The majority of defined benefit (DB) schemes have taken no material action to change their investment strategy or journey plan during the coronavirus pandemic, say Lane Clark & Peacock (LCP).
Three quarters (75%) of schemes surveyed by the consultancy confirmed they had not made any changes in research released today (6 August).
However, LCP warned inertia may be damaging for many and said more schemes should have a framework in place.
While around 40% of survey respondents said both their funding position and covenant were holding up despite the economic impact of the pandemic, 60% had seen a deterioration in one or both of these areas.
Some 40% of schemes expected to have some contingent funding in assets, cash or credits in place by the time of their next valuation.
LCP suggested schemes determine their destination and keep it under review as new options emerge. The consultancy also said understanding the covenant, investment and funding risks and their potential to jeopardise long-term plans was vital.
LCP investment partner Mary Spencer said: "Schemes are expected to take account of a wide range of risks, including investment risk and the risk of the sponsor not being around in the future. It is vital that schemes review the extent to which Covid-19 has changed these two key factors and revise their approach.
"More generally risks don't stand still, so a scheme's ability to adapt to change could make all the difference."
With Covid-19 continuing to cause economic damage in the UK, the consultancy added innovative solutions involving contingent assets or contributions are likely to become increasingly popular.
Three-fifths of respondents told LCP it was too early to assess whether government support would be enough to keep struggling sponsors on top of payments, while 10% of schemes had agreed on deferral contributions already.
LCP partner Jill Ampleford said: "Since the regulator set the direction of travel towards long-term journey planning back in March, schemes have had to navigate unexpected choppy waters as a result of Covid-19.
"We don't know what the true economic fallout of the pandemic will be, so it's understandable that schemes may want to simply batten down the hatches. However, schemes need to guard against inertia and instead make sure they have a robust journey plan."
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