Staying Afloat In Alphabet Soup

Benefits advisors face an awesome responsibility: You have to comprehend the alphabet soup of benefits laws, products and programs well enough to help clients understand what they really mean.

Here are a few ideas about ways to keep all of the professionals in an insurance agency, benefits brokerage firm or other firm that sells benefits up to date.

1. Share information with colleagues. Every day we come across benefits information from many sources, including media, vendors, clients and colleagues. Have each member of your staff contribute at least 2 items per week to an internal e-mail forum. Every week or so, add news and item summaries to a well-indexed, easily searched database.

2. Communicate often. If you want clients to get news from you, rather than from your competitors, send information through e-mail and include links that refer to resources on your Web site. Use tracking software to measure interest in each item on your Web site. Of course, be careful about complying with copyright laws when posting information drawn from copyrighted sources on your Web site.

3. Organize seminars. The Web is great, but nothing beats meeting people face to face.

Invite high-ranking executives from hospitals, insurers, wellness firms, labor groups and schools to join professionals from your own firm as speakers at seminars.

By including your own advisors as speakers, you will automatically put them on the same level as the outside speakers.

Also consider reaching out to lawyers and accountants, who may have relationships with the same kinds of people who should have relationships with your firm.

Remember that building ties with lawyers and accountants should be a 2-way street. Be sure to promote any professional advisors that your firm works with as much as they promote your firm.

Kevin B. Gannon, senior client executive at Brown & Brown of New York Inc., Buffalo, N.Y. He can be reached at kgannon@niagarainsurance.com.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, April 15, 2005. Copyright 2005 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.