for a really long time. That was the best for me. I now collect toys, and I have this toy again at home. I bought it through an online auction.
What do toys mean to you?
Playing is a part of life. We see a lot of adults in the technology department who enjoy playing. There are people who buy remote-controlled cars for themselves. We had a customer this morning who bought a remote-controlled car for several hundred francs. I think playing is a part of life. And people shouldn’t be embarrassed and say “I’m no longer a kid – I shouldn’t be playing any more”. Adults can and should play too because it’s simply a wonderful thing to do.
Do you think much about retirement?
Yes, retirement is around the corner. I need to start thinking about my future financial situation. I’ve done some calculations already. There were a lot of questions, such as whether to take my pension as an annuity or as a lump sum or a combination of the two. This is also important because of the tax implications. I decided to take my pension as an annuity. Statistically, I can expect to live to 85, and drawing a pension gives me security. If I take a lump sum, I’ll have to think about how to invest the money. And that’s not really my thing.
Are you already putting aside private provisions?
I have a Pillar 3 account I’ve been contributing to for many years. It’s also good because you can deduct the contributions from your taxes and then you have a little extra on top of your AHV or pension fund assets.
Are you concerned that your finances might be a little tight after you retire?
It is entirely possible that things will be a little tight when I no longer have an income. As things stand now, I should be fine. But you never know what the future will bring. Sometimes you will probably need to tighten your belt.
Do you know which pension fund you have and what benefits you’ll receive?
I know which pension fund we have at Franz Carl Weber – we’re covered by Swiss Life. And I know the benefits I’ll receive too. Each year, we receive a statement that shows how much has been contributed and what the monthly pension will be.
What do you associate with Swiss Life?
I’ve known Swiss Life almost my whole life. It used to be called Rentenanstalt. I took out a life insurance policy when I was around 20 – when the company was still called Rentenanstalt – and I’ve been covered by the company, now known as Swiss Life, ever since.
Was the pension fund important to you when you were looking at employers?
When I started my apprenticeship at Franz Carl Weber in 1973, I wasn’t thinking about pension funds and retirement at all. I wanted to do the apprenticeship because it appealed to me. I only started thinking about pensions and retirement much later. When you’re young time is on your side. Now that I’m 61, I need to think about these things.
Do you have a dream you want to realise?
People shouldn’t have too many dreams by the time they reach my age. You don’t have as much time left to chase them. But one thing I’d like to do is travel through Europe with my motor home.
How do you understand self-determination?
For me, living in a self-determined manner means I can decide what I do, where I go, what I buy, what I do with my life everyday. And as long as I can decide these things myself, then that’s what self-determination means to me. You need to have a little money to do this so you can pay the rent, buy food and pay for insurance. That’s why it’s good to put aside some money while you’re still working. That way you’ll have enough money after you retire.
Mr Leopold, what is your life motto?
My life motto is: “Live and let live.” I think it’s important for other people to have their own opinions.
Provide for the future with three pillars
The three pillars of the Swiss pension system help you build your assets up over the years and decades – for when you’re older, if you become disabled or if you die. We can help you look forward to a self-determined future.
Franz Carl Weber is a Swiss Life occupational provisions client. Swiss Life offers a full range of BVG products, from full insurance with a 100% guarantee to semi-autonomous solutions. Employers can choose the solution that best suits them and provides their employees with a self-determined future.