US - Financial risk due to pensions liabilities has eased in the past year, thanks to a combination of higher funding levels, pension surpluses and improved corporate performance.
Just over 10% of companies surveyed (11%) have no business risk as a result of pension plans. Half (52%) had "relatively low" risk and almost a third (29%) had "a moderate amount of risk".
Aggregate funding levels for Fortune 1000 companies have also been positive, increasing form an average of 82% in 2002 to 99% in 2006.
Carl Hess, director of Watson Wyatt's US investment consulting operations, said: "Plan sponsors that adopt more sophisticated investment strategies, such as liability driven strategies, may find that these approaches can help lock in current funding levels while achieving more predictable returns over the long term."
The methodology used to compile the figures was taken from Watson Wyatt's Pension Risk Index (PRI) which measures the potential dollar-value fall of a pension plan's funded status (both assets and liabilities) under an adverse financial scenario. This reflects how much financial risk a pension plan poses to its company's core business.
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