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With more than a billion dollars invested in the HR tech industry last year, adoption continuesto rise for both brokers and employers. Business leadersincreasingly want to take benefits and HR administration onlineand, as a result, many benefits and HR platforms are in a period ofgrowth.

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A number of factors are affecting that growth and the future ofthe benefits administration industry. As benefits administrationproviders vie for market share and brokers continue to make themove online to meet employer demand, these trends will continue toaffect the benefits industry throughout the rest of the year andinto 2019.

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Here are a few of the factors shaping the benefits administration industry this fall.

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1. More brokers makingdecisions

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Our data indicates that 78 percent more brokers are making adecision this year versus how many did last year after reviewingthe market. Many are still taking a “wait and see” approach, butincreasing numbers of brokers are moving ahead with helping theiremployer clients be online than ever before.

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One factor driving this trend is the number of solutionsmarketed directly toward employers. As these systems become moreprevalent, more employers are seeing the value of working with abroker who provides a tech solution with a layer of support.

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Employers using a broker-supported system have the benefit of atrusted advisor in their market to assist in implementation and userather than relying on the technology provider alone. In mostcases, this produces better outcomes and more success with theplatform.

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There is currently a window of opportunity around this, as mostemployers want to administer benefits online but aren't yet doingso. This presents a clear competitive advantage to brokers who dooffer a platform as part of their value proposition, and this isone reason more brokers are making a decision this year.

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2. Sun Life Financial acquires MaxwellHealth

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In June, life insurance carrier andfinancial services company Sun Life Financial announced plans toacquire benefits administration platform Maxwell Health.

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Depending on your position on platforms operated or offered byinsurance carriers, this could make Maxwell Health a more — or less— attractive choice.

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The deal could create a streamlined experience for employeeswith Sun Life coverage, but some brokers may have concerns about acarrier-owned platform. Questions include whether brokers will haveto offer the carrier's products in order to use the enrollmentsoftware or whether other carriers will integrate with thesystem.

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If these questions make Maxwell Health less attractive for someagencies, the number of comprehensive benefits platforms marketedto brokers is arguably down to a handful.

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Market leaders in this space have been emerging over the lastfew years, and this acquisition may further impact the playingfield for benefits administration systems.

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3. Millennials continue to rise up theranks

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This year, millennials are on the cusp of becoming the largestgeneration in America. Already the largest generation in theworkforce, millennials continue to grow in their careers. Thisgeneration has different expectations when it comes to technology,and as millennials continue to become decision-makers in theirworkplaces, they will increasingly demand tech solutions for benefits and HRchallenges.

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This is another factor driving the increased adoption ofenrollment platforms and other tech solutions by brokers andagencies, as brokers compete to win the business of millennialdecision-makers.

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Further, user growth is on the rise for benefits systems, atrend that will likely continue as millennials make up a largerpercentage of the workforce. Millennials are extremely comfortablewith technology in both their personal and professional lives.Employers, brokers, and benefits administration providers arelikely to see less and less apprehension around implementation asthe workforce evolves.

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How will these factors affect benefits administration systemsand their users moving forward? Ultimately, these trends are allleading the industry toward increased adoption and additionalmarket opportunity for HR and benefits administrationplatforms.

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Eventually, the industry will reach a tipping point where themajority of employers are administering benefits through an onlinesystem. The above trends will play a role in getting the industrythere, as well as in which systems wind up holding meaningfulmarket share when that tipping point is reached.

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Alex Tolbert is the author of “Online Benefits Technology:The Strategic Broker's Guide” and leadsBerniePortal, an all-in-one HRplatform built for brokers by brokers. Before he started theBerniePortal, he worked primarily as a group health insurancebroker.

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