2017 Corporate Pension Funding Study

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By Zorast Wadia, Alan H. Perry, Charles J. Clark | 06 April 2017
The 100 largest corporate defined benefit pension plans finished 2016 with pension assets of $1.395 trillion and projected benefit obligations of $1.718 trillion. The funded ratio at the end of 2016 was 81.2%, which was comparable to the funded status at the end of 2015 (81.9%) and 2014 (81.6%). Volatility in the interest rate environment caused the discount rate to decline steeply by 30 basis points in fiscal year (FY) 2016 to 3.99%. Employers made 2016 plan contributions of $42.8 billion, a 38.0% increase from $31.1 billion in 2015. FY 2016 pension expense decreased 7.6% to about $30.8 billion from about $33.3 billion in FY 2015. De-risking transactions continued in 2016, and the estimated dollar volume of pension risk transfers collected from the accounting disclosures was higher in 2016 ($13.6 billion) compared with 2015 ($11.6 billion).