The business environment in which the client operates is rapidly changing with new regulations forcing product and delivery channel changes. New competitors regularly enter the retirement services industry. Internet service components are experiencing explosive growth. Upon LoBue's arrival the operating environment included:
- Antiquated systems that impeded an efficient delivery mechanism.
- A slower rather than urgent response to adapting to new market paradigms.
- The primary distribution channel, an agency sales force, was expensive to maintain and did not meet the day to day case penetration, enrollment, client retention, or client information warehousing needs of the current environment.
- Customer service processes were inefficient and under-defined.
- Regulatory and competitive changes in their industry forced case and product conversions, without the nimbleness of an organization that has a sense of urgency to adapt to market conditions.
- Notable absence of MIS throughout operations and sales.
- New executive management team.
The client was pursuing an aggressive sales strategy to double its assets under management. They recognized that market share was not the only component of competitive position and undertook this project to improve their competitive position in these specific ways:
- Reduce expense-to-asset ratio to a competitive level, which they defined as a 20BP gap.
- Establish productive, efficient, integrated work processes.
- Ensure that the processes and activities have a brand and customer driven focus.
- Required MIS output was defined and managers were trained to use and fine tune capacity models.
- Call center operations changes were implemented that reduced the cost per call by 60 cents in the short term and by $1.00 within one year.
- The perceived high level of Not In Good Order (NIGO) cases, participant and money-in submissions from clients was addressed through the formation of teams and IT resources to track and reduce NIGO. The Individual Annuity unit’s NIGO was also addressed with a recommendation for a training CD and long term automation recommendation.
- Process and procedural changes in Administrative and Payout Services.
- New Operations/IT structure and systems to increase operations efficiency.
Information Technology (IT)
- Client IT organization was more expensive and more richly staffed than peers. Meaningful reductions in all major service areas and all organizational levels.
- Routine maintenance of old systems transferred offshore.
- Revised desktop/laptop policy that created purchasing power improvements.
- Opportunities to streamline or discontinue activities in time tracking, billing, the Project Management Office and consultant sales tax computations.
- A major consolidation of redundant IT functions with the corporate IT department.
- Major opportunities were identified throughout Sales, both in FTE savings and in other process expenses. Costs such as licenses, leases, travel, postage, printing, etc. were addressed.
- Instituted contact management systems for its various sales channels.
- Instituted sales metrics/productivity measurements.
- Consolidated MIS reporting units into one integrated financial reporting group.
- Within each distribution channel, opportunities were found to better define roles and handoffs for all sales associates. Process clarity was the cornerstone of many of these recommendations.
- The Producer Services area was redesigned to accommodate and streamline additional field activities.
- Redundant sales desks within separate divisions were consolidated into one centralized unit.
Benefits came in many forms: non-HR expense savings, significant productivity improvements and unit cost reductions, streamlined organizations and improved end-to-end processes. There were over 100 actionable recommendations delivered and implemented.
Total project benefits were over $20 million annually.