The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is affecting travel, commerce, and countless other variables worldwide. Corporations and the defined benefit plans they sponsor will likely feel the impact. Sponsors may experience the need for increased contributions, a decrease in funding status directly impacting the balance sheet, or increased Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) premiums. At times like this, it is increasingly important to explore and implement best practices to manage your organization’s defined benefit plan. PNC Institutional Asset Management® brings our clients ideas to help them navigate and weather adverse scenarios.

Financial Planning for Pension Plans

We recommend clients consider a dynamic approach to asset allocation for their plans to address the volatility of their plan’s financials.

At a high level, a dynamic, liability-centric approach is designed to help create a smoother path to full funding by managing assets relative to liabilities.

At your next investment committee meeting, we encourage you to explore the questions below. Your PNC advisor would welcome the opportunity to participate in the discussion.

Asset & Liability Considerations

  • What percentage of our portfolio is focused on outperforming liabilities relative to the percentage meant to provide downside protection? Is it an appropriate mix for our Plan?
  • How sensitive are the assets in our investment portfolio to a market or economic downturn?
  • How sensitive are the liabilities of our defined benefit plan to changes in interest rates?

Asset Allocation Strategy Intended to Address Funded Status Drops

  • A glidepath strategy has a higher allocation to equity-like assets when the plan is at a lower funded level and a higher allocation to fixed-income assets that behave like the liabilities as funding status improves. Does our Plan have a glidepath strategy and, if so, is it well-executed? If not, what is our strategy for making modifications to the asset allocation as funding status changes?
  • Is our investment strategy designed to address market volatility?

Connecting the Defined Benefit Plan to Your Financial Plan

  • How sensitive are our financial metrics to the funded status changes of our Plan?
  • To what degree is our company financially capable (and willing) to make larger contributions in times of market downturns or underperformance?
  • What is the long-term objective for our defined benefit plan, and what is our strategy to get there?