GLOBAL – Dale Gifford, chairman and chief executive of pension consulting and human resources firm Hewitt Associates, is to retire at the end of the year.

The announcement came as the Illinois-based firm said it was reviewing its earnings guidance and that its top HR executive was also leaving.

“While the benefits outsourcing and consulting businesses continue to perform well, the company is reviewing its guidance for the third quarter and full fiscal year 2006 in connection with a review of its HR BPO contract portfolio,” a statement said.

Hewitt said Gifford, CEO since 1992, would leave at the end of December. “Hewitt's board is commencing an external search for a successor,” a company statement said. Lead director Cheryl Francis said Gifford was a “visionary”.

Also leaving is 22-year company veteran Bryan Doyle, president of its human resources outsourcing business. He has “resigned his positions with the company and the board to pursue other opportunities”.

Chief business excellence office Julie Gordon would become acting president of the unit.

Last month the company said its consulting income slipped by 12% to $49m (€38.8m) in the second quarter – due to higher staff pay.

Earlier this month IPE report that the firm was considering raising its minority stake in the BodeHewitt joint venture it launched almost a year ago with Bode Grabner Beye.