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Five Big Bets That Buck Is Making In 2018

Jack Freker wants to triple profits at the former Conduent property. Here is how he plans to do it.

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Buck, a consultancy that has been tossed from Mellon to Xerox and Conduent since the late 1990s is finally standing on its own again, 102 years after it was founded. The company, which began as an actuary in New York City and expanded into human resources consulting, has big plans under new CEO Jack Freker.

He has worked at Convergys, where he said he was part of the executive team that lead the company from a $50 million call center provider to a $1.6 billion operator when he left in 2005. He is also a past CEO of First Advantage, a talent acquisition firm for tech companies.

Recently, he did the due diligence for H.I.G. Capital, which bought the company from Conduent. Freker took over as CEO at Buck on Monday. He talked to CRN about the big bets Buck is making as he charts a course to triple profits in the next five to seven years.

1. Improving Work Life For Buck Employees

“Investing in our employees. Making it a great place to work. Making sure they want to come to work everyday. That’s number one. I’m a firm believer that you’ve got to focus on employees, so that you have the absolute best place for them to work. So first bet is drive dramatically better engagement to better serve our clients. I want delighted and happy employees, because I know they do a better job. What does that mean? Improve the compensation and the benefits for all employees. I’m not here to comment on how people have been treated in the past, but I can guarantee them that as part of the new Buck, and a great partner in H.I.G. we are aligned at the him in that we’re going to have better compensation going forward, better compensation policies, and better benefits. We’re unveiling a number of those in the next few weeks.

That also includes global standardization of some of our technologies, our platforms, our tools, just communicating with our people. Improved training, greater exposure and development early in their careers. Just more transparency and improved communication from me and other leadership.”

2. Engaging Employees Where They Are

“We have a large and growing employee engagement business. I just talked about how I want to engage our own employees better, well we have a well-worn path on best practices in employee engagement, which includes client technology offerings, around some leading edge analytics and portal communication and modeling tools that are mobile enabled, for both the employer and the employee for self service delivery around benefits. We have for years worked on strategic communication approaches and technology for our client partners as well. Just the tenor and tone of how they communicate and what vehicles they use to communicate to.

For example, building personas for all of their employee base. Making sure, if they are a company that has 100 percent millennials, all communication to the employees is coming in digital form. It has a social media feel to it, and there’s very little paper. Yet, if most of your employees are retirement age, then you’re going to have a different approach, which might be a blend of paper based and US postal mail, as well as some electronic communication. This is a big part of our business. We’re doubling down on this. We see this as a high-growth piece. This involves payroll, benefits and health.”

3. Giving Clients The Easiest Path To Benefits Management

“Managing their benefits plan. We help broker the best deals for them, whether it’s a pharmaceutical plan or a health care plan, we consult with them to make sure that the employee value and transparency is taken to the next level, that the employees firmly believe their getting a great deal with the employer they’re working for. A big piece of our business also is benefit consulting and administration. We have a number of new approaches to technology around defined benefit, around defined contribution, and health and wealth plan. Just keeping track of all this. Being able to look at a portal and know what they’re making. Where they stand with their benefits. Where they stand with their deductibles. Where they stand in readiness for health care, so we’re blending, not only the engagement piece, but also helping our clients manage their benefit plan through technology.”

4. Risk Mitigation For Retirement, Among Other Things

“Helping them manage their risk. We are a big player in the compliance and risk mitigation space. Helping clients de-risk their defined benefit legacy plan or their retirement plan. You’ve heard a lot of press around retirement plans being underfunded, or unfunded, even. We’re doubling down on helping our clients de-risk their plan. Whether its buying annuities, and bringing in our modeling and our technology in to make the right decisions on what to do now, to ensure that in 20 years the company doesn’t go bankrupt because they have a retirement benefit plan that is crumbling under its own weight. That includes investment strategies. That includes proactive legislative and regulatory compliance offerings and insights. It’s a real think tank of ideas that we’re brining. Not only technology. We have a staff of lawyers that focus 100-percent on making sure that we are helping our clients stay on the right side of risk. So managing client risk.

In this risk bucket, there’s not only the defined benefit risk, but there’s employee retention, there’s a number of other types of risk that they come to us as consultants for as well.”

5. Easily Sellable, White-Label Compliance Services

“We have a number of large clients who serve other clients, so it’s a B2B, for them and they have offerings for their clients that are health care administration. Well, we do health care administration for a number of our clients directly. But offering white label administration, and retirement and payroll solutions for clients who then resell our solutions, to others. We think that’s going to be a much bigger part of our business going forward. And that is, creating a commercially packaged resalable platform of solutions. We’re doing it today, but its an underserved market, and not many are offering it in an easily packaged resalable approach that allows these middle market players to not have to set it up themselves. They can use our global scale to do that work.”

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