Innovative, experienced, flexible and diverse. These are words commonly used to describe Willis Towers Watson’s growing fiduciary management service and team.
Since winning its first fiduciary management client in 2010, Willis Towers Watson has grown to be the largest fiduciary manager in the UK. This evolution, driven initially by demand from several multi-billion pound pension scheme clients, has seen the fiduciary management service expand and adapt its services to smaller clients too.
“All clients, regardless of size, can access the same innovative investment ideas and opportunities that may not be available to them under a typical investment advisory model,” says Katie O’Sullivan, Senior Investment Strategist at Willis Towers Watson. “Our service is flexible to each client’s individual circumstances; our clients have differing investment beliefs, levels of delegation and portfolio design. Some have a self-sufficiency objective, others are targeting buyout. We fully integrate with our actuarial and settlement teams to meet our clients’ needs.”
A collaborative approach is key, and gives Willis Towers Watson an edge over its competitors. “We work with our large and experienced manager research team, who are invaluable in sourcing new investment ideas. The research is global in reach and the rigorous process has a proven track record of adding value,” says O’Sullivan.
Willis Towers Watson also goes a step further. It not only invests in products that are on offer in the market, but also influences managers to establish new strategies to meet client requirements. “This creativity is for the sole benefit of our clients,” says O’Sullivan.
Working within a delegated model, Willis Towers Watson’s portfolio managers can make rapid investment decisions and execute these efficiently, to take advantage of opportunities in real-time. This is in contrast to the advisory model in which trustees typically make decisions in quarterly meetings.
Willis Towers Watson also looks at the bigger picture. It is currently focused on revolutionising the institutional investment market through technology, by launching the Asset Management Exchange.
This is a new institutional asset management marketplace, which transforms the interaction of institutional investors and asset managers. “By combining both scale and operational efficiency, investors benefit from significant cost savings,” says O’Sullivan. “This is another real differentiator for Willis Towers Watson. We work in a very entrepreneurial environment and are looking to change the whole industry for the better.”
Aside from delivering a great service to clients, Willis Towers Watson is also very proud of its diverse and inclusive culture, which O’Sullivan insists is key to its success.
“The benefits that diversity brings to an organisation are now widely accepted in our industry,” she says. “At Willis Towers Watson, we are committed to attracting, developing and retaining a qualified and diverse workforce. Through our inclusion networks, as well as our leadership and mentoring programmes, we encourage all our people to flourish as individuals. We want to make the most of the different attributes and experiences that each person brings.”
To bolster its recruitment efforts, Willis Towers Watson is working with the Bright Network to specifically reach out to candidates across a number of universities, not just the Russell Group network, and is also hosting and sponsoring a number of female-only careers events. “We’re drawing from a wider talent pool,” says O’Sullivan.
Willis Towers Watson is keen to promote its modern, flexible working arrangements. The firm offers agile working, including hot-desking, working from home, part-time positions, and term-time contracts.
“There are lots of different roles available at all levels,” says O’Sullivan. “Some are client-facing, like mine, and others are internally-focused. We support people in tailoring their role and their working hours to suit the lifestyle they want.”
For her, it’s a very rewarding environment. “For me, my role is ideal. I love working with people, building trusted relationships with clients and collaborating with my colleagues, who, I am delighted to say, are a fantastic bunch. But it’s also a technical role, so it’s mentally stimulating. I’ve always relished a challenge and Willis Towers Watson certainly offers me that.”