Request a Proposal

Renewed Focus for Pension Plans in 2017

While defined benefit plans recently have seen an improvement in the funded status due to higher discount rates and asset appreciation, plans that are still underfunded and making contributions at or near the required minimum will see their funded position erode. This is because long-term expected asset returns continue to decline and plan expenses, especially PBGC premiums, continue to increase. Discount rates are expected to rise over the next couple of years, as the Federal Reserve Bank normalizes interest rate policy, and many plans have been waiting for higher rates to improve their funded status before embarking on de-risking asset allocation. In preparation, plans have requested updated, detailed actuarial projections that reflect potential changes in market conditions and asset allocation from their actuary. Defined benefit plans are using these updated studies to re-evaluate their contribution policy, especially if a lower return asset glide path is being considered. Also, plans that have not offered lump sum payments to eligible participants no longer with the plan are evaluating the delay in updating mortality tables until 2018 for justification to opening a window. Finally, plans that are still open and accruing are reviewing benefit formulas to determine if a change is warranted.