New, complicated executive compensation plan rules are leading to changes in plan rules but few moves to drop the plans.

Researchers at Buck Consultants, New York, a unit of Affiliated Computer Services Inc., Dallas, have published that conclusion in an analysis of the effects of new Internal Revenue Service nonqualified deferred compensation plan rules on the nonqualified deferred comp market.

The firm surveyed 80 employers, including 44% that offer at least one nonqualified executive plan.

About 95% of participants with executive defined contribution plans will be keeping those plans, and 89% of the participants with executive defined benefit plans will be keeping the defined benefit plans, the Buck researchers report.

But about 30% of the participants affected by the new Internal Revenue Code Section 409A rules will be splitting the plans into two parts to take advantage of “grandfathering provisions” that offer more flexibility for older plans, the researchers say.

The researchers note that 47% of the defined contribution plan sponsors use mutual funds as the funding vehicle, while sponsors of funded executive defined benefit plans generally prefer to use life insurance as the funding vehicle.