Suez and Saint-Gobain shared their experience of pooling EB

Multinationals face a range of challenges when delivering employee benefits (EB) globally. Diverse environments and cultures mean employees have different expectations and needs, and offering competitive EB packages to help retain employees, while controlling costs and streamlining administration is a tough balancing act. Today’s economic conditions pose additional challenges and make it more important than ever that EB programmes are as effective as possible to meet all business objectives. 

One main way multinationals are responding to this challenge is by implementing multinational pools to finance and manage their EB and some have more experience of than others. 

So, we were delighted to be joined by Jorgen Pedersen from Saint-Gobain, and Nadine Thouin and Thomas Romain from Suez who shared their reasons for to implementing a global pool to manage their EB, their key successes, the challenges they’ve faced and the lessons they learnt along the way. 

Watch the webinar in the player below or keep scrolling to read our three key takeaways from the useful and informative discussion.


1 – What's the purpose of your pool?

Since the 1950s, pooling has been considered an effective financial strategy for managing global EB programmes, bringing local policies into a global pool through reinsurance.

Yet the approach might not be right for everyone. Thomas Romain from Suez said that everyone should ask themselves one key question before considering putting in place an EB pooling programme… “What is the purpose of setting up this pool?” 

The panelists shared some of the main reasons they set up their programmes.

•    To set-up a vision and a strategy for EB and have stronger governance
•    To consolidate international employee plans across different subsidiaries
•    To offer competitive EB programmes to all employees
•    To benefit from economies of scale and manage the costs over the long term with potential dividend payments
•    To understand the medical trends across different subsidiaries, in different countries, around the world.

2 – The power of partnership

Partnership is a vital component when setting up a pooling strategy. A strong relationship between an EB network, a global broker and the multinational is essential to put an effective governance structure in place to oversee and control the pooling programme. 

As Jorgen Pedersen said during the webinar, it’s important to work closely with a partner that can help you drive change. Building a true partnership helps you to get visibility of your EB, handle big international projects and follow your pooling strategy. All this means you can offer the best EB programmes for your employees and their families around the world.

The panelists shared some of the traits they look for in a global benefits network.

•    Strong technical expertise
•    Proactive and reactive support
•    The ability to set-up a quick “natural” pool
•    Good geographical coverage and a network of strong local insurers
•    A wide range of services (both at local and global levels), including:
     a)    financial and medical reports
     b)    health and wellness solutions
     c)    digital capabilities
•    Capabilities beyond pooling to grow the programme further.

3 – Pool management at the local level

And the partnership theme doesn’t stop there. Nadine Thouin from Suez believes it is equally important for the global head office to communicate well and have a strong relationship with the local subsidiaries of the multinational. By ensuring everyone is on the same page, has the right expectations and access to the data needed, the pool can perform well. She mentioned several ways to help this succeed.

  • Educate teams of the benefits of starting a pool programme. Sharing any potential dividends with each subsidiary is normally a good way to convince them a pool is useful to them!
  • Define simple rules for your local offices so they know what being part of the pool means. These can include:
  1. ensuring preferred insurance networks are invited to any local RFP
  2. making the local subsidiary justifies its decision if one of the preferred insurance networks is not chosen.
  • Engage yourself in the process, provide support for any local RFPs and liaise with the insurance networks.

In summary, it seems a strong purpose, excellent parentship collaboration and good local communication are key to setting up and running a successful pool. Thank you to our contributors for sharing their views and experience.