HomebusinesshealthAwards and RecognitionbusinesshealthResourcesBlog
The Callery Group
About UsOur ServicesContact Us

Who’s Your “Broker” Working For?
In a world of brokers, agents, advisors and consultants, it’s important to stay focused on who’s really working for you

A consumer show on Canadian television a few weeks ago really surprised a lot of us when they blew the whistle on the difference between a “financial adviser,” with an “e” and a “financial advisor,” with an “o.” The “financial adviser” is a certified professional with a fiduciary duty to serve the client’s best interests; the “financial advisor” can be just anyone, with or without certification, and with no particular duty to the client at all – he or she is likely a salesperson working for a financial institution to sell investment products.

Both are entirely legitimate and have their roles to play. The only problem arises when consumers assume that they are working with an “adviser” with their best interests at heart, when they are in fact dealing with an “advisor” who earns commission selling them whatever product is being offered at the time.

That got me thinking about our line of work. In the employee benefits business, the terms “broker”, “agent”, “advisor” and “consultant” get kicked around quite a bit, and it’s often not clear who’s what, what the differences are, and why you should care.

But the bottom line is that, whoever or whatever you’re dealing with, you want to make sure that the only “skin in the game” he, she or they have is getting you the right package of price and service from insurance providers.

You don’t really want just a “middleman” standing between you and the insurance providers, choosing ones that work for them, and charging a fee to you. You want a consultant who works for you, who finds you the service, quality and sustainable price you can rely on, and who will be there when you need them. Are you getting the value that you’re paying for?

Here are some of the questions you want to make sure are answered when you’re looking at potential benefits specialists.

Rates: Yes, the overall rates you pay are very important, but are you truly getting the value that you’re paying for? And are the rates you’re looking at going to be sustainable beyond that first year, or will they go up once you’re committed?

Liability: Does your benefits specialist work with you and your benefits administrators to identify the potential pitfalls that could lead to unexpected liability issues? Do they have the experience to have “seen it all before” and give you the heads up on what to look out for and what to guard against?

Education: Does your benefits specialist provide education, information and updates to you and your employees?

Tech: Does your benefits specialist have access to the technology and training you and your employees are coming to expect, such as online resources and tools, apps that run on mobile devices – even tools to track attendance, billing and so on?

Buying power: Does your benefits specialist have the buying power and clout in the market to get not only the right price, but also the prompt attention and service you expect?

Benchmarking: Can your benefits specialist provide reliable benchmarking to let you compare – in detail – your proposed plan with the plans of other, similar groups in your industry?

Commitment: Is your benefits specialist willing to take the time and make the commitment to understand the challenges of your industry as well as your particular needs, goals and priorities?

Track record: Does your benefits specialist have an established track record of providing service – of being there when they’re needed? Do they go above and beyond when called upon? Can they give you examples? Do they have long-term clients who are happy with them?

Specialist:Is your benefits specialist truly a specialist? Are they knowledgeable, experienced, up to date on developments in employee benefits, and deeply live-it-and-breathe-it-every-day familiar with all aspects the business? Are they truly masters of this trade, or do you get the feeling they are jacks of all trades, offering you every kind of coverage from commercial to home to auto?

From where I’m sitting, all of those points really add up to defining the relationship. Can you call your benefits specialist any time you need something and not have to spell your name twice on the phone? Are they out in front of changes and developments, and will they make the call to keep you up to date? Will they go the extra mile when you need them? Do they work to maintain that two-way relationship with you, the client, so that they’re always current on your changing needs? And, just as important, do they maintain that same kind of relationship with insurers in order to have that instant access on your behalf?

Of course, like so many things in life, I guess it all boils down to a couple of the oldest clichés in the book – “Buyer beware,” and “You get what you pay for.” I’d say that a good starting point is to make sure that your consultant – or agent or broker or whatever – is actually working with you and for you.

If there is a topic that you would like me to write about,

please email me at bill@penmore.com.

Copyright Notice

All rights reserved. All of the content herein is the sole property of the Callery Group, and may not be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in a retrieval system - in whole or in part - without the written permission of the Callery Group. Links to the originating article at www.callerygroup.com are permitted.

The Buzz Bits
Miscellaneous links to interesting benefits information

Big Changes Coming to Ontario Employment Standards and Labour Relations Laws

What can employers do to create psychologically healthy workplaces?

Ontario urged to consider minimum standard for health benefits

Avoid pitfalls when forced to terminate an employee on medical leave

WSIB drug changes shifted claims to other insurers: report

Advisors can help employers prepare their staffers for retirement

Will Ottawa’s new plan lower Canada's high drug prices? - The Globe and Mail

27 easy ways to sleep better tonight - Blog | GoodLife Fitness

Six practical considerations for medical marijuana coverage in ASO plans

New mental-health training kit introduced for SMEs

Community Ethics, Big City Expertise

Subscribe to the Buzz Blog

Blog archive

Time To Get Ahead Of The Curve

"We've all been working from home for the last four months and now it looks like we're probably never going to go back to working in the office." It’s a statement I'm hearing every day, as more and more workplaces are discovering that working from home is working out better than anyone ever imagined. [more]

Hitting Reset On The Mindset

We can't afford to think "when this is over." We have a job to do and a chance to step up and really shine [more]

Working From Home

10 ways to communicate effectively in a working-from-home environment  [more]

Managing Paramedical Benefits

Think aboutwhy you offer paramedical benefits in order to manage them effectively  [more]

It's All About The Experience

I thought cell phone dependency was a cliche - until I lost mine far from home  [more]

What Happened When I Lost My Phone

I thought cell phone dependency was a cliche - until I lost mine far from home  [more]

"Mental Health" Doesn't Mean What it Used to Mean

We’re done admiring the problem, and it’s time to take some action  [more]

When There is No Return to Work

An Ontario court has set a limit on employers' return-to-work obligations  [more]

Rooting Out the Root Causes

When benefits fraud gets out of hand, it's a sign of big problems higher up  [more]

Four Key Gaps in Benefits Plans

Annual Sanofi survey zeros in on knowledge gaps in plan management [more]

How to Avoid Falling Through the Generation Gaps

Never mind "the older" and "the younger" generation – there are now five of them [more]

Predictive Analysis and Three Other Trends to Watch

Benefits and wellness programs are never going to be the same again [more]

Pharmacare: A Solution Looking for a Problem

Pharmacare would be such a good idea - if everybody wasn't already covered [more]

When the "Human Side" Gets Right in Your Face

A seriously injured client gives us a whole new perspective on resilience [more]

Is Virtual Health Care the New Must-Have Benefit?

In the age of the smart phone, do we really still need to line up and wait to talk to a doctor? [more]

Three Things I Learned from Doc Martin

When it comes to losing weight, there are a few basics you just can't get around [more]

Top 10 Take-Aways from a Crazy Busy Year

What we can learn from the biggest and most controversial issues we've looked at this year [more]

Engagement is the New Normal

What do employees really want from their jobs? [more]

10 Things You Need to Know about Travel Insurance

How to avoid making the mistakes that could cost you your insurance coverage [more]

How to Give First Aid for Mental Health

There's a new perspective on mental health at work, and it's a real eye-opener [more]

What Else Is In Bill 148 - And Why You Need to Know

There's a lot more to Bill 148 than minimum wage hikes and personal emergency leave [more]

The Next Big Thing in Benefits?

Major insurance providers are looking seriously at covering pharmacogenetic testing [more]

Will Cannabis Legalization Change Attitudes about Testing?

New legal limits for impairment may have a bigger impact than legalization [more]

Avoiding The Dreaded "Claim Rejected"

Benefits administrators are always caught in the middle when claims are rejected [more]

Big Data Takes On Benefits Fraud

Data analysis is starting to make a dent in many benefits fraud schemes [more]

The Chronic Pain Puzzle

Financial costs alone are higher than cancer, heart disease and HIV combined [more]

Financial Wellness: Why Money Management Counseling is Such a Good Idea

Debt counseling and money management education can make a big difference for employees [more]

The Next Big Thing: Mental Health Policy

It's time to get ahead of the curve on this one [more]

Unintended Lessons I've learned about Blogging so far

You never know what's going to happen when you click on a link [more]

Drugs, Alcohol and, Oh Yes, Marijuana

Changing times may require all of us to take a long hard look at our drug-and-alcohol policies [more]

Best Tips For Sleeping Well

If you're just not sleeping well, there are some pretty effective things you can do to make it better [more]

Survey Says: Wellness Programs Improve Overall Satisfaction

It seems that employees' satisfaction with wellness programs spills over into satisfaction with their benefits programs and their jobs in general [more]

Changes Coming to Personal Emergency Leave Laws

Amendments to the Employment Standards Act will significantly increase legally mandated employee leaves [more]

The Good News and the Bad News on Diabetes

We keep hearing about a "diabetes epidemic," but there are things we can do now to improve our odds of beating the statistics [more]

Who's Your "Broker" Working For?

In a world of brokers, agents, advisors and consultants, it's important to stay focused on who's really working for you [more]

The Secret to Really Good Workplace Wellness

Workplace wellness is a way to solve a lot of problems before they even come up [more]

Medical Marijuana - More Questions than Answers

A lack of medical consensus makes drug plan coverage of medical marijuana very difficult [more]

Pharmacogenomics Means Better Prescriptions

A simple DNA test can now help pinpoint which drugs are going to work best for you [more]

Why Airplanes Crash

What one successful CEO learned from air crash investigations – and how it all applies to managing any organization [more]

Not A Delicate Subject Anymore...

How to start the conversation about mental health in the workplace [more]

A Look Inside

There's more to this business that we usually talk about... [more]

Bio What-Now?

Get ready for "generic" biologics. [more]

What You Don't Want to Say to Your Doctor

There are some things that you want to explain to your doctor, and some things you really should stay away from. [more]

Your Dentist's Pet Peeve

Why you should know all the ins and outs of your dental insurance plan before you ever lean back in the chair and open wide [more]

About that Credit Card Travel Insurance

It may be of some value, especially if you have no pre-existing conditions, but you really need to read that fine print [more]

Right Drug, Right Time, Right Cost

Why you should work with your doctor, your pharmacist, and your drug plan to make sure you get optimal treatmenty [more]

Big Smiles

A focus on dental plans will ensure that everyone remains happy [more]

Your Doctor Doesn't Know Everything

When it comes to prescriptions, patients need to be part of the conversation [more]

Prescription for Disaster

Advances in pharmaceuticals are threatening your drug plan [more]

Sleep Easy

Conditions like sleep apnea can be treated, ensuring proper rest and productive days [more]

Easy as EAP

Formal support makes a big difference when employees face personal challenges [more]

Well Done

10 ways to develop an effective workplace wellness program [more]

Mind Matters

Businesses can't afford to ignore the mental health of their employees [more]

Brian's Story

Brian Callery is celebrating 40 years in our business. It's a commitment that makes a difference in his clients' businesses [more]

The Benefits to You

The same plans designed to protect employees will also offer advantages to employers [more]

Lawyer Up

There are legal ramifications around changing benefit plans - especially if an employee is being terminated [more]

Travel Trauma

Dream vacations can turn into nightmares when travel insurance claims are denied [more]

Evolution Solution

Evolving benefit plans will meet employee needs and support recruiting and retention efforts [more]

Plan & Predict

How rising paramedical claims, drug reforms, and other trends will affect your workplace benefits [more]

Who Benefits

Education makes the case for workplace benefit plans [more]

Season of Renewal

Important questions to ask your benefits advisor before inking a deal [more]

Preventive Measures

Paramedical services help keep employees healthy, on the job, and productive [more]

A Bounce in Their Step

Canada Rubber Group employees are embracing their new wellness program [more]

Business Benefits

Shandex Group and Indaco Manufacturing discuss the value of evolving employee benefits plans [more]

A New Mindset

Workplaces can't afford to ignore the mental health of employees [more]

Cost Cutters

10 cost-cutting strategies to protect your benefits plan [more]

Safe Travels

12 ways to protect yourself on your next vacation [more]

Breaking News

Learn from the mistakes of an AOL executive when discussing any changes to your benefits plans [more]

Watch the Gaps

Protect against turnover and lost opportunities by recognizing the generation gaps [more]

Generation Next

Generation Y represents the future of your business - and will see workplace benefits plans in a different way [more]

Absent Minded

Employers are paying the price for absenteeism, but it can be controlled [more]

Think Positive

Programs that build positive workplaces make business sense [more]

Back to School

8 important lessons your employees need to learn about benefits plans [more]

Find a Better Broker

6 questions you should ask anyone who wants to sell you a benefits plan [more]

Plan Your ROI

5 ways employee benefits plans can deliver a real Return on Investment [more]

The Benefit of Benefits

3 ways a benefits plan can improve your company's bottom line. [more]

A Healthy Dose of Information

5 questions for your pharmacist that might save your drug plan and your wallet. [more]

Claim Denied

Consider these 8 ways to avoid rejected benefit claims. [more]

Travel Planning

6 questions to ask before assuming you are protected by a group plan's travel insurance. [more]

Biologic Logic

Growing list of biologic drugs could bankrupt poorly protected drug plans. [more]

Smart Shopping

8 shopping habits that will protect your benefits plan. [more]

Tough Medicine

Employees will share more responsibilities and higher costs to sustain their benefits. [more]

Crime Costs

5 scams that could be placing your benefits plan at risk. [more]

A Prescription for Your Drug Plan

Skyrocketing drug prices may be threatening your benefits plan, but generic drugs offer a cure. [more]

Planes, Trains and Travel Insurance

The fine print in your travel insurance may leave you more exposed than you think. [more]

Healthy and Wealthy

5 steps to an employee wellness program that will generate real financial returns. [more]

Avoiding Burnout During Holiday Season

Education and Prevention can help control spiraling benefit costs. [more]

Sweat the Small Stuff

Protect your staff by avoiding these common "paperwork" mistakes by administrators. [more]

Services Personal Services Corporate Services