UK – Revenues at Mercer Human Resource Consulting in the UK and the US declined by an unspecified amount in 2004, says embattled parent firm Marsh & McLennan.

The news came as MMC, hit by a regulatory investigation into its insurance market practices, swung to a loss in the fourth quarter of $676m – from a profit a year before of $375m.

“Retirement consulting revenues were flat overall in 2004 as declines in the large markets of the United States and United Kingdom were offset by good growth throughout the rest of the world,” MMC said in its fourth quarter earnings report.

A spokesman said the firm does not break out regional figures. MMC said total retirement consulting revenue came in at $1.35bn. Its total consulting revenue, which also includes management, change and human capital consulting, was up 13% at $3.1bn.

MMC’s asset management firm, Putnam Investments, saw its institutional assets under management decline by $7bn over the year to $70bn. Total assets under management at the firm, which was previously involved in the market-timing scandal, fell to £213bn from $240bn.

MMC is in the process of restructuring which could mean the loss of up to 2,500 jobs worldwide.

“Clearly, 2004 was the most difficult year in MMC's financial history,” said president and chief executive Michael Cherkasky. “We confronted major regulatory issues at both Marsh and Putnam. The settlements we have announced are important steps forward for the company.

“As a result, we are ready to put these matters behind us and move ahead in 2005 to restore the trust our clients have placed in us and to rebuild shareholder value.

“We believe that in 2006, Marsh will be a stronger, more streamlined company, delivering profitable growth with an operating margin in the upper-teens, and with the opportunity for further margin expansion.”