More than half of all brokers nationwide are still using paper and have no online database of their clients — but the industry is about to reach a tipping point, where those still using old processes will be left behind.

According to a recent survey of 10,000 brokers by hCentive, 54% still use paper and 53% have no online database.

Having no online database is the most challenging part, Lisa Collins, director of business development at hCentive said a recent event for brokers sponsored by the company in Reston, Va. Those brokers, she said, lack a central place for their resources.

But for brokers still using these old processes, the industry is reaching a tipping point, she said, where “technology is not just a thought [but] a necessity.”

It will become necessary, she explained, because the industry is demanding technology solutions as employers look to their brokers to provide more services with less commissions. On top of that, HR broker tech startups, such as Zenefits, Namely and Gusto are taking business away. These firms offer technology solutions for free and become the broker of record — and they are moving upmarket, Collins added. The tech startups, Collins added, are taking business from more traditional brokers.

Also see: Stale benefit technology frustrates global employees.”

These tech startups are directly approaching adviser’s clients, she said. Clients are responding to these HR tech startups because of challenging and changing requirements of HR, including Affordable Care Act compliance.

“Clients are asking for more than ever,” she said. “It used to [broker’s] sold insurance. Now they are a true consultant and risk mitigator.”

“Clients want more and more and it is challenging with less commission dollars to work with,” she added. “You have more competition than you have ever had.”

Advisers need to provide value, as benefits are likely to be a top three expense for an employer, added Brian Slutz, regional sales manager at hCentive.

The future
Looking toward the future, many questions still remain about President Donald Trump’s plans for healthcare and employee benefits, but a few things are likely to be consistent, which can be streamlined with technology, including:

  • Consumer-driver healthcare is staying, Collins said, and with that comes the growth of health savings accounts. As a result, more voluntary products can be sold. Technology enables that through decision support tools that suggest these products to employees.
  • Cost transparency tools: “A really critical tool,” Collins said. Viable systems are hitting the marketplace now and technology provides answers employees are seeking on healthcare costs
  • Personalized communications: With more choice and more complication comes the need for education, Collins said. Technology solutions are becoming more customized to speak to an individual employee with targeted communication to a particular generation.

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