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Edited Transcript of ADP earnings conference call or presentation 31-Jul-19 12:30pm GMT

Q4 2019 Automatic Data Processing Inc Earnings Call

ROSELAND Sep 4, 2019 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Automatic Data Processing Inc earnings conference call or presentation Wednesday, July 31, 2019 at 12:30:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Carlos A. Rodriguez

Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director

* Christian Greyenbuhl

Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - VP of Investor Relation

* Kathleen A. Winters

Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - Corporate VP & CFO

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Conference Call Participants

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* Bryan Connell Keane

Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division - Research Analyst

* David Michael Grossman

Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, Research Division - MD

* James Edward Schneider

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division - VP

* Jason Alan Kupferberg

BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - MD in US Equity Research & Senior Analyst

* Lisa Ann Dejong Ellis

MoffettNathanson LLC - Partner

* Mark Steven Marcon

Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division - Senior Research Analyst

* Samad Saleem Samana

Jefferies LLC, Research Division - Equity Analyst

* Tien-Tsin Huang

JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division - Senior Analyst

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Good morning. My name is Carmen, and I'll be your conference operator. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to ADP's Fourth Quarter Fiscal 2019 Earnings Call. I would like to inform you that this conference is being recorded (Operator Instructions). Thank you.

I will now turn the conference over to Mr. Christian Greyenbuhl, Vice President, Investor Relations. Please go ahead.

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Christian Greyenbuhl, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - VP of Investor Relation [2]

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Thank you, Carmen, and good morning, everyone. And thank you for joining ADP's fourth quarter fiscal 2019 earnings call and webcast. With me today are Carlos Rodriguez, our President and Chief Executive Officer; and Kathleen Winters, our Chief Financial Officer.

Earlier this morning, we released our results for the fourth quarter and full year fiscal 2019. These earnings materials are available on the SEC's website and on our Investor Relations website at investors.adp.com, where you will also find the investor presentation that accompanies today's call as well as our quarterly history of revenue and pretax earnings by reportable segment.

During our call today, we will reference non-GAAP financial measures, which we believe to be useful to investors and that exclude the impact of certain items. A description and the timing of these items, along with a reconciliation of non-GAAP measures to their most comparable GAAP measure, can be found in our earnings release.

Today's call will also contain forward-looking statements that refer to future events and, as such, involve some risk. We encourage you to review our filings with the SEC for additional information on factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from our current expectations. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out should you have any questions. And with that, let me turn the call over to Carlos.

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [3]

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Thank you, Christian, and thank you, everyone, for joining our call. This morning, we reported our fourth quarter and full year fiscal 2019 results with a revenue of $3.5 billion for the quarter, up 6% reported and organic constant currency. We ended the year with total revenue of $14.2 billion, up 6% reported and 7% organic constant currency, in line with our expectations.

We are pleased with our ability to balance this strong top line revenue growth with a substantial 160 basis points of adjusted EBIT margin expansion for the year. This margin expansion was ahead of our expectations, as we executed well on our transformation initiatives, including our voluntary early retirement program, while also benefiting from increased operating efficiencies.

When combined with share buybacks and a lower adjusted effective tax rate, we delivered very strong 20% adjusted EPS growth this year. Our core drivers of growth are also strong, with Employer Services new business bookings growing 11% in the fourth quarter and 8% for the year. We are especially pleased with this performance given a difficult compare in fiscal 2018 when bookings grew 19% in the fourth quarter and 9% for the full year.

To put our Employer Services new business bookings performance into perspective, this year, we sold approximately $1.6 billion of new annualized recurring revenues, which is a testament to the strength and scale of our sales force. When you add in the results of our PEO bookings, which grew double digits in 2019, our overall worldwide new business bookings continue to perform in line with our June 2018 Investor Day expectations, benefiting from our investments in targeted incremental selling opportunities as well as investments in our sales force, product and improvements in our productivity.

We are very pleased with our strong recent track record of Employer Services bookings in fiscal years 2018 and 2019. With this in mind, we have continued to invest in our distribution and currently expect Employer Services bookings to grow 6% to 8% in fiscal 2020.

As a reminder, the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019 benefited from incremental organic sales related to our recently completed client list acquisition. With this strong second half performance in fiscal 2019, following a strong second half performance in fiscal 2018, we anticipate a difficult compare in the latter half of fiscal 2020.

Our Employer Services revenue retention rate is another important indicator of the health of our business and, as you will recall, this is the first year we provided guidance for it. We are pleased to now report an improvement in our retention rate of 40 basis points to 90.8% in 2019, which was in line with our expectations.

This increase was driven primarily by our mid-market business, which is benefiting from rising NPS scores, following the completion of our platform migrations in late fiscal 2018, continuous investments in our Workforce Now platform and service-related transformation initiatives. This puts us closer to our all-time high of 91.4%, which is no small accomplishment given the amount of change we've been undergoing as an organization.

Our strategy is working and, on a broader level, our efforts over the past few years to improve the serviceability of our clients by migrating them to our strategic cloud-based software solutions and simplifying the service experience, while also closing subscale locations and transforming our client service model through our Service Alignment Initiative, have contributed to improvements in our client satisfaction scores and overall service costs.

You'll hear more from Kathleen shortly on some of our more recent transformation-related investments and anticipated benefits. But before that, I would like to briefly discuss some of our recent efforts around our product and innovation.

The global human capital management market is strong and continues to benefit from an evolving regulatory landscape that increasingly elevates the value of HR as a strategic business partner. At our June 2018 Investor Day, we shared how we intend to position ourselves to take advantage of some of these trends.

One such trend is the evolution of payments where employers increasingly recognize the need for differentiated payments and financial wellness offerings in order to attract and retain talent. A recent study by the ADP Research Institute identified that nearly 80% of employers in North America believe that companies will need to customize their employee payment options to remain competitive in the war for talent, while 2/3 of employees, say, off-cycle pay options, such as the ability to choose pay frequency, would make a difference when considering a job offer.

At ADP, we continue to invest in new solutions aimed at tackling these evolving trends. With ADP's Wisely Pay, we are enabling our clients to provide their employees with a fully electronic and proprietary payment solution, which we complement through our financial wellness tool and myWisely companion mobile app.

Recently, we enhanced our electronic payment functionality with the launch of Wisely Now, which helps organizations and their HR Departments address compliance risks by bringing automation to instant payments, such as off-cycle and termination pay. With these solutions, organizations can leverage ADP's compliance expertise to pay unscheduled or off-cycle employee wages in order to meet the diverse range of local employer requirements.

Tight labor markets -- the tight labor market has also increased the importance of recruiting. Organizations are increasingly looking to utilize technology that enables a more seamless and effective recruitment process. Providing employers with an integrated offering that equips their recruiters with tools that effectively identify and connect with top talent is, therefore, paramount in helping them stay ahead of the competition.

It is with this objective in mind that ADP recently integrated ADP Recruiting Management, our all-in-one automated recruiting platform, with LinkedIn Recruiter System Connect. The integration allows recruiters to easily export basic profile data into ADP Recruiting Management, while servicing critical candidate information in real time into LinkedIn Recruiter.

With this integration, recruiters have access to everything they need in a single time-saving workflow without the inconvenience of manual data entry, moving between systems or repetitive candidate outreach. Innovations like these demonstrate our commitment to delivering best-in-class products. And earlier this month, we were pleased to be recognized by both NelsonHall and Everest Group as a leader in their respective recruitment process outsourcing assessments.

This is just one example of how most mid- and large-sized businesses today use multiple systems and vendors to manage their workforce needs. The seamless integration of solutions is critical to ensuring that employee experience is executed flawlessly.

As the HCM market's largest digital source for people management solutions, ADP Marketplace enables employers to build this more flexible HR ecosystem to fit their needs. This approach to providing an open ecosystem is integral to our open API strategy and is a foundation for our next-generation HCM solutions.

We were, therefore, pleased this quarter to host our Second Annual ADP Marketplace Partner Summit, which allowed us to recognize our partners for the creativity and success of their solutions, while also allowing them to share in best practices. We are proud to have been the first HCM vendor to launch a marketplace, and we're pleased this year to see our total number of partners grow by 33% with ADP Marketplace now offering almost 370 solutions across the HCM spectrum, representing 40% growth over the past 12 months.

Let me conclude my remarks by saying that our evolution toward becoming an HCM technology company that provides great service would not be possible without the dedication of our associates who are integral in helping us accelerate our pace of change. We are proud of their efforts to deliver innovative solutions like these to our clients and for their efforts to ensure the success of our transformation initiatives.

And with that, I'll turn it over to Kathleen for her commentary on our results and the fiscal 2020 outlook.

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Kathleen A. Winters, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - Corporate VP & CFO [4]

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Thank you, Carlos, and good morning to everyone on the call. As Carlos said, we're pleased with our financial results for the year. We continue to make progress in delivering leading cloud-based software solutions to our clients and improving the client experience through our ongoing service and transformation initiatives. Our focus on delivering top line revenue growth, while also improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations in order to drive sustainable long-term value creation, is working.

This morning, we reported full year revenue growth in line with our expectations at 6% on a reported basis and 7% on an organic constant currency basis. Our adjusted EBIT increased 15% and was ahead of our expectations. Adjusted EBIT margin was up about 160 basis points compared to fiscal 2018 and included 30 basis points of unfavorability from acquisitions. This margin improvement benefited from both discrete, larger transformation initiatives and various operating efficiencies, the details of which I will now take you through.

First, we completed our voluntary early retirement program with an annualized recurring cost saving of $150 million, in line with our original expectations. However, due to the timing of our backfill hiring, we realized the full benefit in fiscal 2019. We do not expect any incremental savings from this initiative in fiscal 2020.

Second, this year, we fully realized the remaining benefits from our Service Alignment Initiative. Having completed our hiring needs in fiscal 2018, we exited the remainder of our previously identified 68 subscale service locations for an annualized recurring cost saving of approximately $60 million. This was in line with our expectations as we achieved most of these cost savings in fiscal 2018, while fiscal 2019 benefited from the lapping of approximately $20 million in dual operating costs.

Finally, following our recent platform migration efforts, this year, we also saw continued benefits from efficiencies within our IT infrastructure. These cost saving initiatives were further supplemented by a number of smaller, more tactical transformation projects that have collectively helped drive productivity improvements across the business.

Some examples of these initiatives include an enhanced client relationship management system; our ongoing investments to automate manual tasks; and elevating the use of artificial intelligence, which, together, help reduce contacts for clients. The benefits from these initiatives were partially offset by the investments in our new brand platform and growth in selling expenses.

Our adjusted effective tax rate for fiscal 2019 was 23.8% and benefited from the impact of the lower federal statutory tax rate due to corporate tax reform, partially offset by the loss of certain tax deductions. This rate compares to our 26.2% adjusted effective tax rate for fiscal 2018.

Adjusted diluted earnings per share grew 20% to $5.45 and in addition to benefiting from our revenue growth, margin expansion and a lower effective tax rate, was also aided by fewer shares outstanding compared to a year ago.

Now for our segment results. For Employer Services, revenues were in line with expectations and grew 5% reported and organic constant currency. As a reminder, this fiscal year, we experienced approximately 1 percentage point of benefit from the impact of acquisitions, which was offset by the impact of FX.

Interest income on client funds grew 20% and benefited from a 30 basis point improvement in the average yield earned on our client fund investments to 2.2% and growth in average client fund balances of 5% to $25.5 billion. This growth in balances was driven by a combination of client growth, wage inflation and growth in our pays per control, partially offset by lower SUI collections. Our same-store pays per control metric in the U.S. grew 2.7% for the fiscal year.

Moving on to Employer Services margin. We saw an increase of about 230 basis points in the year, which included approximately 50 basis points of unfavorability from the impact of acquisitions. The strength of our performance this year was enabled by some of the same factors that I mentioned earlier when discussing our consolidated results.

PEO revenues grew 9% for the year to $4.2 billion with average worksite employees growing 8% to 547,000, both in line with our expectations. Revenues, excluding the impact of 0 margin benefits pass-throughs, grew 8% to $1.5 billion, also in line with expectations, despite continued pressure from lower workers' compensation and SUI pricing.

Margins increased 60 basis points for the year due to operating efficiency within the business and benefits from our voluntary early retirement program. We also saw better-than-expected changes to our ADP Indemnity loss reserve estimates with about 10 basis points of unfavorable year-over-year impact in fiscal 2019 as compared to our previous estimate of 25 basis points.

We're pleased with the strength of our results in fiscal 2019. And with the year now behind us, I want to share a few thoughts related to our balance sheet, cash flow and financial liquidity. We have a robust business model with high levels of operating cash flow. Our strategy is to leverage the strength of our model to reinforce our competitive position by, first and foremost, reinvesting in the business.

We believe that balancing investments in innovative solutions, client service tools and distribution is critical in helping to strengthen our market-leading offering. And we supplement these investments through a disciplined approach to M&A. We also remain committed to returning excess cash to shareholders through dividends and disciplined share buybacks. And this year, we returned approximately $2.2 billion.

Finally, our strong balance sheet, multiple sources of liquidity and AA credit ratings all help support our $2.2 trillion in global client money movement operations and our investment strategy for our client funds portfolio.

Let's now move to our fiscal 2020 outlook. Starting with Employer Services, we expect 4% to 5% revenue growth in our Employer Services segment, which includes anticipated pays per control growth of about 2.5%. We also expect Employer Services new business bookings growth of 6% to 8% and for our Employer Services revenue retention to improve 10 to 20 basis points.

Moving on to margins, we expect margin in our Employer Services segment to expand by 100 to 125 basis points. Our margin growth continues to benefit from a combination of operating leverage, together with the impact from our various transformation initiatives.

Regarding our PEO segment, we expect 9% to 11% PEO revenue growth in fiscal 2020 and 7% to 9% growth in PEO revenues, excluding 0 margin health care benefit pass-throughs, both driven by an anticipated growth of 7% to 9% in average worksite employees.

We're pleased with the strength of our PEO bookings in fiscal 2019, but health care inflation remains high and, as we anticipated, we experienced volatility and some churn in our fourth quarter. Accordingly, we anticipate being on the lower end of our average worksite employee guidance range at the beginning of the year with a gradual reacceleration of our growth rate as the year progresses. We meanwhile continue to expect lower workers' compensation and SUI pricing to have an impact on our total PEO revenue growth.

For PEO margins, following a strong fiscal 2019, we anticipate margins to be flat to down 25 basis points in fiscal 2020, which includes approximately 50 basis points of unfavorability from adjustments to our ADP Indemnity loss reserve estimates.

I'll go now to the consolidated outlook. We anticipate total revenue growth of 6% to 7% in fiscal 2020. This outlook contemplates interest income in client funds of approximately $580 million to $590 million and net interest income from our extended investment strategy of $585 million to $595 million. This outlook is approximately $30 million lower than our June 2018 Investor Day estimates for fiscal 2020.

With that said, we expect to overcome some of this interest income pressure through operating efficiency, and we anticipate adjusted EBIT margin to increase 100 to 125 basis points in fiscal 2020, with more expansion in the second half of fiscal 2020 given our very strong first half margin performance in fiscal '19.

In addition to benefiting from our operating leverage, our fiscal 2020 margin growth is anticipated to benefit from the following 2 transformation initiatives. First, during the fourth quarter of fiscal '19, we recorded a severance charge of approximately $26 million related to our broad-based workforce optimization effort focused on spans of control and management layers throughout the organization.

Second, this year, we're accelerating our procurement transformation efforts through a number of initiatives aimed at third-party vendors and internal expense management. These 2 initiatives combined are expected to generate about $100 million of savings in fiscal 2020.

We anticipate our adjusted effective tax rate to be 23.8%, in line with last year. This rate includes about 50 basis points of estimated excess tax benefit from stock-based compensation related to restricted stock vesting in Q1 of fiscal 2020, but it does not include any estimated tax benefit related to potential stock option exercises given the dependency of that benefit on the timing of exercises. We expect growth in adjusted diluted earnings per share of 12% to 14% in fiscal 2020.

I'll now share a few thoughts resulting from the discussions that I've had with some of you during my first 3 months here at ADP. At our June 2018 Investor Day, we set target ranges through fiscal '21, and we've been pleased with our progress to date. In particular, we're pleased with how our associates have responded to the challenges that we have set and with how the business is executing on our strategic plan.

It's now been a little over a year since we shared those targets, and a few things have happened since then, including the adoption of ASC 606. Therefore, we felt it might be helpful to share a couple of reminders. First, you will recall that we based our Investor Day targets on ASC 605, and we provided you with the anticipated ASC 606 impacts to margins. Second, our growth targets were baselined off of the midpoint of our fiscal 2018 guidance at the time, and we subsequently reported our fiscal 2018 results that exceeded our expectations.

So, although we are not providing a reissuance or an update of the targets we provided at our June 2018 Investor Day, to better assist you, in today's earnings presentation, you will find a recasted walk of certain of our Investor Day targets using fiscal 2018 reported results and the ASC 606 basis of accounting.

Taking a step back, we're pleased with our performance in fiscal 2019, and we continue to make great progress on our transformation initiatives. We have a lot of opportunities ahead of us, and we're excited to continue to challenge ourselves to become an even stronger organization.

With that, I will turn it over to the operator to take your questions.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) And we'll take our first question from the line of Jason Kupferberg with Bank of America.

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Jason Alan Kupferberg, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - MD in US Equity Research & Senior Analyst [2]

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I just wanted to start maybe on the bookings side of things just looking at the fiscal '20 guidance. It's actually in line with your typical annual target, even though you do have that tough grow over, as was highlighted in your prepared remarks, especially in the second half.

So I just wanted to see if you can go into the visibility on that target. I mean, it's a stronger guide than we were expecting in light of the comp issue. Just maybe deconstruct the market a bit in terms of where you see that sustained strength coming from. And as part of that, if you can just clarify what the bookings contribution in Q4 was from the quasi-acquisition, if you will.

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [3]

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Sure. Let me just start by, I guess, the first part of the question, and then maybe Kathleen can address the quantification in terms of the numbers in the fourth quarter. But we look at a number of, I guess, objective things in terms of trying to come up with our bookings forecast for the next year.

As you know, that is the number that we have the least visibility on because it's, unlike the rest of our business, which is recurring revenue, this is every week, every month, every quarter start from 0 in terms of new business bookings. But having said that, we have a lot of historical information around, for example, sales force productivity, so what we call sales per DM or average sales productivity.

And then we have the number of sales people that we have hired into the system over the past 3 or 4 months. And so that all goes into a model, and you add on top of that our feeling some subjectivity around new product strength and, in some cases, maybe acquired products that we have, and that's really how we come up with our number for bookings.

So I think, barring changes in the economy and barring kind of -- some kind of external shocker or factor, we've been doing this this way for decades and it works. We have a certain amount of headcount that we add. We have a certain amount of productivity that we drive toward. And we change our incentives and ratchet them up in order to drive those productivity improvements. And then we have kind of new products that we introduce to try to help our sales force get that productivity and to also help us competitively in the marketplace.

All other factors remain relatively constant, even though there are tweaks here and there, depending on the segments, but no big changes in pricing, no big changes to report on kind of other fronts, other than, as you insinuated, kind of business as usual. Although that underestimates the difficulty of selling the amount of new business bookings that we have to sell every year in order to hit our targets. But that gives you a little bit of a flavor how we kind of build our planets.

It's a tried and tested approach, and we did have a little bit of a challenge because of the grow-over from the fourth quarter client acquisition list. But we feel good about our momentum. And I think our headcount adds were probably in the 4% range, I think, it was.

I'm not sure what the exact number was, but our headcount is exactly where -- that's the one variable that, historically, if we're behind in hiring that can generally create an issue for us. And if we are in good shape on hiring or even ahead of the game, it gives us a little more confidence. And I think we're exiting the year fully staffed and I think, with a good headcount in our sales organization. And I don't know, Kathleen, if you want to address the...

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Kathleen A. Winters, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - Corporate VP & CFO [4]

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Yes. And maybe I'll just also comment a little bit on the process having come in and been here for a couple of months now and coming in with a fresh set of eyes or a different set of eyes looking at the process.

I mean, I can attest to the very detailed bottoms-up process that we go through in terms of, as Carlos said, looking at headcount, looking at productivity improvements, how does new product functionality or new product add to the growth, what do the market conditions look like. I mean, we've kicked the tires on this process and it is a really, really solid process, so I'm really happy to see that.

In terms of the year-over-year and the growth off of -- particularly, the client list acquisition, I mean, look, we're really, really pleased with how the organization -- the sales organization performed and the end result for fiscal 2019. It's a little hard to exactly parse out and identify the exact impact of that client list acquisition because we think about it in terms of, look, it's truly organic.

We've got a sales force and sales associates that we've had to dedicate to go out and work those conversions and close those sales. On balance, we're just really happy with the outcome we had in 2019. And we think we've got a really very balanced and solid outlook for 2020.

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [5]

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And I'm sorry. I just went back and looked at my notes. Our headcount actually is a little bit stronger. It's around a little bit over 5% in terms of -- so that's actually probably better than historical norm.

And we did have conversations about 6 months ago that, given the discussions out in the external market about the economy and difficulties -- potential difficulties with the economy, this is before, obviously, the discussions about lower rates, et cetera, we decided that we were going to take out a little bit of an insurance policy and add a little bit more headcount in our sales organization. And so we're -- I think we're entering the year in a very good position from a headcount standpoint.

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Christian Greyenbuhl, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - VP of Investor Relation [6]

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Jason, I would just add briefly to that that -- to Carlos' point about headcount investments, they are in -- more focused on inside sales, which is in line with what we outlined at our Investor Day that we were going to try to focus on.

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [7]

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And one -- sorry, one last comment about that because, I think, you referred to it as a quasi-acquisition. So just on be clear, we bought the right to convert clients. And so every single client had to be resold and reimplemented.

We bought no platforms, no assets, no people, just to be clear, because that was a very difficult and an incredibly well-executed -- it's probably one of the best executed initiatives I've ever seen. It was months and months of planning, and it was executed virtually flawlessly.

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Jason Alan Kupferberg, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - MD in US Equity Research & Senior Analyst [8]

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Okay. That's really good color. I just wanted to switch gears for a second over to PEO. I mean, if we just reflect back on the Analyst Day last year, I think the 3-year revenue guidance, the CAGR there on PEO was 11% to 14%, if memory serves. I know we did 9% in year 1. And at the midpoint in year 2, I think we're looking at about 10%.

So how should we perhaps recalibrate our expectations a little bit in terms of what the realistic 3-year CAGR is? And at the end of the day, is that just attributable more to variations in the WSE growth as opposed to some of the pass-through pieces or the SUI pricing as you reflect on kind of what the thought process was 1 year plus ago versus today?

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [9]

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Sure. For -- so for 2019, as Kathleen was talking about things that we needed to kind of provide some clarification on from Investor Day because as time goes on, more things change. So ASC 606 was one of the things that we highlighted.

But another thing we've tried to highlight every quarter since the fiscal year started in '19 because given the timing, when we gave our Investor Day guidance, it was June and it was really just a month later that our benefits billing cycle changes for our PEO. In other words, our open enrollment takes place. Because of the way our fiscal year works, that's when our renewals take place in our PEO, and that's when we give visibility really to the biggest pass-through, which is a 0 margin benefits pass-through.

And as we mentioned last year around this time, we were pleasantly surprised to have gotten, kind of given what was happening with health care inflation, low health care renewals, lower than we had anticipated certainly in our Investor Day, again 0 margin. So no impact on EPS, but certainly had an impact on growth in '19 of total PEO revenue.

We also had a renewal of our workers' compensation policy that ended up being, again, lower than we had anticipated. That was a smaller impact in the 0 margin health care benefits pass-through. But the combination of those 2 items is really the largest component of the difference between Investor Day guidance and 2019 PEO performance.

Now if you move on to 2020, now you start to get the impact of what is a combination of that, of the slower pass-through growth, but also slightly slower worksite employee growth. So it's really a combination of those 2 factors.

I just want to give you a little bit of color because it depends on '19 versus '20. And as Kathleen mentioned in her prepared remarks, in '20, our health care renewals, which we do now have, came in in line with historical expectations. So that portion for 2020 is more in line with what we've had historically.

So '19 was really the anomaly when it comes to 0 margin pass-through, but we still have pressure from workers' compensation pricing coming down and SUI pass-through also coming down in 2020. And again, these 0 margin or low-margin pass-through costs coming down in cost or price is generally a good thing competitively for the PEO. So it has relatively small impact on the overall profitability of the PEO and very little impact on the overall profitability of ADP, but certainly impacts the headline revenue number.

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Operator [10]

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And our next question comes from Lisa Ellis with MoffettNathanson.

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Lisa Ann Dejong Ellis, MoffettNathanson LLC - Partner [11]

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If I recall correctly, I believe your new high-end product is in beta testing with a handful of clients. Could you -- as we're like peeking out into 2020 now, could you give us an update on where you are in that rollout, what type of feedback you're hearing, what features are clients liking the most about that product and kind of what's the time line for the rollout?

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [12]

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Sure. Obviously, as you can imagine, we're very excited about -- we've been for several years working on a solution that will really address some of the needs in the market that are unmet today. We -- just to -- as a little bit of color before I get into that, keep in mind that we also have our Workforce Now platform that we brought up into the upmarket space, which has really helped us competitively quite a bit.

There is a segment of the market where Workforce Now works very well for larger clients if those larger clients are "simpler" and don't have kind of global needs and relatively simple benefits needs. And so it's been a two-pronged approach in the interim of using -- continuing to use Vantage and investing in Vantage and also bringing Workforce Now up into the upmarket. Those 2 things, in combination, I think, have led to what we consider to be good unit growth in the upmarket, which is very satisfying for us.

But obviously, we believe there's a lot of upside with our new Lifion platform. And so this is the first year where we've had clients in pilot. We do have a sales team, which we have expanded just very recently. So we are not in general availability, but we are selling new clients. And I would say that our sales expectations have, I think it's safe to say, been in line to maybe even exceeded our expectations. So we're very happy on that front.

But now we have a lot of work ahead of us because we've got, I believe it's about 4 or 5 clients that are implemented and live. And obviously, in the agile development approach, we are continuing to improve and add to the platform as we bring on clients. And so we're just in this gradual process of making sure that we can get to the point where we can have exponential growth of the platform.

And for that, we need to make sure that we are fully ready with our implementation resources. We've been adding sales people. We've been adding implementation resources. And I think 2020 is a year where we expect to get traction in the market, particularly in the second half of the year.

But again, the caution, of course, is given ADP's size and our $14 billion in revenue, this is not something that is a 1- or 2-year horizon story. This is -- in terms of impact on ADP, it's a long-term investment and is expected to have a really long-term and positive impact on our competitiveness.

But we shouldn't be expecting, in fact, I would say -- it's fair to say that in the short term, we really create some financial pressure because we're putting a lot of -- besides the R&D investments that we've made over the last 4 or 5 years, now we're investing heavily in sales distribution and implementation. And as you know, and especially in the upmarket, that doesn't translate into revenues until 6, 12, 18 months down the road depending on the size and complexity of the client.

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Kathleen A. Winters, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - Corporate VP & CFO [13]

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Yes. So we had given a range of sales units that we had expected, and we were at the high end of that range that we had given. And as Carlos said, we've been adding to sales and implementation team there, but we'll continue to do so during the course of 2020, for sure. So yes, we'll start to get more feedback during the course of the year as we do these pilots with the clients, and we'll keep you updated on that.

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [14]

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And I think since you were, I think, very specifically talking about Lifion, but I think it's worth also mentioning we have a couple of other next-gen projects that are progressing quite well as well. One of them is more back office, our tax engine, but that's very exciting because, I think, it should lead to some real scale and efficiency gains there and more flexibility for our service organization also for our clients.

But our new payroll -- next-generation payroll solution is also kind of progressing well. I think we have around a dozen clients again in pilot. That's also a global platform with a rules-based engine. We -- we're very excited about that in terms of the flexibility that it will give us in terms of our core business around payroll, and that's also progressing quite well. And I think we are intending to ramp up our sales implementation resources on that front also.

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Lisa Ann Dejong Ellis, MoffettNathanson LLC - Partner [15]

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Okay. Well, I'm excited about your new tax engine. Different topic. In your 2020 guidance, you're forecasting again about 2.5% pays per control growth, which implies a pretty robust outlook on the U.S. economy. Can you highlight what you're seeing in your underlying numbers that's giving you that level of confidence as you look out into 2020?

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [16]

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It's a very fair question. I'd say the -- given that we're not economists and don't have a crystal ball, probably, the biggest factor we look at is trend and momentum. And I think we had 2.7% in the fourth quarter, if I'm not mistaken just to check. And I think it was 2-point something...

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Christian Greyenbuhl, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - VP of Investor Relation [17]

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It's 2.8%.

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [18]

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2.8% before that. So we -- we're believers that when it comes to the economy, the economy behaves somewhat similar to ADP, which is things don't change that quickly overnight, unless there is, of course, some kind of external shock.

So could that number end up exiting at a lower rate by the end of the year due to an economic slowdown? I mean, that's up to the economists to forecast and to predict. But based on what we're seeing, like, in the trends and the momentum, we just issued our employment report actually this morning, and it was once again, I think, kind of in the target, if you will. I think it was 150,000-something jobs.

So it feels like there's still some gas in the tank. And when we look at labor force participation there, we do -- even though we're not economists, we do look at these things. And yes, unemployment is very low and that should make it a little bit harder to find people, but there are still a lot of people out there.

And I know there are explanations around the baby boomers retiring and so forth, but it appears every month that we and the government and everyone else is surprised by the ability to bring more people into the workforce. So we think that, at least, for the next couple of quarters, that feels like a good bet. And I think beyond that, probably up to the economists.

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Operator [19]

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And our next question comes from Bryan Keane with Deutsche Bank.

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Bryan Connell Keane, Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division - Research Analyst [20]

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Just wanted to ask on Employee Services growth. I know at the Analyst Day, we talked about 5% to 6%. It's only modestly different now, 4% to 5% and just the different factors going into that guide now from what we've learned over the last year. And also, I think, Kathleen, you talked a little bit about beating expectations and revenue, which had some impact as well.

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [21]

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Yes. I think that I'll let Kathleen talk about the math. But just as a overall big picture, again, as we get further away from Investor Day, there's a lot of things that go into the mix. For Employer Services, for example, we do now include client funds interest in Employer Services. And so we're getting slightly less contribution from that in '20 versus Investor Day and versus '19.

We also have a little bit of FX pressure that, obviously, it's not something that we forecasted at Investor Day. So I think those generally would explain -- I think over the 2 years of '19 and '20, I would say that Employer Services growth is in line with Investor Day.

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Kathleen A. Winters, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - Corporate VP & CFO [22]

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Yes. I don't really have anything to add further. I mean, those are the factors. As Carlos mentioned, there's various puts and takes, but generally in line with those expectations.

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Bryan Connell Keane, Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division - Research Analyst [23]

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Okay. And just as a follow-up. Wanted to ask about the M&A pipeline and what you guys might be looking at to continue to add and supplement to the portfolio.

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [24]

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Well, we -- this fourth quarter, the client list acquisition that we made, I think, peaked our interest in using our capital in more than just kind of the traditional organic fashion. And we did do a few acquisitions. If you recall, we acquired Global Cash Card. We just acquired Celergo, WorkMarket.

So we planted some seeds, and some of those were really investments in the future. So call it, 2, 3, 5, 10 years down the road, WorkMarket, as an example, we're incredibly excited about strategically, but it's just -- and because of its size in relation to the size of ADP, today, it doesn't really change the numbers a lot. But it could down the road. It's a very large market for freelancers out there.

So the question is, besides that, are there things that we can use our capital for that would have a greater impact on the kind of short-term revenue, if you will? And we're certainly interested in looking, but we're also highly disciplined, right, in terms of requiring the right kinds of returns.

And as you know, the bar for us is -- one of our bars is that we are trying to avoid adding a lot of additional platforms because we've been working very, very hard to rationalize platforms and to migrate clients onto our strategic platforms.

So that does create a little bit of a high bar, but it doesn't mean that we wouldn't be willing, in some extraordinary circumstance, to make an exception. If it was a very strategic opportunity, we may be willing to spend the time and the effort to migrate clients off of an existing platform onto our platform, like we did with Global Cash Card, as an example.

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Operator [25]

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And our next question comes from Mark Marcon with R.W. Baird.

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Mark Steven Marcon, Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division - Senior Research Analyst [26]

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You had really nice progress with regards to the client retention improvement. I'm wondering if you can talk about how broad-based that was. It sounds like there was really good improvement on the mid-market, but wondering to what extent that extended to the other areas. And then you're looking for some more improvement going forward. I'm wondering if that's expected to be broad-based or how we should think about that.

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [27]

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So yes, a little bit of color is that the reason we called out -- as we usually do, we try to call out the 1 or 2 things that are the most significant in terms of moving the numbers. But whether it's with retention or other parts of our business, the rest of the business is performing relatively well. It's very hard to generate that kind of improvement.

So in terms of additional color, in our SBS business, as an example, we had record-high retention, but it was off of what was already a very high retention rate, so it was what I'll call a modest improvement in retention, but frankly, very satisfying because we're trying -- we try to stay away from quarterly or specific business segment discussions about retention because there is -- there can be volatility in those numbers. But to see the SBS retention improve on top of where they already were after 5 years of improvement was very satisfying.

But the real standout was really our mid-market business, and it really performed according to script. So we -- as you know, we went through some very difficult times in 2017 with the combination of ACA happening right in the middle of when we were trying to migrate our clients off of our legacy platforms onto our current version of Workforce Now.

And what we said at the time was that we wanted -- the script was we wanted to follow what happened in our down-market business where we consolidated and migrated all of our clients onto one single platform called RUN. And after that, for 4 or 5 years, we had very healthy increases in retention, very healthy increases in new business bookings and just great performance in the business around margins.

And so for fiscal year '19, we're very happy that our mid-market business followed that part of the script of really taking the benefits of a simpler environment, both for our associates and for our clients. And we're hoping that there's more gas in the tank.

And then the rest of the business performed, I would say, well. We don't have any -- I don't think there are any places where we have -- that rises to the occasion of us mentioning that we had a big dip in retention in Employer Services.

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Mark Steven Marcon, Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division - Senior Research Analyst [28]

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That's great. And then it sounds like there's a lot of excitement around on-demand pay. I'm wondering, when we think about the concept and the promise that that holds, how should we gauge that relative to being realistic in terms of when it's actually going to really generate a material revenue? How do you envision that rolling out over the next 2 to 5 years?

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [29]

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My instinct would tell me slowly and with very little impact. But it could be important competitively. And so I think being able to provide these solutions in a market where, again, we already have a very large new business bookings number and we have every year to grow that number, we need to every weapon in the arsenal.

So we are still very positive and optimistic about that business and -- but over the course of a couple of years, I would say, I would have modest expectations around financial impact. Longer term, we have a lot of -- we didn't buy Global Cash Card without keeping in the back of our minds that this was a potential very large opportunity for us down the road. But again, I hate to sound like a broken record, but in relation to the size of ADP, we look at all these things over the course of 3, 5, 7 years rather than what's it going to do in the next couple of years.

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Mark Steven Marcon, Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division - Senior Research Analyst [30]

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I appreciate that. And then lastly, just on the PEO side. Any changes in the market that you can discern, Carlos, with regards to just when we take a look at WSE growth and how we should expect trends to unfold? Or any regional differences? Anything that's changed with regards to the promise there?

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [31]

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No. I mean, I think it's still a little bit of the same -- a similar story where we do say and the industry says the same thing every year, but it's still true that it's a relatively underpenetrated market. So I think there's no lack of opportunity in terms of addressable market out there.

I think the key is really being very disciplined about your health care and your workers' compensation, so that you have a truly long-term, sustainable and viable business model. And I think we've tried to follow that approach by taking no risk on our health benefits and being very disciplined and careful on workers' comp where we have indemnity, which is run by corporate, which provides the pricing to our PEO and frankly, where we also offload most of that risk. As you know, in our 10-K, we fully disclose the way we collar basically that risk to a relatively small number.

So I think the key is just really focusing on the value proposition and not getting distracted by the short-term fluctuations and volatility of health care costs. And I think that's served us well, and that's what we're going to continue to do.

We have obviously inherent advantage in -- that we try to exploit of having a very large installed base and a very large referral network called the ADP Salesforce outside of the PEO. And so you heard us talk last year about tweaking these incentives in the mid-market. We had -- we got great results from that. We had double-digit growth in referrals from our mid-market business. I think you saw it translate into really good results in our new business bookings. I think we talked about double-digit bookings growth in the PEO for the year.

So we're feeling pretty good about the PEO business. And I think nothing that I can see has changed dramatically. The environment, compared to 3 or 4 years ago, there's less rhetoric around regulatory issues and obviously ACA. People go back and forth on that. But there's enough state and local regulation that small companies deal with that it's a target-rich environment for whether it's a PEO or some of our other traditional services. It's very hard to be a small employer out there.

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Operator [32]

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And our next question comes from Samad Samana with Jefferies.

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Samad Saleem Samana, Jefferies LLC, Research Division - Equity Analyst [33]

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I'm curious -- when you think about the $1.6 billion of bookings that you added in fiscal '19, I'm curious if maybe you can give some color on the composition when you think about it as core payroll versus some of the additional offerings that are in Employer Services. What was particularly strong? And what drove the outperformance relative to expectations? And then I have one follow-up question.

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [34]

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I'm sorry. Back to the beginning of your question, are you talking about 2019?

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Samad Saleem Samana, Jefferies LLC, Research Division - Equity Analyst [35]

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Yes. So fiscal '19, as you think about the strong bookings performance within Employer Services, if you think by product or by the services that are offered in Employer Services, was there anything that stood out in particular that was particularly strong and/or that drove the outperformance?

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [36]

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Yes. And I think we -- we're kind of generally in line with the last couple of years about where we were in terms of about 60-40 in terms of the breakdown between new and upsell opportunity, and that's kind of not that far off from our historic numbers.

But a couple of other places where we had good results, we talked about SBS in the down-market. They were on a great trajectory to begin with. And I think the client list conversion "acquisition" that we did at the end of the year helped that even more. So we had just really great results in SBS. But our international business did well also particularly because of the MNC multinational sales that we have with GlobalView and Celergo streamline. So that was also a big positive.

And frankly, our domestic upmarket business did pretty well. We had a good -- they had a good year on new business bookings, so we were pleased with that. So we had -- I would say, probably, SBS is probably the standout with some tailwind because of the client list acquisition, but I think we had broad-based strength.

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Samad Saleem Samana, Jefferies LLC, Research Division - Equity Analyst [37]

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Great. And then just a follow-up on the additional $26 million of savings expected from the changes internally to the structure to make things more streamlined. I'm curious if that's something that's part of a -- more to come. Or is that maybe the last of what you see as restructuring that's needed as part of driving efficiencies?

Or how should we think about that in the context of that new $26 million and then with the $150 million of savings driven by the -- is there additional other efficiencies that the company thinks they can drive from that perspective?

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Kathleen A. Winters, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - Corporate VP & CFO [38]

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Yes. Thanks for your question, Samad. Just to clarify, the $26 million was the charge we took, the severance charge in Q4 of 2019 related to the workforce optimization, if you will, efforts in terms of looking at spans and layers and so forth. That will drive -- in addition to that, plus the procurement work we're doing, will drive about $100 million of savings in fiscal 2020.

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [39]

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And I would say that -- just to add a little bit of color to it because your comment about are we done with kind of trying to look for efficiency gains or are we done with the restructuring, the answer is no. I think that the -- we're a very large complex global organization. And I think we have a lot of opportunity for improvement.

We probably always will, but I think, in the short term, we have a lot of opportunity just because of what we're seeing with the capabilities of our new platforms, as an example. They really, I think, highlight the opportunities we have for automation, for digitization and for efficiency. And so we intend to continue to stay on that path here for some time to come. So I think we're -- the answer is we're not done. I think we still have a lot out there.

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Kathleen A. Winters, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - Corporate VP & CFO [40]

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Yes. I mean and just to kind of add on to it a little bit more. There's really a lot of energy and alignment, and those 2 things together are really important. A lot of energy and alignment in the organization around doing this transformation work, and there's -- it's a lot of hard work.

There's a lot of execution work going on, but there's also a lot of work around developing the pipeline, what are the next set of projects that we're doing in areas like -- is there potentially more on procurement, is there more in terms of how we utilize our facilities, automation projects? I mean, there's a whole, whole host of things that we can look at here.

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Operator [41]

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Our next question is from David Grossman with Stifel.

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David Michael Grossman, Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, Research Division - MD [42]

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Carlos, you've done a good job of outlining how the operational changes that have been made at ADP over the last 2 years as well as describing the new product initiatives underway. How should we think about which of these will be most impactful to revenue growth over the next 12 to 24 months?

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [43]

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I don't mean to insult you, but I don't spend a lot of time thinking about the next 12 months because the -- like this thing is -- ADP is the -- from a recurring revenue standpoint, the momentum that we have is hopefully discernible, right, in terms of when you look at retention, you look at new business bookings and you look at the momentum of our business, we tend to spend more time on the kind of 24 months and beyond time frame.

But having said that, I think some of the recent acquisitions that we made over the last couple of years, I think, are strengthening our product line. I think that the next-generation products that are actually really getting sold now and getting implemented have the ability to start really moving the needle on new business bookings. But those have relatively modest impacts on our overall revenues just because of the size of the business.

So it's not because of lack of excitement around the things that we are doing that I say that the 12-month horizon is really not something that I spend a lot of time on. It's just because of the math, in terms of the way the math operates.

But I think that we have a number of things that we've been working on for -- and it's not really just over the last couple of years. We've focused a lot on the last couple of years around kind of increasing the pace of change, moving faster and also becoming a little bit more incrementally efficient, whether it was through the voluntary retirement, through the strategic alignment initiatives or some of the other things that we've done.

But I think our sales force, our products and the rest of our business continues to execute at a very high level. And fortunately, now we're getting that -- the benefit of those -- that execution, plus we're getting reasonable margin improvement because of some of these actions that we've taken. So we're very happy and very satisfied with the performance, and I don't expect to be any less satisfied over the next 12 months.

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David Michael Grossman, Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, Research Division - MD [44]

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Right. I think the spirit of the question was operationally, obviously, you've done a great job, which has impacted retention and service levels, which obviously impacts also new sales.

I guess, I was just trying to understand whether or not some of the product initiatives could in fact be more impactful, if you will, over the next 24 months or so. Or do you think it's going to be just kind of an even kind of contribution as it's always been over the last several years?

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [45]

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Well, since you mentioned 24 months, that's a different story. So I do think that given the ramp and the -- kind of the lines that we have on the charts -- on the graph, if you will, of what we expect from our next-gen products, I would expect that over the 24-month horizon, there will be a measurable impact, particularly on new business bookings from next-gen.

But in the -- kind of the 12-month time frame, the things we've done for example around moving Workforce Now into the upmarket, I think, has been incredibly impactful and helpful in the upmarket competitively for us. We're also using our Workforce Now platform and the PEO now and our HRO business, which has been incredibly impactful. So now we have a very large next-gen platform because we consider Workforce Now to be next-gen as well to be out there competitively. So that's very helpful.

This retention improvement that we've talked about, beneath the surface of that is really big improvements in NPS scores, client satisfaction and reference ability. And I think that probably -- that alone has the single biggest potential impact on our sales force and our growth because we have a very large distribution network out there. And any improvement in productivity for them because of any kind of tailwind, and I think the reputation and reference ability and client satisfaction can provide that tailwind, I think, can really move the needle.

And then lastly, the RUN platform, our downmarket platform just continues to execute incredibly well. And they continue to innovate, and we have a couple of things cooking there as well in terms of things in the downmarket that we think could also strengthen our hand in the marketplace as well there.

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David Michael Grossman, Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, Research Division - MD [46]

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Great. And just one other question really just on cyclicality. I -- just looking at the headlines from your report this morning and some of the reports from Paychex and their monthly report over the last several months, it looks like small business hiring is challenged with the tight labor markets. And is that typical for the stage of the cycle? And have you seen any impact of that in your downmarket business or the PEO?

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [47]

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I -- you catch me with a little bit of a disadvantage to that. I don't think I even looked at my own employment report. I looked at the headline numbers, which is 150-something thousand, but it sounds like there was something about small business employment slowing there. But I don't -- I think that based on kind of the trend, if you will, over multiple months, I don't think there's anything really to read there. It is true that our pays per control number comes largely as a -- from a subset of our AutoPay payroll engine, which is -- does not include SBS. But we're not really seeing anything -- I mean, our impact would be -- or we would feel it if there was a big issue in SBS. We have pays per control growth in SBS of 1.7 for the year. I'm not sure if I have prior years that I could compare that to, but it's positive and it's growing.

And the question about the cycle, we probably have some data that I have to go back and look at, but that's probably more of a question for economists in terms of what turns down first. Is it large employer hiring? Or is it small business hiring? It's -- I'm not sure that I have that one at the top of my -- on my fingertips. But there's really nothing...

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Christian Greyenbuhl, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - VP of Investor Relation [48]

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It's roughly comparable to last year's growth rate. And SBS pays per control is roughly comparable to this year's.

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [49]

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Yes. Pays per -- yes, so that -- it feels similar-ish. It doesn't mean that it can't fluctuate from month to month because I don't want to contradict our employment report. But in this kind of economy, I just don't think that there's so much demand out there. And you saw the consumer spending numbers and you see what's happening in the consumer sector, a lot of small business served that part of the economy, it's just -- it's hard to believe that the small business employment is going to have a dramatic slowdown here anytime in the near future.

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Operator [50]

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And our next question is from James Schneider with Goldman Sachs.

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James Edward Schneider, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division - VP [51]

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Carlos, good to see the retention improvement in fiscal '19, the 40 basis points. If you go back and look at fiscal '19 by segment, downmarket, mid-market and upmarket and clearly, you've talked about the downmarket having done better for some time, did the mid-market retention kind of perform to your expectations? And as you look into fiscal '20, where do you expect kind of the lion share of the retention improvement to come from?

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [52]

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The mid-market really outperformed our expectations in fiscal year '19. The way we build our plan for '20 is, even though there are probably some tweaks here or there, we are getting back to kind of close to record high client retention. So there would be, I would considered -- I would call them modest improvements expected in various parts of our business and others kind of flattish because we just want to be realistic about the potential for retention in the absence of, for example, some large chains. So as an example, in the mid-market, we expect further improvements because we continue to still get benefits from the migrations and the consolidation of our platforms there.

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Kathleen A. Winters, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - Corporate VP & CFO [53]

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Yes. It's pretty modest. As we said, 10 to 20 basis points improvement for next year, and it's spread pretty evenly across the board, across the different market segments. And there's always puts and takes, but it's pretty evenly spread in terms of where that improvement comes from. And as you're at these high levels and particularly, in small business being at record highs, the higher you go, the harder it is to get that incremental retention improvement. But obviously, it's something we're continuing to focus on.

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [54]

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And just one last little piece of color. When -- I did go back and look at where our retention rates were over the last, call it, 10 years. And we are now at a higher retention rate than we were precrisis. So if you look at '06 and '07, our retention rate was actually lower in Employer Services than it is today, despite the fact that the mix of our business is more heavily tilted now towards our downmarket business than our upmarket business. And that's, in large part, as a result of the outperformance, if you will.

So we've -- our downmarket business has grown faster over the last 10 years than our upmarket and mid-market business. And the downmarket business has a lower natural retention rate just because of out of business and bankruptcies and so forth. And so even though SBS is at record highs, that retention rate we've told you before is still lower than the mid-market and upmarket retention rates. So the fact that the overall ADP retention is higher today than it was precrisis, despite what is a very -- a much larger downmarket business, I think it is impressive.

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James Edward Schneider, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division - VP [55]

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It's good to see. And then on the PEO business, I think, Carlos, you called out a couple of items related to some increased client churn in the quarter. Can you maybe kind of talk about what drove some of that? Was it specific offerings? Was it competitive? Was it pricing? And I guess, how do you feel about kind of improving that metric going forward in the next couple of quarters?

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [56]

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That's a good question. We spent some time kind of trying to find the silver bullet there in terms of what kind of drove this. And I think it feels like some of it was the health care renewal, which is not out of line with historical norms. And just remember that for us, from a health care standpoint, we take no risk on health care. So we pass through whatever health care cost we have. I would say that '18 was the anomaly, where we had a lower-than-normal health care renewal. And then now, we are back to kind of a more normal health care renewal, and that may have had some impact in terms of client shopping because it's a relatively large part of the overall employment -- employer cost. But we looked at it. We sliced and diced it by size of client, by industry, by geography, et cetera, and it's hard to find a pattern. Now I happen to think that's good news because that means that we think it will potentially -- something that we can work our way out of and reaccelerate the growth there.

But the renewals were actually in line with our expectations. So last year is when we were pleasantly surprised, so it's the old story of maybe, there's a little bit of a grow-over issue for the clients themselves because we got a little overexcited about the good news last year. Now even though these health care inflation rates are back to kind of historical norms, it still compares to what was better the previous year. But there may be other noises that I'm not aware in the system, but I can't really put my finger on anything that's permanent or worth kind of mentioning.

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Operator [57]

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And our next question will be from Tien-Tsin Huang with JPMorgan.

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Tien-Tsin Huang, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division - Senior Analyst [58]

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Just on the margin outlook. I'm curious, if we were to go back to that nice margin walk that you provided at the Analyst Day, curious what's left to do to get to that 23% and 25%. I know you're rebasing it here with 606 and what have you. But what's left to do? I know that voluntary retirement is mostly done. It sounds like Service Alignment is mostly done. Where is the focus from here?

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Kathleen A. Winters, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - Corporate VP & CFO [59]

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Yes. So as we mentioned a little bit earlier, we've just been looking at kind of org structure, if you will, and looking at spans and layers. And so that will benefit us. And I think we're doing some procurement work, but I think there's a lot more to go on the procurement side. And as I said, the organization is really energized around not only executing what we have, but saying, "what else can we put in the pipeline?" So we've got some things near -- that will help us near term in the pipeline. And then we're working really hard to say, "Okay. What helps us 2 years out and 3 years out and after that?" And there could be a lot of automation work that we can do across the organization, whether its front line or back office. I think there's a lot yet to go in terms of identifying those opportunities. So a lot of execution work we still have to do, and we'll be working a lot on identifying new things, too.

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [60]

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And I think to be a little bit more -- to be even more explicit, the transformation office that we've set up, and I think as Kathleen mentioned, the whole management team, I think, is committed to kind of this increased pace of change, I think, that we've been talking about. So to be very clear, we actually have initiatives for '21 already. So we -- that's '21. I wasn't -- I didn't misspeak there. So even though we're talking about '20 in terms of financial guidance, we're meeting and talking now about things that we're working on during fiscal year 2020 that will have an impact on '21. And it's a number of different initiatives. We're not ready to talk about them because we're just not at that stage yet. But you should expect us to be talking about things that we're working on along the lines of what Kathleen mentioned, and we have those things already in process of getting ramped up. And some of them require investments and that's built into our operating plan as well.

On the negative side, even though we've done all these positive things back to the Investor Day, since you were asking about Investor Day and getting to the margin, one thing that's not going to help us is if interest rates stay at the same levels as they are today, that would be reasonably heavy headwind for us in '21. If you go back to Investor Day, I think you can do the math we provided you with what we expected the balances to be and what the forward curves we're saying at that time. And unfortunately, the forward curves are saying something different now. Of course, we have our optimistic hats on. And even though short-term rates might come down, that's less of an impact on us than kind of the midterm rate. So if the 3s, 5s and 7s move up a little bit as a result of, hopefully, continued economic activity and a more positive outlook about the future and about inflation, we could get some recovery there.

But as it stands today, I think we were very clear that we have about a $30 million delta for '20 versus Investor Day. And if it's $30 million for '20, I can guarantee you, it's a bigger number for '21. And I think the math is relatively straight forward.

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Kathleen A. Winters, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - Corporate VP & CFO [61]

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Yes. I think if you just assume the same forward curve that we see today, if you assume that, you'd be in about the same level of interest in '21 as we're expecting in '20.

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [62]

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Like I said, we have a lot of stuff cooking, so we're not -- we -- we're -- we've learned to be agile. We've learned to be adept. And we will adjust to the environment, if necessary. And just as a point of reference, in terms of being able to adjust, I will just point out that I took some notes here last night that we went -- in precrisis, our yield -- our average yield on client funds was 4.5% on approximately, I think, it was $15 billion or $16 billion in balances. And the yield on our client funds went all the way down to 1.7% before now getting back to 2.2%. And so if we were able to grow through and improve margins and improve profit going from 4.5% yield to 1.7%, I think we'll be okay because the good news is from 2.2% to 0% is less than 4.5% to 1.7%. So even if we go to 0%, ADP will continue to chug along. We'll continue to grow, and we'll continue to find ways to generate margin.

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Tien-Tsin Huang, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division - Senior Analyst [63]

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Yes. No, I know you're thoughtful about what you can control. So just really, really quick, I promise, just on the PEO side. I know there are a lot of questions. We've seen a couple of assets trade, Carlos, on the last year or so. I'm curious, did that change your thinking on maybe wanting to scale up in PEO?

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [64]

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The -- I'm sorry. Say it one more time.

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Tien-Tsin Huang, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division - Senior Analyst [65]

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Yes. So we've seen a couple of acquisitions, right, take place on the PEO front here in the last 9 months or so, if I'm counting right. Just curious if that changed you're thinking on wanting to maybe do a deal or not.

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [66]

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All right. I misunderstood. I heard trading. I thought you were referring to something.

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Tien-Tsin Huang, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division - Senior Analyst [67]

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Yes. Sorry, it's just my silly speak.

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [68]

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That's all right, that's all right. The -- I think we have the same, I think, position that we had all along, which is we have capital. We -- after paying dividends and after modest share buybacks, we have excess capital, and we would love to deploy it. And I think we love the PEO business. But again, at the risk of a broken record, we're highly disciplined and [sensitive] about price, which matters in terms of what you pay in terms of valuation. But in the PEO business, there's another dimension of discipline around the quality of the business that you're buying because, again, most of our competitors take more risk than we do and that creates the potential for more volatility in their business. And so whether or not these assets that are trading that's fully contemplated or recognized, only history will tell. But we understand this business fairly well. And we -- I guess, I will leave it at that. I think we are just careful about making sure that, that's factored into any kind of due diligence, and it is what it is. So we are where we are, but we would love to find an opportunity to grow our PEO business inorganically if the opportunity were to arise.

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Operator [69]

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And ladies and gentlemen, this concludes our Q&A portion for today. I am pleased to hand the program over to Carlos Rodriguez for his closing remarks.

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Carlos A. Rodriguez, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. - CEO, President & Director [70]

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So I want to thank everybody for joining us today. We obviously had a strong year. You could hear our optimism. And hopefully, it came through. We have a lot of stuff going on. We executed on our voluntary early retirement program. We're very excited. It didn't come up in the call, but our new brand platform, I think, is important. It's something that is new to us as a company. And I think we think that could incrementally help our sales force and make them more productive.

And we talked a little bit about all that we have going on with our next-generation solutions, which, I think, should power ADP for the next 3, 5, 10 years and hopefully, more years to come with these global platforms. And last thing I'll say is for those of you who are not aware, we actually reached our 70th birthday this year as a company. And it's not every company that survives that long. And I thought it was -- just a second to reflect on what is it about ADP that has allowed it to make it through so many technology changes, through so many economic cycles. And I'd say that the one thing that I keep coming back to is the commitment of our organization to focus on our clients and to deliver value to them and to deliver service, I think, is probably the thing that all of my predecessors would say, and I would reiterate, is the key to our success. And we've done that by staying focused on our associates, by staying focused on what they need, by listening to them and supporting them. And they then delivered the outstanding products and the outstanding service that we delivered to our clients who then stick around with us and deliver great returns for our shareholders. And so it's been a great run for 70 years for our company. I thank all of our associates who, today, continue to carry the torch and continue to execute and work hard on our strategy to take us forward. We remain incredibly optimistic and positive about the future, and we really appreciate your support and your interest in ADP. Thanks, again, for joining us and appreciate it. Thank you.

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Operator [71]

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And with that, ladies and gentlemen, we conclude the call. You may now disconnect. Good day, everyone.