US – Staff numbers at US consulting firm Watson Wyatt & Co. have fallen by 260, or 6.3%, in the past year, according to its latest earnings release.

The Washington-based firm, which has cross-shareholdings with UK-based Watson Wyatt LLP with which it operates Watson Wyatt Worldwide, said it had a total 3,880 employees at the end of the fiscal third quarter, down from 4,140 a year before.

The number of ‘associates’ in its benefits group has fallen to 1,635 from 1,658. International staff numbers were down to 965 from 989.

Net operating income at its benefits group slipped in the quarter to 26.5 million dollars from 26.7 million dollars in the prior year period. In the nine-month period net operating income at the division fell 7.6% to 65.3 million dollars from 70.7 million dollars.

Benefits group revenues, which represent 61% of total revenues, rose six percent in the quarter to 110 million dollars. “New client wins in the retirement practice continued to drive revenue growth,” the firm said.

The company’s overall net income from continuing operations rose to 14 million dollars from 12.4 million dollars. Total revenues were 180.7 million dollars, up two percent from 177.6 million dollars.

"This past quarter was a solid one, with some encouraging signs on the revenue front," said president and chief executive John Haley.

"We are gaining share in our target market and experiencing accelerated growth in our benefits business, while our technology solutions are seeing significant traction in the marketplace. Our revenue growth prospects, combined with disciplined cost management, will allow us to increase the bottom line going forward."

The firm said it expects fourth-quarter revenues to rise one to two percent over the prior-year fourth quarter. It added: “Management reaffirms its revenue guidance for the year of flat to down one percent.”

Watson Wyatt LLP this week named 14 new partners.