5 things benefit advisers can be thankful for
As education efforts on the importance of saving adequately for retirement intensify, employers and their employees are finding increasing value in an adviser who can provide retirement services. The good news, says Fred Barstein, executive director of The Retirement Advisor University, is those advisers who are willing to truly invest in a retirement practice will quickly move ahead of those who just dabble in the field. Because few competitors sell DC plans, the adviser with a multiple disciplinary practice has an advantage, says Barstein. Selling different products to current clients is easier and cheaper than selling new clients current products or services leveraging administrative staff as well as technology across a greater revenue base.
Sure, there are many aspects to health care reform that are damaging to a benefit brokers business, but the overwhelming need of employers for compliance assistance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act presents an unprecedented opportunity for brokers to rise to the level of trusted adviser and find new revenue in the process. Due to both the onerous compliance burden that PPACA is about to place on employers and clients' unfamiliarity with the new regulations, the agency that gets out ahead of the process should be able to offer this compliance service for a fee, says Nelson Griswold, president, Bottom Line Solutions. The key is to roll out a turnkey PPACA compliance program to clients and prospects now. A turnkey service can be a major differentiator ... if you're fast and first to market.
Groups such as the National Association of Health Underwriters, National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers and Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America are working to insure the interests of agents and brokers have a voice on Capitol Hill. In the wake of the November elections, Jessica Waltman, SVP of government relations with NAHU, reinforced their commitment to passing legislation that would remove broker commissions from PPACAs medical loss ratio calculation: We continue to work on our bi-partisan legislation. Well continue to urge its movement in the lame-duck session. We will continue to raise it, if need be, with the new Congress and continue to work with the administration on the issue so that agents and brokers will be able to continue to serve their individual and employer clients and be compensated in a fair way to do so.
It is undeniable that employers looking to cut health care costs while also providing a rich benefit package for employees are turning to voluntary benefit offerings more and more. This not only gives brokers and advisers an opening to provide more value-added services to retain clients, but also introduces a steady revenue stream that experts predict is likely to grow under health care reform. Theres some great products out there, theres some great underwriting, theres some great commissions to be made, says Dan McNeill, EBAs Voluntary Benefit Adviser of the Year and director of sales at Cornerstone Broker Insurance Services. Claims and customer service with technology has gotten so much better, so I think timing-wise its like the perfect storm for us and our industry.
Lets not forget the reason we work so hard in the first place. Having the chance to work in an industry that provides others with financial support when they need it most, as well as other benefits that make life a little bit easier should not be taken for granted. Being an expert in such a field insures those closest to you will be properly covered as well. I am thankful for a great family and wonderful clients, says Tinker Kelly, president, VEBA.
With much turmoil, change and uncertainty in the employee benefit industry thats coupled nationally with a struggling economy and deeply partisan political environment, it can be understandably difficult to remain positive. But as we head into the holiday season, there is indeed much for benefit advisers and brokers to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and beyond.