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How to Fire Your Employee Benefits Broker

July 3rd, 2017 | No Comments

You’ve just learned that you can get an employee benefits management platform with onboarding and compliance tools from someone other than your current employee benefits broker.  And, this other employee benefits broker can also advise you about process and compliance issues without referring you to someone else.  In other words, this other employee benefits broker can put it all together for you without you having to do the leg work to figure everything out.  But you’ve got a great relationship with your current broker, so now what do you do?

It’s Not Personal.  It’s About Your Business

This isn’t just about a relationship.  It’s about the value to your business.  There is no doubt that it’s important to have good relationships with those who advise you and your business but it can’t just be about the relationship, and it can run counter to your best interests to make it so.

I’ve lost track of the number of times that I’ve been the bearer of bad news for a business owner or executive whose employee benefits broker did something or omitted to do something that cost the company money.  In one such encounter the business owner asked, “What do I do?”  “Change your broker.  He gave you bad advice,” I replied.  “I can’t do that.  I have a relationship with him!” he yelled at me before stomping out of his conference room.  He left it up to me to find my own way out.

That owner clearly wasn’t in an emotional place to make the change.  You may not be ready to make the change either.  I get it.  Your current employee benefits broker may be a relative or a friend and your reticence may be tied to the possible fallout or the damage to a relationship from any change.  This is understandable.  Even if your employee benefits broker is a relative or a friend you need to quantify their financial value to your business.

Make a List

It’s time to make a list.  That is a list of capabilities of your current and potentially new employee benefits broker.  The new employee benefits broker should be able to provide you with a detailed list of the tools and services they will be providing you.  If you need reinforcement, compare that list side by side with what your current employee benefits broker is providing you today.

Make note of the cost to you for any tools and services your current employee benefits broker is not providing but for which you must pay a third party to provide you.  Most employee benefits brokers leave it up to you to arrange and pay for things like benefits enrollment and management technology, human resources and compliance tools, and ACA reporting.  We provide our clients with a worksheet they can use to compare our list of capabilities with those of their current employee benefits broker: Capabilities Comparison

Going through this exercise will give you a quantifiable and unemotional view of what your current employee benefits broker currently offers you and what you may be missing.

You Know Him and You Don’t Know Me

Perhaps the greatest impediment to making the change is that you know your current employee benefits broker but you don’t know the new one.  It’s about sticking with the familiar, a known commodity, though flawed, versus going with something new and unknown.  You’re not alone.  Studies have shown that for most of us change can be a scary thing.

So, here’s how you overcome your concerns about making a change.  Have your new employee benefits broker list their services in a service agreement which should include a specific plan for the transition.  The plan should detail the steps, timing and responsibilities for everyone involved.  Here is a link to example of one of our service agreements: Sample Service Level Agreement

Get familiar with it.  Have your staff get familiar with it.  Comment on it and suggest changes if need be.  We do this with all our new clients to ensure they have a full understanding of what we will be doing for them and to ensure that nothing gets dropped or overlooked during the transition.

The World Has Changed

Another impediment to making the change is the belief that it will mean admitting making a mistake.  You made the decision to commit to your employee benefits broker based on the information that was available to you at the time, but things change.  The thing to remember is that you didn’t make a mistake when you hired him but keeping him is not in the best interests of your business.

The world has changed.  We’re well into a new century and yet most insurance companies and brokers are still operating as if it was the last.  The world is more complex.  Compliance is more complicated and the stakes are higher.  Technology is helping to streamline your processes; for onboarding, benefits enrollment and management, employee communications, and for compliance and reporting.  The employee benefits broker you choose should understand this and be prepared to offer you the advice, tools and services to meet these challenges.

Carpe Diem

Why wait?  Your relationship with your employee benefits broker doesn’t have to be dysfunctional.  You can get more.  The world has changed and this is the opportunity for you to take advantage of those changes. Think of it as a wakeup call.  If you’re looking to transition and would like to learn more about how we deliver change in a changing world, email me at mdmowski@comprehensivebenefitservices.com or call me at (952) 237-6956.

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