Richard Nuzum, managing director at consultant William M Mercer in Tokyo, is moving to Singapore on 15 September to assume the role of country head. He will retain his job as the regional head of the firm's investment consulting practice.
Mercer has hired four Japan investment consultant professionals in the past two months. All of them may be required to fill Nuzum's shoes. He has served in Japan for five years. In that time, he says, the firm has made fledging consulting businesses in pensions and M&A into high-growth ones. Personnel have expanded from 20 professionals to about 90. "We're still growing as quickly as we can find people," he says. Whereas virtually Mercer's entire business five years ago served multinationals, today about three quarters of its clients are domestic companies.
Reiji Shibata has been Japan country head since last summer, and will continue in that role. Tatsuo Mizutori will also continue to run Japan's investment consulting business, reporting in to Nuzum.
The move to Singapore is partly meant to give Mercer's Asia regional head, Reiji Ohtaki, a break. Ohtaki has been acting head of the Singapore business as well as regional boss since Philippe Kopcsan shifted out of the job into Mercer's regional client management operation last year. Singapore has become a full-time job: staff has grown from three people to 85 over the past six years.
Nonetheless, while Ohtaki no longer needs to wear two hats, Nuzum will end up handling two full-time jobs himself, as he is keeping the regional investment consulting practice. The new hires in Tokyo under Mizutori should relieve the pressure, he says. In addition, Gary Hawkins in Singapore continues to have day-to-day responsibility for Asia ex-Japan investment consulting work.
The move is also in part Nuzum's own desire for a change of pace. He is completing his second tour of duty in Japan, where he initially joined the firm in 1991 during a three-year stint. He spent the intervening years in Chicago.
Nuzum says his priorities in Singapore will be people issues û the firm is still hunting for high quality staff û and ensuring the clients are happy, which is crucial in Singapore's tight-knit community. There are seven other investment consultant pros in the Singapore office, who also look after other markets except for Hong Kong and Malaysia, where the firm has consultants on the ground.