What is a Benefits Consultant, and Why Do I Need One?
Simply put: a benefits consultant advises an employer or plan sponsor about group insurance or employee benefits.
Now, let us show you why that’s so useful...
So, to recap, benefits consultants:
Make sense out of the complex benefits landscape
Partner with you to assess benefits administration needs
Make sure you have the right technology in place
Negotiate with vendors on your behalf
Help you incentivize healthy employees, driving down risks
Keep up with health insurance regulations for you
Help you grow your business!
How Do I Choose a Benefits Consultant?
Many firms can advise you about benefits. How do you choose the right one?
You could start by sending out an RFP: Request for Proposal. The RFP lets you assess a consultant’s credentials and risk profile. It’s a great tool.
But while the RFP might be a good start, it can be easy for consultants to hide behind shiny graphics and page after page of research, which demonstrate their expertise...but not necessarily their fit for your company.
So bring candidates into your office and get to know them. Good benefit consultants should understand it’s all about you: your goals, your challenges, and how your benefits strategy impacts your business strategy. They must come in with an open, curious mind. They should be ready to understand your business, and demonstrate how they will help you solve the challenges you’re facing.
“Good benefits consultants should understand it’s all about you.”
Then ask other employers for references and their experience with specific consultants. Do they have a reputation of integrity? Proven results?
Look for an advisor who is knowledgeable, well established and a specialist in group benefits. Make sure he or she relies on a team of internal experts who offer in-depth technical and market knowledge.
“Make sure your consultant relies on a team of experts.”
A good consultant will come to the table with:
Education for you and your employees about benefits
Underwriting, actuarial support and risk analysis
Regulatory compliance expertise
Leverage and relationships within the benefits marketplace
An understanding of the technology you need to manage your benefits
Don’t rest on an RFP. Get to know the person behind it. When you trust your consultant, you can trust your results.
How Does the Process Work?
A consultant should always analyze four perspectives of your company before recommending a plan:
Employees. How many people work for you? What do they need? How do they feel about their current benefits?
Leadership. What are your leadership’s goals? What is their risk profile? What are their financial boundaries?
History. What is the history of your contributions, claims, utilization and carrier relationships?
Marketplace. What is your employees’ current compensation? How does it benchmark against other similar companies?
These perspectives help consultants determine your risk tolerance, culture, past performance and ultimate goals. A great consultant never proposes a plan without first seeking to understand your business.
Is the Relationship Working?
To find out, ask yourself these questions:
Is your HR team breathing easier?
Do your employees understand their benefits better?
Are your employees leading healthier lifestyles?
Are your benefits plan and your business goals aligned?
Then you’ve got a great relationship, and your benefits consultant is serving your business. Just remember: it’s all about you!
Learn More About HCW
Hill, Chesson & Woody is a team of benefits experts ready to put our long experience in the field to work for you. We’re different than other consulting firms. Here’s how.