“Danny just does it the right way,” says one long time industry player of one of our early cover subjects, Danny Talley. “It could be consulting with a client on a worksite case, or negotiating with a carrier or coaching high school football. Everything he’s involved in, he does it with integrity, intellect and a dedication to excellence. He knows voluntary as well as anyone, and he’s just a good guy.”
Talley’s dedication and experience has served him well, now as a Denver-based senior vice president of Hub International. Recognized as one of the foremost experts on voluntary in the Rocky Mountain region, Talley took a few moments to catch up with us and to share his thoughts on the industry and why he continues to be so successful.
■ Voluntary benefits have been a key to our success. Whatever happens with [PPACA], we feel very strongly that the diversification into voluntary will continue to serve us and other brokers well.
Perception is reality
■ We’ve found there’s been a paradigm shift in the perception of worksite products in the broker and the employer communities. The majority of people we speak to see them the shift to voluntary as a win-win. It’s incredibly cost effective for the employer as there is almost no direct cost involved yet they still provide a valuable benefit to their employees. It’s been documented many times, but it’s true. Most employees will never get the opportunity to sit down with a benefits counselor to discuss their insurance needs unless it happens at work. Employees look very positively toward their employer when they see that someone is there to help them and provide them with coverage they need.
A new approach
■ That said, taking a consultative approach to both an employer and employee is always the best way to serve a client. Listening to the client to identify where they need help, then discussing what will work and what will not work best for a client, and explaining why that is, not only provides the best possible solution for the company and the employee, but also for us as the broker.
Do the right thing
■ Outside of being the right thing to do, the consultative approach helps build strong relationships. Too many people are out selling a product and are only concerned with that sell that moment. I’m more interested in that second, or 10th or 20th year of helping that client. If one pushes product instead of a solution, that doesn’t happen.
Eye on the prize
■ Over the last 10 years, the industry has lost sight that this is a business built on relationships. Because of this, everything is looked at as a commodity by too many. What product is cheaper and has the smallest number in a spreadsheet? This is sad; it doesn’t provide the client with the consulting they need to make the best decision—only the cheapest decision. Obviously, cheapest isn’t always the best.
A handshake is enough
■ We’ve found that building relationships with a few carrier partners, growing loyalty and representing them helps during the bumps. Every carrier will have an issue, but when we know the right people and they know us, it sure makes it easier to solve the problems when they arise. We prefer to work where a handshake means everything and building that strong relationship gives us that trust.