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Advisers must move faster and stronger

It is time for brokers and consultants to face the much talked-about upcoming challenges head on and move forward “first, faster and stronger” than their competitors. The goal is to make clients understand that the cost of doing nothing might be the “most expensive, more detrimental thing to a business,” a former adviser said Monday.

Speaking at the 6th Annual Employee Benefit Adviser Summit at the Hyatt Regency, Kevin Trokey, president and chief executive of St. Louis-based consultancy Benefits Growth Network said that because the challenges are so difficult, brokers can differentiate themselves from the competitor by tackling them now.

Of course, it’s not the first time advisers have faced a looming problem. Recalling the mid-1990s prospect of nationalized health care, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer going after income and the Internet, Trokey says that “most of these things came with a glancing blow [and] nothing delivered that knockout punch.”

But that punch is coming — in the form of health care reform and MLR’s and that requires facing your challenges by taking control, he says. Brokers and advisers often couldn’t take control in the past, since the products they sell are typically from insurers, who control the rates, for example.

To take control you need to partner with the human resources department, “which has the potential to truly be that strategic driver in an organization.” Yet, when companies realized that HR could change their companies and create the experience employees need, they did not find strategic thinkers, Trokey says. Instead the department consisted primarily of administrative staff. “They weren’t prepared to take on this [strategic] role with the organization,” he says.

That “creates opportunity for us,” Trokey adds. “If you get yourself aligned with [a client’s] strategic vision, that’s when you go from being an expense to being an investment. . . . [It’s] your time to come in and fill the strategic void and when you fill that strategic void, that’s something you can control and take control of how you get paid,” he adds.

Everyone benefits when you can get HR connected, which all starts with building a plan. “If you can’t commit to that, I don’t know what to tell you,” he concludes. “The cost of doing nothing at this point – that could be detrimental.”

By Brian M. Kalish