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Are non-insured benefits a tool to help combat commission compression and how can you integrate them into your practice?

Regulatory changes, complexities introduced by the Affordable Care Act, and challenges facing HR directors to maximize employee benefits while reducing costs provide opportunities for advisors to offer additional services to supplement diminished commissions.

Joel Ray, the chairman and CEO of New Benefits, joins us on this week’s podcast to share helpful information about what non-insured benefits are available and how advisors can incorporate them with their clients, and how to use them as a differentiator with prospects.

We begin the conversation with an overview and examples of non-insured benefits. Joel explains how non-insured benefits can be combined with traditional benefits to better serve clients and increase your bottom line. He believes advisors should start with the conversation. According to Joel, you can never have a bad conversation and this sets the stage to understand your client’s needs allowing you to guide them into the best solutions.

We explore the case for companies to view financial wellbeing as having a direct impact on employee productivity as well as mental and physical wellness. Finally, Joel provides his take on the growth potential of non-insured products. He lays out just how much he thinks non-insured products will become a stable part of the product offering companies are looking for in the future.

What You’ll Learn From this Episode:

  • The top four areas of client interest for non-insurance benefits.
  • How to define an aggregator.
  • Whether advisors should go direct to plans.
  • How advisors position non-insured benefits alongside their other offerings and services.
  • Why financial wellness is the new “master benefit”.

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Beyond the technicalities of the DOL Fiduciary Rule are the practicalities of how to adjust your practice to comply while still delivering a high level of client service.

In an earlier episode, we examined the structure and context of the DOL’s newest edict. And while it is great to know the ins and outs of the rule, the more pressing question for practitioners is what it actually means at “ground level”. That aspect of the rule has been missing in some of the recent press coverage, so ShiftShapers went to an expert and educator to learn more. This is especially important information for benefits advisors who occasionally find themselves in areas covered by these regulations and for those who may be thinking about expanding their practices into those disciplines.

Jamie Hopkins is here with us this week to outline what exactly will change in light of this ruling. Jamie is an Associate Professor of Taxation at the American College with extensive experience teaching classes on retirement, estate planning, and life insurance.

Our conversation begins with a recap of the new fiduciary regulations: why they matter, and what they’re going to change. We discuss how the ruling encourages those selling benefits to either jump in the industry completely or step back. This should de-incentivize firms from selling only the occasional annuity or IRA, requiring them to have a big-picture understanding of both their advice and the market.We then explore how advisors can be sure they are in compliance with the ruling, and how they can still earn commission by applying for exemptions (and doing considerable paperwork).

To wrap up, Jamie walks us through the questions you should ask when if you decide not to go it alone and are considering a strategic partnership with another allied professional – and they aren’t the questions you might expect!

If you’re hoping to make sense of the DOL’s ruling on a functional level, Jamie’s clear-cut advice is for you — join us!

What You’ll Learn From this Episode:

  • A breakdown of the fiduciary ruling, and how it might affect you.
  • How the rules discourage firms from merely dabbling in the sale of qualified retirement plans.
  • How advisors can be sure they are complying with the new regulations.
  • Why financial services professionals are now required to avoid conflicts of interest with clients and firms alike.
  • How to vet a potential strategic partnership with another benefits firm.

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If you want to help your clients engage, put away the product and focus on curated content and micro-moments.

Helping consumers engage more easily with your services can help you maximize your efforts and your profitability. But what components do you need and how do you deliver them for best effect?

Veer Gidwaney, the co-founder and CEO at Maxwell Health, joins us this week to answer these questions and more. He has extensively studied benefits technology platforms and shares his knowledge about how we can seamlessly integrate benefits enrollment, management, and other tools to redefine the way clients understand managing their health.

We open our discussion by asking Veer to define “engagement”. We explore the importance of immediately being there for an employee or client that needs you. He notes that, especially in those micro-moments when clients must access their benefits, it’s crucial to understand the emotional dimension as well as the product details.

Then, we delve into the complexity of purchasing and understanding benefits – the crux of which is that consumers, on average, have access to six to twelve different products and services. The challenge, according to Veer, is how to connect these disparate benefits within one platform experience to help clients and their families better manage them.

Finally, we discuss the place of supportive communities in the world of health and benefits, not only for those with conditions that are integral to their daily lives but for those living relatively healthy lives that may want to prevent illnesses down the line.

What You’ll Learn From this Episode:

  • Why helping consumers engage has nothing to do with a product.
  • Why we should embrace the emotional aspect of a sale rather than ignore it.
  • Why our industry might benefit from ceasing to present itself as so much more complex than other, similarly complex industries.
  • What constitutes “adaptive technology” and why it matters.
  • Why curated content is often more important than sheer volume of content.
  • How we can transform the value proposition for advisors.

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Who is trying to change the Employer Exclusion and why? How will the new overtime and wellness rules affect you? Jessica Waltman’s quarterly visit explains it all!

In her last quarterly visit with us, Jessica Waltman profiled the Ds vs. the Rs regarding the Employer Health Tax Exclusion. A lot has happened since then. In this episode, we explore some recent Congressional hearings on the matter and alternatives being offered from across the political spectrum. You may be surprised by some of the political alignments on this most important issue!

We also discuss the new Department of Labor Overtime Rule and what it really means for employers and employees alike. More guidance may be forthcoming but if implemented as written, the Rule could have a significant impact on the economy and we will help you be better prepared to discuss the ins and outs with your clients.

The final regulatory nugget we have seen since Jessica’s last visit are some new proposed Wellness Rules from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that intent to clarify how certain wellness program components intersect and interact with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and more. While these are only proposed rules, Jessica shares her insight into the effect they would have and how to prepare your clients with such programs to begin thinking about possible problem areas.

And, it wouldn’t be a visit with Jessica if we didn’t throw in a bit of politics – especially this time of the general election cycle. We chat about Hillary Clinton’s call for the so-called “public option”, what that might mean and how it would roll out – if it came to pass. Don’t miss this fast-paced look at the regulatory and political news of the day.

What You’ll Learn From this Episode:

  • How you and your clients will be affected by the new wellness rules.
  • What the new overtime regulations are, and who they apply to.
  • What employer tax exclusion is, and who supports it.
  • The pros and cons of a public option health care service.

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If you are thinking about taking a more consultative approach and want a roadmap for how to get there, this episode is for you!

On this episode, we welcome Chad Schneider, Chief Sales Officer at Code SixFour, who has extensively studied practices around the country and has keen insights into how the most successful advisors are either hanging out “Consultant” shingles or are taking a more consultative approach to working with their prospects and clients.

We begin our conversation at the baseline level – asking Chad to explain what a consultant is and why not every advisor is a consultant today, even if they think they are.

He defines the four quadrants that advisors need to work in so that they can build a solid consulting process: discovery, analysis, solution design, and implementation. Chad also provides a checklist of six key areas that need to be addressed. We discuss some of the technology that advisors can bring into the process to help achieve client goals and create a “value add” for clients.

What You’ll Learn From this Episode:

  • What a consultant is and why not every advisor is a consultant.
  • How to move toward a more consultative approach.
  • The four quadrants of consulting.
  • The six key areas consultants need to discuss.
  • The three “technology buckets” and why they matter.
  • Whether predictive modeling is in your clients’ future.

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Behavioral economics may sound like an oxymoron, but it has everything to do with success in everything from benefit design to sales success.

Jeremy Pincus, Principle at Forbes Consulting Group, studies the topic and believes that it is crucial to more productivity and happier clients. Jeremy explains what that useful offshoot of economics and psychology is all about and why “there’s a factor of emotion all the way going back to policy design, it isn’t just at point of sale.”

In our conversation, we learn the science that explains why giving prospects and clients fewer choices is key to successful sales.  Jeremy explains the concept of “focalism” and how it plays into the sales equation. We also gain insights into the paradox of choice and the hidden forces behind every decision our clients make.

We wrap up the conversation by addressing the importance of storytelling and how it can minimize the biases that often make it challenging for clients to complete their plans.

What You’ll Learn From this Episode:

  • What behavioral economics is all about.
  • What emotional policy design is.
  • What the “number of choices” effect is.
  • The concept of “focalism” and how it plays into the sales equation.
  • Whether storytelling is effective in behavioral economics.

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Are you a “solutionary”?  What is the role of wisdom in ethics, and where does wisdom begin? An old friend of the podcast has a new novel that helps explain it all.

This week, we welcome Tony Boquet back to the podcast. In his “day” job, Tony is Vice President and Adjunct Professor at the American College. Last time we chatted, he told us about changes at the college, but this conversation centers around his new book, The Bloodline of Wisdom: The Awakening of a Modern Solutionary. 

The Bloodline of Wisdom is a compelling and engaging novel that instructs about a serious subject – wisdom and wise decision making. Tony helps us to understand that the avalanche of information available to us does not necessarily provide wisdom. We explore why wisdom is the foundation of our ethical constructs and how it informs the way we act in both our professional and personal lives.

Those who understand these concepts become “solutionaries”, a word Tony created and which he explains in more detail in the podcast. He also gives some examples of how solutionaries and non-solutionaries make decisions and conduct themselves. We wrap up the conversation with the direct lessons that benefits advisors can walk away with after reading Tony’s new book.

What You’ll Learn From this Episode:

  • How Tony’s novel came about and his thought process behind it.
  • Whether the ethics and wisdom are synonymous.
  • Why Tony used a historical context in the book
  • What a solutionary is and who falls into that category.
  • The direct lessons that benefits advisors can walk away with after reading Tony’s book.

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This week, we’re featuring an interview with Steve Cain, Principal and National Sales Leader at LTCI Partners, on the topic of the practice area that has completely redefined itself over the past few years – Long Term Care (LTC).

On this episode of the ShiftShapers Podcast, we discuss why using statistics to market LTC is no longer the best method to use and what advisors should change in their approach to achieve better results. We delve into the reason why Steve believes that Long Term Care is an event-triggered sale.

We also discuss the major differences between the first and second generations of LTC plans and why combo products have recently been getting quite a bit of traction. Join us to hear Steve’s advice on how to have the LTC conversation with employers, and discover the new types of plan designs that are being offered today.

What You’ll Learn From this Episode:

  • Whether advisors are using the right techniques to market LTC insurance.
  • Why Steve believes that LTC is an event-triggered sale.
  • The difference between first and second generation LTC plans.
  • How behavioral finance factors into decision making.
  • The new types of plan designs that are being sold today.

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Should HSAs be thought of as more of a retirement than healthcare tool? We ask practitioner and author Michael Gerali that question and more on this week’s ShiftShapers Podcast.

Michael Gerali is the managing principal at HR Solutions and has co-authored a fascinating book, What You Don’t Know About Retirement Will Hurt You! that explodes some of the myths and misconceptions around retirement and retirement planning. We asked him to join us to discuss the topic of retirement and where it overlaps with the benefits industry.

In this interesting discussion, we dive into the things that baby boomers and their advisors don’t know about the relationship between their health care costs and retirement and why so many think they will not be affected by it. Michael shares the three main rules of retirement and we explore what advisors need to know when talking to their prospects and clients about these critical issues. Learn how you can expand your practice by seamlessly integrating your client’s retirement planning with the benefit advisement you already offer.

What You’ll Learn From this Episode:

  • What baby boomers and their advisors don’t know.
  • Why people think they won’t be affected.
  • The three rules of the new retirement.
  • How advisors can transition to talking about retirement planning.
  • Whether HSAs are more of a retirement than a health vehicle.
  • The three “holy grails” of planning.

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ShiftShapersCoverArtBeing a fiduciary is a big responsibility that many clients don’t fully understand and oftentimes find challenging to carry out – especially in the small and middle market.

We invited Adam Russo, CEO of the Phia Group, back for a return engagement on ShiftShapers.  With all of the news around the new DOL ruling and with the increased interest in self-funding, Adam explains what it means to be a fiduciary, how problems and challenges crop up and a few ways to handle them. We also discuss the liability that attaches to this role and some new tools that help plans deal with the complexity and the liability.

We also ask Adam to explain why all of this applies to the traditional benefit advisor – both for themselves and in their role as trusted client advisors. We explore what advisors who aren’t dealing in traditional ERISA plans need to know to protect themselves and their clients in today’s environment.

We wrap up our conversation with Adam by discussing how benefits advisors can educate themselves on the key elements of self-funding and the opportunities this unique financing arrangement provides in a post-ACA environment.

What You’ll Learn From this Episode:

  • The DOL Fiduciary Rule.
  • What a fiduciary is.
  • Whether the benefit advisors are fiduciaries.
  • What fiduciaries are on ERISA plans.
  • Some examples / case studies.
  • What benefit advisors can do to educate themselves on the topic.

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