As a value-added reseller, Apprize Technology sells and services to brokers three different benefit administration platforms, what many call a private exchange bswift, benefitsCONNECT and Infiniti HR. Gary Wert, Apprizes president, discusses why Apprize and other resellers may have to turn away business in the fourth quarter and why some brokers arent building their own exchange, but rather using a reseller.
What is the structure of your exchange? Why makes it different?
We are a reseller and our channel is through the brokers. Ninety-nine percent of our business goes through the broker. The broker introduces us to their clients and then we build a relationship with the client, but always involving the broker. It all goes back to what is the definition of a private exchange. We go along with the bswift definition of tech-enabled choice. When we talk to an employer, we try to figure out which platform is going to work best for them. Our philosophy is rather than put in products for you, its like build-your-own burger. You tell us what products youve got, well tell you what system is going to work best for you and your employees, depending on your size, your complexity, your contribution structure all these different factors. We are carrier agonistic, so we can work with any carrier and any line of coverage. Weve been in this business for 15 years and employers want to build their own, they want to put their existing products in. Thats what makes us different; we customize everyones exchange differently.
How do you recruit clients?
We engage the broker and try to teach the broker about our unique services and our multiple platforms. We dont try to fit everyone into the same system. Once a broker has tried a case with us and things go well, they come back and they recommend their next client to us. That is how we have built our reputation over 15 years. We have been in the business longer than most resellers in the country. We recruit our clients through the broker. Brokers trust us. We show their clients how to build their own exchange, how to build their own ben admin system. Not every broker is part of a great big broker system that has these [big] prefilled private exchanges.
What is your relationship with brokers?
We love brokers and we just try to become a good adviser for them. We want to be a resource so they know where to turn. We try to tell brokers all the time, Dont try to build your own benefit administration department. Weve got 20-25 people here and they all have special functions. You have to build a huge staff to want to do this by yourself.
How did 2015 compare to 2014?
Our business increased dramatically, with 20% growth in 2014 and 2015. In 2016, with whats lining up, we are estimating 60%-plus growth. We wrote an article recently about the tsunami that is coming this fall. Employers all need the ACA reporting tools that are part of our platforms. That is creating a very high demand. The fact of the matter is, resellers like us arent going to be able to handle all of the new business. At some point, we will need to shut off new business sales and say we cant handle anymore. We can only implement so many cases on January 1. I think every platform is facing that same issue because you need a lot of lead time for implementation and if you dont know the volume that is going to come in. Its very difficult to staff properly.
Editors note: This story is part of an continuing series of one-on-one interviews with private exchange leaders and top decision-makers across the U.S. Know of an exchange expert who should be profiled? Email Brian.Kalish@sourcemedia.com.
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