Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. (MMC) is scheduled to release third-quarter 2016 financial results before the opening bell on Oct 25.
A recent decision by the federal Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit determined that private sector employees could be fired for refusing to be interviewed by their employer who was conducting an internal investigation of bid rigging [Gilman v. Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc.]. The Court's decision was based both upon language in their employment contracts and the absence of Fifth Amendment (no self-incrimination) rights in the private sector workplace. This comment provides a brief and incomplete overview this judicial decision and the broader status of private sector employees' rights in the workplace. Always consult an experienced attorney in specific employment situations. The introduction to the Gilman decision explains: "Faced with the prospect of criminal indictment premised on the actions of two employees, a company demanded that those employees explain themselves under the threat of termination. They refused, were fired, and in this suit seek to recover employment benefits they lost by termination." The Second Circuit affirmed summary judgment (a decision without a trial) for the employer. The Second Circuit noted that the employer, as a result of a far reaching investigation by the New York Attorney General (AG) and related guilty pleas, had seen its stock price plunge and was the focus of numerous private civil lawsuits. In broad overview, the AG was asserted to have indicated that he would not criminally prosecute the employer if the employer would cooperate, including waiving (giving up) any attorney-client privilege in the contents of the employer's internal investigation. In this context, the employees in question refused to be interviewed by their employer. They instead attempted to resign and retire, making them eligible for "valuable employment benefits." Their resignation was refused and they were fired. The employees' stock option plan stated that if they were terminated "for cause," any unvested stock benefits were forfeited, and other severance and deferred compensation were also forfeited. The employees sued to obtain the lost benefits, alleging ERISA violations, breach of contract and a breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The federal District Court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer. The Second Circuit stated that the employer's interview demands were reasonable. Applying Delaware law, the Court stated that "cause" included a refusal to "obey a direct, unequivocal, reasonable order of the employer." Furthermore, an employer may fire an employee for alleged criminal conduct even if the employee is eventually acquitted of criminal charges. When an employer "can no longer place the necessary faith and trust in an employee," the employer may fire without penalty. The employer could seek information from the employees "to protect its standing with investors, clients, employees, and regulators." While the employees were "in the tough position of choosing between employment and incrimination," "that does not immunize them from all collateral consequences," including termination. The Court noted that the interview requests "predated" any alleged non-prosecution agreement with the AG. The definition of "cause" in the benefits package would be meaningless if an employee could preemptively resign. The Second Circuit found the employees' constitutional self-incrimination argument to be a "Hail Mary pass." The employer is not a government actor against whom self-incrimination protections apply. Government in this situation was not compelling the employer to conduct the interviews. Finally, "a company is not prohibited from cooperating [with government,] and typically has supremely reasonable, independent interests for conducting an internal investigation and for cooperating with a government investigation, even when employees suspected of crime end up jettisoned." As this decision illustrates, typically private sector employees have limited federal constitutional rights in the workplace. In contrast, public sector (governmental) employees have these constitutional rights since the U.S. Constitution only limits actions by government. State constitutional law frequently follows this pattern. Private sector employees have legal rights based upon legislation, an employment contract, or a court's determination that public policy requires that the right be granted. The National Labor Relations Act and the Civil Rights Act illustrate legislative protection. This brief comment cannot list all federal and state legislative protections for employees. Consult an experienced attorney as there may be relevant legislation that addresses a specific situation. However, it is a misunderstanding for an employee to believe that, for example, a private sector employee has an unlimited right of "free speech" in the workplace. An employer, in contrast, may misunderstand the protections granted employees engaged in "concerted activity" under the National Labor Relations Act to discuss among themselves, in person or via social media, issues related to wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment. A recent divided decision by the D.C. Court of Appeals upheld a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) determination that employees could not be terminated for publically airing their pay grievances on local TV news [DirectTV, Inc. v. NLRB]. The employer had argued that the statements were "maliciously untrue and flagrantly disloyal," allowing termination for cause. The two justice majority opinion upheld an NLRB finding of protected concerted activity. The dissenting justice believed that the employees' statements crossed the line into disloyalty when they accused their employer of deceptive business practices. This is an example of a close case involving legislatively protected employee speech. In this election year, the issue of workplace political discussion arises. There are no inherent First Amendment protections in the workplace for private sector employees, and in fact, workplace speech could create a hostile work environment if the topics involve race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, or disability. Employers might consider creating an at-work political discussion policy, although this is a delicate and situationally specific managerial decision. Employment contracts may grant or restrict rights. There is much litigation concerning what constitutes an employment contract. Typically, employment handbooks and other guidelines are not contracts. Additionally, a prudent employer will expressly state that these documents do not constitute a contract and may be altered or abolished at any time in the sole discretion of the employer. Furthermore, a variety of promises of continual employment have been held by courts not to create a contract. Of course, unionized employees typically have a labor agreement employment contract. Sports commissioners, for example, frequently have broad powers that are essentially based upon contracts. In a few situations, public policy, a somewhat vague concept that courts may apply in the interest of the public good, may protect employees. An illustration of public policy might be a court's refusal to allow an employee to be fired based upon the employee's reporting for required jury duty rather than to work, or, in an old example, a refusal by the employee to commit perjury. One must research the potential application of public policy in a given state. The U.S. employment-at-will legal doctrine allows a private sector employee to quit at-will and to be fired at-will. An employer may terminate private sector employment for arbitrary and irrational reasons, provided the termination does not violate legislative, contractual, or public policy protections. Much of the industrialized world has more employment protections than the U.S. Hence, a company operating with employees in a foreign nation must understand that nation's employment laws. There is much commentary concerning potential revisions to existing U.S. labor laws, especially in light of the movement from industrialization to the current technology and service based economy, the decline of labor unions, concerns about privacy, and in general the changing social understandings of appropriate conduct. Should there be a broad based employee "Bill of Rights"? This is unlikely to occur at the federal level in the foreseeable future although possibly a very few states may act. Several states have enacted legislation entitled a "Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights" to fill a lack of coverage of domestic workers under the National Labor Relations Act. So, the "Bill of Rights" terminology does exist. However, there is not a contemporary continuing broad-based social and political movement by U.S. employees that compares to the historic labor movement. One may observe the relative political power of employers and employees at a given point in time and predict the likely legislative and legal environment. "The Law" is not some unchangeable force like the laws of nature. It is very much a human enterprise. This comment provides a very brief and incomplete educational overview of a complex topic and is not intended to provide legal advice. Always consult an experienced attorney in specific situations. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Your boss has decided to move on, and someone else is taking his place. How should you establish a positive, productive working relationship with your new manager? How do you get to know them without seeming like a kiss-up? And what’s your role in getting them up to speed on the job? What the Experts Say It’s important to start off on the right foot with your new boss. “Recognize that people do draw some impressions about you pretty quickly,” says Karen Dillon, coauthor of Competing Against Luck and the HBR Guide to Office Politics. And it’s on you to make sure those first impressions are positive. Your new manager likely has a lot on her plate, so take responsibility for establishing a great working relationship from the start. Don’t focus on what you need; put yourself in her shoes, advises Michael Watkins, chair of Genesis Advisors and author of The First 90 Days. “Keep asking yourself, ‘How can I help them get up to speed faster?’” Here’s how to build a strong rapport from the first day. Look for common ground Before your new boss arrives, try to find out a little bit about who they are, what their interests are, and what their track record has been, says Watkins. If you know people who’ve worked with them in the past, reach out. Or you might peruse their LinkedIn profile or social media. Finding common ground over family, a favorite sports team, or a shared extracurricular activity can be a great ice breaker. “It may not be possible to have a deep, great connection in the first few days or even few weeks,” says Dillon. “It might take a little time to get there.” But keep an eye out for anything you share in common as you start working together. Have some empathy Even though you may be anxious to prove your worth to a new boss, try to see things from her perspective and know that she is under a lot of pressure of her own. Dillon says she still remembers meeting one new report and the great impression she left. “I had met so many people that day and she was one of the last,” Dillon says. “She just handed me her résumé and said, ‘I just want you to know a little bit about my background. Read it at your convenience. Here’s the gist of what I do. When you’re ready, I look forward to talking to you about how we work together.’ It was just a few minutes. But it was so sensitive to me, so emotionally intelligent to me as the new manager.” Bosses will likely notice your empathy in those first challenging weeks. “Try to understand the nature of the change they’re going through, and what they’re going to find challenging, and help them with that,” says Watkins. Don’t lay it on too thick — or too thin New managers will be able to see through excessive boasting or kissing up pretty quickly, and most are wary of overt political operators. “Don’t try to curry favor with the boss immediately,” says Watkins. “But it’s also not a good idea to step back and stay in the background,” he says. “The best course is somewhere in between.” Dillon agrees. “At a minimum, aim for neutral,” she says. “There are so many people who are so eager to make a good impression on the new boss that it actually can get exhausting and overwhelming,” she says. Show some hustle and be proactive those first few weeks, but don’t go overboard. Ask about their communication style “The sooner you get a sense of how they prefer to be communicated with, the better,” says Watkins. Early on, figure out your boss’s preferred method of communication for different types of issues, and adjust your style accordingly. Do they prefer email, calls, texts, or in-person discussions? Do they like to weigh all of the pros and cons before making a decision, or do they want to hear what you’d suggest? Knowing this information will help you avoid misunderstandings that could complicate your work or put you in a difficult situation. The best strategy for figuring it out? Ask directly, says Dillon. “Even if they don’t have a great answer because they’re still figuring it out, they know that you’re open to it and that you’re approaching them with the attitude, ‘I want to be effective for you.’” Help them achieve early wins No matter what’s on your plate, identify what your boss cares about and try to help them score easy early wins in those areas. You can even help identify what those wins might be. Watkins suggests: “You can say, ‘Look, here’s some low-hanging fruit you can focus on, some things that haven’t been addressed that would make a significant impact in a short period of time.’” Assisting your new boss in this fashion shows that you’re a team player. You can also make it clear that you’re eager and willing to help with any goals they are beginning to develop. “Think about it this way,” says Dillon. “If it’s good for the company and it’s good for that person coming in, it’s probably good for you, too.” Come armed with solutions As new bosses adjust, they’re typically bombarded with challenging problems, both large and small. Don’t “be a special case,” says Dillon, by dumping a pile of long-held complaints on the person’s plate. Instead, take the chance to set yourself apart and come armed with suggestions. “You always want to look for opportunities to bring possible solutions to the table, as opposed to adding to the flood,” says Dillon. You can even offer to take something off their plate, which will give you the opportunity to prove your mettle. It’s those interactions that will leave a lasting impression, says Watkins. “When you can help them accelerate the learning process, help shape their strategy and goals, it positions you extremely well going forward,” he says. Principles to Remember Do: Try to find things you have in common to help break the ice Be mindful of the many challenges your new boss will face in the first weeks Look for opportunities to help your new manager further their goals Don’t: Go overboard trying to get yourself noticed. But don’t hide at your desk, either. Assume the new boss wants everything in long emails or memos. Ask directly about their preferred communication style. Come to the table only bearing problems. Present solutions whenever you can. Case Study #1: Adapt to the boss’s communication style When Ben Brooks started a new role in HR at insurance giant Marsh & McLennan, he’d known his new manager from an earlier role, but he’d never worked directly for her. Brooks says his initial strategy was to approach her like a client, in order to get a feel for her priorities and communication style. “She was so used to having her direct reports go into her office and complain or need help,” he says. “I asked about the things that she needed help with or she wanted to not deal with anymore.” He also noted that his boss preferred printed out materials to guide their one-on-one meetings, so she could mark them up with notes. “She really liked things on paper” and was known for keeping great records, he says. As a result, he always made sure to bring copies of the agenda to their meetings. “She loved it, and it made for effective meetings,” he says. He also figured out early on that giving her time to sleep on decisions often resulted in positive responses, whereas pushing her for an immediate answer tended to get a no. So he adjusted his approach, hinting at the proposal and then coming back the next day or a few days later for further discussion. “It’s almost like you have to be an anthropologist, [study and observe] how this person works,” he says. Brooks, now CEO of PILOT, a tech startup helping people manage their careers, says that even if adapting to a new person’s style feels a little awkward at first, all that matters is whether it’s effective. “If you take care of your manager and set them up for success, they’ll take care of you.” Case Study #2: Make a connection and bring solutions When Shutterstock hired a new chief technology officer, Kiran Patel, the director of engineering, was eager to start things off on the right foot. An informal one-on-one meeting before the new boss’s first day gave Kiran an opportunity to both break the ice and look for clues about what the new manager’s priorities might be. “We started off talking about our families, getting to know each other personally,” Kiran says. It was a great way to build a connection and establish a rapport, he says. It also set the stage for their future interactions. In their one-on-ones, Kiran and his boss always set aside a few minutes to check in on each other’s home lives before getting down to business. Kiran also ascertained that his new boss was interested primarily in high-level, strategic initiatives. “That’s what CTOs want to spend their time thinking about,” says Kiran. “So we talked a lot about how our teams can help fix blockages in the way” of those efforts. He knew from having his own direct reports that it was extremely helpful when people came to him with suggested solutions — and options. “That taught me to have more than one solution on the table,” says Kiran. “Try to get the answer for them. They’ll remember that.”
Endurance Specialty Holdings (ENH) recently announced that it has inked an agreement to be acquired by SOMPO Holdings, Inc. for a cash payment of $6.3 billion.
Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC (???MMA???), a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc. (MMC), recently announced that it has acquired Vero Insurance, Inc.
Marsh & McLennan's (MMC) favorable performance has been made possible by the company's continued investments in organic and inorganic growth.
Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC (MMA) recently announced that it has acquired Atlanta-based employee benefits consulting firm, Benefits Advisory Group LLC.
Willis Towers Watson plc (WLTW) reported second-quarter 2016 adjusted net income of $1.66 per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.59.
After every other major US health insurance provider already admitted to generating substantial losses on the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamcare, earlier today Aetna became the latest to report that its annual loss on Obamacare plans would be more than $300 million, and said it had scrapped plans to further expand its Obamacare business next year. More ominously, Aetna joined the biggest US health insurer UnitedHealth in reviewing how, if at all, it would continue providing ACA services in the 15 states it's currently in. The move, coming after a similar shift in tone last week by Anthem, is the latest sign of instability and financial pressures in the marketplaces that are at the heart of the health law. It also confirms that in its current iteration, Obamacare simply does not work and will require a major overhaul by the next administration, one which could lead to even higher premiums for plan participants as well as for subsidy providers, i.e., taxpayers. Aetna, which had previously expressed relative optimism about the ACA exchanges, said it was setting up a reserve of $65 million to account for expected losses on individual plans over the rest of 2016. The company also said it no longer expects to reach breakeven in 2016 on individual plans. “While we are pleased with our overall results, in light of updated 2016 projections for our individual products and the significant structural challenges facing the public exchanges, we intend to withdraw all of our 2017 public exchange expansion plans, and are undertaking a complete evaluation of future participation in our current 15-state footprint,” said Aetna Chief Executive Mark T. Bertolini. Aetna had previously made regulatory filings indicating it was considering growing into five new state marketplaces in 2017. “Nobody is getting adequately reimbursed,” unless we start including specialty pharma which current risk adjustment mechanism doesn’t, Bertolini added during the Q2 call, explaining that the risk-adjustment mechanism “a zero sum game." Aetna's shift represents a significant revision to its previous position on Obamacare. In April, the insurer said that after a loss last year, it was aiming to roughly break even on its exchange business this year and move toward profitability in 2017. Then, Mr. Bertolini called its position in the ACA marketplaces a “good investment.” The five new states in which Aetna was considering expanding were Maine, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Kansas and Indiana. Not so much anymore: according to Bertolini, "we are evaluating our footprint as it exists today to understand what solutions we can put forward to either fix the business or exit the business.” Surprisingly, despite the poor exchange results, Aetna still posted better-than-expected profit and revenue growth in the second quarter and reaffirmed its 2016 operating earnings guidance. As the WSJ adds, Aetna’s darkening perspective on the ACA business echoes comments by Anthem, which last week went from projecting a slight profit this year to expecting a mid-single-digit loss on ACA plans. Anthem roughly broke even on individual plans in 2015 and had a positive margin in 2014. Anthem said it expected improvement on its results next year, but also that it would re-examine its full-on commitment to the exchanges. UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Humana have in recent weeks deepened their projected 2016 exchange losses and confirmed they will largely withdraw from the business next year. In what is likely a shocking revelation for the administration, a big part of the problem, according to S&P analysts, has come from insurers finding that enrollees were running up medical costs greater than they expected when the companies set their premiums. Who would have thought that when presented with a quasi-blank check, the recently uninsured would milk it for all it is worth? So what happens next? WSJ predicts that the pullbacks by UnitedHealth and Humana, in addition to Aetna’s possible move, will likely sharply increase the regions with limited or no competition among insurers on the exchanges. That will put a heavy weight on Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers, which in some states, including Alaska, as well as several largely-rural areas of others, are now expected to offer the only ACA marketplace plans. “What you end up with is the not-for-profit Blues and other regional plans becoming the insurer of last resort in parts of the country,” said Sam Glick, a partner with consulting firm Oliver Wyman, a unit of Marsh & McLennan Cos. The situation is “a real concern,” he said, particularly since a number of the Blue insurers are themselves losing money on the exchange business. In other words, all the negatives of a single-payor system with none of the positives. What about those states where the ACA services will remain? Why more of the same, which means another year of double-digit increases in premiums. The punchline? As we reported back in May, most Americans will see the surge in their health insurance premiums on the unfortunate, for Democrats, date: November 1, or just one week before the presidential election. As Politico said: "the last thing Democrats want to contend with just a week before the 2016 presidential election is an outcry over double-digit insurance hikes as millions of Americans begin signing up for Obamacare." Then again, what difference will a double digit health insurance price surge make?
Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (AJG) reported second-quarter 2016 adjusted net earnings of 97 cents per share that surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a penny.
Aon plc's (AON) second-quarter 2016 operating earnings of $1.39 per share narrowly missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.40.
Marsh & McLennan's (MMC) second-quarter 2016 operating earnings per share of 91 cents, in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Earnings improved 13.8% year over year.
Marsh & McLennan's (MMC) earnings of 91 cents per share was in line with our estimates
Let's see what's in store for four insurance brokers (EHTH), (ERIE), (AJG), (MMC) that are reporting on Jul 28.
Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. (MMC) is scheduled to release second-quarter 2016 financial results before the opening bell on Jul 28.
4 moves companies are making for women in the workplace At a moment when high-profile women are leading change and leaning in as never before in the political and business worlds, there's still a long, long way to go in achieving gender equality at the leadership levels of the workplace and in the boardroom. What have employers got to say for themselves? How are they paving the way for women to succeed? The conversation is getting louder, at least, and picking up momentum, and there's some evidence that we're starting to talk about the right things. A recent gathering in Washington, DC found leaders from large global organizations like Cisco and AXA, along with such voices of advocacy as the Everest Project and Council of Women World Leaders, exploring the realities facing women in the workplace. There's already data that points to greater business success among companies that employ more women at the top, but how to get them there remains a challenge for too many companies. Maybe it's time to stop looking at how many women companies employ and start focusing on what they're actually doing - in other words, are women occupying the right workforce roles? The future of work for women Over the next 12 months, according to Mercer's 2016 Global Talent Trends survey, organizations expect a whopping 35% increase in the competition for talent. Core skills will change dramatically and filling jobs will be tough. Increasingly, women are going to fill them. "One area where women will be especially impactful is in office and administrative roles, where women hold 54% of the slots," said Ilya Bonic, Senior Partner and President of Mercer's Talent business. That's significant, because as more women fill the administrative sector in which they already dominate, more women are available for development and promotion into managerial and ultimately leadership roles. Moreover, Mercer's 2016 When Women Thrive Global Report discusses how companies are leveraging women's key skill sets, which include flexibility and adaptability (39% attribute those skills to women, vs. 20% who say men have those strengths); inclusive team management (43% vs. 20%); and emotional intelligence (24% vs. 5%). So what are companies doing to prepare? • Replacing Mentorship with Sponsorship - AXA's Christiane Bisanzio, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, said her priority is to make AXA an employer of choice by focusing not on mentoring, but sponsoring programs. "Women are over-mentored and under-sponsored," she declared. Sponsors or leaders at her organization choose who they want to support and guide, rather than being assigned someone. The company is also providing resilience training as a part of leadership development. So far, she says the program is working, with 95% of the promotions at AXA benefitting women who went through the sponsorship program. • Moving Women into Innovation - Pamela Carlton, co-founder of the Everest Project, said "relational skills" are the key to women's success. "Women are building cultures of innovation, sustainable ones, and doing it with relational skills that are well known but unseen," said Ms. Carlton. "I'm on a mission to get companies to focus on them." Carlton's organization conducted a research project focused on 132 women across industries and ethnic backgrounds along with senior colleagues. She said relational skills included taking smart risks, collaborating across the organization, and using women's differences as an advantage. She added that role modeling and inviting others to share their differences can be a competitive advantage. • Requiring Men Commit... to Diversity - Mike Kaufmann, CFO of Cardinal Health, said men are critical in advancing women's roles. "Men and women think differently about promotions, but you can't change things without real training for men. It can't be a quick seminar that's just the flavor of the day - it has to be an immersive session that captures the heart." • Striving for Pay Equity -- Elaine La Roche, Marsh & McLennan board member, talked about the role of the board member as it relates to women and gender in the workplace. "Why is pay equity not as important on proxy statements as CEO pay?" she asked. "Shareholders need to care and understand that this is good for business and increasing shareholder value. This is an easy thing to change." But driving change in the working world is never an easy thing, and fostering commitment to gender equality, pay equity, and the development of women in roles that have been dominated by men - in everything from research and engineering to middle and upper management, P&L and boardroom empowerment - is going to make all the difference. The companies that help women thrive today will themselves thrive in tomorrow's economy. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
On Jun 28, 2016, we issued an updated research report on Willis Towers Watson plc (WLTW).
VY T. Rowe Price Capital Appreciation S Fund (ITCSX) a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) was incepted in February 1995 and is managed by Davis Selected Advisers.