Bring many of the industry’ leading minds together with brokers and advisers from across the country who are eager to learn and share insights on the latest market trends and best practices, and you’ve got some of the year’s most thought-provoking conversations. For those who missed out, here are the highlights from EBA’s 2015 conferences.  

Workplace Benefits Renaissance

  • Improving benefit communications to encompass all areas of employee compensation while utilizing multigenerational mediums — such as text messaging and social media — is a challenge for advisers, but it’s also an imperative, Ciro Giue, vice president and practice leader of voluntary & worksite benefits for Hub International, told attendees at February’s Workplace Benefits Renaissance. See:  “Why one-size-fits-all benefit communications don’t work.”
  • Competitive threats to the benefit distribution system are nothing new, John Sarich, VP, corporate strategy at VUE Software, said at the Atlantic City, N.J., show, but that doesn’t mean advisers can sit idly by and still expect their business to function successfully.  See:  “How advisers can stay competitive in a changing market.”
  • The latest data from Eastbridge Consulting Group show brokers are benefiting the most from the continuing growth of voluntary benefits, and Bonnie Brazzell and Gil Lowerre shared how brokers can further capitalize on their position in the field.  See:Brokers in the power seat with voluntary benefits.”

Private Healthcare Exchanges

  • Waiting to see how others fair by switching to a private exchange is not a viable business strategy for advisers, Perry Braun, executive director of United Benefit Advisors, told the audience at Chicago’s Private Healthcare Exchanges conference in July.  See:Why waiting is no longer an option.”
  • There are three types of benefit brokers in today’s marketplace, but business is shifting such that only one will remain, predicted Ernie Harris, executive vice president of Maestro Health. See:Which of the three broker models will make it?
  • Walgreen Co. was one of the first large employers to move to a private exchange and do so successfully —a decision backed by three primary factors, Thomas Sondergeld, vice president of global benefits and marketing told attendees.  See:Why Walgreens moved to a private exchange.”

Workplace Benefits Mania

  • The weight of growing tracking and reporting requirements under the Affordable Care Act is furthering the demand for technology that can keep up.  In the process, the lines between traditional human resource information systems and benefit administration platforms are becoming blurred. However, it is important to maintain a distinction between the two in the interest of ensuring things run smoothly and effectively, Charlie Peluso, CEO of Workplace Solutions, told attendees at Workplace Benefits Mania. See:Redefining benefits administration in a post-ACA era.”
  • Although the name often evokes a visceral reaction from advisers, they should really be thanking Zenefits, rather than fearing the tech startup-turned brokerage, panelists at the Las Vegas show agreed. “Zenefits has done us a favor. They’ve given us a kick start,” said Tanya Boyd, president of the independent agency Tanya Boyd & Associates. See:Should brokers be thanking Zenefits?
  • As hackers increasingly turn their attention away from large corporations and toward smaller companies, advisers must be prepared to keep their employer clients protected, Tinker Kelly, president and CEO of VEBA, said at the July show. There are practical steps advisers can take now to keep client data secure. See:How to protect client data from a cyber-breach.”

Workplace Benefits Summit

  • Self-managed employee benefit plans remain in the majority, but private healthcare exchanges are catching up in popularity. A panel of experts at the Workplace Benefits Summit debated the merits of both systems in a lively discussion that hinted at the future of employee benefits distribution. See:Self-managed plans vs. private exchanges: What’s the future?
  • Voluntary benefit sales and plan integration must increasingly factor into a benefit adviser’s cost containment strategy in the coming decade, Michael Naumann, senior strategic advisor, U.S. Broker Sales, at Aflac told attendees at the September show. He shared emerging strategies for brokers to ensure clients see them as an innovative solution provider. See:Emerging strategies for brokers include voluntary benefit sales.”
  • Recent headline-making mergers between leading health insurance carriers have introduced a lot of questions about the future competitiveness of the market, but these moves by large corporations could spur smaller firms to introduce some market disrupting innovations to keep up, panelists at the Orlando conference said. See:Health insurer consolidation threatens competition, but could spur innovation


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