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Pension Indices

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Morneau Shepell Pension Indices March 31, 2021

The Morneau Shepell Pension Indices, released monthly, condense the journey that pension plans have experienced during the year into a few key statistics. More importantly, they also provide an early indicator of the challenges and opportunities that are yet to come for plan sponsors and administrators to help with the monitoring and management of their pension plans.


  • The funded position for an average pension plan continued to improve in March 2021, as measured on both a solvency basis and an accounting basis.
  • Continued increases in bond yields caused a drop in pension plan liabilities, as well as negative returns for fixed income asset holdings during the month, especially for long-term bonds. Over recent months, the gap between accounting and annuity purchase discount rates has narrowed (or in some cases has disappeared), which will make an annuity purchase more attractive for some plan sponsors.
  • Plan assets for an average plan remain unchanged compared to last month, and have decreased slightly since December 31, 2020. Negative returns experienced by fixed income assets were offset by increases in equity markets.
  • Commuted values will continue to fall in April 2021 as commuted values are based on bond yields at the end of the previous month.
  • Many DB pension plans are in the best funded position they have been in over a decade.

Download the full report: Morneau Shepell Pension Indices March 31, 2021 (PDF)