Consultancy Mercer has appointed Alan Oates as leader of its retirement risk and finance business in Hong Kong.

Oates took up his role on September 13, having spent the past 12 years – his entire professional career – working for Mercer in New York and, previously, the UK. He replaces Jennifer Chee, who left the firm in January this year.

Mercer helps clients to manage retirement benefit programmes through this business, offering defined benefit scheme valuations and risk management. It also assists clients in choosing a defined contribution provider, assessing their services and ostensibly seeking value for money.

“Globally there has been a significant shift from defined benefits to defined contributions,” says Oates. “Clearly Hong Kong is a market where that shift began some time ago and continues to take place. The Mandatory Provident Fund has been around for 10 years now.

“But other markets are further along [than Hong Kong] in terms of their defined contributions solutions. Over time, developments are likely [in Hong Kong] and we want to help clients make the best of any changes that may occur.”

Oates explains that his is a dual role. Not only is he focused on developing retirement solutions business and helping clients in Hong Kong, he also advises multinationals on the management of their benefit programmes outside of their home country.

“I will help multinational clients to manage their benefit programmes around the Asia region. We have been doing that for a number of years, but we are seeing continued growth in our clients as they become more global. We have to make sure we are expanding in line with our clients’ needs.”

Oates’ transfer follows the expansion of Mercer’s regional consulting team in Singapore.

Vanessa Wang, Mercer's Asia business leader for retirement, risk and finance business, says Mercer has been building its regional benefits consulting team since 2007 to service Singapore-based regional-headquartered firms. The team, comprising of at least 10 retirement and healthcare specialists with international experience, is led by Ben Facer and Tim Harris.

The firm says it now has largest group of consultancy staff in the region with more than 250 people across 12 countries.

“We recognise that there are a lot of multinational organisations which are headquartered or have regional headquarters in Hong Kong and Singapore,” adds Oates. “We know these are important local markets, but we are also placing people with international benefits experience to be close to the regional and global headquarters of multinationals.”

Prior to joining Mercer in Hong Kong, Oates was a principal and senior member of the International Benefits Group at Mercer New York, building a track record for managing global client relationships and leading multi-country, multi-line business projects.

Oates is a fellow of the UK’s Institute of Actuaries, an author and a speaker on international benefit issues. Prior to his consulting career in New York, Oates was with Mercer’s retirement, risk and finance team in Manchester, UK.