Editor’s note: This blog is the second in a series of posts from new adviser Brian Murphy as EBA follows the rookie through his first year in the field.

Just the other day, I sat in on my first new client implementation kick-off meeting. There was a moment during the meeting when I thought to myself, “Wow, I really love my job!”

I think it was right after I finished taking my fourth full page of notes and around the time lunch was brought in. It wasn’t the avocado and turkey sandwich that made me realize this, or the friendly getting to know each other banter that went on throughout the meeting. Don’t get me wrong, they’re both huge pluses in my book.

It was the complexity, the challenge, and the intellectual stimulation that occurred during that meeting that got me hooked.

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The client we were onboarding is a Jan. 1, 2016 renewal and here we are looking at their benefit summaries for the first time almost halfway through September. The theme of the meeting was to get as much information as possible about the client as quickly as possible, including the demographics, in-force plans, rate history, the struggles and goals. This meeting was quite literally the convergence of every single thing I had learned up until this point and everything I have not yet learned.

The problem with piecemeal

Up until this point, I had only worked on the maintenance and renewal of current clients’ benefits, but never a full implementation. I realized that I missed something by doing it piecemeal. While completing small tasks behind the scenes had the advantage of giving me technical exposure, I missed the reason we do it. I missed the fact that taking the time to understand your client is important. I mean really understand their culture, leadership, employee population, financial situation and industry environment. It was great to be able to connect the dots between a client’s needs and how to fill them.

I’m told the philosophy around why a company even offers benefits varies from client to client. My professor’s words are ringing in my ear, “Attract and retain! Attract and retain!”

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Our job is to be advisers so our clients can focus on their business goals and apply their philosophy. To take what we know and apply it to their company. There’s no doubt in my mind that this client was smart enough to do the work we do, but benefits is not the business this client is in. Our role is to ease the burden so the client can focus solely on their business. Our business is to bring what we know to the table and tailor it to them.

Moving forward, I’ll be shadowing this client and I’m looking forward to seeing the whole cycle of a client from BOR to renewal to open enrollment.

Murphy is a risk management analyst in the human capital practice at Willis of Greater Philadelphia. Reach him at Brian.W.Murphy@Willis.com.

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