by Ron Fields
The 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report for Brokers is out, and it’s no surprise that the initial focus was on the steady stream of industry flight. It’s true. The study revealed nearly half of health insurance brokers are considering leaving the industry and nearly 70 % of brokers have peers who’ve already walked away.
That’s the downer. And it’s the last bit of bad news you’ll read in this message. Because guess what? If you’re reading this publication, you’ve decided to hang in there and find ways to succeed, or you haven’t made the final choice to throw in the towel. So let’s focus on the good news that validates the decisions of brokers who’ve decided to stay the course:
1. Brokerages of all sizes have accepted the reality of the new health insurance law and are responding to industry changes. Those who are adapting are finding ways to navigate the shifting landscape.
2. Determined-to-succeed brokers are adapting, evolving and looking for smart ways to replace the portion of their business that’s eroding due to the legislation. One way they’re doing that is by filling gaps in their portfolios (not to mention their incomes) by increasing their recommendation of voluntary products. According to the Aflac study, 38 % of participating brokers predict the proportion of voluntary insurance benefits they sell will increase over the next 12 months.
3. Brokers with the foresight to fill holes in their clients’ portfolios with voluntary benefit options are reaping major rewards: They’re more likely to increase their client bases than brokers who don’t offer voluntary insurance products, and they’re also more likely to grow their sales.
4. Workers are confused about health care changes, and so are business decision makers. As a result, 45% of companies surveyed intend to increase their reliance on brokers or insurance providers when making changes to their benefit plans. This provides brokers with the opportunity to leverage the health care law by using it to generate revenue from a larger, more diverse client base.
5. The majority of brokers (79%) at least somewhat agree that their clients are not prepared for the health care overhaul. Brokers are increasing their value by showcasing their knowledge and capabilities through expanded consulting services. Fully 78% of brokers agree, at least somewhat, that they’ve expanded their consulting services or created new consulting practices in the past year. This means that they’re not only selling insurance, but they’re also taking on a more consultative role by educating their clients about insurance options and providing guidance about the benefits that meet the needs of their clients and their clients’ employees.
6. Brokers are adjusting to the health care exchange reality by becoming part of the equation. Thirty-five percent are functioning as navigators for insurance products offered through exchanges. Some are even embracing their new reality by pursuing opportunities within exchanges. Others are even launching their own private exchanges.
7. Brokers who’ve experienced a downturn in client retention can see clearer skies ahead: Companies’ use of brokers increased from 56% in 2011 to 61% in 2013 to 64% today.
There you have it — seven clear reasons to remain committed to a career in the broker industry and seven clear reasons to anticipate success. That’s what’s known as looking on the bright side.
Ronald Fields is vice president of North Broker Division for Core Broker Sales at Aflac. He is responsible for developing and strengthening relationships with national and regional brokers, and accounts in the United States. Visit aflac.com/brokers, call 888-861-0251 or e-mail to email@example.com to learn more.
The 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report for Brokers is the second annual Aflac broker study examining benefits trends and attitudes. The study was conducted among 314 brokers in January 2014 by Research Now on behalf of Aflac.