Amid the hustle, bustle and good cheer of December, there's alsoan undertone of melancholy and retrospection. Another year past. Atime to remember both our successes and shortcomings. In a societydominated by knee-jerk reactions and quick takes, an annualreminder of the importance of taking time to slow down and reflect,before again shifting our gaze to what lies ahead.

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The December issue of Benefits Selling magazine offers both anoverview of the year that was in the benefits industry, and apreview of what's next.

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In 2015, the world around us continued to shift and lurch aheadat a breakneck pace. Voluntary benefits further solidified theirplace within the industry, as evidenced by projected growth ofbetween 3 percent and 6 percent in 2015. And all indications arethat this trend will continue in the years ahead, as detailed inKatie Kuehner-Hebert's voluntary feature.

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Meanwhile, PPACA produced another year of political discord,mixed messages and indeterminate results in 2015. As Nathan Solheimwrites in his PPACA preview, while 2016 may notgo down in the history books as a key year for health care reform,the presidential election, reporting requirements and the ongoingtug of war over the Cadillac tax ensures there will be plenty towatch.

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And although ongoing changes within the industry are presentingbrokers with a variety of new opportunities, they are also exposingkey vulnerabilities that must be addressed to ensure survival.Kevin Trokey's “7 insurance agency trends to get you to2017” offers strategies and tips to help brokerssucceed in the days ahead.

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But if you're looking to end your year on a high note, Irecommend starting with Michael Crispi's, “Timing is everything” As a recentcollege graduate, Crispi considered a variety of promising careerpaths before asking himself, “Where is the opportunity to dosomething that nobody has ever done before?” His answer: employeebenefits. “The industry is changing dramatically,” he writes. “Weare at a crossroads and have the privilege of rewriting the book onhow to design health plans for employee benefits packages.”

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In an aging industry too often plagued by cynicism andresistance to change, Crispi offers a much-needed message ofoptimism and a great example of the bright future that lies aheadfor those who are willing to face it head on.

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As you celebrate and relax with friends and family in the comingweeks, I hope you find some quiet moments within the chaos toreflect, appreciate and anticipate.

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I look forward to joining you in discovering what's next in2016.

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Paul Wilson

Paul Wilson is the editor-in-chief of BenefitsPRO Magazine and BenefitsPRO.com. He has covered the insurance industry for more than a decade, including stints at Retirement Advisor Magazine and ProducersWeb.