Posted tagged ‘TRO’

A Closer Look at Benefits Administration in H1 2012: Part 2

August 23, 2012

Amy L. Gurchensky, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Part 1 of my mid-year benefits administration update covered several of the largest service providers, typically engaged in TBO services. Part 2 takes a closer look at TRO providers and updates from H&W vendors.

Fidelity Investments: Although it is a private corporation, from time to time Fidelity announces some of its success. H1 2012 was the company’s strongest half sales period in the last five years. It added 838 new DC administration clients, which will add ~522k participants to the ~15.7m it is currently serving. Fidelity has made substantial investments to strengthen its offering that will likely continue to fuel its success.

T. Rowe Price: While not as large as Fidelity, T. Rowe’s Administrative segment continues to report a steady growth rate of 3%. It prides itself on a long tenure rate with its clients and has plans to keep its offering competitive by introducing technological enhancements such as the T. Rowe Price Personal App for individuals and participants in employer-sponsored retirement plans.

JLT: Across the pond, JLT’s Employee Benefits segment, which includes revenues from consulting, outsourcing, and systems / technology, had a 5% growth rate in H1 2012. BenPal, its online integrated platform, is helping the company expand its benefits business internationally, which is likely to continue to have a positive effect on its bottom line.

Benefits providers in the U.K., the second largest benefits administration market behind the U.S. according to the 2012 Targeting Benefits Administration market analysis report, should also enjoy better than average growth due to new opportunities as a result of the automatic enrollment requirement of the Pensions Act of 2008 as well as opportunities in the public sector as budget concerns open doors to outsourcing assistance.

WageWorks: Newly public WageWorks provides a look into the high-technology SaaS H&W specialty services market of consumer-directed accounts including health (i.e., HRA, FSA, and HSA), commuter, and other employee spending accounts. Total revenues increased 29% y-o-y for Q2; its healthcare segment was up 21%. This year, it added US Airways as a client, expanded its contract with GE, and signed a channel partner agreement with Aflac that will add ~5k FSA clients and ~100k participants. It also entered into a reseller agreement with Aflac, which will continue to boost revenues beyond 2012.

Empyrean Benefit Solutions: Another private company touting its success in the H&W market is Empyrean, which has been offering services since 2007. It has set a record with year-to-date new client wins in H1 2012, adding 10 large market clients. The company is expecting 2012 revenues to increase 40% y-o-y.

Service providers who are slightly behind growth targets for 2012 or those who just want to perform better are prepping to make sure 2013 is a success. For some, this means focusing on health insurance exchanges or launching health and wellness offerings, and for others, it’s about enhancing existing offering with technology improvements and educational initiatives.

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A Closer Look at Benefits Administration in H1 2012: Part 1

August 21, 2012

Amy L. Gurchensky, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Earlier this year, I wrote a two part blog about how the benefits administration market was poised for a good year. Part 1 highlighted Q1 earnings results and part 2 focused on other signs indicating success such as acquisitions, hiring, and surveys.

Halfway through the year, signs are still indicating that 2012 will be a solid year for many benefits administration service providers.

 Aon Hewitt: For Q2, its Outsourcing segment reported organic revenue growth for the third consecutive quarter. In fact, the 6% reported was the company’s highest organic revenue growth rate for Outsourcing in several years. While Outsourcing revenues consist of more than just benefits administration, much of its growth was for benefits-related point services such as dependent eligibility audits. Its active employee exchange is set to be launched in Q4, which will begin to realize revenues in 2013.

Towers Watson: Towers Watson’s Benefits segment has been consist with positive organic revenue growth beyond the last four quarters. It’s Technology and Administrative Solutions segment revenues grew mid-single digits for the period ending June 30th and its pipeline is very healthy. The company’s Exchange Solutions segment, which was created after the acquisition of Extend Health, has had strong sales with a record number of participants enrolling, exceeding the 30% previously forecasted.

Mercer: Organic revenues for Mercer’s Outsourcing segment had another positive quarter, but were lower than reported in Q1. The suite of health care exchanges it launched earlier this year, which includes a retiree medical exchange, is expected to have ~500,000 employees enrolled across all three exchanges in 2013. 

Morneau Shepell: Canadian-headquartered Morneau Shepell has reported double-digit revenue growth for the last four consecutive quarters. In Q2, its pension and benefits outsourcing segment, which makes up ~25% of its revenues, had the largest contribution along with its health management business. Its growth is from new client wins, and its acquisition of SBC Systems has led to new business in the U.S.

According to the NelsonHall HR Outsourcing Market Forecast: 2012 – 2016, the projected growth rate for the benefits administration service line is modest compared to areas still experiencing rapid growth like RPO. Since benefits administration is the largest revenue generator in HRO, even moderate single-digit growth will add billions more to its total.

Later this week, look for more benefits administration mid-year updates from TRO and H&W service providers in Part 2.

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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

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