More and more pension plans are exiting their domestic equity commitments in favor of long-duration bond vehicles to back up their liability needs, plan sponsors said in a new study.
Aon Hewitt said that 38% of the plans that participated in a recent study said that they had reduced their allocations to the strategy, with the same percentage looking to do so this year as well. From this same group, which included 227 plans from "large U.S. employers" with a combined $389 billion of total assets last year, only 4% said they would increase their exposure to domestic equities.
The new cure is long-duration corporate bonds. Roughly 32% listed that they will increase this option, and 24% checked yes to other corporate bond opportunities.
Government bonds weren't as heralded as their corporate counterparts, with just 13% saying that they would increase commitments to this sector, the survey said.
Additional investment allocations included a bump up to global equities, and nearly 20% disclosed that their plans had added weight to their alternative asset class, with just 16% indicating that they "are very likely" to implement longevity-hedging strategies.
With the uncertainty of the marketplace being a constant worry, Ari Jacobs, retirement strategy leader at Aon Hewitt, said in a press release Tuesday that "this shift should bring less volatility and greater predictability to pension plan costs."
"As funding levels continue to creep up from the dangerously low levels we saw in 2008 and 2009, we see the attitudes of plan sponsors shifting," Cecil Hemingway, global head of retirement at the Illinois-based company, said in the release. "Confusion and anxiety have faded, and most sponsors are making substantial changes in the management of their retirement programs."