How Human Interest Streamlines 401(k) Operations and Onboarding with Finch

April 5, 2024
0 min read
Human Interest, a full-service 401(k) provider, partners with Finch to power automated payroll integrations.
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Human Interest, a full-service 401(k) provider, uses Finch to power payroll integrations that streamline onboarding processes and maximize operational efficiency.

Human Interest is a full-service 401(k) provider on a mission to make it easier for businesses of all sizes to offer retirement plans to their employees. An early adopter of 401(k) payroll integrations, Human Interest needed a reliable way to expand their home-grown 360° integrations to more providers—especially those that were hard to build directly.

Integrations are “number one”

Human Interest was ahead of the API integration curve. The 401(k) recordkeeper’s leadership recognized early on that the benefits that seamless, 360° data flow payroll integrations could offer were critical to their success, both to offer a best-in-class user experience and to support the wide range of plan designs sponsors need.

“Integrations are often the number one thing when differentiating yourself,” said Drew Obston, Manager of Product Operations. “We’re always looking for an opportunity to improve our value offering. With integrations, we’re able to go above and beyond and say, ‘You don’t have to upload payroll data. You don’t have to be provisioning someone on our team to log in to your payroll.’” For small and midsize businesses, where HR admins wear a lot of hats, that kind of user experience is paramount.

Human Interest boasts more than 500 payroll integrations, many of which were built in-house. While there's inherent value in all types of integrations, the company's Product Operations team considers fully automated payroll integrations—those that require zero day-to-day manual work—their north star metric. Eliminating the need to download files, check date ranges, validate data, and more has a big impact on efficiency. Drew shared that fully automated integrations allow Human Interest to process payroll up to 4x faster and make it so the team is 3x more likely to hit their Service Level Agreements (SLAs), ensuring customers get the experience they expect.

“If we were 100% relying on manual work by our Operations team to process payroll data, we would not have a sustainable business,” Drew said. “We’re at nearly 100% of our SLA to invest participants’ contributions within five business days. Without automation, we’d be at about 30% because the Operations team would just be underwater.”

“If we were 100% relying on manual work by our Operations team to process payroll data, we would not have a sustainable business."

“Worst-case scenario”

Human Interest has built an impressive arsenal of integrations on their own, but found they weren’t able to build bi-directional connections to every payroll provider their customers use.

Before partnering with Finch, Human Interest was using another third-party vendor to access sponsor data from two commonly used payroll providers that proved challenging to integrate with directly. However, the team ran into issues with the outsourced connections, which forced them to route most of the work through the Operations team. 

“It’s the worst-case scenario,” Drew said, due to security concerns and inefficiency. “It’s not a tenable solution; it doesn’t scale. We don’t want to keep hiring people to keep up with revenue growth. We would rather take our resources and dedicate them to good customer management, troubleshooting, and exploring better opportunities.”

Human Interest needed a reliable solution that would take the menial day-to-day work off their plate without passing the buck to their customers.

Unlocking access to closed systems

In early 2022, Human Interest partnered with Finch to get better access to the data their Operations team had been manually collecting and validating. Since then, they’ve launched a second integration with Finch for a separate payroll provider, and have begun to explore write-back functionality that will allow them to achieve full automation for both integrations. 

“The ease and support Finch has provided is what laid the foundation for us to consider Finch for additional payroll connections,” Drew said. “Going deeper is our biggest priority. We don’t want to just roll an integration out to say we have an integration. We want it to actually provide true value, both to our internal teams and more importantly, to the end user.”

By going through Finch, Human Interest wasn’t just able to build previously inaccessible integrations—Drew also estimates that the time to build was cut by 66%, primarily because the discovery process was already complete. When a single integration normally occupies 25% of the internal development team, that time savings is significant. 

“So much of what you’re doing when building a new integration is just trying to find all the weird things hiding around corners that you don’t know about. Finch is eliminating that work and giving us a level of confidence that we’re going to get an integration that works,” Drew said. “With that time, there’s a whole lot of other things we’re able to do. We’re able to make the product better.”

Streamlined onboarding

Automation saves the Operations team time and resources, but it also goes a long way in providing a better user experience for sponsors—especially when it comes to onboarding. 

Human Interest’s mission is to make it easier for all employees to save for retirement. Traditionally, SMBs have seldom offered retirement plans because they’ve been expensive, complicated, and required lots of administrative work. To combat this, Human Interest strives to make onboarding and plan administration as easy as possible. 

Enabling more self-service onboarding is a big goal for Drew’s team and a major part of their plan to establish fully automated integrations through Finch. “Sponsors shouldn’t have to get on more than five phone calls with their 401(k) recordkeeper and payroll provider just to set up a plan,” Drew said.

With Finch Connect, Human Interest’s customers are able to grant access to their payroll system in minutes. Drew anticipates that in the coming months, Human Interest will leverage Finch to augment their in-house integrations to enable that same kind of seamless onboarding to more payroll providers. 

The way Drew sees it, Finch’s Unified Employment API is another tool in Human Interest’s arsenal. There hasn’t been a drive to replace Finch’s connections with direct, in-house integrations because Finch provides all the functionality they need.

“We’ve built hundreds of integrations ourselves and we’re comfortable doing it when needed; but when we’re deciding where to dedicate developer resources, we ask ourselves how our current solution is working. If we can use a third party that will take work off our plate and still deliver the same end-user experience, why wouldn’t we?” 

“We’ve built hundreds of integrations ourselves...[but] if we can use a third party that will take work off our plate and still deliver the same end-user experience, why wouldn’t we?” 

Up next: Scale, scale, scale

The retirement industry is poised to see massive growth in plans offered by SMBs, largely driven by SECURE Act 2.0 and new state mandates that require employers to offer a retirement plan. For Human Interest, that’s a great opportunity that makes payroll integrations—and their ability to scale—more important than ever. 

Drew noted that one of Finch’s most valuable traits is the scalability of its integrations. “We don’t have to revisit a Finch integration when it grows. We feel very confident in what’s already being provided to us.”

With nearly 6,000 payroll providers serving the SMB market, Drew sees plenty of opportunity to continue growing the number of providers Human Interest can support with Finch.

“With Finch, part of the win is that we feel like we’re actually along for the ride,” Drew said. “There’s an element of collaboration that I’ve loved—so I see that continuing.”

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