Friday, May 2, 2008

Stepping Over The Line

Yesterday evening I met an individual who works in management at a local ford dealership who gave me a business card and invited me to call him if he could ever be of assistance. He was a very gracious individual until told the following; I drive a Ford F-150 today but I informed him my next truck was likely to be a Toyota Tundra. Over the next few minutes I listened to a discussion of the myriad quality problems Toyota is experiencing. This is not particularly surprising. We expect car salesmen to talk up their own products and talk down the competition.

In the vendor selection and contracting for employee benefit service providers an employer however has the expectation they will receive unbiased and objective guidance from a consultant. I mean none of us would be stupid enough to hire the Ford Salesman to guide a selection of a new truck and expect objective opinions about the Chevy, Dodge, Nissan and Toyota alternatives, right?
Consider the curious case then of Hewitt Associates which guides employers in the selection of vendors and carriers for their employee benefit programs in addition to providing HR and Benefit Outsourcing Services. Hewitt has announced the acquisition of LCG Consulting a provider of total absence management solutions.
Does this mean Hewitt will cease vendor selection consulting jobs in the field of absence management? Did I miss that press release? How will they maintain any objectivity in evaluating absence management capabilities of companies and vendors who compete with Hewitt and why on earth would these companies ever want to allow Hewitt Consultants to obtain an insiders perspective of the systems, services and processes they utilize to deliver absence management solutions?
Is it not interesting how what is a clear conflict of interest for the car salesman is somehow justifiable in the world of consulting?

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