So we now know the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on the most bitterly disputed provisions of PPACA. Regardless of your political persuasion, you may not have found that ruling to be favorable. In fact, I'd be stunned if you were prepared to embrace the overall commentary of the ruling. Many of you were absolutely convinced that the entire piece of legislation would be found to be unconstitutional. Others thought that surely certain provisions would be overturned. Even we thought that some portions of the legislation would be thrown out.
However, during the last three years of debate, we have written numerous times in this column that you needed to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Where does that leave us? Well, you still have a business to run and your clients need expert counsel now more than ever before. We are all going to be living with uncertainty and change for at least another three years, given the likelihood of Congressional legislative actions, attempts to de-fund provisions, new federal legislation, administrative guidelines (yet to be written), timeline changes, individual state actions, and possibly further court rulings.
If you are somewhat confused, just imagine how your clients and prospects feel. You need to provide them a process for managing change to cope with the evolving benefits landscape. That will mean you likely have to change your marketing, sales and client engagement approach, as well as your business model. You are either going to change or change will be thrust upon you. That sound you hear is the wave of change that is already crashing on the shore. There still is going to be a beach party, but will you be attending?
That's why we have been writing for several months now about strategic alliances as a methodology for adapting to the rapidly changing demands of the marketplace. Many of you have opined that it will be too difficult to go it alone in the future (meaning now). And I agree. You are going to need more "brain power." Executive talent with broader, strategic thinking and new skill sets. You likely will need to offer more and different services to your clients. How will you develop these capabilities? How will you pay for them? Can you even scale fast enough to deliver them in a timely manner?
I'm talking about morphing your business model to become more of a consultancy and less dependent upon commission-based income. Consider offering: benefits strategic planning; the intelligent integration of voluntary benefits and executive benefits; the application of technology for benefits enrollment, communication and administration; payroll; HR consulting; even perhaps property and casualty.
You need to add client-centric services that address their human capital management challenges to generate additional revenue streams. You have to find new ways to monetize the client relationships you have, since you already have incurred the client acquisition expense. Can you do all this on your own? How fast? Do you have the knowledge? Do you have enough time and resources?
That's why partnering with like-minded firms and forming strategic alliances that are synergistic just makes sense. And we know that a growing number of you are doing just that right now. Haven't started yet? Well, what are you waiting for? It's not too late yet; but the clock of competition is ticking.
Kwicien is managing partner at Baltimorebased Daymark Advisors. Reach him at email@example.com.
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