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Pressing Issues in Defined Benefit Pension Plans

by Leonardo Reos, FRM

· Investment Policy,Fixed Income,Portfolio Allocation

Defined benefit plans (DB) have been in use for decades in the US and other countries as the preferred retirement system used by federal and local governments, unions, large and medium companies and institutions and private individuals. Large asset manager, funds and insurance companies manage about $19Trillion dollars (or 52% of global pension assets in 2016) in DB retirement funds in the 22 major countries amounting to 62% of their GDP, with the US taking the highest percentage. Seven of these largest markets (Australia, Canada, Japan, Netherlands, Switzerland, UK and US), DCs take the highest share of assets in Japan at 96% and Australia the lowest at 13%. However, DC assets have grown at 2.6% annualized compounded return (CAGR) whereas defined contribution plans (DC) have been clipping a 5.6% CAGR. This article briefly summarizes some of the pressing obstacles facing DB pensions across the globe. It also presents three alternative accumulation portfolios based on the individual profile. Lastly, we propose a Constant Proportion Portfolio Insurance or CPPI, as an alternative long term investment strategy when individuals are approaching retirement.