Where the Action is At in HRO

As a follow-up to my colleague Linda Merritt’s blog last week titled “HRO is Settling in for a Good 2011,” I thought I’d write about where the most action is at thus far. If you were thinking recruitment, good guess, but it is actually benefits administration leading the way in the number of announced contracts in 2011.

In addition to Mercer being awarded a pensions administration contract by Loomis UK Ltd., which Linda also wrote about Mercer in her February 23rd blog, a number of providers have announced important contract awards, including:

Fidelity Investments, after two big five-year contract awards in Q4 2010 by AT&T and Office Depot, in January Fidelity was awarded a five-year contract renewal for total retirement outsourcing (TRO) services by BP America, Inc., a subsidiary of BP. Fidelity will continue to provide administration and recordkeeping for BP America’s 95,000 DB and 48,000 DC and nonqualified deferred compensation plans for U.S. employees. Later in the same month, Fidelity was awarded another five-year contract renewal for TRO services by HP in North America. Under this deal, Fidelity will service all of HP’s retirement plan participants, adding 162,500 participants from EDS who were previously serviced by other providers. In total, Fidelity will serve more than 135,000 DC participants and more than 192,000 DB participants for HP.

Aon Hewitt, in February announced it had gone live with eight new benefits administration clients since the beginning of the year. Across these clients, Aon Hewitt has implemented 12 services including DB, DC, and H&W and has added more than 325,000 participants and retirees to its base of 22 million participants.

Capita, in February was appointed as a preferred supplier for the administration of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) by the U.K. Department of Education. This is a seven-year, £80m contract renewal that starts in October 2011 and includes an additional three-year option. A week later, on a smaller scale, Capita won a three-year occupational health services contract by Technip. Capita will provide its Wellness Assessment Surveillance Portal, which gives centralized visibility of health surveillance records to Technip’s 3,000 personnel in Aberdeen and offshore locations.

So will benefits administration continue to be hot this year? I believe it will, though it might be hard-pressed to exceed RPO for the full year in terms of number of contract awards.  As evidenced in the examples above, there are huge volumes of benefit plan participants that are serviced and in today’s economy, clients cannot afford internal resources to manage these programs, nor do they have the expertise and most up-to-date technology. Handling benefits administration is vitally important to employees and retirees, whether it’s the ease of an annual online enrollment or the knowledge of a service center professional in answering DB and DC questions. And it’s not just large companies that need this expertise.  As I wrote in my February 25th blog, mid-market HRO is rapidly growing as well.

A final thought about what will continue to drive contract awards in benefits administration is that buyers are increasingly looking to consolidate their outsourcing services under one provider, as evidenced by Fidelity’s contract with Office Depot. This is a trend I believe will continue and from an employee and retiree perspective is a good thing. I was fortunate enough to leave my long-term employer four years ago with H&W benefits, DB & DC plans, and voluntary benefits, of which all four were provided by four different vendors. Sounds like I should play the number four!

Gary Bragar, Lead HRO Analyst, NelsonHall

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Explore posts in the same categories: benefits administration, benefits administration outsourcing, hr outsourcing, hr outsourcing research, hro, hro research, mid-market HRO, nelsonhall, recruitment process outsourcing, rpo, Total Retirement Outsourcing

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