Towers Perrin

HR and beyond

Towers Perrin is a global professional services firm, offering human resources and benefits consulting, reinsurance and financial risk management services through offices and alliance partners in the United States and Bermuda, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Asia, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.  The firm's HR consulting practice aims to help employers manage their staff in the areas of benefits, compensation, employee research and change management, among others.  Its reinsurance business provides reinsurance strategy and program review, claims management and program administration, catastrophe exposure management, market security consulting and contract negotiation and placement.  Financial risk management services are handled by the company's Tillinghast business, which offers consulting, actuarial services and software solutions to insurance and financial services companies.  Tillinghast also advises clients on risk financing and self insurance.

Towers' foundations

Established in Philadelphia in 1934 as Towers, Perrin, Forster & Crosby, the company's initial focus was on life insurance and reinsurance.  Offices in Chicago and New York followed in the 1940s, and the life insurance division became the pension division, an obvious focus for the firm, considering H. Walter Forster, one of its founders, had developed the first-ever pension plan in 1916 for Union Carbide.  The division began publishing the TPF&C Pension Tax Manual, now a standard reference (and a rollicking good bedtime story, to boot) on pension tax law for the IRS.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the company branched out overseas, opening offices in Montreal, Brussels and London.  It was in the 1960s, as well, that it began establishing a niche in HR consulting.  Over the following decades, the company grew both internally and through acquisition, taking on Tillinghast in a 1986 merger.  The following year, Towers Perrin was declared the "umbrella name" for the company, an arrangement that allows units such as Tillinghast to continue leveraging its brand name.

You scratch my back

Towers Perrin has been engaged with the business and technology solutions company EDS (now owned by Hewlett Packard) since 2005, in a joint venture known as ExcellerateHRO.  The collaborative business combines Towers Perrin's administrative solutions with EDS' payroll and HR outsourcing services.  This dual service arrangement allows clients to align their HR and business objectives with minimal loss of time and money investments.


THE LATEST ON TOWERS PERRIN

Two become one
June 2009

In a deal that will create the world's largest consulting firm dedicated to HR and employee benefits, Towers Perrin agreed a merger with Watson Wyatt. Billed as a "merger of equals," the deal created a company with some 14,000 employees, expected to rake in some $3.2 billion in revenue in its first year.  According to industry analysts, the deal is a reflection of the downturn in business associated with the recession; both companies had seen revenue fall off as clients cut spending and brought certain HR functions back in-house.  According to a Watson Wyatt spokesperson, the two firms will continue as separate entities until the deal officially closes, an event scheduled for the end of 2009, at which point the new entity will be known as Towers Watson & Co.

Cherry-picked
April 2009

The firm sold its Oracle PeopleSoft Enterprise HCM practice to New Jersey-based CherryRoad Technologies.  The sale, which was agreed upon for an undisclosed fee, sees the transfer of several Towers Perrin consultants and customers to CherryRoad.  Towers Perrin didn't comment in the media on any specific reason for the sale.

Stepping into the future of HR
April 2009

The firm announced that it had developed a "rigorous and actionable measurement framework" for human capital metrics.  Aimed at helping HR managers to make better decisions about investing in practices and programs to enhance productivity, the framework has four key categories: human capital productivity (both financial and industry-specific measures), talent management (how well employees are attracted, engaged, retained, etc.), total labor cost and rewards effectiveness, and HR function performance.

All data collected by the firm is collated in industry-specific databases, which are open to subscribers to enable them to use existing data and metrics to assist in the decision-making process.

Middle East expansion
March 2009

Towers Perrin opened an office in Dubai, heralding its arrival in the Middle East.  The firm opened a regional headquarters, from which it will serve clients in the region.  Of particular interest to the firm, it would appear, is Abu Dhabi; the company held a client event there in addition to one in Dubai to mark the opening of the office.

A milestone without candles
February 2009

The firm celebrated its 75th anniversary, provided the act of putting out a press release can be considered "celebration," that is.  While it didn't make any mention of where to find the company parties, the release did, at least, spare employees from having to listen to a longwinded CEO speech.  Instead, CEO Mark Mactas was quoted, and suggested that Towers Perrins' best days weren't behind it.  "It's an exciting time to be a part of Towers Perrin," he said, "and we look forward to continue working with our clients around the world to help their businesses thrive and prosper."

Risk champions
November 2008

Chartis Research named Towers Perrin to its top-100 list of risk technology vendors, and singled the firm out as the "winner" in the insurance field.  Chartis cited the firm's "breadth and depth of functionality combined with strong professional services and thought-leadership" as the key reasons for receiving the award.

Where were you before the recession?
July 2008

The firm created Towers Perrin Capital Markets Inc., a new, wholly owned subsidiary that will advise clients in capital markets.  Specifically targeting areas such as risk-linked securities, retirement risk transfer transactions and asset risk management services, the timing of the unit is either incredibly responsive to the economic meltdown or incredibly unfortunate.  Based in New York, the unit is just one of two independent companies announced by Towers Perrin on the same day.  The other, Towers Perrin Capital Management Ltd. is based in London, and offers much the same services to European clients as the New York-based company does to those in the U.S.

They're paying you how much?
April 2008

As the credit crisis first began appearing on media radars, Towers Perrin Managing Principal John England found himself the subject of scrutiny.  The reason?  England, an executive compensation specialist, was hired by mortgage lender Countrywide Financial (now owned by Bank of America) to make recommendations on CEO Angelo Mozilo's salary.  The controversial part of the process was two-fold: First, that Mozilo arranged for Towers Perrin to be brought in despite another consulting firm having already made a recommendation on Mozilo's salary; and second, that John England's recommendation came in significantly higher than the original.  Towers Perrin issued a statement at the time making it very clear that the firm acts only on the behalf of organizations, not individuals.  Either way, the results remain the same: Countrywide no longer exists, having succumbed to the subprime debacle it played a leading role in setting up, and Mozilo still walked off with the majority of the $103 million salary England helped set up.

Towers' training

New hires at Towers Perrin are expected to jump right into the action, learning as they go, but there are some official training programs to make the trial-by-fire experience less intimidating.  Besides a "strong mentoring program," the firm also offers courses through the Towers Perrin Institute, such as instruction on core technical skills like communication, project management and other consulting-related skills.

The downside to Towers Perrins' emphasis on on-the-job training, however, is that some lower-level staffers may feel unsupported in their professional development, respondents remark.  Many associates leave after one or two years of the firm because they feel that they "can't learn much in the office," and that "principals tend to not have much patience teaching junior-level employees," laments a junior source.

Do well, get promoted

Towers Perrins' promotion strategy is pretty straightforward: It is "based on performance and achievement of goals," a director explains, adding that promotions are also often dependent on management's support.  In order to move up to the next level, actuaries will also have to sit for an exam to test their skill levels, notes another higher-up.

Not everyone is so vertically inclined, however, and we're told staffers can remain at the level at which they feel most comfortable.  "While strong performance is expected, Towers Perrin is not an up-or-out firm, and many people have decided that they are happy where they are," a consultant says.  "Such decisions are supported firm wide."

Qualifications without discrimination


Diversity is nearly a nonissue at the firm, at least among the lower ranks, insiders note.  "Qualifications are the most important requirement for employment," a director explains, with a "much better than average" male-to-female employee ratio.  "Women have been successfully integrated into senior management for a long time," a manager reports.  The same can be said for hiring GLBT professionals, with "many openly GLBT partners and associates" at the firm, a respondent reports.

Slightly lower marks are given in the area of minority diversity.  In this respect, staffers say that the firm does "OK," although it "could be better and we are trying to do better."

Ad hoc community service

While there is no specific, firm wide community-service approach at Towers Perrin, the firm is involved in a number of charities, mentoring and volunteer projects on an office-by-office basis.  For example, in the New York office, consultants are involved in New York Cares Days, Strides for Breast Cancer, holiday-season toy drives and blood donations.  Insiders also say the firm has a charitable gift-matching program, and will support employees who want to take time off to do volunteer work.

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Towers Perrin


One Stamford Plaza,
263 Tresser Blvd., Ste. 700
Stamford, CT 06901-3226
Phone: (203) 326-5400
Fax: (203) 326-5499
www.towersperrin.com

STATS


  • Employer Type: Private
  • Chairman & CEO: Mark V. Mactas
  • 2009 Employees: 6,412

Major Office Locations

  • Melbourne , Australia
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • San Diego, CA
  • Irvine, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Denver, CO
  • Hartford, CT
  • Stamford, CT
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Tampa, FL
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Boston, MA
  • Detroit, MI
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Saint Louis, MO
  • Parsippany, NJ
  • New York, NY
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Cleveland, OH
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Providence, RI
  • Austin, TX
  • Dallas, TX
  • Houston, TX
  • San Antonio, TX
  • Seattle, WA
  • Milwaukee, WI
  • Kuala Lampur, Malaysia
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Singapore, Singapore
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Geneva, Switzerland
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Paris, France
  • Frankfurt, Germany
  • Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • Milan, Italy
  • Tokyo, Japan
  • Seoul, South Korea
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