Buck Consultants Inc., New York, is beefing up its marketing strategy and looking to expand its theater of operations in Europe, confirmed John Thompson, group executive-international operations, in Chicago.
"What we want to do is have a broader, more coordinated strategy in Europe to service both pan-European companies and those multinationals headquartered there," explained Mr. Thompson.
As part of this effort, Norbert R"ssler, who already works with Buck Consultants' joint venture partner in Germany, Buck Heissmann International Services in Wiesbaden, has been appointed head of continental Europe and Ireland.
Mr. R"ssler will co-ordinate marketing and business strategy for Buck Consultants throughout continental Europe and Ireland, explained Mr. Thompson.
He also will work with Michael Harvey, chief executive of Buck's operations in the United Kingdom, and help foster closer links between the firm's clients in the United States and their subsidiaries in Europe, he added.
Following its last November of WF Corroon Ltd., the actuarial and compensation subsidiary of rival consulting firm Willis Corroon Group, Buck Consultants now has 10 offices in the United Kingdom with more than 250 employees.
Elsewhere in Europe, it also has wholly owned offices in Belgium, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland, with a total staff of 60.
In order to staff its European offices, Buck has been on a hiring spree over the past year. In August, it hired Michael McShee, former managing director of Watson Wyatt Worldwide's Geneva office, to head up its Swiss office. Around the same time, Buck also hired Wil Gaitan, from Watson Wyatt's Madrid office, to oversee its Spanish operations out of New York. On the ground, Alicia Sanmartin heads Buck's Madrid office and Louis Herrera, its Barcelona office.
Buck Consultants is considering opening additional offices in several other European cities, said Mr. Thompson. But he declined to specify which cities the firm is targeting, or how many extra people it would need to staff these new offices. "But we do see an increasing need for consulting services," Mr. Thompson stressed.
Indeed, Europe is undergoing seismic changes in its pension arrangements with a shift away from government-run, pay-as-you-go systems into privately run funded schemes.
This in turn has led to a greater demand for consulting services and firms such as Watson Wyatt Worldwide, William M. Mercer and the Frank Russell Co. have been quick to react to the new opportunities. All three have been busy augmenting or refining their networks in Europe.
Most recently William M. Mercer Klein Haneveld Investment Consulting BV, Amsterdam, the Dutch arm of Mercer, appointed Frans Ballendeux as a director, advising institutional clients on their pension fund arrangements.
Mr. Ballendeux formerly worked as an investment director within the asset management arm of Dutch financial conglomerate Fortis Group.
At Buck Consultants, Mr. Thompson is keen to win more business, in addition to better serving its multinational client base. In particular, he'd like the firm to become involved in designing pension funds and pay structures for European corporations that might be unfamiliar with these concepts.
Buck Consultants also will be monitoring the fledgling defined contribution market in Europe.
On the other side of the Atlantic, Buck Consultants is also investigating the possibility of opening up new offices in Latin America, said Mr. Thompson, although he declined to provide further details.