Tag Archives: technology

Milliman strengthens hedging and overlay solutions with MatchingLink software

Milliman is pleased to announce that Milliman has chosen MatchingLink software to enhance its hedging & overlay solutions. With technology playing an increasingly critical role in every part of the investment cycle, Milliman recognizes the need to accelerate the development of digital solutions to ensure competitive hedging solutions offerings to its clients.

The Milliman-MatchingLink collaboration brings together deep skills in both business and technology to support Milliman’s clients and create more value. ‘With MatchingLink’s next-gen tech solutions we can add significant value to our hedging and overlay solutions and drive better results for our (pension fund) clients,’ says Rajish Sagoenie, Principal & Managing Director for Milliman, The Netherlands.

The seamless integration of MatchingLink software within the Milliman MG-hedge platform, combined with a robust and flexible system architecture, has convinced us that by using MatchingLink we can optimally serve our customers in the Netherlands and Europe. ‘The Milliman-MatchingLink collaboration offers our (pension fund) clients state-of-the-art solutions to manage financial risks now and, in the future,’ says Marcel Kruse, Director Pension & Investment Risk for Milliman in the Netherlands.

MatchingLink’s technology platform operates as a flexible layer, communicating with existing systems. The platform combines a unique data gathering solution with a calculation engine, analysis and reporting, a flexible workflow solution and artificial intelligence. The platform is both compliant and auditable by design. ‘With our software Milliman can unlock the full potential of the most advanced technology and increase the quality of their business on a daily basis,’ says Eric Pieper, MatchingLink’s CEO.

Collaborative technologies require rethinking “dos and don’ts” for effective communication

Burma-CraigAs collaborative communication technologies improve, plan sponsors and Milliman colleagues continue adjusting business etiquette to best use these new instruments. Tools such as Microsoft LYNC, GoToMeeting.com, and Webex.com allow consultants to communicate remotely with plan sponsors to improve service, reduce cycle times, and ultimately reduce costs. However, these productivity gains were far from automatic when these technologies were first implemented.

The humorous YouTube video “A conference call in real life” struck a nerve with many early adopters who have shared similar experiences. The comedy demonstrates the challenges that collaborative communication technologies may present—system audio interruptions, technology incompatibilities, and ambient noise distractions (i.e., the barking dog). It doesn’t help that some of us have attention spans shorter than a child on cotton candy at a three-ring circus. Past the comedic relief, we realized achieving effective use of collaborative communication technologies requires further research.

A process improvement group studied Milliman’s use of collaborative communication technologies. We monitored meetings, collected observable data, and analyzed the results of more than 30 meetings. We were surprised to find the technologies worked fine; the business etiquette established for in-person meetings did not.

From our research, we edited our suggestions into 15 best practices for organizers and 15 best practices for attendees. Here they are:

15 organizer dos and don’ts

1. Don’t plan future sessions outside local business hours of any attendee.
2. Do become highly proficient in the technology before using it in a meeting.
3. Do join at least five minutes in advance to help people checking into the call.
4. Don’t troubleshoot tool issues in session; have a “phone only” option as a backup.
5. Do start on time by utilizing http://www.time.gov with whoever is there.
6. Do state session objective of the meeting within one minute and ask for concurrence.
7. Do take on-screen notes; open documents and annotate as needed.
8. Don’t take dictation; ask participants to instant message (IM) or email long content or updates.
9. Don’t assume silence as agreement; affirm key points by voice.
10. Do advise at five minutes remaining to “hard stop” session at time limit.
11. Do ask “any other items for today?” as a trial call close if session objective is achieved.
12. Do close by thanking everyone for their time.
13. Do summarize session outcomes in emailed notes.
14. Do show the date, time, and attendees on all notes.
15. Do email or post notes online within five minutes of session close.

15 attendees dos and don’ts (all apply to organizers as well)

1. Do read session objective four hours in advance; your mind will prepare itself.
2. Do have your computer and phone charged and in a quiet area.
3. Don’t use a speaker phone next to the keyboard you are typing on.
4. Do mention any nonobjective items at beginning—ask organizer to note.
5. Don’t be within earshot of a (possibly) barking dog or other audio intrusions.
6. Do actively use the mute button if no quiet place is available.
7. Do know when mute is on or off at all times.
8. Don’t listen for name to be called and then pay attention; it’s too late at that point.
9. Don’t put call on hold; everyone has on-hold music and we hear it.
10. Do say your first name and company in one-time sessions of multiple companies.
11. Don’t say your name each time you speak; we probably know your voice.
12. Don’t leave session before close; count on important items at end.
13. Do offer to take items off-line if a discussion is between two attendees only.
14. Do message or mention if you have to leave a call early.
15. Do continually assess session effectiveness and send feedback to organizer.

Milliman employee benefits consultants will continue to use collaborative communication technologies within their organizations and with plan sponsors. But as with the telephone, the fax machine, and email in their times, we will continue to update our “dos and don’ts” to make these interactions as seamless as if they were held in person. Adhering to these dos and don’ts will ensure time well spent for both organizers and attendees.




Simplifying access to defined contribution information portals

During a panel discussion on “Client Facing Technologies” at SunGard’s Annual Users’ Conference in Florida, I was asked: 

How does Milliman find it needs to communicate to its customers and what types of technology do you consider crucial to implement to address these communications?

My response is below.

I believe users “logging in” to Milliman websites will decline rapidly in the coming year. In the past, declining logins would be a troubling sign for a technology professional. Now it is the goal. 

That’s because secure and safe access to this information is becoming available through Milliman’s Secure Access Channels such as:

  1. Mobile applications downloadable on Android and iPhone/iPad devices
  2. HTML5 mobile sites using smart phone login credentials
  3. Single Sign-On (SSO) with client networks using Secured Access Markup Language (SAML)
  4. One-click email decisions such as “go paperless” that participants elect to do directly from their email message
  5. Pass-through logins accepted from “keymakers” like Facebook and OpenID.

Each Secure Access Channel breaks down the user name and password “barrier” created by participant websites and increases participant interactions with their employee benefits.

Milliman works with SunGard and other companies to assemble functionality, bandwidth, and access to secure information contained within our record-keeping systems while maintaining the same high standards of the Reporting on Controls at a Service Organization – SSAE No. 16.

Secure Access Channels are strategically important for Milliman. Together they change communication patterns in the same kinds of ways that interactive voice response (IVR) changed paper forms and websites changed IVR.

Finding the right “mix” of technology and business process improvement in each medium, and adjusting over time, will be the subject of my next post.