There has never been a more appropriate time for employee benefit advisory firms to reevaluate their business model and infrastructure to ensure future viability. And it starts with an assessment of the agency’s current organizational construction.

Many traditional brokers follow the producer-centric service team approach where an account manager is assigned to a producer and they manage all the accounts for that producer.  Under this organizational structure, the account manager oversees the service on all size of accounts, from two lives to 1,000+ lives. In my opinion, this service model is flawed because in many cases the agency is not matching up skill level and service requirements which results in inefficiencies of both time and resources.

New school consultants build an organizational structure that follows four basic philosophies:

1)      Success starts at the top, so appoint a capable Chief Executive Officer to lead the employee benefits practice.

2)      The sales team is responsible for new business generation and proactive relationship management on key accounts. The sales team is led by a Chief Sales Officer.

3)      Service teams are based on client profile. Service teams are set up to manage small accounts, mid-market accounts, large accounts and possibly self-funded accounts. This is known as a client-centric service model and is led by a Chief Client Officer.

4)      Finally, resources and capabilities such as wellness, data analytics, HR, compliance, etc. are a separate unit and led by a Chief Resource Officer. These resources and capabilities can either be owned (e.g. agency employee) or can be outsourced to a third-party.

While it is not critical that you have four C-suite positions, I have seen this organizational structure work for all agencies, regardless of size. However, it is my experience that after leadership, the CCO is the next most important position. This structure helps maximize sales and service efforts along with a more efficient manner to help ensure that resources and capabilities are effectively deployed.

Lieblein is an EBA Advisory Board member and executive vice president at MarshBerry. Reach him at

Securities offered through MarshBerry Capital, Inc., Member FINRA and SIPC, and an affiliate of Marsh, Berry & Company, Inc., 28601 Chagrin Blvd, Suite 400, Woodmere, OH 44122 (440) 354-3230

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