The non-qualified benefits industry is a highly regulated and complex financial environment where companies compensate employees while providing a way to defer taxation. One of Woodmark's clients has a successful practice in designing, implementing and administering a non-qualified benefit plan for a leading diversified financial services company that needed a way to fulfill the evolving needs of their clients while minimizing admin costs.
With their deep background in financial services, Woodmark built a unique non-qualified benefits plan solution for the client and, by partnering with them over the past 12 years, has leveraged and implemented each new wave of technology—including the creation of a client-facing web portal. "Yes, we can do that," is how the firm responds today to the needs of their clients, while taking advantage of very low support costs: six people administer the system, used by over 4,500 participants.
Original Spark of Opportunity
In 1995, a new consulting firm was created to help companies implement non-qualified deferred benefits plans. As the company grew organically, it wasn't long before they realized the need for an automated way to deliver on-demand information to plan participants and managers. They began to create tools that would help automate the work of setting up and administering the plans. However, since they had no technologists on staff, the firm called in Woodmark Technologies to design and implement a system to meet their business needs. This started a partnership that has been going strong for the last dozen years.
A non-qualified benefits plan provides supplemental compensation to a company's key executives and tracks each participant's allocations, deferrals, beneficiaries, distribution options, and investment performance. The client needed to report all of the above visually with charts and graphs, on a daily basis. The key to success was to customize each system to the needs of the firm's clients, while minimizing administrative headcount to keep their business profitable. As the years went by, the firm also needed to keep up with technology and find new ways to deliver added value to their clients.
24/7 access anywhere to administrators and participants
Custom brand for each client
Minimal administrative support
Utilization of new technologies to achieve all of the above
A responsive, long-term technology partnership
The flexible nature of a deferred benefits plan meant that the system had to be designed for a multitude of possible plan options. Initially, the system was built using Microsoft technologies, which was then migrated to Virtual Basic on top of Microsoft, then to Microsoft SQL Server (from 6.5 to 2000 to 2005), and finally to a web-based application and client portal. Along the way, Woodmark's improvements have kept administrative support costs low, ultimately creating a competitive advantage for the firm that played a part in its acquisition by a large diversified financial services company.
Return on Investment
Today, the non-qualified benefits system is used by over 4,500 participants and administered by a handful of staff – a ratio dramatically lower than other firms in the industry. Other benefits of the web portal developed by Woodmark include:
- Administrators use the intranet portal to load daily unit values of investment assets including stocks, mutual funds and other vehicles. They also use the system to manage eligibility, online enrollment and contributions, payments, and all other aspects of plan administration.
- Client participants use the web portal to enroll, monitor their plans, update their information, set deferral elections, and rebalance their asset allocations.
- Client administrators use the web portal to see plan details for all participants and to view information from both an individual and aggregate view.
Woodmark continues to integrate new technologies for the client that offer enhanced functionality and further productivity improvements.
What Can Woodmark Do for You?
More than just financial services firms can benefit from custom web portals developed by Woodmark Technologies, so contact us if this service is of benefit to you. Woodmark also provides business intelligence and database services.