Thrivent Streamlines Processes, Consolidates Systems After Merger
Client:Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
- Streamline processes and consolidate systems following merger
- CSC’s Wealth Management Accelerator for policy administration
- AWD for workflow management
- Accelerated annuity processing time
- Enhanced work routing with business process management (BPM)
- Streamlined tax reporting with collaborative project
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans was formed in 2002 with the merger of the Aid Association for Lutherans and Lutheran Brotherhood, creating the largest fraternal benefit society in the United States with 2.5 million members, a Fortune 500 ranking and more than $73 billion in assets under management.
In the years following the merger, however, the new company, which is headquartered in both Appleton, Wisconsin, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, had to focus on merging two organizations, two sets of life and annuity products, and ultimately numerous redundant insurance systems.
“After the merger, we had at least two of everything from a systems standpoint,” recalled Rich Mordhorst, vice president of Product Systems at Thrivent Financial. “In fact, we had six major administration systems for life and annuity. We had at least two of each of the peripheral systems. Trying to merge different products onto one system was very, very difficult to do, and as a result, we didn’t. So we didn’t really wall off any systems initially; we had open blocks of business on virtually every admin system.”
Dealing with Redundant Insurance Systems
Faced with a difficult job of training and support, the company decided to merge its portfolio on one of the existing policy admin systems. Unfortunately, “after a few years and the difficulty of getting the system up on the life side, we decided that wasn’t really the way we wanted to go,” Mordhorst said. “So we spoke to our board and got approval to make a change.”
“As we looked around, the two top contenders after we had done the analysis were either CyberLife or Wealth Management Accelerator, which were both CSC systems,” Mordhorst said, “so everybody was pretty much in line with going with CSC.”
Thrivent Financial opted to move its annuity business to CSC’s advanced Wealth Management Accelerator™ software, which is designed to easily support customers’ goals for both investments and disbursements of their savings. The company has moved nearly all of its annuities to the new platform, and the resulting performance improvements accelerated variable annuity processing time by 10 percent. To ease the transition, CSC’s global ConversionEdgeSM team managed all major milestones of the contract conversions.
“People in the business area love the system. They were very glad when we got everything in, and now we can administer all annuity products the same way,” Mordhorst said. “With multiple systems, it was very difficult to explain to customers why on this particular product they have to wait 2 days to get a surrender check while on other products they don’t have to wait. So, it really improved service.”
‘Industrial Strength’ Workflow Solution
In addition to policy administration, Thrivent Financial turned to CSC to replace two aging work management systems. CSC helped the company install AWD®, the leading life and annuity workflow management software by DST Systems.
“We brought Forrester in to help us analyze what was available in the marketplace,” Mordhorst said. “There was a push to go to a full BPM system rather than focus on workflow capabilities. The problem is that the full BPM offerings weren’t very industrial strength at that time, to be able to handle the day-to-day workflow that we needed. We brought people in from CSC and DST, and we chose AWD because it’s an industrial strength workflow system.”
The implementation of AWD required a completely new approach to the distribution of work. Under the old systems, Thrivent Financial’s processors pulled work assignments from a central queue. In contrast, AWD pushes the work based on availability and qualifications of resources. The rollout of the new system was phased with the most complex work areas implemented last.
“People soon got used to work being pushed to them, and a lot of support was generated for the system,” he said. “It was a very successful project for us. It went in on budget, on time, and everybody was happy with the results.”
Thrivent Financial and another Wealth Management Accelerator user, MassMutual Financial, were recognized by their peers in the CSC community in 2011 with a Connect Innovation Award for sponsoring enhancements to support full compliance with federal 7702 tax regulations.
“We got the right people together from both of the companies, and decided what we could do collaboratively together and what things we would have to do separately,” Mordhorst said. “CSC built both the joint and separate solutions. Both companies felt that they got benefits out of the partnership, they saved money, and it really solidified a relationship between Thrivent and MassMutual that can be used going forward.”