Recently, NPR and ProPublica published an article about the lack of transparency among brokers who advise employers about employee benefits. It echoed many of the experiences I have had over the past 30+ years in the industry.
I remember when I was toying with the idea of starting Rally Partners, my desire for transparency was one of the driving factors—I wanted to build relationships with clients that were more than just transactional. I knew that the industry was “broken” and wanted to change how employers and employees viewed benefits advisors.
With rising healthcare costs and a cultural mentality of “what’s in it for me,” I view it as my role—and obligation—to show clients just what they get for their money. It can be so much more than they have come to expect.
I believe that the role of a benefits advisor is to do just that: advise. Historically, benefits brokers only met with clients once or twice a year for plan review and open enrollment. For that limited amount of work, they received hefty commissions.
That just never sat well with me.
It may have been industry standard, but I felt that I owed my clients more for what I was being paid—and honestly, my skills and knowledge were being underutilized.
At Rally Partners, we truly take on an advisory role with our clients, many of whom are SMBs. They are often understaffed and under-resourced when it comes to all things HR. We work as a partner and extension of their team to help ease some of that burden by leveraging our resource partners to support their business needs.
Redefining Employee Benefits
Employee benefits consist of so much more than just health insurance—but many employers don’t know what they don’t know. Education about what’s available in the market is a crucial part of the process when helping to design the best overall benefits offering—and so is making sure that clients and employees understand which are right for them.
It is clear that the work day is no longer just 9 to 5, so we must look for solutions to address this new world of work. In fact, studies have shown that benefits programs can now help make a difference in attracting and retaining employees.
Technology for the Win
If employers and advisors alike are not leveraging technology to help drive their businesses, they are missing a huge opportunity. Human Capital Management (HCM) technology needs to be a part of any company’s strategy. From payroll to time and attendance to benefits administration, employees have increasingly come to expect 24/7 access from their mobile devices. I love finding ways to help clients identify and/or optimize the technology solutions that best fit their industry and business goals.
In my mind, the ultimate goal is to build a long-term client relationship. If advisors don’t let that factor into their recommendations, they will always be on the hunt for new business. I would much rather be finding ways to enhance my partnership with a client than have to find a way to replace their business.
I know that Rally Partners and I are not alone in this mission. Whether being paid an advisory fee from a client or a commission from a carrier, there are other firms out there who are also looking to make an impact, not just a buck. Employers and employees deserve more.