GLOBAL - Consulting firm Watson Wyatt has replaced PricewaterhouseCoopers with Deloitte & Touche as its principal accountants, according to filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The changeover was effective from December 12, the filing states. The decision to dismiss PWC was made on December 7.

PWC declined to comment and Watson Wyatt and Deloitte did not return calls seeking comment.

The filing states that until PWC's dismissal "there have been no disagreements with PWC on any matter of accounting principles or practices, financial statement disclosure, or auditing scope or procedure," which is the official wording compliant with SEC standards.

In a formal response to the filing PWC noted: "We agree with the statements concerning our firm in such Form 8-K." 

Deloitte had been the independent auditor for European arm Watson Wyatt Partners LLP prior to the company's merger with Watson Wyatt Worldwide completed in July 2005.

Meanwhile Watson said in a report it expected "rapid changes" in pension fund investment strategies that would result in a meaningful decline in traditional low-risk, long-only mandates leading to more significant changes at investment management organisations according.

It said: "The race for assets in new areas such as unconstrained and absolute return investing will result in convergence of organisation types, with hedge funds moving into long-only space and traditional fund managers moving into long-short space, resulting in even more product proliferation." The publication is called ‘Flight Plan'.

The firm issued another report which saw a rise in trust-based DC pension plans among FTSE 100 companies.

According to the statistics over three-quarters of DC schemes run by FTSE100 companies are trust-based as opposed to contract-based, such as group personal pension or stakeholder plans. Last year, only two-thirds of schemes were trust based.

"Some of this increase is attributable to the changing composition of the FTSE 100 and survey respondents," said Gary Smith, a senior consultant at Watson Wyatt. "But it is still a fact that, despite the often predicted demise of trust-based DC plans, they remain overwhelming the most popular choice for larger employers. In this sector of the market, most new DC schemes are established as trust-based."