Advisers need to prepare for 2019

As we approach the fourth quarter of 2018, the activity between the adviser, their client, and various companies that supply insurance products will be intense. For the remainder of the year, this will be the busiest time in the employee benefit industry. But it should also be a time to prepare and plan for the coming year.

In order to be prepared for 2019, advisers should focus on three key activities, which admittedly, require wearing multiple hats.

As a starting point, advisers will need to invest some time and energy by going to the market to verify costs and coverages for their clients. They are masters of the transactional activities.

open enrollment
Maryland Health Connection health insurance marketplace pamphlets sit at a Community Clinic Inc. health center in Takoma Park, Maryland, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. Government-run health insurance exchanges, the cornerstone of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, opened their doors today for sales of subsidized bronze, silver, gold or platinum policies, with correspondingly higher costs. Coverage begins in January and enrollment lasts through March 2014. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Clients will also appreciate — and find value in — their efforts to address issues and problems that are likely to crop up in an expedited manner. This is clearly where a significant amount of time and energy is allocated during this time of the year.

From there, advisers and their team are administration experts. With this activity, advisers will need to immerse themselves in their clients’ organizations. They will need to handle communications with the client’s employees and address implementation issues regarding changes to the plan and coverages. In addition, they will need to manage the carriers that are supporting their clients so the process is efficient and the outcome is positive.

While the first two activities are important, getting to the bottom and solving the strategic challenges their clients face bring the greatest value. These challenges are not simply limited to a conversation regarding benefits or insurance coverages. Rather, the strategic challenges are more broadly defined.

Specifically, the adviser who understands their client’s business issues — the competitive environment they face, the regulatory challenges, the human capital management issues (such as recruiting and retention issues along with wage and performance demands) and the culture of the organization — is the adviser who takes the long view. If they accomplish this, they will be viewed as a valuable and contributing team member. Connecting the strategic issues of the client to the transactional and administrative activities is a very important role for any adviser.

As the fourth quarter activities ramp up and advisers and clients focus on the minutia of transactional activities and the pressures associated with implementing change and communicating this to employees, the adviser who continues to focus on the strategic issues that their client are sure to face in the coming, new year will enjoy a long-lasting seat at their client’s table. After all, 2019 is only three short months away.

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