Posted tagged ‘ACS’

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.

Health Savings Accounts on the Rise

November 29, 2011

The utilization of health savings accounts (HSAs) is rising, creating a win-win for employees, employers, and HRO benefits providers. Let’s take a look at the results of two recent studies to find out why.

Buck Consultants conducted a survey (http://bit.ly/uu10es), commissioned by its parent, ACS, A Xerox Company, which revealed that HSAs are not only saving employers and consumers money, but also helping employees (and retirees) make better decisions about their healthcare. Consumers of HSAs are putting aside more money for potential medical costs than they did before (69% of those enrolled in High Deductible Health Plans [HDHPs] contributed an average of $1,000 to their HSA accounts  for individual coverage, and $1,500 for family coverage). They are also engaging in healthier lifestyle choices and doing more research for preventative care. Employers report that the cost of providing an HSA-qualified plan is less than that of a standard Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan. You might be thinking, this is good for the employer, but what does the employee think? Well, 72% of account holders chose the HSA-qualified plan even though they had other plan options, and 82% said their selection was based on the ability to save tax-free money.

According to the results of a survey released by Mercer (http://bit.ly/vZiiFL), due to the rising cost of healthcare plans and cost per employee, employers are taking action to try and keep costs down, e.g. nearly a third with 500 or more employees offer consumer-driven health plans, i.e. HDHPs linked to HSAs or health reimbursement accounts, up from <25% in 2010. Because of the high deductible to the employee, they cost less than other plans, around 20% less per employee than a PPO.

Here are two examples of leading benefits administration vendors helping their clients:

  • ACS, one of the first providers to implement an HSA in 2004, has 25,000 employer implementations and $1 billion in HSA assets
  • In 2010, Fidelity increased its number of HSA clients by >50% while adding 22,000 new indiviudal HSA accounts.

Providers can help with further education. Focusing on employees, I myself did not understand HSAs at first. I’m in my fourth year of having an HSA combined with my HDHP. First, let me say that I’m not the HSA spokesperson and there are pros and cons to any plan that need to be evaluated on an individual basis. The upside for those not familiar – speaking for my HDHP consumer-driven health plan I opened an HSA with – is that there are no co-pays and no forms to fill out. Preventative care is free, e.g. annual physicals. So if you are healthy, there are no costs except your monthly premium. But if you do get sick and need to go to the doctor, you pay out of pocket until the annual deductible is met, then in-network pays a high percentage until you reach your annual yearly max—that just happens to be approximately the same as the annual max I can contribute to my HSA; and like an IRA, the amount you contribute is deductible on your income tax.

HRO providers that can help clients navigate through the intricacies of healthcare will be greatly valued!

Gary Bragar, HRO Research Director, 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.

First Year+ Strong for ACS, a Xerox Company

September 9, 2011

With a year and a half passing since Xerox acquired ACS, Xerox has appropriately defined its new tagline: “Services-Led, Technology-Driven” with revenues roughly split equally between its Services segment and its Technology segment. Of Xerox Services, BPO is leading, accounting for 55% of revenues. The remainder of its Services revenue is ITO (12%) and DO (32%).

Within BPO, its four segments are HR, F&A, customer care, and transaction processing. Focusing on HR specifically, ACS is doing well according to information shared at yesterday’s Industry Analyst Meeting in NYC.  In total, the company has secured 44 HR services deals in the past 18 months.  Its first HRO deal since the acquisition was closed was a 5 year H&W services contract with P&G in March 2010.  

Some recent HRO highlights include signing a long-term TBO contract with a wireless telecommunications company, winning its largest ever learning services contract with a pharmaceutical company, and leveraging the ACS and Xerox relationship to win a multi-process HR outsourcing (MPHRO) contract from a competitor. 

Serving more than 11m employees and retirees worldwide, the company is focused on “consumer-driven solutions” or viewing the client employee as the end-consumer.  Part of this initiative includes its client collaboration group, FutureThink, which began piloting last year and has recently expanded. 

Its plans for geographic expansion are ripening.  The company has made great progress with its first target, Europe, with revenues increasing 10% and pipeline growth up more than 100%.  Approximately 90% of this pipeline improvement is the result of Xerox synergy.  Another positive is a recent MPHRO win from this region. 

Aside from Europe, ACS is targeting Latin America, specifically Brazil and Mexico, and Asia.  In Latin America, the company has a good market presence due to its acquisition of ExcellerateHRO last year. 

Additional acquisitions and partnerships can’t be ruled out either, especially for building out service capabilities.  Finally, to support all this growth, ACS has made investments in CRM, expanding its India and Malaysia centers.

Eighteen months since the acquisition has closed, Xerox has demonstrated a successful integration of ACS and signs are pointing to a positive future for HR services.

Amy L. Gurchensky, Research Analyst, HRO, NelsonHall

Success Factors for the Market Segments of MPHRO

August 9, 2011

Last week, I discussed the four market segments of multi-process HR outsourcing (MPHRO) as defined in my 2011 NelsonHall MPHRO report: multi-country standardization, client-specific shared service transformation, core business focus, and technology-led HR service enhancement.  This week, I’ll examine success factors for service providers within each segment.

In the “multi-country standardization segment,” which is the segment with the highest growth rate for the next five years, it is critical for vendors to be able to support a client’s operations across a wide range of countries including emerging markets. Providers must also be able to rollout standardized HR administration and payroll to create a global system of record. Examples of service providers operating in this segment include ADP, HP, and NorthgateArinso.

To be successful in the “client-specific shared service transformation segment,” the largest of the four, vendors must provide HRO support directly or through a partner for all HR service lines (i.e., payroll, benefits, learning, RPO, and workforce development services) and have a high degree of multi-shore delivery capabilities to support clients in various locations.  Equally important is a service provider’s ability to be able to work with the client’s existing HR technology.  One of the biggest challenges faced by vendors in this group is getting clients to transition more than just back-office functions to its offshore service centers to reduce operating costs.  Service providers operating in this segment include those that have been long-term players in the MPHRO market such as Accenture; IBM; Aon Hewitt; ACS, a Xerox Company; and U.K.-based Capita.

Within the “core business focus” market segment, success is contingent on a provider’s ability to quickly deploy HR services and be accessible when expertise is required.  In terms of HRO offerings, standardized HR administration and payroll are a must and providing support for talent management services is very appealing.  The biggest challenge for vendors operating here is all the competition that exists from some of the following vendors: Genpact, TCS, Talent2, Infosys, HCL, Wipro, and Caliber Point.

Success in the final segment, “technology-led HR service enhancement,” requires vendors to provide their own standard technology for HR administration and payroll that includes talent management functions.  Also, it’s important that this technology be rolled-out relatively quickly.  Providers that fall within this segment mirror the multi-country standardization segment, but also include vendors such as Ceridian.

There’s lots of room in the MPHRO market for all types of buyers, so it’s critical for service providers to decide which segments are of strategic value and to define their sweet spots in their MPHRO portfolios and fill in capability gaps where contracts can be lost to competitors.

Amy Gurchensky, Research Analyst, HRO, NelsonHall

Learning Services Acquisition Frenzy

March 17, 2011

Last year, we wrote quite a bit about all of the M&A activity in benefits administration including:

  • Towers Perrin and Watson Wyatt completing its merger to become Towers Watson
  • ACS, a Xerox Company acquiring ExcellerateHRO
  • ADP acquiring Workscape
  • Aon acquiring Hewitt to become Aon Hewitt
  • Other acquisitions made by vendors including Mercer, Xafinity, and Capita.

Will learning be the next HR service area abundant in acquisitions?  Although we have seen learning services acquisitions in the past, including ACS acquiring Intellinex in 2006, and will likely continue to see more in the future, I don’t believe we will see any in learning that are equivalent in scale to the large benefits acquisitions.  However, if there was an award for the number of acquisitions in a short period of time, it would have to go to General Physics Corporation (GP). On March 10th, GP acquired RWD Technologies for $28m, its 8th acquisition in the past 18 months.  RWD is based in the U.S. near GP in Baltimore and has three additional U.S. locations as well as offices in the U.K. and Colombia.

GP got RWD at a bargain since RWD’s consulting revenues were $65m in 2010.  RWD was hit hard by the recession and GP came along at the right time with cash on hand.  As a result of the acquisition, GP inherits RWD’s IT learning expertise, where it had little prior experience.  The acquisition also strengthens GP in the petroleum, manufacturing, and automotive sectors.

Last month, GP acquired Communication Consulting to expand delivery of its training services in China.  GP’s other acquisitions were made in the U.S. and U.K. between September 2009 and December 2010.

GP’s 2010 revenues were $259.9m, an increase of 18.6% compared to 2009.  Growth was attributed to increased volumes from existing clients, new contract awards, and its acquisitions, which had the greatest impact.

Moving forward, what will happen?  Well for one thing, don’t count GP out from making future acquisitions.  GP still has ~$35m in revolving credit after the RWD deal and has stated that they will continue to seek acquisitions to grow globally.  However, with so many acquisitions, GP now faces the challenge of creating an integrated client experience and cross-selling into the strengths of these acquired companies to continue its rapid pace of growth.

It will be interesting to watch as things unfold this year.  In the meantime, we can finally put to rest the question “what’s happening with RWD”.

Gary Bragar, Lead HRO Analyst, NelsonHall

HRO: Mobility is a Link in the Talent Management Value Chain

March 16, 2011

Mobility outsourcing is largely a standalone service from specialty providers. ACS, a Xerox Company offers global mobility as part of its multi-process HRO (MPHRO) suite of services while most MPHRO providers do not.

On one hand, it makes sense to leave mobility services to specialty providers because relocation is dynamic with constant changes requiring depth of knowledge and it rides the leading edge waves of economic tides. According to Worldwide ERC’s 2010 Transfer Volume and Cost Survey, relocation is trending up again after the severe trough in 2009. Although it will take some time to reach pre-recession levels, up is good and mobility is joining recruitment outsourcing as an indicator of recovery. For example, Cartus went from $320m in revenues in 2009 to $405m in 2010 and managed 148k relocations. Even in the downturn, it proceeded with the acquisition of Primacy in 2010 and the combined entity added 140 new clients and expanded services with 300 existing clients.

On the other hand, leaving mobility services solely to specialty providers can leave a weak link in the value chain. The answer for most HRO service providers is to ensure inclusion of a strong mobility vendor in the preferred and integrated supplier ecosystem.

Mobility matters because of the continuing evolution of talent management which includes a growing awareness of the link with mobility. While one would think the link is obvious, it is not always managed as an integrated component of succession planning, talent acquisition, and retention, especially on a global basis. In many HR organizations relocation is under the purview of compensation and benefits and talent management is elsewhere.  Add in multiple vendors and a consultant or two and you have a situation needing a bridge of connectivity.

Who will bridge the gap? Mobility providers have really increased their pace of innovation and made strides in becoming strategic advisors in order to survive the recession. The use of new services like pre-decision relocation assessments increased from 9% to 40% since 2007. In addition to administering the relocation process and paperwork, the relocation specialist may help the client decide on a temporary rotational assignment with the lower cost of temporary living versus a permanent relocation with a home sale in a down market. Or they may advise a transferee on renting versus buying, all based on knowledge of client policies, costs, and local markets. It is this group that is raising their eyes over the fence of talent management and going, hmm.

I am not predicting that a mobility provider is going to leap into full scale talent management tomorrow. I do see a new player in the mix for client mind and wallet share. If you are a HRO vendor with talent management as a major offering, think about more than just which technology to use. Do not let mobility be a missing link in your HR value chain.

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall

The Yellow Brick Road to Financial Growth in Benefits Outsourcing

March 10, 2011

There are a variety of ways to grow HRO service provider income. Well-traveled roads include winning new clients or expanding services with existing clients. Another avenue is to cross-leverage consulting and outsourcing to build revenues for other service lines. Now, a new path has emerged and it looks like a yellow brick road to generating revenues: provide advisory services directly to defined contribution (DC) plan participants and not just to the plan sponsors.

According to The Financial Engines National 401(k) Evaluation report, approximately three out of four participants are not on track to comfortably retire by age 65 (i.e., they can’t replace 70% of their pre-retirement income with their 401(k) and social security). In addition, 34% do not have diversified portfolios and/or have inappropriate risk levels and 39% of participants do not contribute enough to even receive the full employer match. With DC plans replacing traditional pension plans for many employees, effective participation has taken on increased importance.

Participant DC service options were greatly expanded by the Department of Labor’s regulations, starting with the Pension Plan Act of 2006. Now, DC plans can offer automatic enrollment into qualified default investment alternatives, automatic saving escalations, and investment advisory services. Great, but the regulations are complex and are still being clarified and there are fiduciary responsibilities that must be addressed to provide a safe harbor to the plan sponsors and appropriate protections for the advisors. For BAO providers who have the expertise and fear not to tread on a road still under a bit of construction, this is a growth opportunity.

Amy Gurchensky, one of my NelsonHall HRO colleagues, just added tracking service coverage of Aon Hewitt’s new integrated advisory offering for its DC plan participants through its subsidiary, Aon Hewitt Financial Advisors. Aon Hewitt continues to expand its wealth management and retirement financial services for employers and participants. In 2010, before the merger with Aon Consulting, Hewitt had acquired the investment advisory firm EnnisKnupp.

Aon Hewitt selected Financial Engines to be the sub-advisor and provider of the advisory platform. As Amy notes in her analysis, Financial Engines also provides services for ACS, a Xerox Company, Fidelity, Mercer and others like ING and J.P. Morgan. It is important then that Aon Hewitt is wrapping the standard third party offering in with its own materials so it will be able to extend a new service bundle that creates differentiation.

The bulk of retirement investment consulting revenues will continue to come from services to the plan sponsors, but adding a new road to growth in ancillary services is valuable and this one looks particularly golden. Given the millions of participants with the major BAO players, participant investment services will be a valuable win-win for the employers, participants, and service providers.

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall