Controlling funded status volatility is the top priority among corporate defined benefit pension plan executives surveyed by SEI.
Providing senior management with long-term pension strategies, improving funded status and conducting an asset-liability study were the next most important issues, according to an SEI news release on the survey.
“Effectively addressing this year's priorities will be no easy task for pension plan sponsors,” Jon Waite, director of investment management advice and chief actuary for SEI’s institutional group, said in the news release. “We’re seeing an encompassing high-level priority of ‘regaining control’ and many plan sponsors are looking externally for expertise and new techniques to get this accomplished.”
The survey asked executives to identify priorities and rank each as a “marginal,” “high,” or “extremely high” priority, and the survey assigned one, two, or three points, respectively, to the answers to measure the top priorities.
SEI made a special note of one priority — defining fiduciary responsibilities for trustees and investment consultants — which moved up this year to seventh among 10 priorities; last year, it ranked ninth among 10 priorities. “This move is notable, as it suggests that the Department of Labor’s proposed regulations (on expanding the definition of fiduciary), which will likely include those providing investment advice to a defined benefit plan, are weighing on the minds of plan sponsors,” the SEI news release said.
The second-annual survey was conducted online in January among 50 corporate pension executives, Frank Wilkinson, a company spokesman, said in an e-mailed response to questions. The executives were in charge of pensions ranging from $250 million to $10 billion in assets, according to the release. None is an institutional client of SEI.