As an industry, employee benefit advisers need to do a better job of “advising,” not just brokering, Kimberly Landry, an analyst with LIMRA, said.

Although 65% of small business owners say they purchase employee medical benefits with the help of a broker or agent, many answer “no” when asked if they work with an adviser, she said.

Also see: Satisfaction with benefit adviser shows room for improvement<>

“This means these employers aren’t considering the broker or agent as an adviser,” Landry said Monday during a pre-conference workshop at the Workplace Benefits Renaissance.

That’s a perception the industry needs to change, Diane Goldman, vice president of New Agency Partners, said during the same session. With the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, employers need guidance more than ever and benefit brokers and agents “are going to have to become that trusted adviser,” Goldman said.

During the fourth quarter of 2013, New Agency Partners saw the greatest growth in new business since 2006, “because we were fluid about the [ACA] law,” she told attendees.

If you can walk in the door and differentiate yourself as somebody with knowledge about the reform laws, “you will gain that business,” Goldman said. “If you’re the broker coming in with that knowledge, you’re going to prove your value. They need to get this information from somewhere and it should be from you.”

Landry agreed, telling advisers, “You can’t just be spread-sheeting anymore.”

The level of knowledge about the exchanges is low, she said, with almost half of small employers saying they have no knowledge about them.

“These people need answers,” Landry said, urging adviser to be the ones to “provide them with guidance and solutions.”

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