Pension Indicator Updated for March 31, 2017

April  2017: Spring Cleaning

By: Mike Shebak, Senior Managing Director, Hartland

This spring, as you tidy up the house, weed the flower bed and detail you car, please remember to give your pension plan a little TLC.  In no particular order, here are a few things to consider:

  • Is your plan eligible and due to issue term-vested, lump-sums this year?
  • Are plan audit files in order?
  • Is the plan's return on asset assumption realistic.
  • Where is the plan along the funded status-asset allocation glide-path?
  • Review the investment policy
  • Complete a thorough benchmarking of all fees and expenses

It is easy to get caught up in the joys of the warm weather and miss an opportunity to clean house.  Now is a great time to take stock of your plan.  Investment returns have likely been good, and interest rates have modestly increased.  So, pull on your rubber gloves, carave out the time, and sweat the details here this spring.


Plan funded statuses improved slightly in the month on the heels of positive asset returns and unchanged interest rates.

U.S. equity markets ended the month largely unchanged.  The S&P 500 and Russell 200 both returned 0.1%1.  With fourth quarter earnings season complete, the blended earnings growth rate for the S&P 500 was 4.9%1.  This marks the first time since Q4-14 and Q1-15 that the index has seen year-over-year growth in two consecutive quarters2.

International equity markets continue their advance.  Foreign developed equity markets as represented by the MSCI EAFE Index returned 2.9% in March, while the MSCI Emerging Markets index returned 2.5%1.

The Federal Reserve hiked the Fed Funds rate by 0.25% which the market had widely anticipated.  Fixed income markets traded mostly sideways for the month, although credit areas such as high yield sold off.

After a large move during the second half of 2016, yields have been largely range bound in 2017.  The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield closed March at 2.39%, unchanged for the month

As always, thanks for reading, and drop us a comment on how we're doing.

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Information provided in this article is general in nature, is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as investment advice. Performance data represents past performance.  Past performance is not indicative of future results.

March 1, 2017 to Date Investment Mix 
Plan TypeAggressiveBalancedLDI LiteLDI
 Frozen (for several years) 3.0% 2.4% 1.9% 0.8%
 Recently Frozen 2.9% 2.3% 1.7% 0.6%
 Ongoing Traditional 2.8% 2.2% 1.6% 0.5%
 Cash Balance 3.0% 2.4% 1.8% 0.7%
Month-over-Month Investment Mix 
Plan TypeAggressiveBalancedLDI LiteLDI
 Frozen (for several years) 1.0% 0.8% 0.6% 0.1%
 Recently Frozen 1.3% 1.1% 0.9% 0.4%
 Ongoing Traditional 1.7% 1.5% 1.2% 0.7%
 Cash Balance 1.1% 0.9% 0.7% 0.2%
12-Month Change Investment Mix 
Plan TypeAggressiveBalancedLDI LiteLDI
 Frozen (for several years) 12.8% 10.1% 7.2% 3.0%
 Recently Frozen 14.5% 11.8% 8.7% 4.5%
 Ongoing Traditional 16.4% 13.6% 10.6% 6.3%
 Cash Balance 13.5%


7.8% 3.6%