Choosing an Employee Benefits Broker: 4 Questions to Consider

Hiring a new employee benefits broker can be complicated, but here are four specific questions to ask yourself as your conduct interviews.

Organizations are challenged to attract and retain top talent, offer a competitive suite of benefits, incur minimal administrative burden, and drive bottom line results. It is difficult for leaders to be experts in their industry and understand all the ins and outs of today's benefit landscape. That's why it's never been more important to engage a benefits advisor to ensure you meet your business goals and satisfy your employees.

But how do you know which benefits broker to choose? We've put together four questions that will help you partner with the right advisor for your business needs.

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Does this employee benefits broker truly understand our business and needs

Your broker partner should not only understand your business but your organizational culture. Ask if the broker has other clients in your industry sector or company size. Do you companies have similar values and operational styles? Asking these questions in advance will determine if the broker will be a good fit.

Ask for references from other clients in your industry, or for testimonials. They should not only understand your industry, but your local and regional challenges as well. Ask for examples of innovative programs they've designed for companies of similar size, industry sector, or business challenges. Benefit solutions that fit a giant tech firm might not work for a medium sized manufacturing firm, so look for examples.

Is the broker's account team a good fit?

The broker's account team will work closely with your benefits team, so you'll have to ensure there's a good fit. Are your finance and/or leadership teams an integral part of mapping out your benefits strategy? If so, it will be important that you align with a broker that includes a top-notch technical/financial expert on your core team. What about your employees? Do they require high-touch service? If that is the case, it will be important to know how your broker's account management team handles employee concerns as they come up.

Ask for biographies or Linkedin profiles for Account Leads or for an interview as the closing process nears. Your broker's Account Team is an extension of your Benefits Team, so ensuring a good fit is essential.

What are their industry relationships?

The benefits landscape is changing rapidly with new players entering, exiting, or merging. Your broker of choice will not only need to know the broad level of industry changes, but what is happening in your local area. It's vital that they not only know, but have deep relationships with carrier representatives. These relationships are the lifeblood of the industry and your broker will have to have respect and influence in the industry to advocate on your behalf. Choosing an ethical partner who leverages their relationships for your benefit is key to a healthy partnership.

Ask for examples of carrier relationships they have both in your region and nationwide. This will help determine if they have the right connections and influence to create the best plan options that support your business goals.

Is the broker results-driven?

Once you've determined that your broker understands your business, provides great support, and has industry leverage, there's one more question to ask: do they have the expertise and tools to drive results in my organization?

Your broker should have not only the expertise, but the tools to help you make good decisions for your employees and your bottom line. Can your broker offer plan options to meet your company goals? Do they have advanced reporting to help me track my bottom line? Can they help me communicate our plan to our employees to help them make good decisions about their health care? Do they proactively help me stay compliant with current and new regulations? Ask to see evidence of your broker's tools, communication programs, and innovative plan options to determine if they can help you make not good, but great decisions.

Your goal is to establish a trusted broker relationship that advocates on your behalf and supports your company goals. But it also comes down to choosing a partner who has carrier and industry relationships that benefit you by driving results.

What's New for Employee Benefits?

To prepare you for the next calendar year, Woodruff Sawyer produces the annual Benefits Looking Ahead Guide. You'll learn from our top experts what to watch for on the benefits horizon, including articles on the coming election, price transparency trends, managing a multi-generational workforce, and more. We've also included our exclusive questionnaire results from leading insurance carriers and what they expect for the coming year. You can get your copy of the Guide here.

A benefits review is a great start to choosing a new broker. Woodruff Sawyer can review your current plan options to see if they are a good fit for your organization or if there a significant opportunities for improvement. Contact Woodruff Sawyer for a review to see if opportunity awaits.


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