As if the twin threats posed by the advent of health care reform and the incursion into the benefits business by payroll administration vendors are not enough, producers should prepare for a third threat: the large HR consulting firms.

After struggling with declining revenues for several years, large national consulting firms like Aon Hewitt, Mercer, and Buck are setting their sights on the employee benefits marketplace, says Jim Christenson, Field Vice President, Northeast, at Allstate. Because of their deep resources, says Christenson, these firms “can offer nearly unlimited value” to their clients. Essentially they will seek to follow a path that has worked before in the industry – adapting services designed for large-employer clients and moving into the mid-market and small-employer markets.

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