Less than a month after asset consultant Watson Wyatt announced it was promoting Michael Blayney to head up its new Portfolio Construction Group, the firm is searching for a replacement, after Blayney departed last Tuesday to a local funds manager.

Blayney will join Perpetual Investments on October 27, as the portfolio manger of its diversified funds. He will be responsible for four of Perpetual’s balanced funds: conservative; diversified; split growth; and balanced, as well as working on portfolio strategy for Perpetual’s multimanager products.

Blayney will report to Richard Brandweiner, who was promoted from the role a year ago to group executive, and is now looking after all of the income and multi-sector portfolios. For the past 12 months Brandweiner has juggled both roles.

Commenting on the appointment, a spokesperson for Perpetual said Blayney was highly regarded within the industry, with 12 years experience advising portfolios. Seven of those were at Watson Wyatt, where Blayney held a number of research and consulting roles, involved with asset/liability modelling, global asset class research, and providing strategic investment advice. At the time of his departure, he was also the Australian representative for Watson Wyatt’s Global Asset Research Team.

Graeme Miller, head of investment consulting at Watson Wyatt said Blayney had made a “valuable contribution” during his time at the firm and he wished him well in his new career. He added that the process of appointing a suitable replacement for Blayney’s role had already begun.

Miller would not comment on the implications of Blayney’s departure for the newly formed Portfolio Construction Group, but said that Watson Wyatt remained committed to the project.

In a release in September, Watson Wyatt said the Portfolio Construction Group was created in Australia to complement such groups elsewhere in the world and would interface with the firm’s existing Investment Strategy and Manager Research teams. Miller said the role of the Portfolio Construction Group would be to ensure that Watson Wyatt’s client portfolios were “best-positioned to achieve their risk and return objectives and to take advantage of emerging opportunities”.

Blayney was unavailable for comment.

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