US – Hewitt Associates’ net consulting revenues rose to 188.1 million dollars in the second quarter, from 133.6 million dollars in the second quarter of 2002.

A “significant portion” of the growth was due to the strength of European currencies against the dollar, as well as the acquisition of the rest of Dutch-based affiliate Heijnis en Koelman.

Hewitt, which last year bought UK-based pension consulting firm Bacon & Woodrow, said the rise was driven by organic growth in retirement and health benefit plan consulting – this was largely offset by decreased demand for our more discretionary consulting services.

"The rate of growth in our retirement and health benefit plan consulting business was healthy, given the current economic environment,” said chairman and chief executive Dale Gifford. “However, demand for our more discretionary consulting services continued to decline as our clients remained constrained by tight budgets.”

It said that consulting segment margin increased to 21.9% from 17.4% due in part to higher margins in Europe as a result of the Bacon & Woodrow business.

"Revenue and operating income both were within our guidance despite the significant economic uncertainty and challenges that our clients are facing," said Gifford. "Our unrelenting focus on quality and delivering the results we promise is helping us maintain strong client satisfaction with our services, which is helping to drive steady growth in this tough economy."

Total net revenues rose 17% to 478.1 million dollars from 408.7 million dollars. Net income was 23.5 million dollars – there was no prior-year figure because Hewitt was a partnership until June 2002.

Separately, Hewitt said it is entering the payroll services market with the acquisition of Cyborg Worldwide for 43 million dollars in cash. Cyborg provides services to more than 750 companies representing five million employees in 20 countries worldwide and has annualised revenues of more than 40 million dollars.