Posted tagged ‘Aon’

Aon Hewitt 2011 Analyst and Consultant Briefing

June 30, 2011

At Aon Hewitt’s first analyst and consultant conference, Aon CEO Greg Case set the tone of the day with his enthusiastic overview about the company’s twofold focus on risk and people.  As of 2010, the risk segment makes up 60% of the business, while HR solutions is the remainder with an objective of a 50/50 split.

To achieve the 50/50 split, Bal Dail and Kristi Savacool, co-CEO’s of Aon Hewitt, shared their vision.  That is, for Aon Hewitt to be the most trusted partner for clients seeking HR solutions across its consulting, benefits administration, and HR BPO sectors.

Overall, the sectors are quite healthy with consulting leading the way.  Of particular interest to me is the HR BPO business since I recently completed the 2011 NelsonHall multi-process HRO (MPHRO) report.  HR BPO accounts for 13% of Aon Hewitt’s revenues and positions it as the global leader in the MPHRO space with a little more than 12% of market share.

It has 27 MPHRO clients, most recently adding Bank of America who was previously serviced by Fidelity.  The Bank of America contract is for five and a half years, for 290,000 employees, and covers the following services:

  • HR administration
  • Performance management
  • Payroll
  • Time keeping
  • H&W administration
  • Learning
  • Recruiting technology.

Most importantly, Aon Hewitt hasn’t lost any HRBPO clients to its competitors.  It lost Mervyns and Circuit City in 2009 due to liquidations and it has another client that has downsized to where there is no business case for MPHRO services.  Aon Hewitt, however, will still perform benefits administration services for this client.  The most immediate challenge in this space is renewing Air Canada and Prudential.

In terms of its standalone offerings, Aon Hewitt is strongly focused on RPO, which is provided as a standalone service as well as part of its HR BPO offering.  The company has 500 recruitment professionals, assesses 10m candidates annually, and fills 65,000 positions a year.  Current RPO clients include Bank of Montreal, Marriott, and the TSA.

Absence management is another standalone offering that Aon Hewitt is planning to make significant investments in.  It currently has 400 employees, 4 global service centers, and 55 clients.  Absence management is also offered within the company’s HR BPO portfolio.

One thing was very clear throughout the day, Aon Hewitt is excited and enthusiastic about the current direction it has positioned itself in.  But make no mistake, the company won’t sit idle with this strategy even if it is one of the largest HRO and consulting players in the world.  It will continue to evolve so it stays on top.

Amy Gurchensky, Research Analyst, HRO, NelsonHall

Is Your Vendor Bullish on HRO?

May 5, 2011

Sometimes we hear service provider’s recommitment to the world of HRO. Such commitment is to be expected from vendors whose entire business is HR-related. It is somewhat surprising to see such commitment from large companies that make most of their money in other service lines, including Accenture, Aon, and IBM.

Take Aon for example. Its history is largely rooted in insurance underwriting and risk management, and HR services were a minor contributor without much visible synergy. Rather than jettison the smaller business, Aon more than doubled down with the acquisition of Hewitt last year. Now Aon Hewitt is about 40% of Aon’s revenues and Aon’s CEO, Greg Case, says he is bullish on all of the opportunity areas for HR Solutions in both the consulting and outsourcing arena worldwide.

Meanwhile, Aon’s HR Solutions revenues for Q1 2011 were $1.1bn and flat in organic growth. Consulting came in at $569m with 4% organic growth. Outsourcing had $556 in revenues and was down 3% organically. Also, this quarter Aon Hewitt took a $61m write-down for a reduction in intangible assets. Such write-downs are less frequent, but not totally gone as some clients reduce HRO scope, negotiate lower pricing, or change vendors.

Other HRO issues persist due to the nature of the business and impact all of the vendors. As a matter of survival, service providers like Aon Hewitt and others have grown savvier in managing the rapid declines in client revenues when the economy tanks, employment drops, and discretionary investment dries up, while still meeting client commitments.

This is not a business for the faint of heart. Perhaps you do need to be a bit bullish to get in and stay in the HRO arena. What will it take to make HRO the business, people, and revenue growth engine we all want it to be?

For one, go where the growth is. For MNC’s that continues to be internationally, and it will be increasing as internal markets develop. Both Accenture and Aon see solid current and future growth across the world beyond the mature markets. Global footprints grow led by the larger part of the vendors business. The chance to add-on HR consulting and outsourcing will follow at less opportunity cost, often using the same delivery locations and networks and both Aon Hewitt and Accenture are continuing to add talent in select global markets.

For another, focus on moving up the business value chain. NelsonHall sees a very positive environment for process improvement-oriented offerings with organizations using both consulting and systems integration and, increasingly, BPO to adopt new business models which are more cost-effective, more globalized, and have greater customer impact. For HRO, it is key to create customer impact beyond HR cost efficiency.

Buyers, is your HRO provider building capacity where you need? Are they able to pull through from their larger business segments the insight and capabilities you need to deliver business results?

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall

Does HRO have True Grit?

March 23, 2011

HRO buyers usually address cost and service capabilities first followed by process best practices, compliance and reporting, and partnership compatibility to achieve change and deliver results. Further down are needs that we may take for granted. It is at this level that we see whether or not a HRO service provider has True Grit.

The first aspect of true grit is when a vendor invests in improvements in its performance in areas that go beyond just meeting service levels. For example, Aon Hewitt will use the N.I.C.E. call management quality system for all its service centers. This will improve and create a common service center experience for all clients from pre-merger Aon Consulting and Hewitt Associates and it will help create unity across the combined teams. When there is a drive for internal vendor values, it will show through to external customers.

The second aspect of true grit is robust planning for business continuity that goes beyond a plan on the shelf. Natural disasters occur all around the world and clients need assurance that the HRO service provider will be able to maintain operations if something happens at one or more of its locations.  Aon Hewitt’s business continuity strategies include shifting work to unaffected locations and having colleagues work from home. It also has redundancy between geographically dispersed centers. If one center becomes unavailable due to a disaster or crisis, it can shift call volume to an unaffected location to continue to provide service to clients.

In Japan, Aon and Aon Hewitt have several offices in Tokyo and it has provided contingent space away from Tokyo, where colleagues who wish to leave the area are able to go and work. In another example, IBM has service center operations in many locations worldwide, including Manila which is subject to major storms including typhoons. Its site specific business continuity plan includes prearranged busing for critical staff and back-up generators for power – with gasoline trucks standing by to keep operations fueled. A key step that can have major impact if missed!

The final level of true grit is the capability to help clients in times of crisis. Aon Hewitt has a Global Emergency Operations Center (GEOC) that it activated during the recent crisis in Japan. In one case, a call center shifted to the crisis response model for a client, which enabled employees to contact the call center to leave and retrieve messages for other employees. In addition, family members of employees can leave and get messages from one another. Communicating is often challenging during a crisis as cell service and phone lines are impacted, and this service provides another communication channel to employees and their families at a critical period in time.

A benefit of HRO should be robust service delivery beyond what a client can affordably provide on its own. Does your HRO service partner have the True Grit you need?

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall

HRO is Never Static or Still

October 12, 2010

During every stage of the economic lifecycle, HRO service providers are doing something to either anticipate or react to changes in the marketplace and client needs while simultaneously striving to achieve strategic goals. This week I wrap-up NelsonHall’s review of 3Q 2010 HRO activity with a look at what’s new in offerings, partnerships and acquisitions.

One way to quickly expand a service line or fill-in gaps is to partner with a provider that is already offering the service or operating in the target geography. Last quarter was most active for RPO. Those announcing new RPO-related partnerships included Alexander Mann Solutions (AMS), Kelly Services, Kenexa, Pinstripe and The RightThing. Notably, two of the partnerships were to continue to expand RPO services internationally in the Asia Pacific region, with AMS adding reach into India and Kelly in Vietnam.

A more committed path to rounding out or adding new services is to buy it. Making small to large acquisitions is another constant in the world of HRO as players define and redefine their portfolios. In addition to the close of the three game changing major acquisitions in the benefits community (ADP/Workscape, ACS/ExcellerateHRO, and Aon/Hewitt), other folks were also making deals. For example, Mercer acquired IPA and ORC, and Xafinity bought PwC’s pension consulting and administration business in the U.K. Further, Randstad continued its acquisitive ways, this time outside of Europe, with its planned acquisition of FujiStaff in Japan.

Health and welfare (H&W) outsourcing used to be limited to the U.S., and that will remain the major market. But no matter how health insurance and care is funded, H&W concerns are growing globally. In the U.S., Fidelity is partnering with RedBrick Health to offer its clients wellness services, and in the U.K., Capita is acquiring FirstAssist Services to add to its health service offerings.

Finally, if you cannot find what you want in the marketplace, you can build or expand it yourself. Ceridian wants to truly offer a new line of BPO services and has announced it is ready to consult, build and manage the health insurance exchanges that some states will need in a couple of years as part of the U.S. health care reform program. 

Most announcements of “new offerings” are incremental additions. For example, Hewitt is adding Micromedex medical reference information to its advocacy service offering. You can also simply package what you have and call it new. Aditro has done that with a standardized set of payroll services that include preset services levels and implementation process to make a lower cost bundled option.

Yet another variation blends supply chain partnerships with building it yourself to make a new service offering. Take a SaaS HR service from Oracle or Sap and wrap in value added enhancements and services additions and, voila, you have a new HRO service platform. Mercer introduced its Human Capital Direct that uses PeopleClick Authoria’s talent management suite as the core, surrounded by Mercer’s consulting, tools and methodologies such as decision support, competency models and analytics.

In HRO, somebody is always doing something. What have you done lately?

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall

Recapping the Not-so-Dog-Days of HRO’s 2010 Summer

October 5, 2010

One of the biggest HRO stories of 2010 will be the flurry of big and small acquisitions in the benefits administration space. The three big acquisitions – ACS and ExcellerateHRO, ADP and Workscape, and Aon and Hewitt – have recently closed.

As acquisition mania played out, many HRO deals were getting done, and this week, as the weather has finally, thankfully, started to cool, I’m taking a look at some of the deal activity over the long hot summer.

There were not a lot of announced deals in benefits administration, but a Hewitt summary indicates plenty of activity was still quietly going on. Hewitt won new awards across the span of benefits administration in the large and mid-market, including several in defined benefits and defined contributions. But the greatest activity was in health and welfare, and for point solutions like dependant audits and flex spend accounts.

While not necessarily matching North America in total contract value, the U.K. and Europe were also quite active in HRO. Logica was awarded a £10m payroll and pensions HRO contract extention by U.K’s Metropolitan Police, with new scope this time around including increases in employee and manager self services and electronic pay slips. And Midland HR won a deal for its iTrent HR platform including HR administration, employee and manager self-service, payroll, talent management and workforce planning.

In RPO, CPH won a contract with Opal Telephone, and Alexander Mann was awarded  a contract for recruitment and contingent labor by Cobhan. On the continent, HRO activity included HR administration and payroll deals by Reat and HR Access in the mid-market.

ADP parlayed existing payroll services for KAO, a Japan-based consumer products manafacturer, into extended HR administration and payroll services across Asia Pacific including China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan. In addition, ADP won a global managed payroll services contract with BT that will cover more than 40 countries in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific when fully implemented.

It was refreshing to see a spate of learning contract awards won by Expertus, General Physics, Intrepid and The Learning Associates. However, as most of the learning outsourcing activity was in the public sector, we still need to see more of an uptick in the private sector before we can say learning is fully on the road to recovery.

RPO maintained its lead position as the most active single service area, with the greatest increase in revenues and new contracts. RPO activity was highest in the U.S., followed by the U.K., and was spread nicely across providers including Alexander Mann, CPH, Kelly Services, Manpower, PeopleScout and SourceRight. Several of the awards were for contingent labor or combined RPO, with the contingent labor focuses indicating that employers are still cautious about a full return to permanent hires.

There were no announcements of the HRO mega-deals of yore, but it was very nice to see the increased activity levels across many HRO service lines and service providers. Now that the cooler weather of fall is here, we’ll  hopefully see an even more serious return to getting business done before the end of the year!

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall

Don’t Rain on My HRO Parade

September 21, 2010

The HRO community deserves a break, and the latest NelsonHall HR Outsourcing Confidence Index is here to deliver with lots of good news. Strike up the band and let’s have a virtual HRO parade!

To gauge HRO confidence, we use a scale in which 100 equals no change and 200 means all participants are highly confident. Compared to the dearth of optimism at 115 in Q2 2009, the 3Q 2010 HRO Confidence Index is at a high of 168. HRO vendors stating they are much more confident in their HR outsourcing business increased from a dismal 10 percent to a buoyant 41 percent.

We have been reporting for some time that pipelines are filling and looking better, and that continues. And yet, providers’ financial results have not yet shown a logjam break in frozen decision-making and willingness to commit in many HRO service lines.

On the other hand, this quarter we finally see an upswing in contract value growth. In fact, we have a triple play of good news underway! HRO service providers are reporting increases in:

  1. New contract activity
  2. Scope expansion with existing clients
  3. Volume in existing contracts

New contract activity is now outpacing increasing scope with existing clients. New deals signed, given the lag time before revenues flow, will take a while to show up in results. Volumes beginning to pick-up with existing clients will show up sooner in results, especially if vendors can gear up to increasing activity levels quickly and efficiently.

RPO and payroll continue to lead the parade to revenue growth recovery, with multi-process HRO also improving. While learning has been slow, its current 3.5 ranking in NelsonHall’s 3Q 2010 HRO Confidence Index indicates a much brighter outlook as compared to its score of 2.8 in Q4 2009.(Note that we use a scale of 1 – 5, with 5 being a strong increase.) 

Benefits administration outsourcing revenue growth expectations have been stable for several quarters around 3.5, but the outlook for pipeline growth is lower for benefits administration outsourcing than other HRO areas. Expected increases in health and welfare consulting should lead longer term to opportunities, but vendors are not seeing it yet. There may be short term distraction caused by the spate of mergers and alliances this year. ADP recently reported the successful acquisition of Workscape, now an ADP company, and Aon announced the leadership slate for the soon to be Aon Hewitt team.

Global delivery remains a factor in HRO growth in two ways. First, multi-country contracts, at 34 percent of deals, continue as organizations seek to standardize payroll and other HR processes. Also, acceptance of multi-shoring HRO continues. Onshore HRO delivery is still in the lead at 71 percent, but nearshore and offshore delivery are now 29 percent of HRO contract values.

People have parades for many reasons including celebration, commemoration and optimism. Our virtual parade is for optimism with a tad of celebration thrown in. Let’s save the full celebration parade for when the earnings results match the current high level of optimism.  Hmm, when and where do you think we should have a real HRO community parade?

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall

Modesty is the Order of the Day in Big HRO

August 4, 2010

As the earnings reporting season rolls on, some of the HRO heavy weights are reporting modest revenue growth for the second quarter 2010:

• ADP  Employer Services  $1.6 billion, up four percent

• Aon Consulting  $317 million, up six percent

• Mercer $838 million, up one percent  

There was no exuberance, rational or irrational, among the reporting executives. There was modestly cautious optimism based on some growth, strong pipelines and faith in that the cost-cutting actions taken during the downturn will continue to pay margin-enhancing benefits.

Benefits outsourcing revenues were stable at Aon Consulting ($51 million) and Mercer ($161 million). The hot action again seemed to be outside of the U.S., with health and benefits doing particularly well, and compensation consulting also up.

While ADP does not break out HRO, it did say revenue in the U.S., beyond payroll services, grew six percent. ADP Employer Services revenues are now 20 percent international, largely from payroll, and the global growth rate is expected to exceed that in the U.S.

Moderating a nice quarter is continued pricing pressures, client reluctance to make spending commitments on new outsourcing, and a slow return of discretionary spend on projects and other services. Mercer saw a nice sequential increase quarter to quarter in talent management and rewards, which it considers may be a bellwether of improved conditions.

Vendor operating margins have held up relatively well once actions were taken to lower expenses in line with lower incomes. ADP’s took a small dip of 3.2 percent because it has chosen to hire ahead of the full upturn, adding about 300 heads in sales and service. Mercer feels it is poised to move quickly to capture increased opportunities as they appear.

Aon Consulting will, of course, be busy with planning and then integration when it becomes Aon Hewitt. In commenting on the merger, Mercer was comfortable that, overall, it will be a stabilizing force in the market and a confirmation of Mercer’s own three pillars of consulting, outsourcing and investment services. Further, it expressed confidence in its ability to compete in the changed benefits landscape.

Still, it sure sounds likely that it will add something to bulk up a bit as well. MMC, Mercer’s parent,  has $1.5 billion in cash, with more coming in from the sale of Kroll. While it is perhaps not iminent, do expect to see Mercer make a move by the end of the year.  Any speculation on where it may add? Mercer is already strong in consulting, and at $2 billion per year, would it add in outsourcing, or perhaps investment services, which is its smallest, yet nicely growing unit?

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall