UK – Watson Wyatt Investment Consulting has been axed as investment adviser to the roughly £400m (€586m) Thomas Cook Pension Plan in the UK – the trustees have appointed Aon Consulting following a competitive tendering process.
The tendering process - involving Watsons, Mercer and Aon - was launched in August and completed in November. The trustees ran the process themselves with no adviser.
According to Thomas Cook Pension Plan director Graham Hunt, Watson Wyatt advised the scheme for more than five years.
The decision to put the position of investment consultant out to tender followed on from a normal review process.
Hunt stressed that it was not a case of “Aon versus Watsons”. Instead, Aon’s innovation and whole approach to the needs of the trustees made them favourites.
Aon’s presentation was “not something that could be presented to any plan”, said Hunt.
Aon’s initial responsibilities include a “strategic review” of the scheme’s equity portfolio and a review of the bond portfolio. “Alternative vehicles” will also be considered, according to a statement.
Aon business relationship manager Jon Hutchings told IPE there will not be any dramatic changes to the strategy, but there will be a focus on how that strategy is delivered.
Aon has been appointed on a retainer contract of an undisclosed amount.
Hutchings said: “We are delighted to have secured this appointment, particularly as we were up against stiff competition.”
He told IPE the pension fund trustees were impressed by Aon’s understanding of their needs and what they were trying to achieve, rather than pushing a standard suite of services at the scheme.
The scheme has roughly 4,327 members, 1,634 pensioners and 9,917 deferred pensioners.