The proportion of schemes using independent advisers to appoint a fiduciary manager has risen to 60%, according to KPMG's 2017 survey.
This was based on roughly 90 schemes that appointed a fiduciary manager with a full mandate in the year to 30 June 2017, and is a large increase compared to the 33% of schemes that did so in the 2016 survey.
The research also found that 17% of 546 schemes using fiduciary managers with a full mandate received independent advice on a regular basis in the last year - an increase from 13% in 2016.
While written advice provided by a third-party is becoming more common, most schemes are yet to fully integrate it into the way they operate.
KPMG head of fiduciary management research Anthony Webb said he believes the use of independent advice on an ongoing basis will grow in the years ahead.
"In 2017 there has been a marked shift in the amount of schemes seeking independent advice when appointing a fiduciary manager," he said.
"Given independent advice is becoming embedded into the way a scheme chooses a fiduciary manager, we expect that will trickle into the ongoing review of managers as well."
Webb tied the rise in schemes using independent advice to the general growth in the fiduciary management market.
"The fiduciary market has now seen a decade of strong growth and we are starting to see much greater diversity in the range of portfolios that fiduciary managers implement," he added.
The firm estimates 14% of all 5,886 DB schemes listed in the Pension Protection Fund's Purple Book 2016 now engage with a fiduciary manager. This means 805 schemes now use one compared to 718 in last year's survey. KPMG conducted the survey by speaking to 15 fiduciary managers, which reported that they engaged with 805 UK pension schemes, either full or partial mandates.
These findings come at a time when both fiduciary management and investment consultancy are being scrutinised by regulators.
In mid-September, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) referred these businesses to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) for an in-depth ongoing probe following concerns over competition and conflicts of interest.
Johnson Controls International has appointed XPS Pensions as investment and actuarial adviser for two of its schemes, following a competitive tender process.
Merseyside Pension Fund has allocated an initial £400m of assets to a smart sustainability fund managed by State Street Global Advisors (SSGA).
This week's top stories included exclusive coverage of The Pensions Regulator's plans to require schemes to use professional trustees.
Buck has launched a solution to help pension schemes equalise guaranteed minimum pensions (GMPs) in a cost effective way with minimum hassle.