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The Annual Census: An Opportunity to Add Benefits Clients

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What You Need to Know

  • Maybe you do a little retirement plan and group benefits business.
  • Maybe you would like to attract more of that business.
  • The ability to solve annual census headaches could be the magnet.

There are several key moments in the year when benefits advisors can demonstrate their expertise and attention to detail.

One is the annual census.

The period for counting employees runs from late January through early February.

It will be the first opportunity of 2023 to offer value to current and prospective clients, and it would be good to begin thinking about that opportunity now.

For some plan sponsors, the annual census creates confusion and extra work.

Sponsors’ problems can be magnified if they’re not partnering with a recordkeeper that focuses on meticulous data collection.

The right recordkeeper or third-party administrator can help streamline the annual census process. Introduce clients to providers who collect information on all employees — not just plan participants — throughout the year.

And work with a provider that offers a system for validating and correcting payroll data that integrates with payroll providers.

When prospecting, you can ask the following questions about their census experience to help uncover service or data accuracy issues:

  • “Do you know the steps required to complete the census?”
  • “Do you get the support you need from your provider?”
  • “How does your provider collect employee data for the census? Is it collected year-round from all employees?”
  • “Does your provider answer your questions quickly and accurately?”

If prospects say that they don’t know the answers, or that the provider doesn’t do those things, that may be an opportunity for further, productive conversations.


Katie SheligaEkaterina “Katie” Sheliga, MBA, AIF, CPFA, is the national accounts sales director at The Standard and a registered representative at StanCorp Equities.

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(Image: UfaBizPhoto/Shutterstock)