Major changes in pension plan rules are fueling a trend toward outsourcing plan management, with 81 percent of executives responding to a Quick Poll reporting they will consider it. The results of the poll, released on Monday, also indicate that 42 percent of participating U.S. and Canadian plan sponsors remain committed to their defined benefit plans.
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"Executives are correctly identifying this watershed event as an opportunity to reevaluate the value that managing a pension plan internally brings to the organization," said Jim Morris, Senior Vice President, Retirement Solutions for SEI Global Institutional Group. "While there is still a large contingent that appears to remain strongly committed to the benefit, that does not mean they aren't questioning their organization's role in management of the plan. They are realizing that the new funding rules will bring significant challenges in the years ahead for companies who choose to implement investment management internally."
A total of 302 North American executives responsible for managing defined benefit plans, ranging from $40 million to over $3.5 billion in assets, responded to the poll which was sponsored by SEI, a leading global provider of outsourced asset management, investment processing and investment operations solutions. Among the executives responsible for overseeing pensions, changes to how the plans are managed continue to be evaluated, as 65 percent revealed that they already outsource at least one plan management function. In addition, 89 percent of those with frozen or closed plans said they would consider outsourcing as an option.
More than a quarter (29 percent) of respondents indicated they will either close, freeze or terminate their pensions by the end of 2007. If that were to occur, 52 percent of all American and Canadian pensions polled will be closed, frozen or terminated by the end of 2007.
Sixty-one percent of American executives polled revealed that the new funding legislation will either drive the organization's long-term strategy or that decisions on long-term strategy are, in part, a response to the new legislation. Plan design changes continue with one in every ten, or 11 percent of U.S. executives polled saying they felt that it has become publicly acceptable to make plan design changes.