Working with an employee benefits plan advisor should provide clients with unbiased and well-rounded advice. I say ‘should’ because that is not always the case. Not all benefits plan consultants are founded on the same service-oriented principles such as those we live by at BenefitDeck.
So, how can companies tell the difference between one employee benefits consultant versus the next? The fact is, the decision will not be based on price. Insurance companies rarely ever offer preferential treatment to benefits plan advisors when quoting for benefit plans. Knowing this, how does an organization choose the right benefits plan advisor? Below are five quick questions for organizations to ask when looking for a qualified and reliable employee benefits plan consultant.
1. Does the advisor have the expertise and staff to fully support your company?
Good benefits plan advisors take the time to understand an organization’s needs and have their best interest in mind. Expert advisors have a tendering process in place, and should be completely transparent about how they work with their clients and how they find clients the best plans at the best price. (Learn more about how BenefitDeck finds clients the right supplier).
A qualified consultant should be able to independently assess quotes submitted by insurance providers based on industry knowledge and various metrics. This step alone helps ensure their advice is founded on concrete numbers. Finally, look at whether the advisor is a lone wolf or has a team to back them. When questions need to be answered or concerns require attention, having a dedicated team to support claim inquiries, plan changes or renewals will make all the difference.
2. Does the benefits plan consultant have a CEBS designation?
The International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans offers a five-year accreditation program for individuals who want to become a Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS). This is highly-renowned designation that involves completing a comprehensive program covering all aspects of benefits and compensation, and is considered the gold standard in the industry.
If a company is going to work with a benefits plan advisor, finding one who is committed to their trade by pursuing the CEBS designation is highly advisable. It shows dedication to their expertise and ensures their advice is backed by qualified industry standards and information.
3. Will your advisor negotiate on your company’s behalf?
This might seem like an obvious question and answer, but the truth is, an organization should trust that the chosen benefits plan consultant is willing and capable of fighting for what’s fair. More than that, they should be able to negotiate savings that are slightly more in the client’s favour, since this is ultimately what a benefits consultant is hired to do.
Strong negotiation skills are not the only asset here. A benefits plan advisor who is in good standing with insurance providers helps organizations streamline any claims issues that may arise. A well-connected benefits advisor can escalate issues to higher-ups with decision-making abilities to strengthen bargaining power.
Asking about their negotiating skills outright or sourcing references can serve an organization well. For example, here is a recent case study that we share with our clients which details how BenefitDeck was able to save one client 18% on a renewal rate.
4. Who are their clients? Do they have client references?
Checking reference lists, reading testimonials and hearing from existing clients can help solidify an organization’s choice in one benefits plans advisor over another. It is an organization’s right to ask to speak to customers directly in order to get real recommendations from companies that have been using the consultant’s services. This will also provide a better sense of what industries the consultant serves, offering organizations greater insight into their level of their knowledge as it applies to a specific business or market.
5. Does the benefits plan advisor have a succession plan in place?
There are a lot of benefits plan consultants that have been in the industry for years and are on the verge of retirement. Understanding who will be taking over client accounts if and when the advisor transitions into retirement can make a huge difference down the line. Knowing that other advisors and employees are there to take over ensures the level of service an organization receives will go unaffected. The succession plan also helps to ensure the valuable service of the chosen advisor will remain intact in the event that an unfortunate circumstance requires the consultant to take permanent or temporary leave.
Finding the right employee benefits plan consultant is the first step in finding the best insurance plan and provider. Entrusting a qualified and service-oriented advisor with strong negotiating skills, a positive client track record and solid succession plan is a winning ticket to easier, happier employee benefits planning.
Whether you are with a business, association, or owner operator, we have the solution for your needs.