GERMANY - Watson Wyatt’s Munich office has hired a senior manager from investment consulting firm FERI to head its German investment consulting team. (Updates with Watson comment.)

Sources familiar with the matter HAD told IPE that Torsten Köpke, a FERI manager who specialises in asset advising, had quit to join Watson Wyatt this autumn.

“It is a coup for us that such a high-calibre professional like Torsten has decided to join us and we look forward to working with him to grow our presence in the important German market and to build on some of our initial successes there," said Nick Watts, the firm's head of European investment consulting.

FERI said it was "already in the process of quickly finding replacements."

In late 2003, Watson Wyatt opened an office for benefits and investment consulting in Munich after dissolving a joint venture with Bode Grabner Beye. Since then, Watson Wyatt has been building a team of consultants and has recruited three people.

Watson Wyatt among the foreign firms trying to break into the German investment consulting market. Industry experts estimate that one-fifth of German institutional investors currently rely on investment consultants compared with almost none before the late 1990s.

The market is served by the likes of FERI, Alpha Portfolio Advisors and RMC. Watson Wyatt’s rival Mercer and Faros are also present.

Sources also said that Julia Beinker, a manager at FERI in charge of asset manager selection, was leaving, adding that it was not clear where she was going.

The departures of Köpke and Beinker are a further blow to FERI, which has suffered an exodus of senior managers.

In 2003 senior investment consultants Rainer Buth and Uwe Rieken left the firm to found Frankfurt-based Faros. As reported last October, Buth and Rieken hired Frank Umlauf, a former colleague at FERI, for their team.

Rainer Rau, one of FERI’s three original founders and a shareholder, also retired last month after selling his stake in the firm. Another key FERI shareholder is the wealthy German family Quandt, which also has a sizeable stake in German car maker BMW.