UK - Nick Watts, head of European investment consulting at Watson Wyatt, is to take a sabbatical in the autumn.

Kevin Carter, who joined the firm three years ago and is part of the investment consulting management team, will succeed Watts as of July 1. Both are 52.

Watson Wyatt said in a statement that Carter, a senior investment consultant, had been responsible for “several key client relationships” since joining.

Carter said: “I am excited to be taking on this role at such a fascinating time in the development of the investment consulting industry.”

“It is time for both me and the business to move on and make a change so that we can successfully build on the progress of recent years,” Watts said.

Watts will spend the next few months shifting his responsibilities to Carter. He is expected to be back at the firm in 2006.

A spokesman for the firm told IPE that on his return Watts would probably work with pension funds and institutional clients, but said it was too early to elaborate further.

Sabbaticals are “reasonably popular” among Watson Wyatt’s employees, he also said, citing global head of investment consulting Roger Urwin as an example.

The firm allowed them because of their productive effect, the spokesman also said.

Watson Wyatt’s employees qualify for a sabbatical after a 10 years – although the right to a break does not come automatically. Financial arrangements for the sabbatical depend on the position of the candidate.

Meanwhile, the firm has also put the UK’s unfunded public sector pension liabilities at around £690bn (€1trn) – or 60% higher than government estimates.

"Pension liabilities have been rising in both the public and private sectors. Companies now have to account for their pension liabilities on their balance sheets in a transparent way. Given the enormous size of public sector pension liabilities it is vital that they too are properly accounted for,” said partner Stephen Yeo.