Our Thoughts

Featured

Interest Rates – Where to From Here?

Understanding the dynamics that drive interest rates is critical to understanding the level of current rates, why they have changed in the past, and how they might change in the future. This understanding allows investors and pension sponsors to make informed decisions on how to deploy their bond portfolios and what to expect from their long-term, interest rate-sensitive liabilities.

A Powerful 3 Step Strategy: Increase Expected Return on Pension Assets at the Same (or Lower) Level of Funded Status Risk

It is possible for pension plan sponsors to increase expected returns on assets by 100 to 300 basis points (1-3%) per year for the same or lower funded status risk. The process and steps are spelled out below. Follow along and you’ll see how to increase expected returns, potentially cutting years off of the time required to reach full funding while also decreasing the pension expense reported in the financial statements.

Double Digit Equity Returns 2019 YTD — how do you protect your equity position for the rest of the year?

With both international and US equity markets up approximately 15% year-to-date reversing most of the 4th quarter 2018 correction, many plan sponsors are asking themselves “should we consider any changes to protect the equity gains that we have…

Replicating Private Equity

Private Equity is illiquid and challenging to benchmark. Many investors use “S&P 500 +3%” in order to compare performance in the absence of an observable, investable asset. This paper describes a methodology for creating a private equity proxy or replication strategy using derivatives.

Pension Investing – Next Generation of Glide Paths

Pension plan sponsors, especially those with frozen pension plans, have spent significant time deciding on the most appropriate balance between growth (return seeking/equities) and hedging (liability matching/long-term bonds) assets to meet their objectives. For most, the ideal goal is to fully fund the pension plan through a balance of investment performance, cash contributions and a rising interest rate environment while not subjecting themselves to higher than desired funded status risk.

Pension De-Risking – The Next Evolution in Reducing Funded Status Risk

There has been an evolution of pension plan de-risking over the years, giving us 3 different versions. Many plan sponsors have avoided moving more quickly to de-risk using strategies 1-3 because of the negative impact that each of these can have on a sponsor’s reported profits as well as expected cash contributions to close a deficit. We are now poised for de-risking version 4.0, in which plan sponsors will utilize modern risk management tools to significantly reduce funded status volatility while maintaining expected returns.

News

Retirement Update – June 2019

Retirement Update – June 2019

2019 had been a fun ride for pension plan sponsors through the start of May, however the past few weeks have been less than fun. Year-to-date performance is still likely to be positive for most plans, but falling interest rates and negative equity returns during the month likely took a big chunk out of 2019’s gains. There’s no silver lining to be found here, as May was a bad month all around for pension plans.

read more
Pension Plan Annuity Purchase Update – Q1 2019

Pension Plan Annuity Purchase Update – Q1 2019

Market ActivitySource: LIMRA Secure Retirement InstituteFollowing the record-breaking $26.3 billion in 2018, total pension buyout sales eclipsed $4.7 billion in Q1 2019, an increase of 240% compared to Q1 2018. Sales were driven by many small and mid-sized...

read more
Interest Rates – Where to From Here?

Interest Rates – Where to From Here?

Understanding the dynamics that drive interest rates is critical to understanding the level of current rates, why they have changed in the past, and how they might change in the future. This understanding allows investors and pension sponsors to make informed decisions on how to deploy their bond portfolios and what to expect from their long-term, interest rate-sensitive liabilities.

read more
Retirement Update – May 2019

Retirement Update – May 2019

The month of April increased funded status gains since the beginning of the year. For most plans, gains since the beginning of the year should be up by about 2% to 3%. Equities added to 2019’s strong returns, with US equities leading the way in April.

read more
A Powerful 3 Step Strategy: Increase Expected Return on Pension Assets at the Same (or Lower) Level of Funded Status Risk

A Powerful 3 Step Strategy: Increase Expected Return on Pension Assets at the Same (or Lower) Level of Funded Status Risk

It is possible for pension plan sponsors to increase expected returns on assets by 100 to 300 basis points (1-3%) per year for the same or lower funded status risk. The process and steps are spelled out below. Follow along and you’ll see how to increase expected returns, potentially cutting years off of the time required to reach full funding while also decreasing the pension expense reported in the financial statements.

read more
Pension Plan Annuity Purchase Update – Q4 2018

Pension Plan Annuity Purchase Update – Q4 2018

Market ActivitySource: LIMRA Secure Retirement InstituteTotal pension buyout sales once again increased in 2018. Q4 sales totaled nearly $10.5 billion which brings total 2018 sales to $26.4 billion, compared to $23 billion in 2017. While Q3 and Q4 sales...

read more
Retirement Update – April 2019

Retirement Update – April 2019

The month of March gave back some of the funded status gains since the beginning of the year. For most plans, gains since the beginning of the year should still be up by about 1% to 2%. Equities added to 2019’s strong returns, with global equities up over 10% year to date. The fall in discount rates and the corresponding increase in liabilities remind us of the impact that changes in rates have on a pension plan’s funding status.

read more
Roadblock Removed Allowing for Retiree Lump Sums

Roadblock Removed Allowing for Retiree Lump Sums

      The IRS has given plan sponsors the green light to move forward with offering lump sums to defined benefit plan retirees or other participants who are “in pay status”, receiving monthly checks. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that they’ve...

read more
Retirement Update – March 2019

Retirement Update – March 2019

Key Takeaways: Discount rates were relatively stable. February was a quieter month for bond markets following prior volatility in both US Treasury yields and corporate bond yields. Equities rose as markets continued to look beyond recent concerns about...

read more