Advance Planning Opportunity

Resources For Group Benefits Brokers

By Phil Calhoun

New for 2023: A series of news and articles will be focused on key small business owner trends. Learn about and contribute news and updates that impact small business owners as we help health brokers learn about what’s trending. We welcome your input and contributions in this planning category. 

In this January article we introduce succession planning for small business owners.  

We also offer an open invitation for health brokers to participate in monthly Exit Planning Institute  Chapter meetings. The meetings bring together various advisors representing multiple disciplines including: financial planners, attorneys, CPAs, real estate, banking, and more to learn how to help clients with succession planning and find collaborative opportunities to work together. There is no cost to attend most chapter meetings, and you can register to attend using the link below. In addition, in the first quarter of 2023 we will be offering “Succession Planning for Health Insurance Professionals Program” — a more formal learning process specially designed to enhance health brokers skills and their ability to help business owner clients. More information coming soon! 

 The goal of this process is to help health brokers be a resource for their clients and add another method to prospect for new group clients. Most health brokers avoid this topic, as succession planning for business owners involves many details. All planning is customized for each client. The typical planning team includes professionals in tax, finance and legal. These disciplines are required to create comprehensive plans which encompass short to long term, integrated personal and business succession issues. In total, the process we outline is designed to address all the aspects the owner desires for their personal and business future. This includes the health insurance professional as an active member of the team.

Small Business Factoids

  • What is the size of the small business market?

The California economy is bolstered by 4.1 million small businesses which represent 99.8% of all businesses in the state and employ 7.2 million people, or 48.5% of the private workforce.

  • Why is planning an issue now? 

Because 83% of business owners are boomers and will retire within 12 years. 

This aging out trend will significantly impact the small group marketplace. Health brokers who are or work to become trusted advisors can help business owners through the process and work with an experienced succession planning team.  

  • What is the demand?

A massive 93% of business owners have NO formal life plan.

The opportunity is open for health brokers to grow into a greater role and be part of a collaborative effort to help business owner clients move through the planning process. This aging out process is huge now and will continue for the next several years. 

  • Do they need — or want — help?

I would say a resounding YES. A full 80% of owners have 90% of their net worth tied up in their business, and 75% want to exit within 8 years.

Access proven resources and professional expertise

Through the Exit Planning Institute Chapter meetings and the upcoming Succession Planning for Health Insurance Professionals Program, the resources of the Southern California Institute (SCI) are available for select health brokers throughout California. 

The Succession Planning for Health Insurance Professionals Program has several advantages and key components that will build on each other, encompassing six modules. All modules are designed exclusively for health insurance professionals. The first few modules will be focused on: 

  •      Introducing the process of succession planning 
  •      An overview of basic and advanced legal, financial and tax succession planning tools experienced professionals use with great success to help business owners 
  •      How brokers can become a valued resource and connector for their business owner client. 

If a health broker has local tax or legal professional relationships it is possible to include them in the process. The key is a client centered focus with the health broker a key part of planning team. The team will have the expertise to collaborate when needed to help build a plan that addresses all your client’s needs — from tax to estate to retirement planning. Finally, we explain the role of the connector to the collaborative succession planning team. We also cover how the health insurance professional will benefit from the success of the implemented plan.  

Program Goal:

In 2023, our intention is to educate 50 group health insurance professionals and cover the succession planning tools SCI and its family of resources use. Brokers will also be connected with experienced professionals who will be collaborate partners.  

As trusted benefits professionals, health brokers have a unique relationship with business owners. The relationship is at two levels: personal and professional. As the personal advocate for employees — and often for the business owner and their loved ones — health brokers play a critical role to educate clients about how to access the medical care needed and make sure the plan benefits cover the costs as promised. The professional level involves education about the plan coverages, networks and premiums, as well as understanding the out-of-pocket costs when benefits are used. 

Trust is built over time as a health broker works with the owner. Together they develop a plan to solve the owner’s benefits issues, for accessing the right care, for solving the medical bills for employees, or opening the path for referral to tests, treatments and specialists. All these points of service lead to the trusted advisor role. 

Become an active trusted advisor

Health brokers who focus on doing their job while connecting business owners with resources and professionals to solve problems will become a trusted and valued advisor. Given the fact that many business owners over the next 5 to ten years will look to develop a succession plan and that health insurance professionals are often considered a valuable and trusted advisor, there is an opportunity for brokers to extend their relationship to a new and different level. 

Be aware that not every client is a good fit for this process. But keep in mind as you present group benefits health, life and disability you are already explaining tools which are succession planning related. Most business owners are open to the topic. Owners may have common questions, but the actual process in highly personal.

Here are typical questions from health brokers we have worked with:

  •     How do I learn about the process of succession planning? 
  •     What is the best way to approach my client? 
  •     Why bother bringing this issue up? 
  •     What is in it for me?

“Health insurance brokers who can learn about the succession planning process will become even more valuable to their clients,” explains Joseph Strazzeri, co-owner of the Southern California Instituteand Care to Know Family of Resources. “Understanding how the collaborative process is a natural and powerful force and working with a solid succession planning team of professionals is vital to this process. We help trusted advisors be more valuable to their clients and they participate in the successful plan.

“When health brokers think about the valuable role they currently fill for clients and then learn about the succession planning process, they discover how they can be even more helpful to a client,” Strazzeri notes. 

Danniel Wexler SM LLP explains, “This level of planning helps clients reach their dreams. Our broker centered training process will be a fit for those brokers looking to help their business owner clients. It is truly rewarding to help a client build their business and then take this most valuable asset and position it in the future to have the best chance to transfer or sell the business. Since we consistently include insurance tools in the plans we develop, health brokers share in this success.” 

Next Step: Plans for 2023 and succession planning education 

SCI will launch the Succession Planning for Health Insurance Professionals Program in the first quarter of 2023. The program will include online resources, both live online and recorded education sessions, client focused calls for health insurance professionals in California, and in person monthly meetings to network with business exit planning professionals. SCI instructors will also be available to provide phone support for client case review.

Interested? Sign up to attend the EPI OC Chapter meetings, and/or to participate in the Succession Planning for Health Insurance Brokers Program. Subscribe to our eNewsletter to receive succession planning news, articles and events. 

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Call to learn more: Shelley Lightfoot at 858-200-1911

PHIL CALHOUN is an employee benefits professional.


JOE STRAZZERI is counselor and attorney for successful families and business owners. He is an educator for wealth advisors. Joe is a thought leader and provides resources, education, and advice via collaborative think tanks, events, programs, online content, and introductions through his three organizations Southern California Institute, The Founders Group, and his firm Strazzeri Mancini LLP.

DANNIEL WEXLER, a New York native, completed law school at USC. He is recognized as one of Worth magazine’s Top 100 estate planning attorneys in the U.S. Danny also manages the Orange County Exit Planning Institute, a professional collaborative of CPAs, bankers, attorneys, financial planners and business brokers. He is of counsel to Strazzeri and Mancini LLP.