Sedgwick Noble Lowndes has placed its faith in the development of French retirement market, despite the stalled law, by basing the first of a number of European ‘centres of excellence’ in Paris.

The move has been prompted, the company says, by the increasing privatisation of benefit provision in Europe. In addition to France, the new office, part of a new company within the group called Sedgwick Noble Lowndes Consulting, will target the rapidly developing Spanish and Italian markets, according to its new managing director Paul Kelly.

There are a number of initiatives that we are looking at on a pan-European level particularly with regard to the French, Spanish and Italian markets,” Kelly explains.

Discussing the thinking behind the Paris move, he says: “We strongly be-lieve there is a momentum of change in the French market that needs to be addressed. Whether this happens in the way envisaged by the French pension fund law or in a different fashion, there is a role for consultants.”

The new organisation will co-ordinate advice to companies, government and quasi-government organisations on retirement issues throughout Europe working with Sedgwick’s established offices.

As part of this remit, Kelly is aiming for the “establishment of a common standard of practice in our businesses across Europe”, which is, in part, a response to a rapidly changing market.

“There has been a knock on effect from the big acquisitions of Aon and Marsh MacLennan. We certainly believe in a change of emphasis. We have consulting operations across Europe but what we are doing is formalising their identity.”

“I personally believe that in a number of areas and markets there is a need for the greater specification of ap-proach,” he adds.

Kelly is transferring from the company’s global division, based in Croydon near London. His role as head of this division’s international consulting unit will be taken by David King.”