Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The Decline and Fall of Kwasha Lipton

When I entered this industry 8½ years ago, Kwasha Lipton Consulting Group had been considered THE company to watch for many years. They were the undisputed leader in the benefits business; nobody else was even close. Ted Benna, who is widely credited with designing the first 401(k) plan in 1978, was a principal at Kwasha Lipton. Kwasha Lipton also pretty much invented the cash balance concept. [Kwasha Lipton, “Exciting New Retirement Concept: The Cash Balance Pension Plan”, Kwasha Lipton Newsletter, Vol. 18, No. 1, June 1985.]

January 1996 - Coopers & Lybrand acquired Kwasha Lipton Consulting Group.
July 1998 - Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand completed their merger to form PricewaterhouseCoopers, taking over the #1 accounting firm slot from Arthur Andersen. Soon thereafter, PricewaterhouseCoopers combined the former Kwasha Lipton operations with other benefits consulting practices to form Unifi.
January 2002 - Mellon Financial purchased Unifi. Soon thereafter, it merged Unifi and its Buck Consultants subsidiary with other operations to form Mellon HR Solutions.
January 2005 - Mellon HR Solutions is on the block.

That's a lot of getting shuffled around, re-organized, upsized, downsized, rightsized, supersized, mismanaged and just plain ignored in just nine years. No wonder this operation is only a shadow of its former self. From undisputed first, they've been relegated to the pile of also-rans and has-beens. It's really a shame.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fascinating to see this posted here. I originally worked for Kwasha Lipton (KL) for 5.5 years, then accepted a position with Human Resource Technology Group (HRTG) with Coopers & Lybrand (C&L). My fifth year at C&L, they purchased KL and merged them with HRTG/HRA. An unwritten agreement in the merger was that all C&L systems were automatically legacy. I lasted another year or so, but after the merger with PW it was time to leave. I've kept in close contact with my former colleagues at KW/HRTG/Unifi/Mellon/ACS (Affiliated Computer Services Inc. or ACS, is the company that Mellon sold the group to back in 05.2005), so I do hear a running commentary about how awful the whole operation is. What a shame that the greedy bastards at KW (i.e., Bob Byrne, etc.) had to sell the company in the first place.

Anonymous said...

i too was a math guy who went the actuarial route. kwasha lipton hired me my senior year, but by the time i had graduated i decided i was more of an information guy in general, so they took me on board into their IT dept. have often wondered what happened to my old buddies down there...

so Mr. Dominguez, do you work for the old anderson consulting, whatever they call it now? either way, i might be down there in a couple weeks to see a friend of mine who does, and i think the 3 of us would have a very interesting conversation over lunch. let me know if you are interested.
rick
bambauer001@gannon.edu

Anonymous said...

How interesting to see this content... I work some of the folks who have gone through the "KHUMA" transition...hopefully this operation will find a home in the last company for...a little bit more than what they have been going through in the last decade.

Anonymous said...

What a waste... flash forward 2 generations of the Kwasha family and here I am entering the actuarial field. Nothing keeps a buisness going like a sense of family pride.

Anonymous said...

Kwasha is an example of Corportations being selfish. The PARTNERS made plenty of money and those who worked hard were left behind to get minimal packages upon exit. The benefits field is large yet unstable. Companies like Kwasha and their management cared nothing about their employees or their employees families. Those at the top drank from the goblets of self indulgence. The company paid for their cars, their homes, their vacations. This company was a smaller version of ENRON and nobody, nobody ever checked it out. The mystery of the rise and fall does not get found within the actuarial group, the Coopers group or anywhere else. It is found in the leadership that was never investigated and allowed to fill their bellies and pockets while leaving those who were trying to earn an honest living behind. Kwasha Liption should be a white paper on all that is wrong with America and American company values. Looking deap inside the final few years leadership from Bob B that oh so popular man nobody ever questioned. The excess that that was mentioned in other postings and greed do not compare to the guilt must bear each day. I only ask that with all that missapropriation of money that someone with the ability to formalize a civil action against the company proceed. Perhaps their clients like Bank of America would like to know where millions and millions of their dollars and billings were actually spent. If so I would be happy to assist them. God Bless America because some day these villians will be brought to justice.

ALD said...

I will not delete your post but I did want to go on record as disagreeing strongly with your statement that there was misappropriation of money. While there was certainly lack of good leadership and mistakes were made, I do not believe anything improper took place at KL.

Anonymous said...

I also disagree vehemently with this statement. My father founded Kwasha Lipton and shepherded it through its ascendancy. He was a fair minded man who treated all of the partners and employees well.

Bruce C. Kwasha

ALD said...

Bruce -- Thanks for taking the time to post here. I agree completely. Your father built a great company. As I said, when I entered the industry they were the standard bearers. It's just a shame that the company he built fell on hard times later on.

jmeisell said...

Interesting reading the different sides out there. I too worked (very hard) for KL in the (at that time) budding IT dept (early 90s). The salary was nothing special, the bonuses were essentially none, we got a whopping $4/hr overtime and some free food to keep us there. The partners and folks at the top were CLEARLY making out VERY well. Which itself wasn't so bad, but they had that big swinging d*ck attitude about how great they were at what they did. Which I assumed was all correct, as it seems they really did do some innovative things. However, as I formed closer relationships with the upper management in IT, it became clear that they couldn't give a hoot about IT and the software that enabled management of so much of their business. The cash cow in their mind was clearly elsewhere: even as IT had nearly 50 employees, there was NO PARTNER in that division until they brought in an OUTSIDER. As an employee myself, the Christmas parties were great and the free Mets game once a year was nice, as was the gym in the building, but I can tell you they worked many folks into creative submission, and the only reason we kept going was that WE were a great and tightly knit family. I do miss that part of it. To sum it up, the xmas skit my group did in front of the whole company had me naked in a barrel with a "will work late for food" sign on it! Fun, but a little bitter!

Joel said...

Interesting to find this years after the post. I was explaining to a colleague how in 1989, I was coming out of college and had an offer from KL that I turned down (after reading this blog, I guess I should be very glad). I contacted the HR recruiter a month later to say that I felt I made a big mistake and was hoping they would consider me again. Instead of saying no, she knowingly let me take a day off, borrow a car, and drive to NJ to meet with her. She met with me for about 2 minutes and told me they didn't like being turned down and would not consider me. As a young, naive person who never considered that a company would waste a job applicants time for some form of "vengeance", I've remembered her name for all these years for this cruel behavior. This blog makes me no longer wonder about what could have been!

Anonymouse said...

At 17 years old, Kwasha Lipton was my first office job and one of my jobs was to take messages for the actuaries and when David Allan Skovron would come to retrieve his messages he would kiss me on the lips and stick his tongue down my throat, if all the messages were not received by the end of the day I was to bring them to his office, and I stood outside his office door afraid to enter and he would get up pull me in, close the door and push his body against mine, and rub his penis against me, and say things that I don't even want to repeat. This kind of behavior at the company, married men hitting on young single female, was the norm, and he was one of the worst perpetrators, and when we were going to have a summer company picnic, I wore a one-piece bathing suit and shorts and a bandage around my leg so no one would make me go in the swimming pool, however,I was pushed in the swimming pool by one of the men and he pulled down my bathing suit and put his hands in my private area, as I fought him off and David Skovron off, I was then fired the next day and told I was not a "company player". Unlike many teenagers, I could not just go home and go about my life, as my parents had a contentious divorce and my father was cutting off my child support, I was kicked out of my residence for losing my job and that was a start to an awful life. David skovron, you are as self-entitled pig with no conscience.