A question that always comes up is what separates successful advisers from their competitors. From my experience, the top consultants have high intellectual curiosity.

They are concerned with things such as which carriers have the best product offerings — and challenge carriers when their products aren't competitive.

They are educating carriers on the needs of their clients within their marketplace and advocating for greater rate differentials in areas such as consumer-driven health plans.

These consultants know what the newest funding strategies are and where they are most applicable. They are well versed on partial funding strategies, like level funding and captives. They can articulate the benefits of a self-funded plan and know the best TPAs to administer the plans.

Also see:11 benefits workers want.

They educate clients on what reference-based pricing is and have the foresight to know whether or not a client might have the risk appetite for it.

They understand what the newest technology in our space is and they attend conferences to learn about the latest innovations.

They realize that consumer-driven advocacy apps are a way to help employees become smarter consumers of their health insurance, just as financial spending apps that track financial wellbeing increase overall wellness. They also know wellness platforms overall can have great participation with the right carrot and stick approach.

For the brokers who are willing to put in the time to seek out innovation and learn something new every day, the world is your oyster. For those unwilling to adapt, it will be an uncomfortable uphill battle. Making a conscious decision to be a student of the game is not always a fun one, but you'll also never be caught off guard with your client teaching you something about your industry that you didn't know yourself.

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