National Quality Review - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog
Transfer agency operations in the investment services industry have traditionally deployed separate call center and processing functions. Some firms now deploy a single point of contact model, and for others, such a model is in its early stages or being considered. In this model, multi skilled associates perform 2 or more functions: service customers via telephone and process transaction or correspondence items.
Clients who have implemented the single point of contact model discussed with NQR their views on successes, challenges, and leading practices related to its use. Although there were different approaches to deployment, common benefits include improved quality and timeliness, and more efficient use of resources. Challenges include skill development and ensuring that skills remain fresh for associates who spend a majority of time performing one or the other function. Clients identified leading practices regarding training and deploying associates in the single point of contact model.
✓ Reduced error ‐ Fewer handoffs between areas or associates reduces the risk of error.
✓ Faster turnaround ‐ A single area handling each case or work item results in more timely
✓ Notes ‐ Because fewer people handle each item, issues such as misinterpretation of notes or the
need to seek clarification are reduced or eliminated.
✓ Lower staff turnover – The model has provided additional opportunities for career development and resulted in lower attrition.
✓ Efficient use of resources ‐ Each model provides the flexibility for more efficient use of resources, as multi skilled staff can be deployed to adjust to volumes when needed.
✓ Associate understanding ‐ The associates benefit from a more holistic understanding of the business and a working understanding of how activities of one area can affect other areas.
✓ Continuity of relationships ‐ The model facilitates building better relationships between the associate and the customer; associates can address all aspects of communication and interaction between the customer and the organization.
✓ Dedicated contacts ‐ Serves as a selling point to top‐producing advisors.
➢ The change in the process itself is a challenge. Helping associates to adapt and to accept the change requires demonstrating to them what drives the training need at the company level.
➢ The model requires an additional level of administration to deploy resources appropriately.
➢ Measuring productivity can be difficult for multi functional agents and raises challenges with planning for staffing.
➢ Maintaining the skill set is a potential pain point. Because these associates are not specialists but generalists, there is a challenge with the ability to retain knowledge and information.
➢ When handling unusual or obscure requests, newly deployed associates can encounter situations in which long or multiple holds are required.
➢ Associates must be careful to ensure that the correct system code is used when switching between telephone and processing functions.
➢ Improperly suspending or holding a processing or correspondence item to handle a call can result in duplication of effort if the same item goes back into the work queue.
✓ Because of there is crossover with the systems used and knowledge required, new hires for both areas are trained together. The new hires are then separated into specialized training for call center or for processing, depending on the track on which they are starting.
✓ Once new hires are up to speed in one area (processing or calls), they are cross‐trained in the other. One client felt that transitioning from processing to telephones was the easier approach, because the representative knows the systems and can learn the phone skills.
✓ For existing staff, train the most senior telephone people for processing, as these associates have a base knowledge of the systems and how they work.
✓ When cross‐training, block off times to dedicate for each skill. Use the different function and stick with it until the representative is up to speed for all types. He/she can then be deployed in the multi functional environment.
✓ For associates who spend most of their time on the telephone side, days off the phone are scheduled to focus on processing and vice versa for associates who spend most of their time processing items. Refresher training is also scheduled periodically to help the associates focus on and maintain each skill set.
✓ Accurate forecasting systems and communication between the telephone and processing areas are keys to meeting the administrative challenge.
✓ Use an overflow group to assist depending on volumes; this also serves as a pool for candidates to the multi functional group.
✓ Ensure that the staff understands the necessary use of aux codes and reasons they must be accurately captured. Capturing this information helps to determine how much time is spent on after‐call work and the type of after‐call work being conducted, as well as to plan staffing needs.
✓ Obtain staff “buy‐in” by including their feedback regarding challenges they face to help improve the model or to address challenges.
Publish Date: November 13, 2015 5:00 AM
Increasingly, customers note that they are unable to obtain Medallion signature guarantees (MSGs) from financial institutions such as Bank of America. Common reasons customers need MSGs include transferring account ownership, redeeming shares to a new address or third party, changing authorized signers, or changing 529 plan beneficiaries. Financial institutions may decline to issue an MSG for the following reasons:
- The institution no longer participates in the Medallion program.
- A free-form letter was submitted versus a form that outlines the intention of the customer and provides a place for an MSG.
- The issuer does not deem the transaction appropriate (i.e., it is non-financial) for providing an MSG.
Recognizing the impact of this development on the ease of doing business for many customers, NQR clients have taken, or are considering taking, steps to address the issue including:
- Conducting an internal review of existing MSG requirements and associated risk to screen situations where an MSG may not really be needed.
- Coaching call center representatives to uncover the reason the bank will not provide the MSG by asking whether the issue is due to the lack of documentation required by the bank, if a form is required, or whether the transaction is non-financial in nature. Sometimes representatives will conference call the bank to determine the underlying issue, if appropriate.
- Making processing exceptions if supporting documentation is provided, such as a certified copy of a death certificate or trust document.
- Escalating the issue to the compliance department or senior leaders to determine whether an exception can be made if no other solution can be derived.
- Suggesting that the customer try another bank or broker/dealer firm to obtain the MSG.
- Sending the customer the appropriate form to use in lieu of a free-form letter.
NQR will continue to monitor industry developments and document our clients’ responses to challenges with regard to MSG requirements.
Publish Date: June 24, 2015 5:00 AM
This fall, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Notice 2014-66, which outlines how target date funds that include deferred annuities in their assets can be used in 401(k) plans. Although each target date fund must be made available in a nondiscriminatory manner, a series of target date funds in a plan that restricts participation in some target date funds to participants in certain age-bands is permitted as a single “other right or feature,” as long as a prescribed set of conditions is satisfied. An Information Letter from the Department of Labor (DOL) also discusses how target date funds that include deferred annuities in their investments could be used as qualified default investment alternatives (QDIAs).
Publish Date: January 5, 2015 5:00 AM
Recently, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued additional guidance (IR-2014-107) with regard to the new “One-Per-Year” Limit on IRA rollovers, which goes into effect on January 1, 2015.
1. The U.S. Tax Court decision, made earlier this year, will limit an individual to making only one tax-free rollover in any one-year period, even if the rollovers involve different IRAs.
2. A rollover between an individual’s Roth IRAs will preclude a separate tax-free rollover between the individual’s Traditional IRAs, and vice versa.
3. The new limit does not apply to Roth conversions, rollovers from qualified plans to IRAs, or funds transferred from one IRA to another IRA via a trustee-to-trustee transfer.
Publish Date: December 29, 2014 5:00 AM
In Notice 2014-33, issued on May 2, 2014, the IRS has offered some relief with regard to compliance with the
Foreign AccountTax Compliance Act (FATCA). The IRS has stated that calendar years 2014 and 2015 will be
treated as transition years for IRS enforcement of due diligence, reporting, and withholding under FATCA and
that the agency will evaluate whether “good faith” efforts were made to comply with the requirements. The
IRS has also announced that accounts opened after July 1, 2014, and before January 1, 2015, will be treated as
pre-existing accounts for FATCA purposes.
Publish Date: August 28, 2014 5:00 AM
Recently, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Announcement 2014-15, which redefines the application of
the one-rollover-per-year rule for Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). Previously, the IRS had maintained
(and had published in IRS Publication 590) that the one-rollover-per-year rule applied to IRAs on an IRA-by-
This spring, the US Tax Court made a decision that Section 408(d)(3)(8) of the Internal Revenue Code should
be interpreted to mean that the rule should apply to all IRAs of an IRA account owner on an aggregate basis.
In other words, an IRA account owner cannot make a non-taxable rollover from one IRA to another IRA if
the account owner has already made an IRA-to-IRA rollover from “any” one of his/her IRAs in the preceding oneyear
period. If a second rollover is made during that period, any untaxed amounts distributed as part of a prior
rollover must be included in gross income and may be subject to the 10% premature distribution penalty tax.
Announcement 2014-15 becomes effective January 1, 2015. This announcement will not impact direct IRA
trustee-to-trustee transfers. IRS Publication 590 will be revised to reflect this stricter interpretation.
Publish Date: August 5, 2014 5:00 AM
Date by which Summary of Material Modification (SMM), describing any
plan changes in 2013, is due to the retirement plan participants for plans
with December 31 plan year end (no later than 210 days after end of plan
year in which plan change is adopted).
Date by which the 2013 Series 5500 Forms are due to the DOL/IRS for retirement
plans with December 31 plan year ends (7 months after plan year ends).
Date by which Form 5558, Application for Extension of Time to File Certain
Employee Plan Returns (2013 Form 5500 Extension), is due to the IRS for retirement
plans with December 31 plan year end (by the due date of the Form 5500).
Date by which to obtain a qualified accountant’s audit or limited scope audit to
include in Schedule H (Financial Information) as an attachment to Form 5500 for
retirement plans with more than 100 eligible participants and December 31 plan
Quarterly Benefit/Disclosure Statement due to participants in participant-directed
plans (45 days after the end of the quarter).
Date by which deposit due for 2013 required Employer Contributions to Money
Purchase Plans and Target Benefit Plans with December 31 plan year end (within
8½ months of plan year end to satisfy the Minimum Funding Standards).
September 15 Date by which deposit due for 2013 Employer Profit Sharing and Match Contributions
to retirement plans with December 31 plan year end (for plan sponsors that
filed a corporate tax return extension).
Date by which 2013 Summary Annual Report (SAR) is due to retirement plan
participants for plans with December 31 plan year end (within 9 months after plan
year end or within 2 months after filing Series 5500 Forms).
Publish Date: July 11, 2014 5:00 AM
On March 12, 2014, the Department of Labor (DOL) requested comments on a proposed rule change that
would require service providers to provide a guide to 401(k) plan sponsors regarding fee disclosures. The
public comments were due to the DOL on or before June 10, 2014. The DOL proposes that the amendment
to the existing rule would become effective 12 months after the publication of the final amendment in the
Publish Date: June 18, 2014 5:00 AM
To assist our clients’ call center and operations units, we have prepared a chart that summarizes and codifies the primary issues that your staff will likely encounter and have to respond to during tax season. Hopefully, the format of the chart will simplify the presentation of this information so that it could easily be used as a training tool.
Click here to view the 2013-2014 Tax Season Reference Guide
Publish Date: November 4, 2013 5:00 AM