How to morph from broker to consultant

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Want to succeed? “Get out of the business of giving things away,” said Jack Kwicien, principal of Baltimore-based consultancy Daymark Advisors during a Wednesday panel at EBA’s Workplace Benefits Mania is Las Vegas. “You can’t define yourself as an access point to products or services. If you define yourself that way, you will be disintermediated by an exchange. Everyone has access to products. Your differentiator has to be your expertise.”

A simple way to become a consultant is to create a multi-year strategic benefit plan for a client, Kwicien, an EBA columnist, said. “You have to find unique services and processes that you bring to your clients.”

Amy Evans, president of Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based Colibiri Insurance Services, saw the need for consulting and has started working for groups that would normally not be a good fit as clients on the brokerage side of her agency, due to their size.

“You’ll hear ‘consulting’ over and over because you can assess a dollar amount to expertise,” she said. She currently works with a 350-employee company that just had an acquisition and hired her to guide them through the RFP process for a new broker.

That, in return, opened up a whole new group of prospects. “I’ve been doing this business in the Los Angeles area for 20 years and I know lots of key people at large companies that are not a good fit for my broker practice, but great for consulting,” she said. “It has doubled or tripled the client list I can tap into.”

Social media

Another strategy to help advisers thrive is social media, both Evans and Eric Silverman, principal of Bel Air, Md.-based Silverman Benefits Group, said. Social media allows clients and prospects to have an affinity for a broker before meeting them. “It is a great way to develop a prospect list,” said Evans, who made a decision to be active on Twitter and LinkedIn because it was free and, as a single-person agency, she had limited-to-no marketing budget.

Silverman added that he used to Google prospects before meeting with them, but no longer does that because he looks directly at their social accounts. “Try to get to know them,” he said. “It helps when prospecting if you can talk about things they are into.”

“It is incredibly important if you haven’t invested already in a presence on social media to do that,” Evans said, noting she had social media pages before her agency had a website. “It does not have to be complicated or every social media channel. People will get to know you before they meet you if you a have a voice on social media.”

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