Tag Archives: Pensions

Using asset liability modeling to re-risk defined benefit plan

A financial services company emerging from a divestiture sought Milliman’s assistance with the subsequent re-risking of its defined benefit (DB) pension plan’s investment portfolio. The plan sponsor wanted to explore investment options that would best allow it to meet its future contribution requirements while limiting the risk of being underfunded on either an accounting or Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) basis. The plan sponsor also wanted to understand the impact on accounting expense and balance sheet volatility as a result of investment allocation changes where the employer would take on more equity exposure.

Milliman consultants performed an asset liability modeling (ALM) study to review the company’s investment policy statement, understand its risk tolerance, set achievable financial goals, and present projections of assets and liabilities. The goal of the ALM study was to estimate expected levels, trends, and possible variability over the next 10 years of the plan’s annual required contributions, funded status, and accounting expense under the current policy asset allocation and several alternative asset allocations based on the client’s input.

To learn more about this endeavor, read Zorast Wadia’s case study “Assisting a plan sponsor with its investment portfolio using asset liability modeling.”

Milliman opens investment consultancy in the Netherlands

Milliman today announced the opening of an investment and risk management consultancy practice in the Netherlands. This practice complements Milliman’s Dutch actuarial and pension consulting practice and answers a market need for integrated actuarial and risk management services. Milliman has hired risk management expert Marcel Kruse, MSC, RBA, to lead the new practice.

“Dutch pension funds face challenging cost and governance pressures and are in need of both actuarial and risk management expertise as key lines of defense in the management of their plans,” says Rajish Sagoenie, Principal and Managing Director of Milliman’s Dutch pension practice. “Marcel is the ideal leader of our Dutch pension, investment and risk consultancy practice. He will help clients fill in the second line of defense within IORPII fully.”

“We believe complying with regulation is just a first step,” says Marcel Kruse. “With this initiative, we will help our clients integrate risk management in the investment policy, monitoring, and reporting—all of which are essential to making your pension fund a strong and future-proof organization.”

For more information about Milliman’s actuarial and risk management services, click here.

New mortality tables create considerations for Dutch pension plans

This year, new mortality tables were published in both Germany and the Netherlands that will have different effects on pension liabilities in those countries. While new mortality rates in Germany will increase the value of pension liabilities there, in the Netherlands, new mortality rates will decrease the value of pension liabilities. In this article, Milliman’s Ernst van Bruggen provides some perspective and discusses several issues relating to the updated Dutch tables.

Bitcoin considerations for retirement plan sponsors

Bitcoin is a digital “currency” or cryptocurrency not tied to a sovereign or bank. It is mainly a tool for transactions (purchase of goods, payment of services), and the number of bitcoins is governed by the blockchain technology that underlies its use.

Bitcoin is most popular with people and institutions on the leading edge of technology, and a large number of investors, rather than the everyday consumer. Very few businesses currently accept bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies as payment, but cryptocurrencies are being used by a small number of companies and may be used more often in the coming years.

In this article, Milliman’s Charles Hodge discusses bitcoin and whether it is an appropriate investment vehicle for retirement plan sponsors.

Knowing participants’ profiles is becoming increasingly important

The debate about a new pension system in the Netherlands is becoming more and more complicated because of issues including solidarity, labor market flexibility, indexation security and uncertainty about the level of pension income. These subjects are complicated. The question regarding whether pension income from retirement date is high enough in relation to income received in active employment or more relevant to the spending pattern is not often mentioned in this context. The questions about how long pension is to be paid out (lifelong) and how much premium participants are willing to pay for their retirement are rarely discussed.

We suspect that one of the reasons that we find these questions so difficult to answer is because we do not really know about the (ex) participants (workers, retirees and former participants with vested pensions). As a consequence, the pension debate becomes an abstract compensation and benefits discussion focused on a complicated financing component.

Having relevant knowledge about our stakeholders could provide significant benefits. If we know and understand our participants well, then:

• Pensions, even without specific customization, could be fitted to stakeholders more appropriately.
• Choosing the most appropriate financing (in terms of risk, duration and reservation) could be ensured.

Getting knowledge and information about our pension stakeholders can be accomplished in various ways. This may include:

• The pension stakeholders ask the right questions at the right level of knowledge-estimated by using available data (such as salary level and job title)-and in understandable language
• Combining knowledge of our pension stakeholders with external data to gain more insight and to better understand their needs.

A good example is the correlation between education level and life expectancy of participants. The Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) regularly publishes that the life expectancy of a Dutch man with a highly qualified education at the academic level is much higher than that of a man who has enjoyed a maximum of elementary school education. Milliman calculated that the remaining life expectancy at the age of 68 for the more highly educated group was more than two years greater than for the other group.

In practice, it appears that data about the training of individual participants is often not available to pension funds. If this information were adequately collected and stored in the near future, then additional analyses could be performed using this data. This contributes to the necessary knowledge and insight into the needs of our pension stakeholders. As a result, not only the expected duration of benefits can be determined, but also, by combining this data with other available data, we could estimate the individual’s income needs. The combination of data and analysis of connections between data can create even greater insight. For example, it makes a big difference whether a participant in a retirement scheme has a physically demanding occupation or a light one, whether he travels regularly or stays at home reading, and whether he maintains a healthy lifestyle or just the opposite.

Collecting knowledge about our participants and analyzing already available knowledge or information (big data) could ensure that we design better pension schemes and that their funding takes place in the most appropriate way.

Let’s start with that today. More knowledge and insight into participant profiles helps both the employer and the performer get better “demonstrable in control” information regarding their pension commitments, provisions, and HRM policies.

Asset-liability management improves Italian pension funds’ investment strategy

In Italy, some pensions are obligated to offer a capital guaranteed subfund to plan participants. While many participants see guaranteed subfunds as safe options, the investment may not meet their long-term retirement objectives. In this article, Milliman’s Dominic Clark highlights asset-liability management (ALM) analyses that were conducted for a large institutional Italian pension fund. The client’s main aims were twofold:

• To better understand the fit between asset allocation and expected future liabilities given the constraint of having to respect the capital guarantee of the guaranteed subfund.
• To better inform participants regarding the likely evolution of their account balances, and in particular, provide fund-specific projections that can help guide members in their choice of future contribution levels.