Tag Archives: PFI

Corporate pensions’ investment losses in February buoyed by higher discount rates

Milliman has released the results of its latest Pension Funding Index (PFI), which analyzes the 100 largest U.S. corporate pension plans. Despite the market volatility in February, these pensions experienced a $13 billion improvement in funded status thanks to an increase in the corporate bond rates used to measure pension liabilities. While the market value of assets for these pensions lost $32 billion in February, plan liabilities also shrunk, narrowing the deficit from $219 billion at the end of January to $206 billion as of February 28. The funded ratio for the Milliman 100 PFI rose from 87.3% to 87.7% during the same time period.

Despite the recent market volatility, February’s 21 basis point discount rate increase buoyed pension funding this month. In fact, thanks to strong investment performance in January along with an increase in discount rates in both January and February, overall pension funding for these plans has risen $75 billion over the past two months—not a bad way to start 2018.

Looking forward, under an optimistic forecast with rising interest rates (reaching 4.45% by the end of 2018 and 5.05% by the end of 2019) and asset gains (11.0% annual returns), the funded ratio would climb to 99% by the end of 2018 and 114% by the end of 2019. Under a pessimistic forecast (3.45% discount rate at the end of 2018 and 2.85% by the end of 2019 and 3.0% annual returns), the funded ratio would decline to 82% by the end of 2018 and 75% by the end of 2019.

To view the complete Pension Funding Index, click here. To receive regular updates of Milliman’s pension funding analysis, contact us here.

Corporate pensions’ $61 billion funded status gain in January may cushion early February market slide

Milliman today released the results of its latest Pension Funding Index (PFI), which analyzes the 100 largest U.S. corporate pension plans. While market movement in February may dampen January’s gains, during the first month of 2018 corporate pensions experienced their largest funded status improvements in over a year.

According to Milliman’s analysis, these plans experienced a funding status increase of $61 billion in January, and saw their funded ratio rise from 84.1% at the end of December to 87.2% as of January 31. The improvement is the result of investment gains due to strong market performance and a reduction in liabilities (which was due to an increase in the benchmark corporate bond interest rates used to value pension liabilities).

January’s stellar funding gains may help to cushion the effect of the current market slide witnessed in February thus far for these pensions. It will be interesting to see if the recent volatility paired with U.S. tax reform changes incentivize plan sponsors to pursue funding and de-risking strategies more aggressively than they have in the past.

Looking forward, under an optimistic forecast with rising interest rates (reaching 4.29% by the end of 2018 and 4.89% by the end of 2019) and asset gains (11.0% annual returns), the funded ratio would climb to 99% by the end of 2018 and 115% by the end of 2019. Under a pessimistic forecast (3.19% discount rate at the end of 2018 and 2.59% by the end of 2019 and 3.0% annual returns), the funded ratio would decline to 81% by the end of 2018 and 74% by the end of 2019.

To view the complete Pension Funding Index, click here. To receive regular updates of Milliman’s pension funding analysis, contact us here.

Corporate pensions experience stellar investment returns alongside sinking discount rates in 2017

Milliman today released the year-end results of its latest Pension Funding Index (PFI), which analyzes the 100 largest U.S. corporate pension plans. During 2017, despite superb investment gains, these pensions experienced an overall $2 billion decrease in funded status due to a decline in the corporate bond rates used to measure pension liabilities. In December, the Milliman 100 PFI discount rate fell 46 basis points to 3.53%, marking the lowest year-end discount rate and fifth-lowest monthly discount rate in the PFI’s 17-year history.

In contrast to declining discount rates, assets outperformed expectations in 2017 with a cumulative investment gain of 11.47% (by comparison, the 2017 Pension Funding Study reported a 7.0% annualized expected rate of return). The 2017 funding ratio for the Milliman PFI plans ticked up from 83.3% at the end of 2016 to 84.1% as of December 31, 2017—despite the overall $2 billion decrease in funded status.

There are a few items on the radar for corporate pensions in 2018. We expect pension expenses to decrease by around $2.6 billion, thanks to last year’s stellar investment experience. And with the passage of tax reform, plan sponsors may decide to take a closer look at accelerating contributions with an eye toward further de-risking efforts.

Looking forward, under an optimistic forecast with rising interest rates (reaching 4.13% by the end of 2018 and 4.73% by the end of 2019) and asset gains (11.0% annual returns), the funded ratio would climb to 97% by the end of 2018 and 112% by the end of 2019. Under a pessimistic forecast (2.93% discount rate at the end of 2018 and 2.33% by the end of 2019 and 3.0% annual returns), the funded ratio would decline to 77% by the end of 2018 and 71% by the end of 2019.

To view the complete Pension Funding Index, click here. To receive regular updates of Milliman’s pension funding analysis, contact us here.

Corporate pension funding up $7 billion in November, $41 billion in past three months

Milliman today released the results of its latest Pension Funding Index (PFI), which analyzes the 100 largest U.S. corporate pension plans. In November, these pensions experienced a $7 billion improvement, increasing for the third month in a row and bringing the total funded status gain to $41 billion since August 31. This three-month run marks the strongest performing period of 2017.

November’s improvement was the result of robust 0.82% investment gains and pension plan liabilities that remained stagnant as the corporate bond interest rate used to value those liabilities was flat for the month. The funded ratio for the Milliman 100 plans ticked up 0.4% to 85.2% as of November 30.

Barring a calamity in the next month, 2017 has been a stellar year with strong double-digit investment returns for corporate pensions. If discount rates can hold and December investment returns mirror the past 11 months, the funded ratio for these plans will end higher than it was in 2016. Should discount rates end the year with a strong uptick, this will result in more funding optimism as we turn the corner into the new year.

Looking forward, under an optimistic forecast with rising interest rates (reaching 4.32% by the end of 2018 and 4.92% by the end of 2019) and asset gains (11.0% annual returns), the funded ratio would climb to 99% by the end of 2018 and 115% by the end of 2019. Under a pessimistic forecast (3.02% discount rate at the end of 2018 and 2.42% by the end of 2019 and 3.0% annual returns), the funded ratio would decline to 78% by the end of 2018 and 71% by the end of 2019.

To view the complete Pension Funding Index, click here. To see the 2017 Milliman Pension Funding Study, click here.

To receive regular updates of Milliman’s pension funding analysis, contact us here.

Corporate pensions experience back-to-back monthly gains with $7 billion improvement in October

Milliman has released the results of its latest Pension Funding Index (PFI), which analyzes the 100 largest U.S. corporate pension plans. In October, these pensions’ funded status experienced a $7 billion uptick, increasing for the second month in a row and bringing the total funded status gain to $32 billion since August 31. October’s improvement was the result of robust 1.19% investment returns, which saw the Milliman PFI plans’ funded ratio climb to 84.7% for the month. Cumulative investment gains in 2017 are 9.57% year-to-date; by comparison, the 2017 Milliman Pension Funding Study reported that the monthly median expected investment return during 2016 was 0.57% (7.0% annualized).

While October’s investment returns are well above expectations, funded status gains were partially offset by the continued low discount rate environment. It will be interesting to see what, if any, changes are in store to interest rate strategy with the nomination of a new Federal Reserve chair.

Looking forward, under an optimistic forecast with rising interest rates (reaching 3.76% by the end of 2017 and 4.36% by the end of 2018) and asset gains (11.0% annual returns), the funded ratio would climb to 87% by the end of 2017 and 100% by the end of 2018. Under a pessimistic forecast (3.56% discount rate at the end of 2017 and 2.96% by the end of 2018 and 3.0% annual returns), the funded ratio would decline to 84% by the end of 2017 and 77% by the end of 2018.

To view the complete Pension Funding Index, click here. To see the 2017 Milliman Pension Funding Study, click here.

To receive regular updates of Milliman’s pension funding analysis, contact us here.

Corporate pensions experience largest gains of the year in September

Milliman has released the results of its latest Pension Funding Index (PFI), which analyzes the 100 largest U.S. corporate pension plans. In September, these pension plans experienced their largest improvement year-to-date, with a $26 billion increase in funded status. The improvement was the result of a nine-basis-point increase in discount rates coupled with market value gains, which saw the Milliman PFI plans’ funded ratio climb from 83.0% to 84.3% for the month.

While September’s positive performance is welcome news for these pensions, it’s tempered somewhat by the recent release of the new mortality tables by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Much of the fourth quarter will be spent in anticipation of how the new regulation will affect 2018 cash contribution funding, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) premiums, and de-risking efforts.

Looking forward, under an optimistic forecast with rising interest rates (reaching 3.84% by the end of 2017 and 4.44% by the end of 2018) and asset gains (11.0% annual returns), the funded ratio would climb to 87% by the end of 2017 and 101% by the end of 2018. Under a pessimistic forecast (3.54% discount rate at the end of 2017 and 2.94% by the end of 2018 and 3.0% annual returns), the funded ratio would decline to 83% by the end of 2017 and 76% by the end of 2018.

To view the complete Pension Funding Index, click here. Also, to see the 2017 Milliman Pension Funding Study, click here.

To receive regular updates of Milliman’s pension funding analysis, contact us here.