The Portuguese consultancy market may look full of sunny Iberian promise as the pension fund industry continues to grow and euro membership turns investment focus toward the rest of the continent and beyond, requiring ever more developed asset liability studies and performance measurement. However, the general feeling in the market is that if you're not there already, then you'll have a hard time joining the Portuguese consultancy club, with the market fairly well wrapped up by the Lisbon branches of Watson Wyatt and William Mercer (Towers Perrin does do Portuguese business through its Madrid office and Callan Bacon & Woodrow from London) on the investment side, and equally by Andersen and KPMG in the HR field.
Bernie Thomas, actuarial consultant at Watson Wyatt, says: We have seen a lot of work in the last year both in scheme design in companies changing from DB to DC retirement provision, and also because of the IAS19 European accounting standards brought in last year, and we expect this to continue. Business is also booming for fund manager searches due to new schemes being set up and increased outsourcing of assets. And the need for better returns in a low interest rate Europe, where bonds are no longer the safety net they were, has meant asset liability and profile studies have ballooned amongst clients."
Nuno Botelho, administrator at Portuguese gestora M Fundos, comments: "In truth, everything in the Portuguese consultancy market passes through Mercer and Watson Wyatt, with the principal business being manager searches. "In terms of technical topics like asset liability studies the Portuguese market is just not scientifically enough driven yet to take them on board, and I believe the scene is similar in terms of pension scheme design. Changes will come sooner rather than later, but it is difficult to say when." Hugh Wheelan"