EUROPE/INDIA – Consulting firm Watson Wyatt says it plans to move some of its European back office operations to India.

The firm said it plans to set up a pan-European pension valuation system, with a new centre in India to handle all pension valuations across Europe.

The Indian operation "will be a Watson Wyatt office run to the same standards as all other Watson Wyatt offices, both as regards quality and data confidentiality".

It stressed that the valuation work was not being moved outside the firm. "All contact with clients will continue to be managed by teams based in Europe." It already has consulting offices in Calcutta, Delhi and Mumbai, according to its web site.

A spokeswoman was not immediately able to provide further details.

The firm said in a statement that it has reviewed how the actuarial service can best be delivered to European clients.

"As a result, the firm has decided to adopt a strategy of delivering the back office processing element of all valuations through a valuation centre.

"This change will take some time to implement - at present it is expected that work will start being passed to the centre in 2007, with a steady build up to full capacity by 2010."

New software that is already in use in the US will be ready for the opening of the new centre in 2007.

"Taken together, these changes will have many benefits for the firm and our clients," said Mark Stewart, head of firm's European benefits group.

"This is not just about cost-efficiency - our clients will appreciate the faster turnaround times the new systems and processes will allow, while our European associates will be able to devote even more time and energy to responding to clients' need for more added-value consulting."