I started reading September's EBA by picking the article on page 20, "What construction teaches us about wellness." This article compared building a wellness plan to building a house, and it got my mind running. What a great illustration - I kept thinking about that as I read the rest of the issue. This article made a great point that no two clients are alike, just as no two houses are alike, and our job is to learn the needs and build the best plan for our client.
As advisers, we can offer so many solutions to our clients, just as a homebuilder can offer many options for a home design. We both have to follow rules. We both take separate pieces and build something just right for our clients. We create a design that fits their needs. Why push a shower when the client needs a tub?
Congratulations to EBA's Voluntary Adviser of the Year (p. 32)! Good work, Rob Shestack, and well deserved. We can take great pointers from an industry leader such as Rob. He uses great tools to help his clients. He builds a team that consists of advisers, carriers and enrollment specialists to help build that "dream plan."
I especially like how Rob suggests the consultative approach to tie the voluntary plans into an overall strategy for his client. Just like a homebuilder who educates his client on why the roof needs to be designed in a certain way, Rob is helping his clients learn why voluntary plans are so important and how they add to a plan.
I recently visited Sanibel Island, Fla., and while there I went to a local Rotary Club meeting. I was talking to fellow Rotarians about how their houses survived hurricanes. "It's all in how we build them - strong on the inside," they replied. Reading the article (p.22) about retirement plan design and auto-enrollment ("We need to spoon feed participants") made me think about those strong houses. Employees need to build strong retirement plans from the inside. I agree that auto-enrollment and auto-escalation are good ideas, but if the investment choice is crummy or the participant does not rebalance the plan, it's not strong on the inside. Take it one step further and offer some kind of third-party money management component so that the participant's investment strategy is handled by a pro.
Okay, did you take the PPACA quiz (p. 40)? How did you do?
Homebuilders have to know building codes, easement rules and local laws to build houses. Think of PPACA as your new set of building codes to build benefit plans. Learn them, know them and teach them so you can help build the plans of the future.
There is one big difference between us and homebuilders: Once the home is built, a homebuilder moves on to the next project. A new client is just the beginning of a long-term relationship for us and Amy Carst gave us valuable advice in her article, "Casting the net" (p. 64). It is important that our clients feel we are in their corner and that we stay in touch. The monthly newsletter and timely information should be a regular part of your communication strategy, especially now, with so many changes occurring. And don't forget to let some of yourself shine through - remember that people work with people, and the more human you are, the better.
Reach Bryant, founder of SB&K Benefits, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CORRECTION: In the August article "Take EBA's PPACA Challenge," the answer to question five should have been "True." Under PPACA, break time for nursing mothers is unpaid.
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