WTW sells Saville Assessment to tech investor Tenzing

24 April 2023 Consultancy.uk 7 min. read

Wealth management consulting giant WTW has offloaded its psychometric analytics wing, Saville Assessment, for an undisclosed fee. As the appetite for human resources solutions grows in a tight labour market, Saville Assessment has been snapped up by private equity investor Tenzing.

The human resources and recruitment functions of many businesses have come under pressure in recent years. Rising competition for talent, coupled with the rise in workers re-evaluating their lot at firms and exiting if they feel their needs are not met, have made it harder to attract and retain talent than in decades.

Rather than improving their pay and conditions to adapt to the demands determined by the labour market, however, a growing number of firms have opted to deploy ‘alternative’ recruitment tactics, which they believe will deliver them the ideal candidate for a job, while flagging up personality traits that suggest they may have to re-fill that role sooner rather than later. Psychometric testing – the proponents of which suggest can show a candidate's suitability based on their behaviour and the way in which they approach their work – is becoming big business as a result.

WTW sells Saville Assessment to tech investor Tenzing

Illustrating this, Saville Assessment – which was acquired by consulting firm WTW for £42 million – has attracted major investment from the private equity sector. Eight years after that purchase, WTW has sold Saville Assessment to Tenzing. While the fee has not been made public, Tenzing specialises in tech investment for high-growth UK and European SMEs, typically valued between £10 million and £200 million.

Suzanne McAndrew, global employee experience business leader at WTW, said, “Tenzing offers Saville an excellent opportunity to develop and thrive as it enters its next phase of growth. We look forward to continuing to partner with Saville, and its colleagues, to bring winning, integrated solutions to our clients.”

Saville, which won talent acquisition prizes at the last two Personnel Today Awards, provides tools including Wave, its personality questionnaires, as well as aptitude tests, talent analytics and situational judgment tests. As part of the acquisition, Saville will remain WTW’s preferred assessment software partner, and WTW will continue to support Saville’s products in its client-facing activities.

Rab MacIver, co-CEO and head of research and development at Saville Assessment, commented, “By leveraging the Tenzing growth team’s expertise there is a real opportunity to accelerate the growth of our business together. Tenzing has a strong appreciation for the science that underpins Saville’s assessment solutions and the ambition to unlock the true potential of our business. The whole team are excited about the opportunity to bring new and enhanced solutions to more of our clients.”

The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2023. Deal advisors who worked on the purchase included a number of professional services firms. Boxington and CMS acted as advisors to WTW, with Liberty Corporate Finance advising management. Meanwhile, buyer Tenzing was advised on the investment by EY-Parthenon, RSM, Osborne Clarke and Alantra.

The use of psychometric analytics and personality testing for recruitment has incurred a growing level of criticism, in recent months. Unlike technical tests, which evaluate the ability to carry out a specific, relevant skill, personality tests are supposed to determine if a worker will fit into a company’s culture, and how they will respond to their employer’s directions – but the scientific basis of this has been repeatedly questioned, while critics have also argued the testing discriminates against neuro-divergent candidates.

Speaking to international magazine Huck, Psychotherapist Desirée Silverstone recently explained, “The scientific accuracy of personality assessments is a matter of debate among experts. Some believe that these assessments are quite accurate, while others believe that they are not very accurate at all. The main problem with determining the scientific accuracy of these assessments is that there is no agreed-upon definition for what constitutes a personality.”