Technology is redefining the benefit agency business model.
Historically advisers have worked to build competitive employee benefits programs for their clients and, prior to the Affordable Care Act, spent most of their time putting together recommendations on how to solve the cost issues related to providing these packages.
Today, competitive plans must make use of marketplace exchanges and other online mechanisms that offer employees more products and tools to help them make choices that conform to their budget and risk tolerance and simplify enrollment.
Historically, the role of the advisor - and perhaps a measure of their success - was to manage the benefit program’s expenses.
Today, the definition of success has expanded to include providing choices and creating an efficient process for sharing information that helps employees make sound decisions, select products and enroll in their chosen plans.
Today, the conversations that take place with clients must also address all the compliance activities related to the Affordable Care Act. These conversations tend to dominate the time an employer and advisor spend together and must address how to uncover and close any potential gaps in the client’s documentation and reports.
Making technology recommendations
The problem is that the client may not be able to follow the adviser’s advice, if the client’s administration systems and technology infrastructure are not able to support the adviser’s recommendations. If this is the case, the advisor also needs to recommend a technology plan to shore up the client’s ben admin systems.
The objective is to help the client build a simple, streamlined paperless system that supports the ACA’s reporting requirements, as well as a variety of employee decision making tools and self-service features.
Quote"Today, the definition of success has expanded to include providing choices and creating an efficient process for sharing information that helps employees make sound decisions, select products and enroll in their chosen plans."
For advisers, there are two sides to all of this: Advisers stuck in the status quo, and who fail to recognize all the myriad ways that a benefits plan and its supporting technology touches their clients’ business, will quickly become irrelevant to thos businesses.
But advisers who get it, and who are prepared to use technology as an integrator and enabler to help their clients master these business complexities, will just as quickly see their role elevated as they become an indispensable members of their clients’ decision support teams.
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