How to build a best-in-class retirement benefits platform with Finch

February 24, 2022
0 min read
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As an innovative retirement benefits provider, you already know that the retirement benefits industry has room for improvement.

By not dividing your team’s attention between your core product and the ancillary technologies that support it, you can build smarter, get to market faster, and create an exceptional experience for your customers.

As an innovative retirement benefits provider, you already know that the retirement benefits industry has room for improvement. Legacy business models and outdated management systems are prevalent and prohibitive–serving as barriers, in many cases, to employer and employee adoption.

Consider the numbers. Some 68% of private-sector workers have access to retirement benefits through their employer, and, of them, 51% elect to participate. At first blush, the data doesn’t seem half bad. However, it belies the fact that more than 38 million workers aren’t being offered retirement benefits at all, and 40 million more aren’t opting in for one reason or another. Meanwhile, among those who do participate in a retirement plan, more than half are behind on their retirement strategies, either because they aren’t contributing enough or they’re raiding their plans in times of emergency.

This statistic also obscures the reality that access to retirement benefits is far from inclusive. In service industries, for example, workers with employer-sponsored plans drops to 40%, and in some verticals, like restaurants, it’s as low as 18%.

Clearly, something’s not working as it should. When you couple that with employers’ struggle to attract and retain employees and the challenges of remote and hybrid work models, the need for viable HR technology solutions in the retirement benefits space is apparent.

A product-led approach

While there’s no one solution that will address every issue, focusing your efforts on building a best-in-class platform for your customers is a great place to start. The reason? HR professionals are overwhelmed by the tedious transactional tasks associated with retirement benefits management and consider it one of their most pressing challenges. That makes retirement benefits ripe for digital disruption. In fact, HR leaders are more likely to realize benefits from HR technology when it’s applied to benefits administration than any other HR function.

Staying ahead of the pack is another reason. Whether you choose to optimize your retirement benefits platform or not, your competitors certainly will. The HR tech market is booming, and that means next-generation benefits solutions–with best-in-class platforms–are regularly hitting the market.

Synced is superior

At its core, a best-in-class retirement benefits platform is a connected one, meaning it can exchange information with employers’ HR and payroll systems (e.g., Paychex, ADP RUN, Gusto), for a highly synced, coordinated, and automated benefits management experience.

From onboarding and enrollment to deduction management and compliance reporting, a well-connected platform–one with sophisticated software integrations–minimizes friction at every step of the benefits lifecycle, alleviating your customers of their benefits management burdens and making engagement with your platform an enjoyable and reliable experience. In turn, you realize higher employee participation and contributions.

In-house inefficiencies

Chances are, this is not new information to you. You’re probably building or already have built integrations with market-leading HR and payroll systems. At the same time, you’ve probably experienced one or more of these common headaches along the way:

  • Maintenance difficulties
    No matter how successful your initial build-out, integrations are bound to break at some point, whether due to a system change on your end or the data source’s. Staying on top of and solving for these changes is a full-time job that your team doesn’t have the bandwidth to handle in a reasonable timeframe –  they’re too busy focusing on your core product. Ultimately, it’s your customers’ experience that suffers.
  • Ongoing costs
    In addition to taxing your team’s time, integrations come with a heavy price tag when you consider the average salary of your employees and the hours they spend building and maintaining your connections. In some cases, an initial build-out can cost $300,000 or more, not including upkeep. There are also opportunity costs to consider; how much more could you accomplish and how much faster could you get to market if your team’s attention wasn’t split between your product and the ancillary technologies that support it?
  • Suboptimal performance
    Then there’s functionality. The more integrations you build, the more difficult it becomes to get them to work optimally for your purposes. That’s because disparate data sources have different data models, and each source value has to be mapped to a target data field to make it operable for your system. The more source values you’re working with, the more complicated things get. If mapping is not done correctly, it can end up requiring a lot of manual interventions. What’s more, unless you have an integrations specialist on staff, it’s unlikely that your team has the niche expertise to optimally enrich the data you retrieve for your particular use case. In other words, the data you’re accessing isn’t reaching its potential.

Outsourced and optimized

So, how do you leverage the very best of system integrations and all the benefits they offer your customers while avoiding the pitfalls that come with in-house build outs and maintenance? The answer is outsourcing.

In a fragmented industry with 5,700+ employment systems, outsourcing your integrations saves time and money. Instead of building integrations with dozens of payroll systems yourself, an integration partner does the work for you, while also providing ongoing support and maintenance. This outsourced infrastructure lets your team focus on fine-tuning your product, executing your roadmap, and creating the best user experience possible.

That said, the right integration partner won’t just relieve you of headaches; they will add extraordinary value to your platform. For that, you need a use case specialist.

Benefits specialists > data generalists

Say hello to Finch, the only integration platform solely focused on connecting applications to their employer clients’ payroll and HR systems. This means all of our efforts are spent optimizing and scaling integrations to cover all the edge cases relevant to your business.

Finch offers a unified API with 360° integrations into an ever-growing list of HR and payroll systems (125 at the time of publication). In this context, 360° means  read and write access, so you can pull census and pay statement information as well as push payroll deductions depending on employee contributions. Since Finch abstracts away inconsistencies across systems, all these actions can be accessed through a single set of endpoints.

Aside from streamlining technical workflows, Finch offers high-touch support, ensuring any issues are dealt with swiftly and, most importantly, without intervention from your team.

From 30 days to 30 seconds

Perhaps the most immediate benefit of Finch is the hyper-streamlined onboarding it enables. With Finch, it only takes a moment for customers to authorize you to retrieve and send data from and to their payroll and HR systems. Here’s how:

  • Finch Connect (our secure front-end modal) prompts your customers to choose their payroll or HR system.
  • Your customers authenticate their account and authorize a set of permissions by entering their admin or API credentials to that system.
  • The connection is established, and you start reading and writing data.

That’s all it takes. In seconds, you have what you need to begin enrolling employees in retirement plans and managing their payroll deductions.

Automated onboarding and compliance

Once you’re connected, you can access live census data to streamline onboarding and offboarding of eligible employees. From day one (or the first day they can participate), you’ll have their key contact information, location, and worker status to ensure they can start contributing to their retirement as soon as possible. Similarly, when someone is no longer employed or eligible, you can offboard them from the system automatically and transition their account to a non-employee access so they can still manage the plans they do have.

For retirement benefits applications that also act as recordkeepers, you can access current and historical pay statement details down to the line item to ensure proper tracking of all contributions (pre and post-tax), enrollments, and TINs required to comply with IRS regulations.

End-to-end deductions management

Now that employees are onboarded, you’ll want to make sure they start contributing to their retirement goals with their first paycheck. You’ll need to create benefits, enroll participants, and make changes directly in payroll as their retirement savings plans shift.

Using Finch’s Benefits endpoint, you can create benefits (pre-tax, post-tax, recurring, one-time deductions), enroll individuals to one or many benefits, and select their $ or % contributions with employer matches where applicable. Throughout this whole process, the sponsor’s HR admin doesn’t have to lift a finger to upload deduction files or manually enter changes. That can amount to hours per month saved and dozens of potential human errors avoided.

Onward and upward

Best of all, Finch is dynamic, responsive, and built to scale.

For new edge case systems that come up in customer conversations, Finch can unlock support in as little as two weeks. That means, on the off chance you’re trying to land a customer that uses a system not yet covered by Finch, we have a gameplan to expand coverage so you don’t lose a sale.

Finch is also designed for large-scale synchronization with tens of thousands of employers, from small startups to massive public companies. Our team has accumulated expertise in constructing mission-critical infrastructure over many years, enabling us to surface large quantities of sensitive information reliably and securely.

Want to know more about integrations for retirement benefits?

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