Towers Watson Co. (TW)

Analyst Day Call

September 19, 2011 9:00 AM ET


John Haley – Chairman, Chief Executive Officer

Roger Millay – VP and CFO

Gene Wickes – Managing Director, Benefits Segment

Julie Gebauer – Managing Director, Talent and Rewards Segment

Tricia Guinn – Managing Director, Risk and Financial Services

Jim Foreman – Managing Director, North America

Paul Morris – Managing Director, Europe, Middle and Africa


John Haley

Okay. Good morning, everyone. Thanks to all of you for coming to our 2011 Analyst Day. We’re in a bit more of an upscale than you this year and I think we’ve actually see a few new faces, so going to see that worked out.

Before we begin, I have to remind you that we may be making some forward-looking statements and their actual results may be different than expected.

So, here is the agenda we have today. I’m going to start off with a few introductory remarks and then we’re going to have our segment leaders run through each of the segments and Roger our CFO will come up and then, we’ll have Q&A and lunch. Before I go into everything, let me introduce some of the members of the Executive Committee that are here today. So, we have Gene Wickes, who is the Segment Leader for Benefits, you want to wave or something Gene, or stand up. Thank you. We have Julie Gebauer, who heads our Talent and Rewards segment. We have Tricia Guinn, who heads our Risk and Financial Services segment. We have our CFO Roger Millay. And then we have Jim Foreman, from the Americas, runs the Geographic Region. And Paul Morris, from Europe, Middle East, Africa.

So, we hope to keep to the schedule in fact I may even give them a few extra minutes here to run through this. So, first of all just about the global rep and depth of Towers Watson and this is a slide that I think, you know, those of you I’ve been talking with, we’ve used this a lot before. We are extraordinarily well positioned to work on global clients. We got over 14,000 associates in 34 countries around the world. We have over 100 offices around the world there. So, this wide geographic footprint is one that enables us to serve the largest clients in the world, and then we’ll talk a little bit later about the kind of clients we have. But clients that have been global problems are ones that we’re probably particularly well positioned to deal with. In terms of the kind of work we do, we’re as large as anybody in the world in terms of our footprint and number of associates doing that.

A couple of key results from the fiscal year that just ended on June 30, we were very pleased with the way this year came out. We had $3.25 billion of revenue which is 2% growth on an organic basis that pro forma adjusting for acquisition and divestitures. The first half of the fiscal year that was one where we saw a revenue had declined from the prior period and we ended up second half with some pretty strong growth in the 5% to 6% range, with 6% organic revenue growth in the fourth fiscal quarter. So, we’re very pleased to see this.

We had said at the end of calendar 2010, that we thought we were turning the corner and you know, there is a lot things related to the merger and there were some special situations that made us think that the revenue decline was something that was temporary and return, I think it turned a little bit faster and the revenue growth was a little bit higher than we had expected. The EBITDA margin also came in very nicely. We had been targeting of getting to about 18% three years into the merger. And so to do 18.9% for the first full year, we feel pretty good about that result also. And you know, particularly since these are done under some relatively challenging economic conditions. So, we’re reasonably pleased with where we’ve come out this year.

Just looking at where we are today, there is I think four main things I’d look at. First is just, the organizational alignment. And I’ve talked before to some of you about our integration. Integration has gone I think better than we had any light to expect. It doesn’t mean that everything was perfect and it doesn’t mean that they weren’t a lot of things that were hard. But I think basically, the things that were hard were things that we always thought were going to be hard and so, we basically had been prepared for them. At this point, for the most part of the organizational alignment, the harmonization of any of our internal policies is pretty much completed. And so, we’re moving forward now as Towers Watson.

In terms of the marketing and our branding, we are going to market as Towers Watson, I think one of things that was a surprise to, and so I think all of us in the management team was how quickly the market responded to the notion of us as Towers Watson. And we were doing some sensing of the market even just a few months into the merger and clients responding on the knowledge of us as Towers Watson as no longer as Tower Perrin or no longer as Watson Wyatt occurred much, much faster than we had expected there. So, our clients have responded quite well of that. And in the very beginning, the questions we were getting from clients were things around make sure that I don’t lose the team that’s working on my case right now, you know, make sure that you don’t change them up as you do the merger.

And about nine months into the merger we saw that change and now we’re just continually hearing from clients about I want to tap into the resources that you have and the extra resources that you’re bringing to the case. And of course that’s exactly the reason we did the merger, so we feel pretty good about that.

In terms of rationalizing systems and infrastructure, we have one big remaining project and that’s our ERP implementation project. Now Roger is going to talk a little bit more about this later. But needless to say, any ERP implementation is not a small effort. And as long as that’s hanging up, I mean, that’s actually one of the things, whenever things are going to ERP projects, I always worry about things going along with that. And I think in a professional services firm, you’d probably worry a little bit more than that just probably a chance of loss of people billing time or things like that but having said that, we feel like we’ve done a lot of the good planning for that. And we feel like we’re well positioned. So, I’ll let Roger deal with more about that but the main message is, we feel pretty good about our progress at the moment.

And then finally and perhaps the most important of these four points is that we’ve really turned our focus to the future. Starting in January of 2011, we started talking to the organization about integration really being over at this point for the most part and we needed to start thinking about planning for who we were going to be as Towers Watson and taking advantage of the possibilities of the merger. And I’ll talk a little bit more about some of the strategy work we’ve done around that in a minute.

I guess, what I did was I skipped a slide. Well, this is what our revenues look like and I’ll come back and talk about this real quick. The size of the segments our benefits are 57% Risk and Financial Services, about a quarter of the business and Talent and Rewards about 17%. If we’d looked at these a few years ago, Talent and Rewards would have been a bigger percentage of the overall business. Talent and Rewards is something that you know, is the most cyclical that we have at the business. And of course it’s one of the reasons why we feel pretty good the Talent and Rewards is going to be one of the fastest growing areas we have going forward.

Distribution by revenue, the Americas are 59% that splits up about 50%, is the US and then the other 9% or so is Canada and Latin America. EMEA is about 35% of the, of the EMEA revenues about two thirds are in Pounds Sterling and about one third are in Euros, so you can see it’s very much dominated by the UK and then Asia Pacific around 6%, now we’ll get into this when we talk about the segments. One of the reasons that Asia Pacific is down at 6% is you don’t see defined benefit plans to the same extent there. So, Asia Pacific is about 3% of our Benefits segment. It’s about 10% or 11% of our RFS and Talent and Rewards segments.

So, I don’t know if I had this up when I was going through the four parts or not. But anyway, I went through the four things of where we are today. Some of the macro trends affecting our business, you know, government resources are really stretched today with the demands of the economic environment and the demographics of the ageing population. Ageing also puts a premium on productivity. So these are things that affect, you know, demand for our business and our advice for clients. Private employers are probably also required to stretch benefit dollars further to retain talent.

The continuing growth in the emerging economies is increasing well. Now, that has a couple of impacts on us. First, higher wealth leads to higher demand, for say, insurance, health, retirement benefits. We just had our board meeting in Shanghai a few ago, and we were talking with some of our folks from Asia Pacific. And one of the themes that came out was, we’re seeing more and more companies paying attention to benefits to strengthen their employee retention and engagement. And the benefit that we see and the most interesting is some sort of supplemental health insurance. So, this is a way for companies to maybe distinguish themselves and then shine a market and do something about the big turnover problems they have there. This is something though that we’re seeing around the world, Hong Kong, Malaysia, lot of places are seeing some interest in supplemental health insurance that goes there.

Now, we have down here employee engagement even more critical in the current environment. And we’re thinking about it’s even more critical in a service economy. Service has accounted for about 60% of economic activity in the OECD countries, and of course that’s a growing percent. So, this is the employee engagement where one of our large strength in Talent and Rewards, Julie will talk about that, that’s again something that drives to me for our services. So, we all know that as we go forward, this is probably a riskier and less predictable world with companies paying closer attention to investment and broader risk management, again which drives demand for our services.

Our clients are some of the largest in the world. In fact, we serve of the Fortune Global 500, we serve 75% of them, and we serve 75% of the FTSE 100. And as mentioning about our capabilities, but then when you think about our clients, these are companies that do face very complex issues on a large scale. And many of these issues really relate to how our company manages their people. And so, we’ve put a number of the things around here that they might have to deal with, you know, from the cost of retirement benefits to creating a high performance culture. But as you think about these things, whether it’s the cost to retirement benefits, whether it’s, you know, limited compensation benefits, creating a high performance culture. Basically, companies have to make trade-offs around the benefits, retaining talent and managing the budgets, and Towers Watson has the expertise to help companies navigate these choices.

Simultaneously, companies need effective risk and financial management. And in many ways effective risk and financial management goes hand in hand with effective people management. At Towers Watson, we have deep expertise in areas like reinsurance, financial modeling, investment strategies and enterprise risk management. So, we partner with our clients to help them understand the connections between what issues HR is thinking about and what issues the CFO is thinking about that. And Tricia Guinn will talk a little bit more about some of the specific things we do in Risk and Financial Services in a little bit.

For our biggest and the most, the largest issues we work with our clients, they usually don’t fit neatly into one box, I sort of mentioned here, here is the kind of things we do in Benefits or Talent and Rewards or Risk and Financial Services, but in fact it’s our job to understand our client’s industry, their business and their challenges holistically. And one way we do that is by leveraging our client development group which is really the face of Towers Watson to the client and then the face of the client to Towers Watson.

I’d like to ask Jim Foreman, who is the leader of the Americas to talk to you a little bit about how the client development group works. Jim?

Jim Foreman

Great, thanks, John, good morning everyone. Just John mentioned earlier that we’re pleased with our success post merger and a lot of that success came from I believe, our relentless focus on our clients. And we hear that pretty consistently in the market when we go and visit our clients. As we set up the structure for the company, we established obviously three very strong segments we’re going to hear from those folks later. But we also felt we needed a focus on the geographic presence of our clients. So, we set up a distinct group of people which we call the Client Development Group or the CDG which is made up of people in each of our markets, many of the members of the executive committee John, myself, have all passed through that function.

The people that are the managing consultants in the local markets, and we’ve attached Account Directors who are focused, as John mentioned the FTSE 75% of our clients in the Fortune 1,000, 75% our clients, those are the organizations that this group is focused on. Their responsibility is to understand what the segment’s products and services are and understand what the client’s needs are. We line that up and very proactively we’re able to take Towers Watson to market. Additionally this group is focused on client satisfaction and really understanding what the buying hubs are that are developing in each of our clients, for instance the investment consulting business we’re very focused obviously on the Chief Investment Officer, the finance function and a lot of the work that we do in the Benefits Segment, also is HR and finance related. So, this group is all over the world. It’s more prevalent in the Americas right now. But we’re looking to develop this much more in Asia Pacific as well as EMEA going forward.

So, we just want to give you a little sense of that this morning and obviously we’re happy to answer any questions as we go on. Thanks John.

John Haley

Thanks Jim. We wanted to make sure to talk about I think because we’ve touched in prior discussions on the Client Development Group a little bit. But in fact, this really is one of the great strengths of the organization and we think it’s one of the keys to our future. So, Jim would be pleased to take any more questions as we get into Q&A.

So, as we said that challenges facing companies are broad and expanding, thanks to globalization, expanding competition, free flows of capital labor, goods and services across borders, technology and a whole host of other factors. Our unique ability to help clients improve performance in this environment by managing the cost, by enhancing their workforce productivity and identifying and mitigating risk sets us apart. And our three segments give us a strong and relevant value proposition both now and into the future. These are some of the key services that we use today with our clients. So, you can see in Benefits, we work with Retirement Plans that is largely defined Benefits Plans that we’re talking about. We do work on defined contribution plans but it’s just there is not as much work to be done on them so even though we do a lot, it doesn’t count for us much on the revenue.

Health and Group benefits which is largely a US phenomenon but as I said, we’re seeing more interest in that around the world. And you know, it’s at the stage now where people are talking about it a lot not so much doing a lot, but we’re seeing that start to change to them, Technology Administration Solutions where we administer healthcare, retirement plans and compensation plans etcetera for our clients.

In Talent and Rewards, it’s really all about rewarding, retaining and engaging the employees so we have our executive comp, our talent management, our surveys. I mentioned earlier the importance of engagement in today’s world particularly in the service economy. And we have, Julie will touch on this later. But we have employee engagement survey group that I think we’re rightly proud of. We have the largest normative database in the world on employee engagement opinions. So, we can come out and provide employers with information that they really can’t get elsewhere.

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