Archive for the ‘Merger & Acquisition’ category

Highlights and Trends in the HRO Market for H1 2013: Part 2

August 14, 2013
Amy L. Gurchensky, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Amy L. Gurchensky, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Last week, I zeroed in on specific market activity within the payroll, learning and RPO service lines. This week, I’ll take a closer look at H1 2013 activity within benefits administration and MPHRO as well as provide some insights on what to expect in H2 2013 based on NelsonHall’s recent HRO Confidence Index.

Benefits Administration

Contract signings aside, there has been a plethora of activity within benefits administration in H1 2013, including:

  • New offerings:
    • Mercer launched a private benefits exchange, Mercer Marketplace
    • Buck Consultants launched an automatic enrollment offering in the U.K.
    • Secova launched a Coordination of Benefits (COB) audit offering to coordinate benefits with insurance carriers
  • Acquisitions: Wageworks acquired Crosby Benefit Systems and Benefit Concepts to strengthen its H&W administration offering, including reimbursement account and COBRA administration
  • Partnerships:
    • Fidelity partnered with Extend Health, a Towers Watson company, to provide retiree healthcare services
    • JLT Employee Benefits partnered with Vielife for health and wellbeing services in the U.K.
  • New technologies:
    • Xerox launched an account-based benefits portal, BenefitWallet, to assist with managing multiple health accounts on one platform, including HSAs, HRAs, FSAs, HIAs (health/wellness incentive accounts) and other specialized services
    • Aon Hewitt launched an absence management tool, 360 Absence Solutions, to help clients manage absence-related costs, compliance risks, the administrative burden and lost productivity
  • Educational resources:
    • Mercer and ADP both launched websites to provide information on healthcare reform
    • Ceridian launched an auto-enrollment knowledge center in the U.K.

MPHRO

In recent years, the MPHRO market has been relatively quiet in terms of contract announcements and H1 2013 was no exception. However, my last MPHRO research study, published in February 2013, revealed that the market is very much alive with new wins and contract renewals from all the major vendors, including IBM and Accenture. In fact, IBM recently won a new seven-year, multi-country MPHRO contract, which was bundled with F&A outsourcing services. Other wins include ADP and Marriott Vacations Worldwide for core HR, payroll, time & labor management and talent management covering ~9.2k employees.

Many vendors have been focused on their strategies for expansion, including Aon Hewitt with its acquisition of OmniPoint Workday Services. Although still early, NelsonHall expects ADP to make inroads in LATAM with its MPHRO services since it added RPO capabilities in this region from its acquisition of The RightThing and now expands its payroll footprint from the Payroll S.A. acquisition.

H2 2013

So what does the rest of the year have in store? NelsonHall’s recent HRO Confidence Index survey finds that overall expectations for HRO revenue growth remain at the same level as those reported for the last five quarters; with payroll leading followed by RPO. Top industry sectors for HRO services include healthcare, pharmaceuticals and high-tech. By geography, vendors have reported increased confidence for revenue growth in Central and Eastern Europe and Central and Latin America.

Needless to say, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the year unfolds for HRO.

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Moorepay and NGA get even more SaaSy in the U.K.

March 14, 2012

The one question that I always have after acquisitions is, “How does it work out over time?” Some M&As put emphasis on “synergy” (i.e., consolidation and cost recovery). Others focus on skills and footprint in new geographies. NorthgateArinso (NGA) is one of the HRO service providers that use acquisitions in new markets as one type of growth strategies. Moorepay is a payroll and employment service provider in the U.K. with over 10,000 clients and it is one of those NGA acquisitions.

Growth through accretion of revenues and clients in new geographies – along with the access to in-country knowledge to service MNC clients – is a good rationale for M&A. But does the overall vendor system become stronger? Are new capabilities leveraged across opportunity areas? I have lived the life of trying to create change, fighting against the not-invented-here syndrome in the corporate world. This is one of the more subtle reasons for using HRO—to circumvent this internal tug of war.

Now back to Moorepay and NGA. Moorepay just released its newest service on March 12th, a SaaS HR and payroll platform that it will use for the small-employer market. I asked if the underlying technology was based on SAP or Oracle. The answer is “neither”; it is based on Preceda, a proprietary NGA system stemming from the 2010 acquisition of Neller in Australia. Preceda is already in use for ~4,000 clients and 500,000 participants in Australia, Philippines, and New Zealand, and now it is expanding to the U.K. Yeah, synergy, re-use, and leverage to improve capabilities and services for the underserved small-business market halfway around the world!

HRO SaaS is a proven cost-effective alternative to fully customized systems. Its very nature lends itself to offering needed benefits to the small and midsized employers (SME). SaaS brings the illusion of customization through configuration at an affordable cost. These are important attributes, especially important for the employer with less than 500 employees.

Moorepay is fully using the benefit of configuration to launch the new service with four pricing levels from the most basic HR and payroll that gives the option to easily turn on additional services like time and attendance, recruiting, and learning modules.

HR and payroll platforms also bring self-service for employees and streamlined HR processing for managers. According to Ann Fitzpatrick, Moorepay managing director, existing and prospective SME clients are asking for the same level of services that have been in the market for years for the large-employer market.

If the launch goes well, and Moorepay turns the rising demand and its first-mover advantage in the U.K. SME market into new and profitable growth, expect to see new NGA Preceda-based SaaS HRO offerings pop up elsewhere around the world.

Linda Merritt, 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.

M&A Activity in Benefits Administration: Round 2

March 12, 2012

Following the benefits administration merger and acquisition (M&A) frenzy of 2010 that resulted in some major consolidations including Aon Hewitt, Towers Watson, Xerox/ACS and ExcellerateHRO, to name a few, are we poised to see round 2?

The second wave actually began in early 2011 and tends to consist of the more established providers, in their own right, acquiring Tier 2 health and welfare (H&W) administration companies in the U.S.  Examples include:

  • Towers Watson acquiring Aliquant in January 2011
  • Sedgwick, a leader in the leave of absence administration market with ~20% market share, acquiring the productivity solutions unit of Nationwide Better Health in May 2011
  • Morneau Shepell, the leading total benefits outsourcing (TBO) provider in Canada, acquiring SBC Systems Company in January 2012.

As of last week, we can now add ADP to this list since it signed a definitive agreement to acquire SHPS Human Resource Solutions—a subsidiary of SHPS, Inc. ADP has actually been making key acquisitions to strengthen components within its benefits administration offering for the last 18 months. It started with Workscape, which added compensation management services, and was followed by Asparity Decision Solutions for decision support tools and analytic capabilities.

Now, the SHPS acquisition strengthens ADP’s leave administration and reimbursement account administration offerings. The HSA and HRA components will be especially important considering the rising cost of health-care and the transition toward high-deductible health plans paired with these health savings accounts.

The H&W acquisition trend is also expanding beyond the U.S. It started in September 2010, when Capita – a U.K.-based HRO vendor providing total retirement outsourcing (TRO) exclusively in the U.K. – acquired FirstAssist Services Holdings for £12.5m. Then it continued when Mercer acquired REPCA – a brokering and advising firm for health and benefits (H&B) plans – to strengthen its H&B administration offering and advisory services in France.

The remaining question on my mind is whether U.S.-based TRO providers such as ING, Great-West, T. Rowe Price, etc. plan to jump on the H&W acquisition bandwagon to provide a one-stop shop for benefits administration like Fidelity Investments.

I’m eager to see who will make the next M&A move in benefits administration.  In the meantime, it’s always fun to hear about cross-selling opportunities that resulted in contract scope expansions.  Stay tuned.

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.

HRO Staffing – A Balancing Act

March 30, 2011

Fast and flexible scaling is one of the major benefits of HRO. Scaling up is a lot more fun than scaling down, but both are important, take time, and consume resources. One of the toughest challenges in HRO is maintaining staffing and margins at the same time through the ups and downs of client demand and the overall economy.

Recent times required painful and expensive downscaling as HRO client demand and employment levels dropped, reducing volumes and overall spend. Significant expenses were allocated for staff severance and consolidation of real estate. Even in periods of growth, merger and acquisition “savings” targets are based largely on staff downsizing to reduce overlap, followed by real estate consolidation. Whether a service provider is growing organically or via acquisition, or responding to reduced demand, maintaining appropriate staffing capability, capacity, and expense is critical.

HRO is slowly recovering with RPO leading the way while some areas are still waiting for their upturn including learning and MPHRO. New deals are occurring, renewals are going well, and existing clients are once again increasing scale and scope, at least at a modest level. All good and welcome news!

HRO service providers are confident enough to prepare for a return to growth and make select expansions. At the same time, they know they need to add client load with a minimum of new hiring as pricing pressure is still intense. And this is not even mentioning the need for maintaining an experienced and qualified staff to satisfy client employees and other end-users in the ever changing world of HR.

On the upside, clients are growing in sophistication and understanding of HR outsourcing options. While onshore delivery still leads, especially for voice, acceptance of offshoring has reached the expectation that HRO vendors should offer multi-shore delivery options. Nearshore options and the use of non-voice channels like chat allow leveraging more work to selected centers, increasing the need for and the value of a truly global service delivery network.

Recent HRO service provider expansions include:

  • TriNet – Added three new U.S. offices
  • CPH – Opened a new office in Sydney
  • Futurestep – Added a global recruitment operations center in Houston
  • NorthgateArinso – Invested in a new global HR delivery center in Hyderabad, India; opened offices in Russia, the Czech Republic, and Istanbul; partnering with ICAP Group in Greece
  • Edvantage Group – New e-learning production center in Denmark.

Expanding the coverage of service locations helps avoid the war for talent and damaging attrition rates in the hottest spots as well as providing increased options for clients.

Buyers, do more than look for an SLA on turnover. Ask about the vendor’s current and future plans for managing staffing and service flexible coverage. Does your service provider show that they are at least as, or more, sophisticated as you are in workforce planning and management? They should be.

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall