Mercer 2011 Analyst Forum – Style and Substance

I enjoy HRO analyst forums, particularly the in-person presentations and the chance for casual conversation with service provider executives and fellow analysts. Live events showcase the personality of the host company. Personality comes through in who is invited, what is said, what is not said, and the venue itself. All have a tone that subtly provides context for content. Some are very nice and some are almost austere. None are luxurious parties.  Apparently HR BPO analysts do not rate that high!

Mercer’s session was on the high-end of venues; the meeting was seemingly casual and relaxed while still guiding attention where desired. The analyst meeting and accompanying client conference was well-prepared and well-presented, providing a consistent profile of Mercer, its style, and confidence. Even the smallest touches reinforced the company’s image of management competency, teamwork, and expertise in HR benefits.

Mercer is a $3.5bn benefits service provider with 27k clients and 20k employees with offices in over 40 countries, serving large market clients primarily based in the U.S. and mid-market clients worldwide. Consulting services bring in the greatest revenue at 2.4bn, followed by outsourcing at $700m, and investment services at a rapidly rising $400m. The largest outsourcing client segment is DC, followed by DB, and H&W. The company has seen significantly more interest in the last 18 months in its newest segment, absence management, with a small but growing base of clients. Mercer Q1 2011 revenues were $922m, up 9% year-over-year, 5% in constant currency compared to Q1 2010, outsourcing was flat in constant currency.

Strategically, Mercer is focusing on increasing revenues and building scale by leveraging existing client relationships to cross-sell, expand into select adjacent market opportunities, and build bundled solutions. These are not uncommon HRO strategies, but it is ability to execute that sets apart the leaders.

Reliance on its ability to work collaboratively across its business segments will be a critical success factor, a style that was amply present throughout the Mercer sessions and is also seen in its several new product offerings.  One is a new solution called Human Capital Connect, which is bringing together consulting and research expertise, software and web technology, and various forms of education to address metrics and analytics in a way that will help HR teams establish the needed foundation of HR information, data and report access, and understand and provide a roadmap to more advanced levels.

According to the soon to be published Mercer 2011 “What’s Working” report, employees are putting more importance on the value of benefits in the mix of total compensation. And we know that employers continue to be very cost conscious even as they return focus to talent management.

With a crowded field of top-tier benefits providers, including Mercer, which one will be able to best capitalize on the opportunities?

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall

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Explore posts in the same categories: BAO, benefits administration, benefits administration outsourcing, financial results, HR Analyst Events, hr outsourcing, hro, nelsonhall, Talent Management

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