Both for serial acquirers and companies that only occasionally do mergers and acquisitions, retaining experienced leadership and other key talent often tops the list of tough people challenges in M&A situations. Is there a winning strategy or approach? Do some HR programs work better than others?

Previous Willis Towers Watson research focused on the role that enhanced severance arrangements can play in supporting retention goals. (For more on our past research, see “M&A: Enhanced severance, retention and other key considerations during a change in control,” Executive Pay Matters, May 25, 2016.) We’ve recently launched our third Global M&A Retention Study to provide further insights into best practices in retaining top talent in M&A settings.

This year’s study will take a deeper dive into the structure, use and effectiveness of retention agreements during an acquisition or merger, focusing specifically on the financial elements of those agreements. The results will offer a clearer view into the design and effectiveness of current M&A retention programs and enhance the limited benchmark data on this topic. We believe this detailed benchmarking information will be of great value in helping companies shape these programs more efficiently.

Companies are invited to complete this year’s M&A survey by April 28. Survey participants will receive a detailed report on the findings.

To participate in the survey, click here.


Scott Oberstaedt

Scott Oberstaedt

Willis Towers Watson

Scott Oberstaedt is a director in the executive compensation consulting practice in Willis Towers Watson’s Philadelphia office who leads the firm’s M&A consulting team for executive compensation. Email or