Towers Watson

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Towers Watson Reviews

Updated 14 August 2014
Updated 14 August 2014
342 Reviews

3.4
342 Reviews
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Towers Watson CEO John Haley
John Haley
170 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • I like that they focus a lot on employee health and work/ life balance (in 22 reviews)

  • Smart professionals, great working environment and work/life balance (in 24 reviews)


Cons
  • Work life balance (there is none) - Long hours/weekend work (in 40 reviews)

  • No work life balance during peak seasons (in 8 reviews)

More Highlights

32 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1.  

    Incompetent

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Actuarial
    Current Employee - Actuarial

    Pros

    Not a single thing is good

    Cons

    As a junior actuary I want to learn. To grow. To become the best at what I do.
    All I have done for the past year was cleaning data. When confronting management about this, they confirm that this will continue for the next 4 to 5 years, and even worse even people with 12 years of experience are still doing this.

    The methods we use are out-dated to say the very least. In our whole office there are only 3 people who knows how to program in VBA. If I suggest a better approach it is shot down almost immediately.

    I compare myself to my other actuarial friends in other companies and they are doing far more advanced things after 3 or 4 months than what I am doing after 1 year.

    The junior actuaries hired (and a large number of senior actuaries as well), are completely useless as well with one girl who will become a qualified actuary in a few years asked me (to mention one of the few stupid questions) how to concatenate 2 cells in excel.

    Another asking me what SC is exactly after working at TW for 7 months...

    Good talent is leaving TW.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    DO NOT EMPLOY IDIOTS. Set up a testing system in which candidates much attain a certain level to be considered to join TW.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  2. 1 person found this helpful  

    Used to be great as Towers Perrin .... but that was ages ago!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Consultant  in  London, England
    Current Employee - Consultant in London, England

    Pros

    - remnants of intellectual capital still make it a good consultancy compared to the big four (who suck in human resource consultancy);
    - aspires to be the mckinsey of strategic HR ... and on occasion does a good job!

    Cons

    - little shop mentality all over the business - a cottage industry like behaviour amongst pricipals who will give projects to their favourites, shutting out new talent or those that could outshine them
    - will they EVER reward their consultants with market rates .... ironical for a reward consultancy to not drink its own coolaid
    - very unfriendly to consultants with young families or those due to go on maternity etc (though they say its worse at the big four)

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    - have been losing or not winning for a long time ... something is wrong
    - reward your peeps ...

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  3.  

    Disconnected, no job security

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Software Developer
    Former Employee - Software Developer

    Pros

    Many of the clients and actuaries that we worked with were very friendly and intelligent.

    Cons

    Accepting this job was the worst mistake of my career, which I've thankfully recovered from since. A lot of time was wasted on internal processes and objectives were very vague. I know people who were forced to leave for reasons that were contrived. They have had much more success at other companies since, with much higher salaries.

    There doesn't seem to be enough awareness of competing technologies.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Find ways to keep your best employees, enjoy themselves and be productive. Find ways to leverage and develop the skills of your employees and allow them to engage with their broader professional communities.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Towers Watson Response

    Sep 30, 2013Segment Lead Recruiter

    Thank you for taking the time to write a review and for your positive comments about the people who work here. Your constructive feedback will be passed on.

  4. We want your feedback – Are these company reviews helpful to you?  Yes | No
  5.  

    Glorified secretary, occasionally does basic arithmetic

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  London, England
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England

    Pros

    Good people here if you can find them but they have all left.
    With the amount of people gone now, if you are a junior client consulting analyst you are able to go to client meetings in your first year, but is that really a good trade-off?

    Cons

    Your hard work is rewarded with more admin and coordination work. Most of your day is spent chasing people and writing up invoice summaries.
    Juniors are expected to only do admin and billing for about 3-4 years until you make consultant. When you bring this up to managers, they only solidify that sentiment and ask you to be patient.
    Low compensation.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Think about why your analysts are leaving.
    Think about the business model, loyalty is not a business model in this paradigm shift.
    There is a gap between all levels of employees. What you think works may not work for your junior tier.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  6.  

    Bad management, lack of communication

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Associate  in  London, England
    Current Employee - Associate in London, England

    Pros

    The people you generally work with are really nice and generally quite helpful.
    Company pays for any study you want to do.

    Cons

    Management is poor in terms of communicating to employees leading to lack of team moral and motivation. Projects aren't planned properly meaning no organisation, work being rushed and having to be redone, etc.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Listen to your employees and take their thoughts into consideration

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  7.  

    dreadfull local management

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior Pensions Administrator  in  Welwyn Garden City, England
    Former Employee - Senior Pensions Administrator in Welwyn Garden City, England

    Pros

    job to pay your bills

    Cons

    people are treated there like dirt, promotions by who you know and not what you know

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    the big bosses need to put system in place where they can monitor technical knowledges and human skills of their managers on an annual basis by requesting feedback from all employees under the particular manager

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8. 2 people found this helpful  

    Get on the conveyor belt, don't be ambitious, don't expect positive change. I'd suggest you dont bother!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Analyst  in  London, England
    Current Employee - Analyst in London, England

    Pros

    Exceptional colleagues that keep you sane during the daily grind. CFA/FIA paid for and adequate study support. Exposure to a range of departments.

    Cons

    Management completely disintegrated from analysts. Pay is extremely low until senior management, which is freely admitted. You won't get promoted quickly by being good or working hard, you are put on a conveyor belt and expected to be happy with it. Bonus is a joke again until more senior and you have to wait for seniors to die/retire/leave before positions are made available.

    London office is depressing and dull. Sometimes work 8am - 10pm whilst seniors leave at 6.

    Only apply if you enjoy updating spreadsheets, models and drafting emails for seniors. If you're lucky they might let you "check" other peoples attempts at making the circle bullet points squares.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    If you hire the top talent don't expect to keep them for long if you don't start treating them fairly. Look at the deadwood in the higher ranks and promote the potentials. Don't treat the underachievers the same as the stars.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9. 1 person found this helpful  

    If you're young, smart, and motivated look elsewhere

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Actuarial Analyst
    Current Employee - Actuarial Analyst

    Pros

    - great people.

    For the most part the consultants you work with are some of the smartest people in the industry.

    People generally take pride in the work they do and are genuinely interested in their work product, for the most part

    Most young people here are typically outgoing (defying stereotypes of the actuary) and enjoy having a good time

    - Job Security

    More of a negative, actually, but due to understaffing, you can stay here as long as you would like (even if you continually show a lack of competency or display a lack of interest or concern in the work you do)

    Cons

    where to begin?

     There are a lot of internal issues here that have been neglected by management for a long time, which has only made things worse, although, the issues are now being addressed but with lack of urgency, transparency and regard.

    - No incentive for young employees to perform well, and no way to retain the young employees that do perform well (and meet expectations)

    With high billable goals that are typically viewed as unattainable (I barely hit mine working 10-hour days on average, with plenty of 15 hour days during busy season, taking 3-4 days off all year while working plenty of weekends, and exceeded the billable goal by only 100 hours) you better be able to reward the employees that are able meet the goals.

    However, despite a clear work load disparity at the analyst level, there is no clear disparity and distinction in analyst's bonuses and salary increases. For example:

    Analyst A: who worked 2000 hours and produced high quality work product will receive X% + 3% of base salary and Y% + 2% in annual salary increase at fiscal year end

    Analyst B: who worked 1600 hours and produced so-so work product will receive X% of base salary and Y% in annual salary increase at fiscal year end

    Ultimately, hours worked over the billable goal at the analyst position typically equates to a minimum wage hourly rate or less, so there is no fiscal incentive to outperform goals, however there is every expectation that you will work late and that you're just as vested in the work product as the consultant delivering the work to client

    Really the only tangible reward for good work is more work.

    - Top Heavy

    This probably is strongly related to the analyst bonus issue (as well as unrealistic growth expectations of senior management); with so many tenured associates at the consultant and senior consultant level (who take home much more at year-end in bonuses then junior associates) there is no money in the bonus pool to go to junior associates, as well as bottlenecking top-performing junior associates from transitioning into a consultant role

    Also, none of the consultants and senior consultants who are either incompetent or 'nightmares' to deal with are handled appropriately (fired). Instead they are allowed to 'hang around' as long as they would like and continue to drive down office morale.

    It's assumed that the 'problem' consultants will just get the idea and eventually move on based off of low bonuses on an annual basis (this assumes some disparity in the bonuses at the consultant level), however all these 'problem's are vested in rich legacy pension plans and are an older population, so, if they have any financial sense (they all do), they all are perfectly incentivised to stick around until retirement while their rich pensions continue to accrue.

    - Lack of Transparency

    If anything is being done to address the 'above-average' turnover it is not being communicated to the office or specific practice.This of course is assuming that high turnover is being addressed, since in the last year and a half over 20 analysts have quit in my particular practice (with more than half being knowledgeable, tenured senior analysts).

    Although, senior management is quick to rationalize high turnover as 'coming with the territory' of being in the financial service industry.

    its worth nothing that there are, roughly every two years, employee engagement surveys so that management can better address issues within your practice, office and company-wide. However, in my practice, the results of the engagement survey have yet to be acknowledged or discussed in a practice-wide meeting (what you would think would happen after engagement survey results have been released, but here we are more than 4 months later...).

    Bonus structures are not discussed with younger employees so there is no understanding of how bonuses are awarded and under what circumstances they are awarded

    Promotions and, more importantly, employee development are not discussed with junior associates unless they reach out to their manager to try to understand how they can be promoted.

    - Lack of communication

    this may come with the territory of working with actuaries, but, generally, everything is done on unspoken expectations i.e. a consultant will give a tenured analyst some admin type work (filing or making edits to some documents) and tell them to do it, but will expect the analyst to pass off the work to a more junior analyst or administrative assistant, but nothing will be said of that nature. It is worth noting that occasionally you'll have a consultant who actually expects the tenured analyst to do the admin type work and will get upset if you pass that work off (even if your busy and the admin type work is urgent)

    - No work-life balance

    IF you're motivated to get promoted or exceed goals(although no guarantee that you will be able to get promoted through hard work and dedication)

    - High turnover and understaffing

    No end in sight to this issue (as previously alluded to)

    - Complete disconnect between senior management and junior associates

    senior management doesn't understand that you need competent young associates to be able to retain key clients and grow client relations. Inconsistent work product, missed deadlines, and client dissatisfaction is what will continue and grow more apparent as turnover escalates.

    Senior management does know they will need less competent young associates in the future as they attempt to become a leaner more cost efficient company. less analysts, more outsourced work, more admins, is all part of the game plan, but who's going to replace the consultants to ensure client relationships are maintained? Oh, well the retirement practice is going to evaporate in 5 years anyways so what the difference. At least that is what is assumed by senior management, although they'll tell junior associates that pensions are making a comeback and the company can continue to grow at faster pace than currently, even though their largest revenue generator is in a declining field with spikes in revenue over the next few years only coming from plan termination projects (that will generate a lot of revenue now, but in 2 years there will be no revenue)

    - Benefits are below average in comparison to industry

    - pay is below average in comparison to industry

    and bonuses are non-existent (as previously mentioned)

    Also, actuarial exam bonuses are roughly half of what Aon and Mercer offer

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    -Develop realistic growth expectations.

    You know the company cant grow faster than currently and you know this underfunded the bonus pool in the process. if your benchmark for bonuses is your best year ever and you know you can't continually outperform that benchmark your employee's hard work will continually go unappreciated

    - Your employees define your future success

    You're in the financial services sector so start coming to terms with how important the people you employ are and do everything you can to retain your top performers.

    - Listen to your employees

    Please, stop ignoring what your employees are saying because you're in the financial services sector and high-turnover is expected. Employees don't like hearing that their biggest concerns are being completed ignored because 'this is what you signed up for", no they decided to work here because they assumed Towers was a global leader in HR solutions..

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  10. 2 people found this helpful  

    Odd Culture, political shark tank, no training- but you must do it our way...

    Current Employee - Senior Consultant
    Current Employee - Senior Consultant

    Pros

    People are very bright and once they have kicked back a few drinks they loosen up and personalities actually begin to develop!

    Cons

    Leadership? Leadership is too busy to pay any attention to what the individual managers are up to. Then, when things are escalated, and probably too late- they become involved. The managers need training, the staff needs training. When leadership is engaged- they are great- it just does not happen all the time. Too bad. It would create a better environment and change the culture.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Increase training- get rid of poor managers. Pay attention to what is happening.

  11. 1 person found this helpful  

    Not great for growth opportunities

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Consultant  in  New York, NY (US)
    Current Employee - Consultant in New York, NY (US)

    Pros

    Good Benefits and work life balance

    Cons

    Not a lot of growth opportunities

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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