Automated Deductions: The Secret to Powering Modern Employee Benefits
November 28, 2023
0 min read
Most people aren’t aware of the huge inefficiencies that plague the benefits and retirement industries. But if you have ever enrolled in a 401k, HSA, FSA or other fringe benefit there is likely a chain of manual processes that have made that benefit available to you.
At Finch, we’re helping retirement and benefits platforms improve not only the administrative experience for HR professionals, but also unlock new products and services that are personalized, easy-to-use, and scalable.
So how are we doing it?
Finch was built to connect the employment ecosystem. In 2020 we launched seamless read access to HR and payroll systems so applications could consume employer and employee details in a standardized format. Then, last year, we launched Deductions (previously Benefits) to help applications write deductions and contributions changes back to their customers’ payroll systems automatically.
This two-way integration is critical to employee benefits platforms, which need to fit seamlessly into their customers’ existing HR tech stacks. Finch is the only unified API offering it today.
“Frankly, there were no other solutions that could support our vision and facilitate writing payroll deductions automatically," says Erika Davison-Aviles, Deductions customer and Co-Founder of TempoPay, "Finch had the technology and functionality that best met our product needs.”
“Frankly, there were no other solutions that could support our vision and facilitate writing payroll deductions automatically. Finch had the technology and functionality that best met our product needs.”
The Need for Automated Deductions Management
Benefits platforms want to be able to offer seamless experiences for the employers (sponsors) they serve. But, it’s not uncommon for the sponsor onboarding process to require a lot of manual work and coordination across operations, customer success, and technical teams. There is also a significant administrative burden for their core user, the HR admin.
Benefits platforms face monumental administrative burdens
Most payroll providers don’t offer deductions management through their API, this means one-off file transfer processes need to be created for each supported provider. This means a months-long process of discovery, setup, data mapping, and operational change management. It means setting up unique SFTP servers for each provider and paying for implementation or hosting. And it means any subsequent change to the data collected means revisiting the process again. On top of ongoing testing and quality checks.
This administrative overhead not only impacts what these platforms can build and offer, it also has significant downstream effects on the sponsors and employees they intend to serve. It's a big challenge for companies hoping to differentiate with a great user experience.
As Davison-Aviles explains, “SFTP and flat file uploads were out of the question. Manual file uploads are not only time-consuming, they’re wrought with errors. They simply didn’t align with our vision.”
“SFTP and flat file uploads were out of the question. Manual file uploads are not only time-consuming, they’re wrought with errors. They simply didn’t align with our vision.”
Operational overhead limits viable benefits options for sponsors
In our recent survey of over 1,000 HR professionals, HR teams spent 3-5 hours per payroll cycle to ensure employees had the correct deductions and contributions applied. That may work with a large HR team, but often isn’t feasible for small businesses. As early Finch Deductions customer Chris Ellis, Co-Founder and CEO of Thatch says, “Small businesses want to offer great benefits, but don’t have the bandwidth to deal with complexity.”
Additionally, employers update their payroll systems as they grow, but the lack of integration and standardization across the ecosystem makes it impossible (or unreasonable) to take their benefits with them.
According to Fidelity Investments’ 2023 Small Business Retirement Index, 22% of small business owners said they don’t have time to offer retirement options to their employees, (only 34% currently offer retirement savings plans). But, with new legislation enacted in Secure Act 2.0 and the rise of state-mandated retirement plans like CalSavers, employers may need to find a way. There is an opportunity for benefits platforms to use technology to help these businesses control costs while remaining compliant.
What’s Next for Finch Deductions?
In the past year, we’ve made huge strides in delivering automated deductions management for some of the largest payroll systems on the market. We’ve enabled platforms like Thatch to reliably manage employee deductions and contributions across payroll providers through a standardized experience. And we’ve made it flexible enough to enable brand-new use cases, such as TempoPay’s individualized health benefits that allow employees to control their payments every month.
But there’s still more to do. In the next few months, we’ll more than double our coverage of popular payroll systems to help our customers serve more employers, leverage automation to tackle new industry requirements, and deliver new, innovative benefits that help individuals achieve their mental, physical, and financial goals.
As we scale, our focus is on expanding coverage of payroll systems that we offer in completely automated ways, while simultaneously raising the bar for reliability. Our goal is to build comprehensive tooling to help benefits providers reduce operational overhead and focus on providing first-class services to employers and employees. And we will continue to build deep industry partnerships across different parts of the employment stack.
Employment and benefits industries are at the cusp of monumental change, and payroll integration will be crucial. In the words of Chris from Thatch, “Payroll integration shouldn’t be your core competency. Like Stripe for payments and Plaid for bank accounts, Finch is the best solution in its category. It would take you longer and cost you more to reinvent the wheel."
“Payroll integration shouldn’t be your core competency. Like Stripe for payments and Plaid for bank accounts, Finch is the best solution in its category. It would take you longer and cost you more to reinvent the wheel."
To learn more about how benefits platforms are using Finch, check out our new customer stories from Thatch and TempoPay. Or get started with Finch today for free.