US - Large companies could lose more than the $70bn which has already vanished off balance sheets through their pension funds in 2008, according to Mercer.
Adrian Hartshorn, a member of Mercer's Financial Strategy Group, commented: "The current higher yields on AA bonds mean that pension liabilities have declined over the last three months, but generally not by as much as the fall in the value of plan assets, leaving pension plans worse off overall.
Hartson continued: "The ultimate reality may be more painful, as the funded status position could deteriorate even further if credit spreads revert to more normal levels, and equity markets do not rebound."
Mercer suggested the worst may not yet be over, but warned companies not to make hasty, major decisions around portfolio allocation during the current period of increased volatility.
The consultants found many pension funds had moved assets into bonds or liability matched products, but often failed to address equity market risk.
Hartson concluded: "Companies need to implement risk management strategies carefully and consider which risk they are seeking to mitigate."
"It is only by considering the investment strategy in tandem with the behaviour of the liabilities under different economic scenarios that the true nature of the risk can be understood," he added.
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has set out plans to use "new regulatory initiatives" with over 1,000 schemes as it aims to tighten its regulatory grip and boost member outcomes.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has announced it is delaying the provision of data that will enable pension schemes to confirm the guaranteed minimum pension (GMP) benefits to pay to members until the end of the year.
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