Archive for the ‘DB’ category

The Evolution of TBO Deals: Part II

March 8, 2012

In my blog earlier this week, I outlined four approaches that have led to the creation of TBO deals. Let’s take a look at some examples for each approach. As you read through, note the aspects that apply to the evolution of any HRO deal and client relationship.

The traditional big bang approach: Approximately 15 years ago, Aon Hewitt was awarded a TBO contract by 3M that includes defined benefit (DB), defined contribution (DC), and retiree health and welfare (H&W) administration services. Recently, the TBO contract was expanded to include H&W administration for active employees and its retiree healthcare exchange services. In total, Aon Hewitt serves 80,000 active employees (30,000 in the U.S. and 50,000 internationally) and >25,000 retirees.

The big bang approach version 2.0: An example of this approach is Mercer’s TBO contract with an unnamed automobile manufacturer. Mercer had a long-term relationship with this client for retirement, health and benefits (H&B), and communication consulting services. This client has five locations in the U.S. that have separate benefit systems for its ~25,000 employees. The majority of its pension and H&B plans were administered in-house, while some were outsourced. Mercer was subsequently awarded the TBO contract to streamline operations and provide a consistent employee experience throughout the company.

The mass consolidation approach: Until November 2010, Office Depot relied on three different service providers: Vanguard for 401(k) and deferred compensation plans; NorthgateArinso — as a result of the Convergys acquisition — for H&W administration; and Morgan Stanley for stock-plan administration. Fidelity was consequently awarded this TBO contract and is serving 17,000 participants for retirement savings plans and 20,000 participants for H&W services.

The step-up approach: A recent example of this type is Towers Watson’s contract with The Dow Chemical Company. Towers Watson began administering Dow’s DB plan ten years ago. In 2009, after Dow acquired ROHM and Haas, it began to administer H&W services for ROHM and Haas’ ~12,000 employees and retirees. As of February 2012, Towers Watson will be administering H&W services including annual enrollment for 66,000 participants at Dow.

The demand for TBO services will continue and will likely take the shape of the latter two approaches discussed above. The overarching lesson is that HRO service providers can end up with a TBO or MPHRO deal with long-term growth from multiple starting points.

Amy L. Gurchensky, Research Analyst, HRO, NelsonHall

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The Changing Shape of DB and DC Administration

February 3, 2012

Practically all large market organizations have already outsourced defined benefit (DB) and defined contribution (DC) administration. Therefore, DB and DC administration contract activity is more about competitive wins.  When reading these contract award announcements, the first question I ask myself is, why did the client change service providers?

Some clients have a preference in the type of vendor used due to the large-scale financial worth of these portfolios. Some client executives prefer the independence of a non-financial administrator like Aon Hewitt, ACS/Xerox, or Mercer, while others prefer the industry closeness of a financial-type provider like Fidelity, T. Rowe Price, or Vanguard.

Other reasons for changing vendors include client dissatisfaction with the existing service or wanting to obtain a lower price or perhaps both.  Another cause revolves around vendor consolidation for both total retirement outsourcing (TRO) and total benefits outsourcing (TBO), which also includes health and welfare (H&W) administration. Consolidation is driven by a desire to reduce the number of vendors to a select few. Mergers and acquisitions also add to consolidation as integration occurs.

Last year produced a string of TRO and TBO contract awards due to consolidation, including the following:

  • HP in North America: Fidelity became the exclusive TRO provider for HP, which had ~162,000 participants from EDS being served by other providers
  • Office Depot: Fidelity was awarded this new TBO contract from three different providers that had administered the 401(k), H&W, and stock plans.

With an estimated $11bn market at stake, both financial and non-financial administrators need to remain competitive in the TRO and even TBO space. As a result, benefits administrators are offering additional service features such as automatic enrollment and automatic contribution escalation for client-employers, and resources to educate participants so that they become more accountable for their retirement savings.

This strategy is reinforced by Aon Hewitt’s recent survey of 500 large market U.S. employers representing more than 12m employees. The survey found that just 4% of employers are very confident that their employees will retire with enough savings, down from 30% last year. Examples of services and solutions recently launched to create a competitive edge include:

  • Aon Hewitt’s DC advisory offering: providing online personalized advice and professional management with Financial Engines serving as a sub-advisor
  • ADP’s strategic advisory services group: helping clients maximize the value of in-depth benefits data and analysis
  • Mercer’s RetireTALK: an interactive website with hypothetical scenarios, designed to motivate and educate users on retirement planning
  • Fidelity’s myPlan tool: offering online retirement advice based on answers to a few questions.

The Aon Hewitt survey also found that only 10% of employers are very confident that their employees are taking accountability for their own retirement success.  The remaining issue then is how to encourage employees to utilize these services and solutions that are already available to them and which service provider will best help both the employer and employees achieve their goals.

Amy L. Gurchensky, Research Analyst, HRO, NelsonHall

 Interested in reading the latest HRO news from NelsonHall? Subscribe to our newsletter by emailing amy.gurchensky@nelson-hall.com with “HRO Insight” as the subject.