GERMANY – Watson Wyatt says it has hired 11 staff for its new German arm from its German joint venture Wyatt Bode Grabner.

“We are delighted that 11 associates have chosen to join us from the joint venture,” said marketing manager Simon Bleach. “They approached us to work for Watson Wyatt Deutschland GmbH entirely on their own initiative.”

The office is currently headed up by senior consultant Ute Hoenes. "However, we will be appointing a managing consultant in due course," Bleach added.

Watson has a 20-year joint venture with German actuarial firm Bode Grabner Beye called Wyatt Bode Grabner.

Bleach added: “Recognising that we had different strategic objectives for the future, Watson Wyatt LLP launched its own actuarial and benefits consulting business in Germany, Watson Wyatt Deutschland GmbH, in October of this year.

“This business, based in Munich, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Watson Wyatt LLP. It is not linked to nor responsible for, nor has it taken over the business of Wyatt Bode Grabner.

He said the firm is integrating the new business with Watson Wyatt LLP's existing human capital consulting practice in Duesseldorf. He added: “We are likely to include investment consulting and our other services in the future.”

Bode Grabner Beye managing director Georg Thurnes was not immediately available for comment.

Meanwhile, Watson has released research showing that UK pension schemes' investment in equities is unrelated to their funding position

The firm has analysed the pension schemes of companies in the FTSE-350 index and found that the amount they have invested in equities “appears to be unrelated to how well they are funded, their maturity or the financial strength or relative size of their sponsoring company”.

It said it found “only a weak correlation” between high funding levels and the size of equities portfolios.

"Higher equity exposure provides an investor with the expectation of higher returns over the long term but also greater volatility in the long term," said Watson Wyatt partner John Ball.

"So one might have assumed that those companies with above average levels of equity investment would be those that have strong funding positions. But this appears not to be the case.”