Towers Watson has appointed Danny Howell as head of wealth management for Asia in a newly created role that signals the consultancy’s push to broaden its investment advisory services.

Hong Kong-based Howell is expected to play an instrumental role in expanding Towers Watson’s institutional client base, including commercial and private banks, securities firms, family offices and insurance companies.

He will also oversee the introduction of a range of research and advisory services in the region, including manager research and due diligence, portfolio structuring, governance, strategic asset allocation and risk analysis.

Naomi Denning, managing director of investment services for Asia-Pacific, confirms that while this is a newly created role, it is not a new business for Towers Watson.

"Up until now all our wealth management work has been handled locally in-country," she tells AsianInvestor. "We have hired Danny to expand upon our existing client base and bring more focused attention to this growing sector of the Asian market."

Denning notes that while Howell will be based in Hong Kong and will be likely to build the team over time, he will also work closely with Towers Watson's teams on the ground in each country to manage relationships with clients.

"This is an important and exciting area for Towers Watson and a market which needs multiple providers of service, given that generally consultants are helping the wealth management institutions to improve their unique competitive advantage."

Howell joins from Commonwealth Bank of Australia, where he had served in a number of roles over an 11-year period, most recently as general manager of strategy and business development for North Asia. 

Towers Watson plans to leverage Howell’s experience with the firm’s teams across Asia to offer advisory services to institutional investors in the wealth management sector.

Its move mirrors that of Mercer, which last year relocated Hansi Mehrotra to Singapore from Australia to lead the build-out of an Asia-Pacific wealth management team, as reported exclusively by AsianInvestor.

Mercer described its strategy as one that would extend its investment-consulting business for institutional investors through the addition of research and investment in the area of wealth management.