Towers Watson’s Thinking Ahead Institute

Visit: Thinking Ahead Institute

We believe that economies and markets are complex and adaptive, which means that nothing stands still. Business models and strategies must adapt as new technologies come on stream, and new players enter the competitive market. The investment industry is part of this change. Institutional asset owners, asset managers and consultants, have changed what they do and how they do it. Governments and regulators also impose change on the industry – for example setting price caps on products, or altering the rules around conversion of assets into retirement income. In all this flux it is possible for the focus on the end saver to slip.

About Thinking Ahead Institute

The mission and vision of Towers Watson’s investment business specifically calls on us to serve the wider needs of society and not just those of our clients and our people. We aim to ‘change investment for the better’ which will benefit all participants.

Our aim is to find and connect industry participants who believe in the value and power of thought leadership to create change. Initially this is likely to mean that membership is predominantly made up of asset owners and asset managers but other service providers are welcome to apply.

The institute has three pillars; research, roundtable meetings and one-to-one meetings.

Providing continuity throughout the year, as well as an additional forum for engagement, is the member-only website. As well as providing a repository for research papers and videos of presentations, the website will provide an opportunity for discussion, blogs and webinars.


Towers Watson cares passionately about our industry and would like to see it serve the customer better than it currently does. We will pursue that aim regardless. Through the Thinking Ahead Institute we are seeking support from and collaboration with like-minded organisations to more effectively and more quickly achieve that aim.

Asking for financial support requires that we steward those financial assets responsibly. In this regard we commit that Towers Watson will not make a profit from the financial contributions, and we commit to providing the transparency to satisfy members to that effect.

There is a subscription rate for institute membership. The subscription year runs from 1 January to 31 December.

TAG 2.0, the team behind the institute

The Thinking Ahead Group (TAG) was established by Roger Urwin and Tim Hodgson in 2002. It has an 11-year track record of producing original thought pieces which have led to substantial changes in institutional portfolios and practices over the years. These include:

  • The articulation of investment beliefs to guide decision making
  • The use of diversity alongside diversification to improve portfolio resilience
  • Proposing dynamic asset allocation when standard practice was 3-yearly review
  • Identifying and emphasising the role of governance in the investment process
  • Designing long-term mandates
  • Improving risk measurement and management
  • Pioneering smart beta
  • Providing a foundation for thematic investing.

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