Voluntary Adviser of the Year Q&A: Howard Labow of National Enrollment Services Chicago
Employee Benefit Adviser’s Voluntary Adviser of the Year is Howard Labow, president and CEO of National Enrollment Services Chicago. EBA editors asked Labow why helping tens of thousands of employees capture “found money” from the government through the Earned Income Tax Credit program means so much to him.
Employee Benefit Adviser: How big is your book of business?
Howard Labow: NES writes over $20 million in voluntary benefits premium each year.
EBA: How many clients do you have?
Labow: NES services over 4,000 client groups representing over 250,000 employees nationwide. Clients range in size from 300-30,000
EBA: How would you describe your client base, by industry type? What is your area of focus?
Labow: NES specializes in the lower paid employee marketplace. NES provides services in all states, focusing on geographic areas which often have lower-waged employees.
EBA: What was your biggest work accomplishment this past year?
Labow: Solidifying a 30,000 employee account.
EBA: What was your biggest personal accomplishment this past year?
Labow: Attending and enjoying Chicago White Sox Fantasy Camp without breaking/tearing any bones or muscles.
EBA: What is the best thing about your job?
Labow: The overwhelming satisfaction of being able to help tens of thousands of employees capture valuable “found money” from the government, through our assistance and education services with the Earned Income Tax Credit law while earning revenue through the sales of voluntary benefits.
EBA: What makes you stand out as an adviser?
Labow: In addition to guiding employees through the often murky waters of purchasing voluntary benefits, our firm is able to help tens of thousands of employees capture valuable “found money” from the government through the Earned Income Tax Credit program — which helps improve employees’ lives while they are living on the low end of the wage scale — ultimately enhancing employee satisfaction and stabilizing retention.
EBA: Would you want your child to go into your profession?
Labow: Absolutely. However, my children have chosen other professions to pursue.
EBA: What advice can you give to new advisers?
Labow: Advisers can learn about the unique value-added advantages of providing government tax credit assistance and education combined with the offering of voluntary benefits. For the past 15 years, NES has used this concept to help lower paid employees secure valuable “found money” from the government. This money helps improve employees’ lives while they are living on the low end of the wage scale and this ultimately enhances employee satisfaction and workforce retention.
EBA: What is the biggest trend to watch in benefit advising for 2019?
Labow: Flat fees for brokers. I believe commissions will continue to be squeezed in the health benefits marketplace. For this reason health benefits consultants need to reach out to enrollment firms to partner with in order to provide voluntary benefits to clients, thus generating additional commission income to replace the lost revenue in health insurance sales.
EBA: What technology can you not live without?
Labow: The internet
EBA: What’s your favorite line from a movie?
Labow: “Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash.”
EBA: Who is your personal hero?
Labow: My personal hero was my father. He was a self-made, successful businessman, athlete, strongest willpower, loving father, all while being hampered by polio and diabetes.
EBA: What is your favorite current or past Saturday Night Live cast member?
Labow: John Belushi.
EBA: What is your morning beverage of choice?
EBA: What is your evening beverage of choice?
Cranberry iced tea
EBA: What is the most awesome place you traveled to outside your home state?
EBA: What is the most notable book you read this year?
Labow: The Prime Ministers