Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Why NOW?

The company I work for has hired a consultant to review how we are handling all matters financial. He is paid by the hour. $250 per hour, to be precise.

Now a periodic review of many things is generally good. In today’s business climate there are many areas in which a company must maintain compliance with myriad regulations. There is so much to keep up with, and the laws change so often that it helps to have an outsider take a look now and then to make sure we haven’t missed something.

So what’s my problem? Well, we also have an accounting firm who set up most of our procedures. They audit everything once a year... and to very exacting standards. The banks send in their auditors annually. Our insurance companies audit us annually as well, and not just for financial dealings. Some of them review all of the risks we encounter and audit our safety programs, Industrial Hygiene, and other loss prevention measures.

Then the regulators themselves come in and have their own inspections and audits. We see OSHA, the EPA, and even the Coast Guard (who audits compliance with our plant security plan.)

But this consultant has decided that we ought to have an independent review of all of our insurance coverage to ensure we are not underinsured, overinsured, or paying too much for the insurance we have.

That started out as just covering all of our “Property and Casualty” policies (called P&C by insiders). You know; like fire, theft, flood, windstorm, hail, business interruption, ocean cargo, transportation, auto, general liability, and more.

But then this consultant decided we ought to include Workers’ Comp while we’re at it. Next he said, hey, why not all of our benefits insurance as well? Like health, disability, group life, and all that?

He has arranged for three different brokers to “take a look at” all of these areas of coverage and, essentially, bid on providing those services for us so we can know if we’re getting a good deal or not.

Do you have any idea how much extra work that has caused me? I’ve had to gather and make copies of (and send out to these folks) huge stacks of documents, including all of our current policies and contracts, results of previous audits, and lots more.

Well, today was the last straw! Now he wants a review of our 401(k) plan! I balked, and told him, “Not no, but HELL no!” We like our plan. It’s less than 2 years old, the fees for administration are reasonable, and the psychological impact of changing plans after such a short time when NOBODY is complaining about it would be very bad.

I told him that even if someone else would offer the same plan FREE (no fees) I would not recommend a change, so let’s not waste everybody’s time gathering documents for these folks to review.

He was a bit taken aback, but agreed.

I didn’t tell him what I really think. I really think he’s just drumming up all these “reviews” because they sound good, and he can bill us for a lot more of those $250 hours!

Besides, it’s the end of the year and I’ve got more than enough regular year-end benefits enrollments and other HR stuff to keep me very busy, thanks.

Now is NOT a good time for all this.


Unknown said...

Bravo for drawing the line - my guess is the same as yours: "At $250/hr, how many more hours of work can I make for myself?"

kenju said...

Maybe he gets a kickback from one or more of the companies he is pushing.

Duke_of_Earle said...

Whatever. I just know that I feel better for getting all that off my chest. Next post will be a little lighter. I hope.


Christina said...

reminds me of my boss - you know who!

Badabing said...

I gotta go with what kenju was saying...I wonder how 'independent' this consultant is. A 'real' consultant would not even think about taking commissions from people/organizations that he/she recommends. The $250/hr is not chump change (I charge a lot more), but is way too much if he's not delivering any value. From what you said I'm smellin' the old bulldog scenario...once you get in grab 'em by the pant leg and don't let go until you squeeze 'em for all you can...not very ethical IMHO. Then again, the use of the term 'consultant' can mean almost anything...the last time I was on a used car lot guess what word was on everyone's name tag. Sounds like this guy is what we would call a 'shyster' in N'Italian.