Expertise is key to managing pension risks and obligations

By Keith McDonagh
Keith McDonagh is Head of the Institutional Solutions businesses for MassMutual.
Posted on Feb 28, 2018

Few markets are better aligned to MassMutual’s financial acumen and risk management capabilities than the defined benefit pension marketplace.

The Investment Company Institute reports $8.9 trillion in private and public defined benefit pension assets in the United States as of September 30, 2017.1 It’s an indication of the scope of the defined benefit market and the potential for MassMutual to offer its expertise and experience as a risk manager.

Since 1957, MassMutual has been helping companies meet their pension obligations to both current and former employees, as well as manage the associated financial risks. We provide actuarial and risk consulting services, investment management, recordkeeping, and pension buyout and risk transfer capabilities.

We have invested in new resources and building out our capabilities to better serve the defined benefit marketplace. Recently, MassMutual introduced a new analytics tool to help employers gauge and manage the relative health of their pension plans. Our PensionSmart Analysis tool is available to pension plan sponsors through financial advisors and consultants who serve the pension recordkeeping, investments and actuarial marketplaces.

The tool provides insights into the health of an employer’s pension, creating a “persona” that details the plan’s current status, funding level or health, service structure, and comparison to pension plans sponsored by other employers in the same industry. With the results of the tool’s analysis in hand, MassMutual’s actuarial and investment consultants assess the pension plan’s health and make recommendations to the sponsor about appropriate options. The assessment examines funding, investment and de-risking strategies to help sponsors make the best long-term decisions about managing their pension plans.

Sponsors of defined benefit plans have different goals, from continuing their commitments to terminating a plan, and from better managing liabilities to shifting them to a third party. As part of the analysis of pensions, the PensionSmart Analysis tool examines different investment “glide path” options to help sponsors achieve specific goals related to funding and liability matching.

MassMutual also evaluates and recommends de-risking strategies, as more sponsors look to reduce liabilities from pensions. We’re seeing growing interest in pension transfers from many plan sponsors.

The market for pension risk transfers has been gaining incredible momentum as more employers evaluate the possibility of shifting their pension risks to financially stable insurers.

As employers find managing pensions increasingly difficult, interest in insightful, experienced support from a financially secure life insurer with decades of pension expertise continues to grow. MassMutual has the experience, experts and resources to help pension sponsors manage their complex financial issues and, ultimately, meet their obligations.


Keith McDonagh is head of the Institutional Solutions businesses for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. (MassMutual), which includes Institutional Insurance, Institutional Longevity, Defined Benefit, Institutional Investments, Stable Value, Medium Term Notes and Guaranteed Investment Contracts.

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1Investment Company Institute, "Research and Statistics, Q3 2017,"


The information provided is not written or intended as specific tax or legal advice. MassMutual, its employees and representatives are not authorized to give tax or legal advice. You are encouraged to seek advice from your own tax or legal counsel.