Mercer has hired Chen Bin, a senior consultant at rival firm Hewitt, as head of investment consulting in China. A 13-year veteran in the market, Chen is a trained Chartered Financial Analyst, and is credited to have built rival retirement and investment consulting firm HewittÆs China practice in Shanghai.

Based in Shanghai in the new role, Chen reports to Garry Hawker, head of investment consulting for Asia ex-Japan.

Chen is charged with providing investment consulting services to Chinese institutions, with a particular focus on government and pension funds. This is in line with Mercer's added focus on the rising popularity of corporate annuity funds in China.

ôEver since China started its pension reform in the 1990s, it became evident that corporate-sponsored new enterprise annuity pension plans would play an important part of employee retirement income, and ultimately become important institutional investors in Chinese capital markets,ö says Hawker, who is also based in Shanghai.

Hawker says Mercer is anticipating increasing need for investment advice on domestic and international markets from clients in China. He sees demand coming from both the government and individuals, as ChinaÆs rapid economic development creates more wealth accumulation.