The cost of equalising guaranteed minimum pensions (GMPs) has been revised down by around £7bn, nearly half that of an initial £15bn estimate.
A Hymans Robertson analysis of a £30bn sample of UK defined benefit (DB) schemes found sponsors may have to stump up a figure closer to £8bn.
Schemes are required to fund the difference between male and female pensions arising from changes to the normal retirement age in the 1990s, with the High Court, in a landmark case last year, ruling there are various methods that can be used to calculate the cost.
Separately, PP analysis has found, on average, FTSE 100 firms with DB schemes will see a cost equal to around 0.5% of liabilities, rising to 0.8% for FTSE 250 firms, and to 1.0% for firms outside of those indices. The analysis is based on company announcements where both liability figures and GMP equalisation estimates were supplied.
Hymans Robertson head of GMP equalisation Matt Davis said the "more detailed analysis" was "encouraging".
"This suggests that most companies will not see significant disruption to their long-term funding strategies," he said.
"While many finance directors will be relieved that the impact is not as bad as first feared, we've seen noticeable differences from scheme-to-scheme. This means it is important to complete a thorough assessment, especially as this extra cost normally flows through ‘profit and loss' in company accounts."
The experience faced by companies varies based on the normal retirement age under their schemes' rules, and an uplift can be granted to men or women depending on the circumstances.
Of FTSE 100 firms in PP's analysis, Compass Group faces the largest impact as a proportion of liabilities. It has previously estimated a cost of £20m-£40m, amounting to between 1% and 2% of liabilities.
In terms of the monetary value, HSBC reported the highest cost of $226m (£172m), or 0.6% of liabilities.
Nearly every trustee is confident of the next stage in their scheme’s strategy, despite almost an equal number being forced to consider replacing plans within the prior 12 months, according to research by Barnett Waddingham.
Companies could be overstating their pension liabilities by up to £60bn due to their life expectancy assumptions, according to XPS Pensions Group.
Defined benefit (DB) schemes that provide GMPs must revisit and, where necessary, top-up historic cash equivalent transfer values (CETVs) that have been calculated on an unequal basis, a landmark court judgment said last week.
Regulators must act now to impose some "proper regulation" to stop another defined benefit (DB) transfer advice disaster, saysTim Sargisson.
Opportunities for defined benefit (DB) schemes to pursue investment approaches that help repair the UK’s economy cannot stand in the way of improving member outcomes, Aegon says.