"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."  Winston S. Churchill

The end of open enrollment season used to bring relief for brokers. The majority of hard work was done and there was room to breathe again — room to reset and recharge.

December 2015 brings no such relief. New ACA Section 6055 and 6056 reporting deadlines are right around the corner, and employers need more help than ever in meeting them. We spend a lot of time talking with brokers, and what we’re hearing is that there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to get everything done.

Also see:’Adapt or die:’ Top reader comments of 2015.”

There’s no question that new ACA regulations, increasing employer demands and shorter workweeks due to holiday schedules make for a difficult environment. What should be questioned is what sets the broker apart — who rallies rather than wanes — among the changes and challenges. I imagine if I asked this question to Churchill himself, he’d ash his Cuban cigar, smile coyly and say something very practical, like, “The optimist thrives, the pessimist folds.”

What employers want

 I’d agree, and here’s why: The increasing demand that employers are putting on brokers is a clear indication that they want and need the guidance of an insurance expert in a way they never have before. This trend opens the door for a broker to meet a very apparent need, differentiate from the competition and establish a reputation as being indispensable.

Let’s look at the facts. Based on our annual Broker Services Survey of more than 1,000 employers, here’s what we know:

  • 93% of employers feel it’s important that a broker is able to provide compliant plan documents, but 33% reported that their broker does not provide or only partially provides this.
  • 97% of employers feel it’s important for a broker to provide updates and guidance on health care reform and other legislative changes; yet, nearly 30% say their broker is not providing or is only partially providing this.
  • 98% of employers feel it’s important that a broker is able to answer compliance-related questions; however, nearly 20% reported that their broker does not or only partially meets this need.

Are you starting to see the opportunity amid the difficulty? Employers are essentially raising their hands, asking for help and seeking out a broker who can and will respond. Brokers have the chance to win new business and establish retention-driving relationships — all by simply choosing to respond to the difficulties of the current environment like that of an optimist.
Also see:Who are the top large-group brokers, carriers?

As a company dedicated to helping brokers succeed, we at Zywave also have to respond to the challenging environment like optimists. We acknowledge the difficulty in the marketplace and ask ourselves, “How do we help our partners seize the opportunities that exist among these challenges?”

Change is difficult, but there’s no time like the present to shift your mindset, and to allow an optimistic philosophy to reshape your perception, so you can see the opportunity in every difficulty.

O’Brien is CEO of Zywave, Inc., a leading provider of software solutions for insurance brokers. He has been with Zywave since its inception in the 1990s, helping to create new technology tools that drive profitable results in a dynamic marketplace. Reach him at david.obrien@zywave.com or visit zywave.com.

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