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TW > SEC Filings for TW > Form 10-K on 15-Aug-2013All Recent SEC Filings

Show all filings for TOWERS WATSON & CO.

Form 10-K for TOWERS WATSON & CO.


Annual Report

Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.

Executive Overview


We are a global consulting firm focusing on providing human capital and financial consulting services.

At Towers Watson, we bring together professionals from around the world - experts in their areas of specialty - to deliver the perspectives that give organizations a clear path forward. We do this by working with clients to develop solutions in the areas of employee benefits, risk and capital management, and talent and rewards.

We help our clients enhance business performance by improving their ability to attract, retain and motivate qualified employees. We focus on delivering consulting services that help organizations anticipate, identify and capitalize on emerging opportunities in human capital management. We also provide independent financial advice regarding all aspects of life insurance and general insurance, as well as investment advice to help our clients develop disciplined and efficient strategies to meet their investment goals. We operate the largest private Medicare exchange in the United States. Through this exchange, we help our clients to move to a more sustainable economic model by capping and controlling the costs associated with retiree healthcare benefits.

As leading economies worldwide become more service-oriented, human resources and financial management have become increasingly important to companies and other organizations. The heightened competition for skilled employees, unprecedented changes in workforce demographics, regulatory changes related to compensation and retiree benefits, and rising employee-related costs have increased the importance of effective human capital management. Insurance and investment decisions have become increasingly complex and important in the face of changing economies and dynamic financial markets. Towers Watson helps its clients address these issues by combining expertise in human capital and financial management with consulting and technology solutions, to improve the design and implementation of various human resources and financial programs, including compensation, retirement, health care, and insurance and investment plans.

The human resources consulting industry, although highly fragmented, is highly competitive. It is composed of major human capital consulting firms, specialty firms, consulting arms of accounting firms and information technology consulting firms.

In the short term, our revenue is driven by many factors, including the general state of the global economy and the resulting level of discretionary spending, the continuing regulatory compliance requirements of our clients, changes in investment markets, the ability of our consultants to attract new clients or provide additional services to existing clients, the impact of new regulations in the legal and accounting fields and the impact of our ongoing cost saving initiatives. In the long term, we expect that our financial results will depend in large part upon how well we succeed in deepening our existing client relationships through thought leadership and a focus on developing cross-business solutions, actively pursuing new clients in our target markets, cross selling and making strategic acquisitions. We believe that the highly fragmented industry in which we operate offers us growth opportunities, because we provide a unique business combination of benefits and human capital consulting, as well as risk and capital management and strategic technology solutions.


We provide services in four business segments: Benefits, Risk and Financial Services, Talent and Rewards, and Exchange Solutions.

Benefits Segment. The Benefits segment is our largest and most established segment. This segment has grown through business combinations as well as strong organic growth. It helps clients create and manage cost-effective benefits programs that help them attract, retain and motivate a talented workforce.

The Benefits segment provides benefits consulting and administration services through four lines of business:


Health and Group Benefits;

Technology and Administration Solutions; and

International Consulting.

Retirement supports organizations worldwide in designing, managing, administering and communicating all types of retirement plans. Health and Group Benefits provides advice on the strategy, design, financing, delivery, ongoing plan management and communication of health and group benefit programs. Through our Technology and Administration Solutions line of business, we deliver cost-effective benefit outsourcing solutions. The International Consulting Group provides expertise in dealing with international human

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capital management and related benefits and compensation advice for corporate headquarters and their subsidiaries. A significant portion of the revenue in this segment is from recurring work, driven in large part by the heavily regulated nature of employee benefits plans and our clients' annual needs for these services. For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013, the Benefits segment contributed 57% of our segment revenue. For the same period, approximately 42% of the Benefits segment's revenue originates from outside the United States and is thus subject to translation exposure resulting from foreign exchange rate fluctuations.

Risk and Financial Services Segment. Within the Risk and Financial Services segment, our second largest segment, we have three lines of business:

Risk Consulting and Software ("RCS");

Investment; and

Reinsurance and Insurance Brokerage ("Brokerage").

The Risk and Financial Services segment accounted for 23% of our total revenue for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013. Approximately 67% of the segment's revenue originates from outside the United States and is thus subject to translation exposure resulting from foreign exchange rate fluctuations. The segment has a strong base of recurring revenue, driven by long-term client relationships in reinsurance brokerage services, retainer investment consulting relationships, software solutions, consulting services on financial reporting, and actuarial opinions on property/casualty loss reserves. Some of these relationships have been in place for more than 20 years. A portion of the revenue is related to project work, which is more heavily dependent on the overall level of discretionary spending by clients. This work is favorably influenced by strong client relationships, particularly related to mergers and acquisitions consulting. Major revenue growth drivers include changes in regulations, the level of merger and acquisition activity in the insurance industry, growth in pension and other asset pools, and reinsurance retention and pricing trends.

Talent and Rewards Segment. Our third largest segment, Talent and Rewards, is focused on three lines of business:

Executive Compensation;

Rewards, Talent and Communication; and

Data, Surveys and Technology.

The Talent and Rewards segment accounted for approximately 17% of our total revenue for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013. Few of the segment's projects have a recurring element. As a result, this segment is most sensitive to changes in discretionary spending due to cyclical economic fluctuations. Approximately 47% of the segment's revenue originates from outside the United States and is thus subject to translation exposure resulting from foreign exchange rate fluctuations. Revenue for Talent and Rewards consulting has increasing seasonality, with a meaningful amount of heightened activity in the second half of the calendar year during the annual compensation, benefits and survey cycles. Major revenue growth drivers in this group include demand for workforce productivity improvements and labor cost reductions, focus on high performance culture, globalization of the workforce, changes in regulations and benefits programs, merger and acquisition activity, and the demand for universal metrics related to workforce engagement.

Exchange Solutions Segment.

We established our fourth segment, Exchange Solutions, when we acquired Extend Health on May 29, 2012. The Exchange Solutions segment accounted for approximately 3% of our total revenue for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013. Exchange Solutions operates the largest private Medicare insurance exchange in the United States. Our core solution enables employers to transition their retirees to individual, defined contribution health plans at an annual cost that the employer controls - versus group-based, defined benefit health plans, which have uncertain annual costs. By moving to a defined contribution approach, our clients can provide their retirees with the same or better health care benefits at a lower overall cost. Most Exchange Solutions revenues come from the commissions we receive from insurance carriers for enrolling individuals into their health plans. This revenue increases as the number of enrolled members grows. Exchange Solutions experiences seasonality due to the majority of policies beginning on January 1 following corporations' open enrollment periods. In addition, the annual enrollment period for Medicare-eligible individuals coincides with this period. It is expected that the majority of enrollments will occur in our second quarter and we will hire additional seasonal benefits advisors to supplement our full-time benefit advisors and incur higher costs. The associated commission revenue with these new enrollments is deferred until the policy effective date in our third quarter and is spread over the policy period.

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Financial Statement Overview

Towers Watson's fiscal year ends June 30.

Shown below are Towers Watson's top five geographies based on percentage of
consolidated revenue.

                                                 Fiscal Year
                     Geographic Region   2013       2012       2011
                     United States          53 %       48 %       49 %
                     United Kingdom         22         23         22
                     Canada                  6          6          6
                     Germany                 4          5          4
                     Netherlands             2          3          3

We derive the majority of our revenue from fees for consulting services. Approximately 60% of our client arrangements are billed at standard hourly rates and expense reimbursement, which we refer to as time and expense basis. The remaining 40% of our client arrangements are billed on a fixed-fee basis. Clients are typically invoiced on a monthly basis with revenue generally recognized as services are performed. No single client accounted for more than 1% of our consolidated revenues for any of our most recent three fiscal years.

Our most significant expense is compensation to associates, which typically comprises approximately 70% of total costs of providing services. We compensate our directors, executive officers and other select associates with incentive non-cash stock-based compensation plans which generally vest equally over three years. We use a graded vesting expense methodology that assumes the equity awards are issued to participants in equal amounts of shares that vest over one year, two years and three years giving the effect of more expense in the first year than the second and third. Our equity awards are settled in Towers Watson Class A common stock.

Salaries and employee benefits are comprised of wages paid to associates, related taxes, severance, benefit expenses such as pension, medical and insurance costs, and fiscal year-end incentive bonuses.

Professional and subcontracted services represent fees paid to external service providers for employment, marketing and other services. For the three most recent fiscal years, approximately 30 to 40% of the professional and subcontracted services were directly incurred on behalf of clients and were reimbursed by them, with such reimbursements being included in revenue. For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013 for Towers Watson, approximately 33% of professional and subcontracted services represent these reimbursable services.

Occupancy includes expenses for rent and utilities.

General and administrative expenses include legal, marketing, supplies, telephone and networking costs to operate office locations as well as insurance, including premiums on excess insurance and losses on professional liability claims, non-client-reimbursed travel by associates, publications and professional development. This line item also includes miscellaneous expenses, including gains and losses on foreign currency transactions.

Depreciation and amortization includes the depreciation of fixed assets and amortization of intangible assets and internally-developed software.

Transaction and integration expenses include fees and charges associated with the Merger and with our other acquisitions. Transaction and integration expenses principally consist of investment banker fees, regulatory filing expenses, integration consultants, as well as legal, accounting, marketing, and information technology integration expenses.

Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates

The preparation of consolidated financial statements in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities, disclosures of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements and the reported amounts of revenue and expenses during the reporting period. Our estimates, judgments and assumptions are continually evaluated based on available information and experience. Because of the use of estimates inherent in the financial reporting process, actual results could differ from those estimates. The areas that we believe are critical accounting policies include revenue recognition, valuation of billed and unbilled receivables from clients, discretionary compensation, income taxes, pension assumptions, incurred but not reported claims, and goodwill and intangible assets. The critical accounting policies discussed below involve making difficult, subjective or complex accounting estimates that could have a material effect on our financial condition and results of operations. These critical accounting policies

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require us to make assumptions about matters that are highly uncertain at the time of the estimate or assumption. Different estimates that we could have used, or changes in estimates that are reasonably likely to occur, may have a material effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

Revenue Recognition

We recognize revenue when it is earned and realized or realizable as demonstrated by persuasive evidence of an arrangement with a client, a fixed or determinable price, services have been rendered or products delivered or available for use, and collectability is reasonably assured.

The majority of our revenue consists of fees earned from providing consulting services. We recognize revenue from these consulting engagements when hours are worked, either on a time-and-expense basis or on a fixed-fee basis, depending on the terms and conditions defined at the inception of an engagement with a client. We have engagement letters with our clients that specify the terms and conditions upon which the engagements are based. These terms and conditions can only be changed upon agreement by both parties. Individual associates' billing rates are principally based on a multiple of salary and compensation costs.

Revenue for fixed-fee arrangements is based upon the proportional performance method. We typically have three types of fixed-fee arrangements: annual recurring projects, projects of a short duration, and non-recurring system projects. Annual recurring projects and the projects of short duration are typically straightforward and highly predictable in nature. As a result, the project manager and financial staff are able to identify, as the project status is reviewed and bills are prepared monthly, the occasions when cost overruns could lead to the recording of a loss accrual.

We have non-recurring system projects that are longer in duration and subject to more changes in scope as the project progresses. We evaluate at least quarterly, and more often as needed, project managers' estimates-to-complete to assure that the projects' current statuses are accounted for properly. Certain software contracts generally provide that if the client terminates a contract, we are entitled to payment for services performed through termination.

Revenue recognition for fixed-fee engagements is affected by a number of factors that change the estimated amount of work required to complete the project such as changes in scope, the staffing on the engagement and/or the level of client participation. The periodic engagement evaluations require us to make judgments and estimates regarding the overall profitability and stage of project completion that, in turn, affect how we recognize revenue. We recognize a loss on an engagement when estimated revenue to be received for that engagement is less than the total estimated costs associated with the engagement. Losses are recognized in the period in which the loss becomes probable and the amount of the loss is reasonably estimable. We have experienced certain costs in excess of estimates from time to time. Management believes it is rare, however, for these excess costs to result in overall project losses.

We have developed various software programs and technologies that we provide to clients in connection with consulting services. In most instances, such software is hosted and maintained by us and ownership of the technology and rights to the related code remain with us. We defer costs for software developed to be utilized in providing services to a client, but for which the client does not have the contractual right to take possession, during the implementation stage. We recognize these deferred costs from the go live date, signaling the end of the implementation stage, until the end of the initial term of the contract with the client. We determined that the system implementation and customized ongoing administrative services are one combined service. Revenue is recognized over the service period, after the go live date, in proportion to the services performed. As a result, we do not recognize revenue during the implementation phase of an engagement.

We deliver software under arrangements with clients that take possession of our software. The maintenance associated with the initial software fees is a fixed percentage which enables us to determine the stand-alone value of the delivered software separate from the maintenance. We recognize the initial software fees as software is delivered to the client and we recognize the maintenance ratably over the contract period based on each element's relative fair value. For software arrangements in which initial fees are received in connection with mandatory maintenance for the initial software license to remain active, we determined that the initial maintenance period is substantive. Therefore, we recognize the fees for the initial license and maintenance bundle ratably over the initial contract term, which is generally one year. Each subsequent renewal fee is recognized ratably over the contractually stated renewal period.

We collect, analyze and compile data in the form of surveys for our clients who have the option of participating in the survey. The surveys are published online via a web tool which provides simplistic functionality. We have determined that the web tool is inconsequential to the overall arrangement. We record the survey revenue when the results are delivered online and made available to our clients that have a contractual right to the data. If the data is updated more frequently than annually, we recognize the survey revenue ratably over the contractually stated period.

In our capacity as a reinsurance broker, we collect premiums from our reinsurance clients and, after deducting our brokerage commissions, we remit the premiums to the respective reinsurance underwriters on behalf of our reinsurance clients. In general, compensation for reinsurance brokerage services is earned on a commission basis. Commissions are calculated as a percentage of a

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reinsurance premium as stipulated in the reinsurance contracts with our clients and reinsurers. We recognize brokerage services revenue on the later of the contract's inception or billing date as fees become known or as our services are provided for premium processing. In addition, we hold cash needed to settle amounts due reinsurers or our reinsurance clients, net of any commissions due to us, pending remittance to the ultimate recipient. We are permitted to invest these funds in high quality liquid instruments.

As an insurance exchange, we generate revenue from commission paid to us by insurance carriers for health insurance policies issued through our enrollment services. Under our contracts with insurance carriers, once an application has been accepted by an insurance carrier and a policy has been issued, we will receive commission payments from the policy effective date until the end of the annual policy period as long as the policy is not cancelled by the insured or the carrier. We defer upfront fees and recognize revenue ratably from the policy effective date over the policy period, generally one year. The commission fee per policy placed with a carrier could vary by whether the insured was previously a Medicare participant and whether the policy is in its first or subsequent year. Due to the uncertainty of the commission fee per policy, we do not recognize revenue until the policy is accepted by the carrier, the policy is effective and a communication is received from the carrier of the fee per insured. As the commission fee is cancellable on a pro rata basis related to the underlying insurance policy which we are not party to, we recognize the commission fee ratably over the policy period. Our carrier contracts entitle us to receive commission fees per policy for the life of the policy unless limited by legislation or cancelled by the carrier or insured. As a result, the majority of the revenue is recurring in nature and grows in direct proportion to the number of new policies added each year.

Revenue recognized in excess of billings is recorded as unbilled accounts receivable. Cash collections in excess of revenue recognized are recorded as deferred revenue until the revenue recognition criteria are met. Client reimbursable expenses, including those relating to travel, other out-of-pocket expenses and any third-party costs, are included in revenue, and an equivalent amount of reimbursable expenses are included in professional and subcontracted services as a cost of revenue.

Valuation of Billed and Unbilled Receivables from Clients

We maintain allowances for doubtful accounts to reflect estimated losses resulting from the clients' failure to pay for the services after the services have been rendered, including allowances when customer disputes may exist. The related provision is recorded as a reduction to revenue. Our allowance policy is based on the aging of the billed and unbilled client receivables and has been developed based on the write-off history. Facts and circumstances such as the average length of time the receivables are past due, general market conditions, current economic trends and our clients' ability to pay may cause fluctuations in our valuation of billed and unbilled receivables.

Discretionary Compensation

Our compensation program includes a discretionary bonus that is determined by management and has historically been paid once per fiscal year in the form of cash and/or deferred stock units after our annual operating results are finalized.

An estimated annual bonus amount is initially developed at the beginning of each fiscal year in conjunction with our budgeting process. Estimated annual operating performance is reviewed quarterly and the discretionary annual bonus amount is then adjusted, if necessary, by management to reflect changes in the forecast of pre-bonus profitability for the year.

Income Taxes

We account for income taxes in accordance with Accounting Standards Codification ("ASC") 740, Income Taxes, which prescribes the use of the asset and liability approach to the recognition of deferred tax assets and liabilities related to the expected future tax consequences of events that have been recognized in our financial statements or income tax returns. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are measured using enacted tax rates expected to apply to taxable income in the years in which those temporary differences are expected to be recovered or settled. Valuation allowances are established, when necessary, to reduce deferred tax assets when it is more likely than not that a portion or all of a given deferred tax asset will not be realized. In accordance with ASC 740, income tax expense includes (i) deferred tax expense, which generally represents the net change in the deferred tax asset or liability balance during the year plus any change in valuation allowances and (ii) current tax expense, which represents the amount of tax currently payable to or receivable from a taxing authority plus amounts accrued for expected tax contingencies (including both tax and interest). ASC 740 prescribes a recognition threshold of more-likely-than-not, and a measurement attribute for all tax positions taken or expected to be taken on a tax return, in order for those positions to be recognized in the financial statements. We continually review tax laws, regulations and related guidance in order to properly record any uncertain tax positions. We adjust these reserves in light of changing facts and circumstances, such as the outcome of tax audits.

Incurred But Not Reported (IBNR) Claims

We accrue for IBNR professional liability claims that are probable and estimable, and for which we have not yet contracted for insurance coverage. We use actuarial assumptions to estimate and record a liability for IBNR professional liability claims. Our

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estimated IBNR liability is based on long-term trends and averages, and considers a number of factors, including changes in claim reporting patterns, claim settlement patterns, judicial decisions, and legislation and economic decisions. Our estimated IBNR liability does not include actuarial projections for the effect of claims data for large cases due to the insufficiency of actuarial experience with such cases. Our estimated IBNR liability will fluctuate if claims experience changes over time. As of June 30, 2013, we had a $184.1 million IBNR liability, net of recoverable receivables of our captive insurance companies. This net liability decreased from $202.2 million as of June 30, 2012 as the result of improved claims experience. To the extent our captive insurance companies, PCIC and SMIC, expect losses to be covered by a third party, they record a receivable for the amount expected to be recovered. This receivable is classified in other current or other noncurrent assets in our consolidated balance sheet.

Pension Assumptions

Towers Watson sponsors both qualified and non-qualified defined benefit pension plans and other post-retirement benefit plan ("OPEB") plans in North America and Europe. As of June 30, 2013, these funded and unfunded plans represented 98 percent of Towers Watson's pension and OPEB obligations and are disclosed herein. Towers Watson also sponsors funded and unfunded defined benefit pension . . .

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