AUSTRALIA - Watson Wyatt has poached one of Mercer's senior asset consultants as Tony Arnold, formerly director of consulting, joins Watson Wyatt's Melbourne office.
He will specialise in investment manager research, primarily in the area of fixed interest. His role will include delivering thought leadership and providing specialist client consulting advice in the area of manager research and fixed interest. Arnold will not specifically work with the A$61.3bn (US$56.3bn) Future Fund, for which Watson Wyatt is investment consultant, but he will add to the firm's mission to act as an "ideas factory" for clients' evolving needs, said Graeme Miller, head of investment consulting in Australia for Watson Wyatt.
"If we look at all the people we've added from the past 12-18 months, they add to our capabilities to deliver ideas and opportunities to these clients," Miller said.
Although Miller said Arnold was not specifically hired to bring existing Mercer superfund clients with him, the relationship between a consultant and a superfund can influence whether they will stay with a particular firm, said Mark Griffiths, principal at RiceWarner, an actuarial firm that performs asset consultant searches.
"The relationship is important," he said. "It's not the only aspect of a decision, but asset consulting is a fairly technical area of advice and there is a lot of trust involved when a client accepts that advice. Familiarity with the consultant concerned helps the client to accept the advice. Of course, clients recognise that the asset consulting firms have large capable research teams backing up the advice."
This is not Watson Wyatt's only high profile hire. Last November, Watson Wyatt took aboard Hugh Dougherty, formerly chief investment officer of InTech Investment Consulting. Nearly a year ago, Watson Wyatt also lured Martin Goss, Mercer's head of office in Melbourne. In January, Watson Wyatt also hired three other investment analysts, a spokeswoman said.
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