Does full automation spell the end of your career as an employee benefits broker? The answer is no.

While there's a lot of talk lately about companies offering “free” online platforms that fully automate almost all HR services—including employee benefits—it's not likely self-service is set to leave brokers in the dust. That's because there's a balance to strike between the efficiency of automation and the advantages a broker relationship brings to the client.

The automation equation

Of course technology plays a major role. Online platforms to enroll and administer employee benefits are an integral part of supporting employers. But it's the brokers, advisors, carriers and HR teams — the people who complement the technology—that provide the level of strategy, guidance, service and support the employer needs. It's essential that experienced employee benefit professionals be part of the equation.

I believe help desks have their place for transactional and procedural conversations. But a call center is probably not the best place to develop a relationship and offer benefit design advice to small business owners.

That's where a broker's expertise comes in. As a broker, you understand a client's employee population and its complexities … you've created a relationship with that client. It's why employers and their HR teams rely on your experience to help them offer tailored solutions to meet their employees' needs.

Offering real value, not just a good deal

What can you do to avoid losing your clients to this trend? By your actions and with the guidance you provide, make it clear that you offer real value, not just a good deal.

Think about the unique differentiators you bring to the table.

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