Instead of focusing on the external issues that you cannot control, you should be focused on your business model and figure out how to reinvent your practice to enhance your value proposition to your clients and prospective clients. How can you make up any lost revenue? Why will your clients find your services relevant - and perhaps even more necessary? What additional revenue streams can you add to optimize the value of your existing and new client relationships? That's what you need to focus on and that's all within your control. That's also why we have been discussing strategic alliances over the last several months as a strategy to adapt to the changing market conditions. Joining forces with like-minded benefits professionals just might be the right approach.
The perks of a network
A growing number of benefits advisers are considering joining benefits adviser networks. All charge a fee to become a member firm, so before you would consider committing the time, money and energy to participating, consider what benefits your firm can derive from membership.Perhaps the biggest benefit is the ability to share ideas, business challenges and best practices with your peers without fear of reprisal or competition, since some degree of geographic exclusivity is generally involved. And the likelihood is that one of the other member firms has already dealt with your issue previously.
Along those lines, the broker network likely has one or more conferences each year which provide informative seminars and networking opportunities. Since their sole focus is on the benefits industry and aiding member firms to accelerate their growth and to improve client retention, you can rely on the fact that the content will be of interest and on point. Likewise with any web seminars held throughout the year. Gaining commentary and insight from industry thought-leaders is a significant motivator for membership.
Another benefit could be access to proprietary products and services, since the networks frequently leverage their "combined production clout" to gain competitive advantage by creating exclusive arrangements with carriers and service vendors.
Perhaps you are contemplating changing technology vendors and are confused by all the options and nuances presented by dozens of vendors. Wouldn't it be great if someone had already done an analysis and provided you with objective commentary about the best options for consideration?
And from a business development perspective, being part of a network could open up significant opportunities for joint case work with a "trusted network" of colleagues on a national basis. It just might enable you to move up-market and pursue larger size cases with employee populations in multiple states. This could potentially level the playing field with much larger regional and national benefits practices.
There is also the advantage of leveraging shared third-party resources for legal compliance, HR consulting, actuarial services, wellness expertise, or medical director expertise which you likely could not afford on your own. But given the "buying power" of a network and their ability to negotiate discounted, master contracts on behalf of their member firms, you might be able to offer these kinds of services to your clients for the first time at a fraction of the regular "retail" price. That would enable you to provide greater value to your clients.
Maybe your firm would benefit from industry benchmarking data about sales or operational efficiency measurements in order to know if you are optimizing the results of your human capital resources. Or perhaps you are contemplating some equity sharing with key management personnel and you were wondering whether an ESOP program might be right for your team. Or it could be that you are questioning whether you have the right organizational structure to achieve superior results, or whether you have a sufficient succession plan to sustain your business and to ultimately provide you personally with an exit. Often these are topics of discussion during member meetings and seminars with subject matter experts sharing their insights.
These are all valid reasons for considering joining an adviser network.
Reach Kwicien of Daymark Advisors at email@example.com.
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