US - Fewer companies closed their defined benefit (DB) plans than in 2006 and many have been committed to keeping schemes open, according to two Watson Wyatt surveys.
The consultants’ survey showed the number of firms in the Fortune 1000 which had closed DB schemes fell from 7% in 2007 to 4% in 2006.
Watson Wyatt senior retirement consultant, Kevin Wagner, commented: “Undoubtedly some companies will freeze their pension plans in the future, but it appears that trend has peaked.”
Wagner continued: “With less regulatory uncertainty and funding volatility better under control, the environment is now a more positive one for pension plan sponsors.”
A second survey was carried out on 300 organisations with pension assets of over US100m. It found 59% of companies with an open DB scheme would keep it open for new staff. The remainder had not made formal plans either way.
Wagner said: “While many companies are committed to keeping their pensions, they may not be committed to their current plan design. Options such as hybrid pension plans are likely to gain in popularity as companies consider different features for their plans.”
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