Global benefit directors make steady progress toward pension, benefit management

ARLINGTON, Va., March 16, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Multinationals are making steady progress toward a more comprehensive approach to their global pension and benefit management. Almost half (47%) say they are into the later stages of development of their global benefit strategies, an increase of 12 percentage points from two years ago, according to the Current and Emerging Global Benefit Themes survey from leading global advisory, broking and solutions company Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ:WLTW). Despite progress made over the past couple of years, over three-quarters (78%) claim they continue to be under pressure to do more with less, and two-thirds (66%) suggest cost pressures will be worse this year.

Survey respondents say strained resources, and lack of strategic focus and efficiency are limiting their ability to drive more value for their organizations. Nearly three in five (58%) say their day-to-day activities limit the strategic contribution ability to add value to their company’s global employee benefit program. Seventy-five percent believe their companies can be either more strategic or efficient across four staple foundations: sustained business contribution; insurable benefits put on an optimal financial/operational basis both globally and regionally; monitoring and managing the financial risks of defined benefit exposures; and corporate transactions that drive value.

“It’s clear the purse strings are not getting any looser within multinational companies, yet somehow global benefit directors are finding a way to continue the development of their programs,” said Brian Makuck, North America Intellectual Capital and Integration lead for the Multinational practice, Willis Towers Watson. “Multinationals that make resource management a priority may be better equipped to balance the realities of day-to-day management with the long-term essential business need to foster employees. By doing this, companies can make the journey to more comprehensive global benefit management quicker and easier.”

Despite the difficulties identified, the research does suggest there is a degree of optimism over how multinationals are developing their approach to global benefits. Three-quarters claim that involvement of global or regional headquarters in pensions and employee benefits is increasing, while over half believe there is now a meaningful link between the role of pensions and employee benefits, and the company’s employee value proposition and values.

“Global benefit directors should focus on core areas to improve value,” said Makuck. “Financial risks associated with defined benefit liabilities are a major exposure, so identifying longevity risks and appropriately managing them is important. In addition, insurable benefits must be financially accountable on a global, or at least regional, level to gain control of costs. Further, a focus on human capital integration following M&A activity will help drive value from deals, and developing a medium- to long-term road map for corporate pension transactions is important to help focus benefit priorities and drive value.”

Notes to editors

Willis Towers Watson’s ninth annual Current and Emerging Global Benefit Themes survey is a pulse survey conducted in September 2015 that focused on priorities for 2016. It covers 316 global and regional headquarters of leading multinationals based in Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, and North America.

About Willis Towers Watson

Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ:WLTW) is a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients around the world turn risk into a path for growth. With roots dating to 1828, Willis Towers Watson has 39,000 employees in more than 120 countries. We design and deliver solutions that manage risk, optimize benefits, cultivate talent, and expand the power of capital to protect and strengthen institutions and individuals. Our unique perspective allows us to see the critical intersections between talent, assets and ideas — the dynamic formula that drives business performance. Together, we unlock potential. Learn more at

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Source:Willis Towers Watson Public Limited Company