WTW slashes headcount at climate hub

Between 20 and 40 members of staff have been cut from the climate and resilience hub following a change in strategy announced in October, according to sources.

Photo illustrating concept of cutting employees.

WTW has laid off a number of staff in its climate and resilience hub following a review of the practice in October, three sources have told Responsible Investor.

RI understands between 20 and 40 members of the climate and resilience team have been let go. The team was around 100 people.

WTW declined to comment on the number of layoffs.

The climate hub grew in 2020 when WTW acquired Acclimatise and the Climate Policy Initiative’s energy finance team.

Rowan Douglas, who headed the climate and resilience hub for nine years, left WTW in May to join global insurance group Howden as its climate risk and resilience CEO.

A number of members of staff – at least 10 – from the WTW climate team followed Douglas to Howden in the months following his appointment.

One person told RI that Douglas’ departure was “sudden”, and that he was replaced by John Merkovsky – long-term global head of risk and analytics at WTW – who stepped in as interim director of the hub.

Following this, WTW said it would be conducting a review of its climate products and services, as it was unhappy with how the hub was performing, one source with knowledge of the situation told RI.

WTW undertook a market study of the climate products, which one person said was not transparent.

Staff were not told how the study was conducted, and despite announcing focus groups, members of the team were not invited to participate and “left in the dark”, the source said.

At the start of October, several teams were convened and told that they would no longer be needed.

It came as WTW announced in October that it would be bringing its climate and risk and analytics “capabilities more closely together under common leadership”, and that the climate practice would focus on “quantification and mitigation of climate risk”.

The statement added that “refocusing WTW’s climate practice creates stronger alignment with the current demand from clients and plays into the company’s core strength”.

Peter Carter was announced as the next climate practice leader, having previously been global head of captive and insurance management solutions at WTW. The October announcement made no references to layoffs.

A spokesperson for WTW told RI: “WTW has reorganised its climate proposition, which is now better aligned to our core expertise and reputation for risk and analytics. We are certain that this will give us real competitive advantage going forward and we are now well-positioned to support our clients in addressing climate-related risks.”