Watson promotes Quant for South Asia consulting

The firm plans to deepen its Southeast Asia business and advance in India.

Danny Quant has been promoted to director of investment consulting for South Asia at Watson Wyatt, and is moving to Singapore to take up the role. Quant has been running the Malaysia team in Kuala Lumpur.

The move is a response to the vacancy created when Andrew Budden, who had run investment consulting in Singapore, left to join Capital International in March. But the position is being expanded, as Quant, who is an 18-year veteran at Watson Wyatt, including 15 years in Asia, wanted to take on bigger challenges.

When Budden left, the firm's initial response was to merge the Singapore and Malaysian businesses under a single P&L line, but Quant's remit will also extend to Thailand, Indonesia and India. He reports to Kwan Chee-wei, who oversees human resources, compensation and retirement benefits consulting as well as investment consulting in Singapore.

Quant reckons Singapore accounts for 60-65% of the firm's South Asian business. Budden and his predecessor, Jon Robinson (now with Vanguard), built up a strong presence among Singapore's statutory boards, helping them define their objectives and improve their asset management skills. Quant wants to take the Singapore group's expertise, led by team leader CY Foo, and introduce that to other markets.

Malaysia accounts for another 30% of the firm's regional business, and Watson Wyatt claims three big pension funds as clients - the Employees Pension Fund, the Social Security Office and Tabung Haji (the Pilgrim's Fund) - which are now beginning to consider investing offshore, and are outsourcing more to fund managers.

Quant is also targeting cooperatives, which act as quasi-banks for various memberships (such as policemen, farmers or townships) but sometimes have incoherent investment objectives and policies. Prah Ser-sze runs the Malaysia team.

Next year's big project will be India, where Quant will need to hire someone and get the business in gear.