The funded statuses of Canada’s defined benefit plans collectively fell in the third quarter to 91.1 percent, marking a 4.9 percent decline over the last three months; at the end of the second quarter, plans were 96 percent funded.
The data comes from Aon Hewitt, who surveyed 275 of Canada’s defined benefit plans, both public and private.
[The DB plans’] median solvency funded ratio — the market value of plan assets over plan liabilities — stood at 91.1% at September 26, 2014. That represents a decline of 4.9 percentage points over the previous quarter ended June 30, 2014, a 5.5% drop from the peak of 96.6% reached in April 2014, and a 3.1% increase over the same quarter in 2013. With the decline, this quarter’s survey results reverse a trend throughout 2013 and 2014 of improving solvency positions for the surveyed plans. As well, approximately 23% of the surveyed plans in Q3 were more than fully funded at the end of the third quarter this year, compared with 37% in the previous quarter and 15% in Q3 2013.
“Canadian DB plans have strung together a nice run of winning quarters, but as we have been saying for some time now, market volatility continues to present significant risks and plan sponsors should be implementing or fine-tuning their de-risking strategies in order to stay current and optimized in the face of ever-changing capital market conditions,” said William da Silva, Senior Partner, Retirement Practice, Aon Hewitt.
“Now that we have seen plan solvency decline for the first time in over a year and a half, hopefully this will serve as a wake-up call to all plan sponsors to consider their funding and investment strategies with risk management as their key objective. Overall Canadian plan solvency is still relatively strong compared to where things stood just a few years ago, so there is still time to act. But with new mortality tables coming into effect, we expect material increases in liabilities for many plans. Clearly, that is another signal that the time to act is now.”
The 4.9 percent drop in funding was the first funding decline in nine quarters, or over two years.