After volatile markets ravaged the assets in defined-benefit pension plans over the last couple of years, companies are reshaping their investment strategies and paying closer attention to the risks involved in operating pension plans.

"The premise is that you need to develop investment strategies that are not just based blindly on the asset side, but also incorporate many other factors, notably the funded status," says Ari Jacobs, North American retirement solutions leader at Hewitt Associates.

A plan that's 70% funded should take a different approach from one that's 130% funded, Jacobs says. "A plan that is fully funded should really act quickly and swiftly to ensure that they lock in that funded status and not continue to take on equity risk they may not be rewarded for."

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