Advisers need to get smarter about using benefits tech

NASHVILLE — There is increasingly a push for benefit advisers to bring new technology to clients, but they may need to be more strategic when using it.

Much of the industry is still paper-driven and if brokers want to encourage clients to use new tech, they have to learn to package it in a way that is appealing, said
Ron Goldstein, president and CEO of CHOICE Administrators, a developer and administrator of healthcare exchanges.

“I don’t believe technology is going to retain the business,” he said at Workplace Benefits Renaissance, an Employee Benefit Adviser sponsored event. “What’s really going to work is the package, the broker, the firm, everything you do being coupled with technology.”

Goldstein said that brokers should learn to pay more attention to generational differences among clients and how they like to interact. For example, baby boomers prefer face-to-face communication, while millennials favor online and mobile technology. When approaching clients to bring on a new product or service, advisers need to assess the business owner and whether they are tech savvy.

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“As a broker, how do you bundle the services for your client? Is it a 28-year-old owner, is it a 48-year-old owner?” he said.

See also: Employees feel left behind with HR tech

Brokers also need to assess client size when implementing new tools. Small employers with one to 25 employees, typically have less of a need for benefits technology. Benefits are managed by the owner using tools from the insurance carrier, he said.

By comparison, employers with 50 to 100 employees have a greater need for tech. They rely heavily on a broker or consultant and often use third-party payroll administrators. They also have HR and benefits managers who handle benefits.

But regardless of size, client education is key. Advisers can introduce a new administration system, but if an employer isn’t educated on how it works, it likely won’t be used, he said.

“Technology is really about training,” he said. “We train all day on how to use our technology.”

See also: Alexa, the benefits broker. How advisers can survive the rise of AI

Advisers also need to remember that technology alone won’t drive business. A good benefits administration tool is a nice addition, but employers still value a human connection above all else.

“It’s really not speed, it’s going to be the quality of it,” he said. “What it all comes down to at the end of the day — they’re still people.”

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