Boutique Sweet: A New Way of Delivering Employee Benefits
by PAUL BEAUVAIS
Through 30 years in the benefits industry, it was standard business that specialists and brokers concentrated on either retirement and pensions or health and dental realms.
After a lengthy corporate career, I am fortunate to now be with a boutique firm that provides both. And it’s a big deal. Not only is the cumulative industry knowledge at my fingertips unmatched, but how I’m able to serve my clients and their employees is unparalleled in the conventional market.
At our firm, we use a holistic and pro-active approach to creating, maintaining and updating client portfolios. Responding to change is key. Whether they want to add a health/dental/retirement plan or start/add a healthcare spending account, we respond according to client priorities, remain engaged and follow-up throughout the year in several ways.
The most pleasant part of my job is reminding clients that the olden days are long gone; building and adjusting employee benefit plans has never been easier – as long as they’re working with the right team.
Understanding the new normal of delivering employee benefits:
• Not All Insurance Providers Are Alike • Not All Benefit Plans Are Alike • The New Job Market Needs a New Response • Asking for More is More Than Okay
Not All Insurance Providers Are Alike
No one likes being on hold.
And no HR staff want to be put on hold by an insurance provider while hearing a recording saying your call is important to them.
When a company makes customer service a priority, as mine does, it means we have a team of Customer Experienced reps will make the calls and wait on hold so the clients don’t have to. Then they get back to you with answers and options.
“Building your CX Brand – Improving Client Retention Rate Through Customer Service” by Chad Donnelly, CEO and co-founder of Peak Benefit Solutions.
Education is the keystone of our Customer Experience commitment. Where many insurance companies and brokers deal only with HR staff to explain the process of submitting claims and adding or removing employees (and some, to be honest, don’t even do this step), it’s our policy to come on site to deliver our plans to both HR and employees.
We want to ensure HR receives a clear and engaging introduction to the plan and understand they’re not alone. We believe that empowering employees with clear and accessible comprehension of their benefits package builds savvy consumers with claims and retirement fund choices. They also realize their employer cares about their health and futures.
From here, our Customer Experience representatives provide constant monitoring of the plan and communication with your employees, which returns valuable time to your plan administrator for focussing on projects that really affect your bottom line.
Come mid-year, we check for several reasons:
Responding to client needs in the moment; new hires, imminent retirements, new business acquisitions or market correction responses.
Monitoring intake and retention rates in the event adjustments are needed to attract and keep new employees.
Updating clients on what competitors are offering their employees.
Apprising clients of imminent trends
Ensuring promised customer experience levels are being reached. Sometimes checking in simply means checking in.
Not All Benefit Plans Are Alike
When employees receive clear instruction on all aspects of their benefit package and know their HR department supports them, they’ll initiate requests for their own wellbeing.
One of the most generous benefits being offered by employers these days is a Critical Illness Plan (CIP). One of the fastest growing group employee benefits in Canada, CIP offers a tax-free, lump sum payout to the policy holder after a short waiting period following the diagnosis and of stroke, heart attack, paralysis, kidney failure, multiple sclerosis or life-threatening cancer. The employee has complete independence over how to spend the money.
Something I’d rarely seen in all my years working in the benefits field is employers adding a retirement package to their health plan. In fact, some prospective clients are calling and wanting both implemented at the same time. It’s a whole new ball game.
Which leads us to one of employers’ greatest challenge: hiring new staff.
The New Job Market Needs a New Response
The time and expense of hiring and training employees is now exacerbated by an unfortunate new trend: that of potential employees ghosting or saying taking a job with someone else mid-interview process. Employers realize they need to table an enticing benefits package just to keep moving ahead with next-step interviews.
Here’s a few ways we lay the groundwork to ensure employers are fully prepared for this scenario:
Benchmarking industry norms
We track competitors’ offerings, assess how to match this data or raise a company profile above the rest by including health, dental and a retirement plan as part of a competitive compensation package. There may be less commonly known benefits to help a company stand out in its field.
Both health and retirement benefits, for business owners and executives, should be targeted with a singular focus on tax savings.
Recommending plan designs
We start by presenting the strategy to the client, then market to several insurers before presenting our findings. Of course, pricing is one factor but we also discuss the expenses of the insurer, trend factors, reserves and rate guarantees along with renewal costs with a certain cap or maximum increase.
Finally, we’ll make a recommendation to you, explain what factors contributed to our choice, and then, most importantly, discuss next steps together.
If your current broker isn’t discussing these actions with you, you may want to ask why not.
Asking for More is More Than Okay
If you’re an HR professional or small-to-medium sized business owner, and you’re already getting service like this from your insurance provider, congrats on being an industry leader.
If you’re curious about tax savings advantages by adjusting your current benefits and retirement plans or have questions about this article, send me a message.
Tailor-made benefits plans, on-site education and a customer experience team sized to our client base are just three of the many services that make me proud to be where I am in my career. No matter where we our in our careers, we can all be hopeful that the current trend of offering both healthcare and retirement benefits will remain a sensible investment for employers. ~
PAUL BEAUVAIS, GBA, CMA
REGIONAL VICE PRESIDENT
KINGSTON / EASTERN ONTARIO
Peak Benefit Solutions
Paul brings over 30 years of experience in the group benefits and group retirement industry with him to his role at Peak Benefit Solutions. He specializes in providing superior knowledge on group benefit and retirement plans that meet the unique needs of entrepreneurs and small business owners. Drawing upon his extensive experience in the industry and his strong customer service background, Paul’s expertise is frequently relied upon by business leaders across the Durham region and Central Ontario.
Paul lives in Durham with his wife and daughter where he is an active community member with several organizations including the Courtice food bank and the Lions Club.
Peak Benefit Solutions Inc. was established in 2008 and have helped more than 400 clients from entrepreneurs, manufacturing, professional services and public organizations with their comprehensive benefits planning. Every step of the way, we are with you.