At a client meeting recently, I heard some wonderful words: "Todd, I like working with you because you don't sell insurance, you sell solutions." Have you heard those words from your clients? If you follow some of the examples from last month's EBA, you just might.


Advisers of the Year

Congratulations to the EBA Advisers of the Year!

Darrell Phillips, Adviser of the Year, sets his company apart with superior service. Tony Madera, Retirement Plan Adviser of the Year, helps employers "know what they don't know" about fiduciary responsibility along with lowering plan costs. Jim Edwards, Health Plan Adviser of the Year, uncovers "hidden surprises" in health plans.

We can all take great ideas and advice in how these winners approach employee benefits.


Tie it all together

There are some great ideas in Nelson Griswold's article, "Driving down medical costs" (p. 30). We are going to be seeing more creative solutions from voluntary carriers to tie into core medical coverage, not just in plan design, but in consultative approaches using three- to five-year strategies. Voluntary enrollments using benefit counselors also are a great way to help solve core enrollment communication issues.

But, as I have said before, do your homework on how all the pieces will fit together. Make sure that communication is clear to employees that the voluntary plans may not cover all of the gaps with a high-deductible medical plan.

Also, not all voluntary products will work with health savings account plans, so check with your voluntary carrier before rolling out a plan to make sure it won't cause problems.


Look for freebies

One solution that I find works great for clients who are trying to stretch their benefits dollars is addressed in Marli D. Riggs' article, "Immediate benefits await" (p. 34). Often, employers already have discount plans through their fully insured medical carrier and don't even know it. Look in the medical plan enrollment guide and often you will find vision, hearing, alternative therapy and weight loss discount plans. I always point these out. Most of the time, if the prior agent was not good at helping communicate benefits, the employer does not know these built-in, no-cost, benefits even exist.

I took on a new client a few years ago that had five vision discount programs! Do your clients know about these freebies?


Don't get trapped

The last article in September's EBA gave valuable advice: Don't get caught in the "commodity trap" (p. 98). This really hit home for me. I get so tired of meeting a prospect for the first time and seeing they have their defenses up because they think I'm just trying to sell them something. Often, they are thrown off guard when I start the conversation this way: "So, tell me about you and the challenges you face." The meeting is all about them, not me. Sometimes I don't even mention products that first meeting.

Mark Lacher hit the nail on the head when he suggested "maybe we haven't done a good enough job of clearly defining our role with our clients." I couldn't agree more. Our role is to learn about our client, study their situation, use our set of tools to help, and be with them every step of the way. Refer back to the EBA Advisers of the Year if this is still not clear to you.

Reach Bryant, founder of SB&K Benefits, at

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