UK - Nine-tenths of trustees and sponsors believe deficits will increase at their next valuation, latest Hewitt research revealed.
The consultant's survey - which polled more than 150 pension schemes, representing more than £300bn (US$497bn) in scheme liabilities - found that over half of respondents predicted the increased deficits would lead to contributions being higher than employers could reasonably afford.
But it also found closure was not now the favoured option when dealing with deficits - a finding that contrasted sharply with a study it conducted in January, which showed scheme closure to be the favoured option among sponsors.
Hewitt said extending the length of the recovery plan over a longer period of time to assist short-term cash flow was seen by 97% of trustees and 79% of companies as the most affordable way of funding the expected increase in deficit.
Other actions under consideration included reducing rates at which the liabilities grow - including options such as keeping the DB plan open but capping pensionable salary increases and using longevity swaps - and allowing for asset out-performance within the recovery plan.
Schemes were also considering alternative financing - such as parental guarantees and bank letters of credit - and reducing the level of prudence included in technical provisions.
Hewitt Associates global risk services UK leader Kevin Wesbroom said: "A new, realistic and longer-term approach is emerging - one that recognises preserving the company's financial health is in the best interests of the scheme and its members."
A number of pension schemes have been prompted to lock in gains with a move into bonds after the estimated deficit across FTSE 100 DB pension schemes improved by £36bn, over the 12 months ending 30 June last year, JLT Employment Benefits found.
HM Treasury has agreed in principle to give NEST a £329m contingent liability guarantee in the event of the master trust's wind up or closure.
AMP Capital has set up a dedicated team to help institutional investors, including pension funds, invest in infrastructure through direct equity allocations.