Although concerned about challenges in the business environment, brokers and consultants are confident they will find a variety of ways to prosper, according to MetLife’s Broker and Consultant Study released last week.

In fact, almost three-fourths (71%) anticipate that three years from now their clients will rely on their services even more than they do today — reflecting the expectation that emerging challenges for employers will reveal new opportunities for brokers and consultants to provide value.

The positive viewpoint varied somewhat across the size spectrum of adviser firms. More than half of benefits brokers and consultants with large clients are very optimistic about the potential for growth of their firms as well as one-third of those with small and mid-sized customers.

Only a quarter of brokers and consultants with large clients and 12% with small and mid-sized clients are very optimistic about the benefits industry as a whole. Almost three-quarters are very concerned about their commissions being reduced with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, three out of five surveyed feel that in the next three years employer-paid insurance will still provide an important growth opportunity.

“With new challenges for employers often come new opportunities for those brokers and consultants who can bring creative solutions to the table,” says Anthony J. Nugent, executive vice president of MetLife. “While wary of how health care reform might change their own business operations as well as those of their clients, four out of five benefits brokers and consultants say their firms are actively exploring new models and strategies in order to stay relevant and pursue growth opportunities. The optimism expressed by many firms about their own futures indicates confidence in their ability to successfully meet these challenges.”

MetLife Vice President Dr. Ron Leopold further suggests that some course of action is necessary for advisers to survive.

“The convergence of economic issues and health care reform is reshaping the benefits landscape, and demanding agile navigational skills from brokers, consultants, and their clients alike,” he says. “The key to growth for brokerage and consulting firms will be the ability to differentiate one’s self from the competition.”

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