When speaking with an experienced and very successful West Coast broker recently, I asked him about his view of voluntary benefits. He said he didn't pay much attention to them since his clients provide plan members with rich group benefit packages.

He's certainly not the only broker in the country who feels this way. However, given the way employee benefits are headed, this type of thinking is short-sighted. It's also potentially detrimental to the client, and the broker. If he does not at least present them with the option of what could be a viable cost-saving alternative I guarantee someone else will.

In a way, it reminds me of people who only get their news by watching cable news networks that bank their business model on a partisan appeal. Don't get me started on how I believe such "journalism" is damaging to the American psyche. The point is, only exposing ourselves to what we want to hear or see happens at the expense of what we need.

Just like cherry-picked poll results help no one, neither does a narrow business perspective that is focused on what works in the moment. No one can run an effective business with blinders on.

For example, brokerages (and their clients) that did not make changes to their business plan to reflect the realities of health care reform in the belief that Mitt Romney would be elected and repeal it are running out of time, now that Barack Obama is back in the White House and Democrats have retained their majority in the Senate.

In the words of columnist Nelson Griswold, "You must - and I repeat, must - begin now to implement a new, comprehensive business model that will allow you to survive and thrive in the coming years." ("Your business model could spell doom," p. 20).

EBA is here to help, with sales-minded insight from leaders like Griswold, Mel Schlesinger, Jack Kwicien and so many others filling not only the pages of the magazine but also our online channels.

If you have not been following our BeAdvised blog, I urge you to catch up now at eba.benefitnews.com/beadvised, where advice on everything from wellness to retirement plans is at your fingertips. And let's not forget voluntary benefits, of course. They are the way of the future.

Just ask Dan McNeill, EBA's Voluntary Benefit Adviser of the Year ("Where knowledge and opportunity meet," p.26). For group health brokers who are "punch-drunk" from health care reform, voluntary benefits will "put a little skip in the step of their sales day," he says. "There's some great products out there. There's some great underwriting, and there's some great commissions to be made."

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