Posted tagged ‘RetireTalk’

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.

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EAPs: A Key to Increasing Workplace Productivity

January 10, 2012

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1 out of 20 Americans were clinically depressed in 2005-2006. Since that period, economic conditions worldwide have worsened, the unemployment level has reached all-time highs, and foreclosure rates have skyrocketed. Frankly, I’m a little bit frightened to check an updated statistic on depression.

You might be thinking that those individuals who have managed to maintain their jobs at this time would be grateful. But, the truth of the matter is that the glass is quite often viewed as half empty. There are many reasons why employees suffer from mental health issues. However, instead of just identifying the source of the problem, employers should focus on offering a solution that is known to improve mental health and therefore lead to increased productivity.

That solution is Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). In 2011, Morneau Shepell conducted a study on EAPs that had two interesting findings for HRO buyers and suppliers:

  • Decreased productivity and absence costs employers ~$20,000 per year per employee
  • EAP intervention resulted in a 34% reduction in costs related to lost productivity.

With HR departments outsourcing processes such as payroll to focus on more strategic activities while obtaining best-in-class practices, EAPs as an activity has long been a prime candidate for outsourcing as well. After all, many EAP issues are sensitive in nature and employees may hesitate to seek help if there’s a chance that their confidentiality could be breached.

Two HRO providers that include an EAP offering are Ceridian and Morneau Shepell. While both companies conduct business in North America, Ceridian’s primary market is the U.S., while Morneau Shepell’s is Canada. These two providers are dominating their respective target markets due to a lack of competition from other HRO service providers, not to mention having extensive EAP offerings.

For example, Morneau Shepell already offers an EAP app and most recently launched online access for its EAP clients through its workhealthlife.com website, which allows clients to:

  • Confidentially request help on issues including health, family, work, financial, relationship, and legal support
  • Learn more about suggested EAP support services
  • Select the service and how it will be delivered.

Ceridian, on the other hand, provides services beyond common EAP offerings including aging parent counseling.

Outside North America, U.K. providers have also recognized the importance of wellness programs: Capita with its occupational health services offering and Vebnet with its health and well-being programs.

As an alternative to launching a full EAP offering, some HRO providers have implemented services to address hot topics including saving for retirement. Examples include:

  • Mercer’s self-service and decision support tools including its RetireTalk and Financial Engines Income+
  • Aon Hewitt’s recently launched advisory service for its defined contribution clients.

However, the secret to a productive workforce is offering services that address work, life, and health issues. While saving enough for retirement is one possible source of the problem, there are many others that can be addressed with a full EAP offering.

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.