It’s been a week since the Beam Team was at the 2019 BenefitsPRO Broker Expo, and—much to my team’s delight—I’ve finally stopped humming the tune of “Welcome to Miami.” The expo did not disappoint; when we weren’t hunting down the perfect Cuban sandwich, we had the opportunity to meet tons of innovative brokers and fellow exhibitioners.
Each year, the nation’s employee benefits leaders come together for the BenefitsPRO Expo to discuss the current state of our market, learn from their peers, and have a little fun! This year, the overarching theme heard loud and clear from both attendees and speakers was around the idea that embracing digital is the only way to stay ahead.
Below, I’ve included a list of five “must-dos” to succeed in this evolving, increasingly digital market.
1. Provide streamlined, intuitive solutions.
Eastbridge Consulting’s Nick Rockwell stated that the biggest obstacle facing brokers this year will be keeping up with technology. While our industry is only expected to grow 4% this year, the growth will be distributed across many more players than the 15 currently owning 77% of sales. With an increase in options, especially tech-forward ones, a broker will need to understand which benefit carriers are providing the most streamlined, intuitive solutions to ensure both their and their clients' lives remain as easy as possible.
2. Build a digital stamp and protect it.
Erik Qualman, bestselling author and keynote speaker, spoke on the importance of building a strong digital stamp and protecting it. A digital stamp is a combination of a person or company’s digital footprint (what we post about ourselves and our business) and digital shadow (what others post about us). The key to being successful in the digital space is not only building a solid digital stamp, but protecting it. As people look to online profiles, company websites, and reviews more and more, continued success comes from ensuring the picture (or digital stamp) they find is positive.
3. Customize programs to add value.
Kariem Cade from Great Lakes Benefit Group spoke on how brokers can effectively work with the C-suite. As cost control becomes more and more important for companies, brokers’ main stakeholder is pivoting away from an HR contact and towards senior leadership. With this shift, offering very clear value by bringing customized, cost-reducing strategies to the table is imperative. To do this, brokers need to align themselves with carriers who will collaborate to make this happen.
4. Offer differentiation that will integrate seamlessly.
Eric Silverman hosted a panel discussion where influential brokers talked about how they filter out the noise to make the best possible decisions for their clients. With countless vendors reaching out to brokers—many of which are offering marginally different flavors of the same product—Jim Blachek of The Benefits Group, LLC said new vendors must be able to prove that they’re clearly differentiated in the marketplace. Additionally, Marcy Heath of InoVentive Solutions discussed that with so many balls in the air at any given time, she is constantly looking for new ways to streamline processes. It is incumbent upon carriers to not only offer a unique solution, but also ensure working with them is easy and will integrate seamlessly into a broker’s day-to-day.
5. Understand and embrace UBI and IoT.
Beam’s CEO, Alex Frommeyer, discussed how Usage-Based Insurance (UBI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) will have a direct impact on employers’ approach to benefits in the future. Just as everything in our lives gets smarter (smart phones, digital assistants, smart doorbells, etc.), we will see this trend broaden its reach into the insurance space. It’s already started with insurance products that utilize consumer data to offer discounts for safe driving or regularly exercising or good dental care (like Beam’s very own Beam Perks), and it will only continue to expand.
As you can see, the market is demanding customizable, technology-forward products. To stay ahead of the curve, continue to ask yourself: am I using technology to grow my business? Am I building the digital stamp I want to build? Am I offering differentiated solutions to my partners and clients? By asking these questions at each decision point, you’re preparing for a successful future.