Benefits advisers are under greater pressure today than ever before.
The days of solely selling insurance and renewing policies are over. Commissions have been curtailed, competitors have entered the market with hundreds of millions in venture capital to fuel their growth, employees expect more from their employers than ever before, and HR teams are looking to benefits advisers for affordable yet modern solutions.
It’s an “evolve or die” environment for benefits advisers. To grow your business and stay relevant, it’s important to be able to do more with less, and that starts with finding efficiencies both internally and for your clients.
The insurance industry is plagued by outrageous complexity, outdated technology, and impenetrable jargon. It’s hard for your team and the HR teams you consult with to do their jobs effectively. But these are problems that smart technology investments have solved in every other industry. It’s time for ours to catch up.
Maximizing operational efficiency
Last year was a big one for inorganic growth in the broker market, with record numbers in mergers and acquisitions. If you’re focusing on organic growth, you must do more with what you already have, and that starts with “cutting the fat” from your organization.
Inertia is the enemy of innovation. I firmly believe that. One of the most important principles I took from academic economics was this: Never, ever get attached to a sunk cost. It’s illogical to continue on a path after recognizing that there’s a more efficient, more practical, or more ethical way, yet this is seemingly a constant in corporate America.
Lean companies look to optimize every facet of their organizations. Make sure your resources are dedicated to the highest-ROI activities, and the skills of the people at your organization are tailored to do their jobs as efficiently as possible.
Save the brainpower for the jobs that require critical thinking and innovative strategy. For those jobs that don’t require brain power, invest in automation instead. Humans are not robots.
Clearing time to focus on what matters
Certain tech companies peddle the idea that brokers add no value to employers — that they’re old-school middle men with manual processes and mean golf handicaps whose jobs can be easily replaced by tech platforms and clever algorithms.
The broker business model is dead. Benefits advisers play in a whole different league.
They take a consultative approach to their client relationships. They think about more than selling insurance policies. They address employee health and wellness holistically. They look to address inertia and inefficiencies within an organization as a whole and recommend technologies to simplify processes.
Benefits advisers understand that insurance and payroll are table stakes, not the main show.
HR is about building processes, team structures, and management strategies that bring out the best in people. It’s about creating a great culture within a company that people want to participate in.
A true strategic approach to insurance sales takes a consultative brain; creativity; and expertise in insurance, HR, payroll, and benefits. That’s not a role that can be replaced by a technology platform. And if your job could be replaced by a robot or algorithm, you’re simply not doing your job well.
However, this role could be significantly enhanced with great tech experiences.
Technology can alleviate many mundane or repetitive tasks for agencies and clients alike. To stay competitive in the market, brokers need to take on more work, but it’s important to work smarter, not harder. Dedicate the resources and brainpower on your team to areas that require strategic, critical thinking, and leave the pen-and-paper inefficiencies and repeatable processes to reliable technologies.
Improved efficiency is the holy grail of business, but perhaps the most important result of automating is the trickle-down effect for patients.
All your clients’ employees will become patients at some point. For them, insurance brokers have the opportunity to help fix a broken system. They’re a small but important piece of the puzzle.
The patient experience can be frustrating, to say the least.
Advisers have a responsibility to deliver value for insurance users wherever possible and to ease that frustration. Doing your part to go beyond the sale and working to improve people’s lives is the difference between a mere broker and a trusted partner.