The importance of an honest advisor

Many patients are fed up with the health care industry, and it’s not hard to see why. The fact that costs for the same medical procedure can vary so wildly is proof enough that people are being betrayed by an industry that should be helping them. This unfortunate pattern also exists among benefits advisors, many of whom swear they can help your company combat high medical costs without being able to deliver on the promises they make.

Thankfully, though, business owners can help themselves and others in the fight against deception in the benefits industry simply by being aware of how to spot an honest and ethical benefits advisor. By asking the right questions and looking for the right answers, you can eliminate deceptive advisors from your pool of options and end up with an advisor that will deliver on the promises they make for your business.

Related: Becoming a trusted advisor while transforming your business model

Here’s what a great benefits advisor will do to earn your trust before you’ve even signed a contract:

No quick fix

While every advisor and employer hopes to implement fast, effective changes in their benefits plan, the truth is that in the benefits world, what’s fast is rarely effective, and what’s effective is rarely fast. Your advisor should be up-front with you about this from the start, and if they promise big changes in a matter of weeks, consider this a red flag.

A truly effective and sustainable plan will require changes that take place over a long period of time, such as:

  • Employee education – As workers learn more about their plan’s tools and strategies, they’ll be able to use them better to make more cost-efficient choices for their care.
  • Big and small adjustments – A one-size-fits-all benefits plan will rarely fit your business, especially as it continues to grow. A great advisor will make small (and large) changes to your plan over time as it evolves rather than a few sweeping overnight alterations.
  • Employee trust – Even with all the information about their plan at their disposal, your employees will need time to have their concerns eased and questions answered. Once they do buy into your plan, though, the waiting will pay off.

Hearing your advisor tell you that you won’t see major changes by next week is tough for business owners who crave instant results, but it could be the difference between another year with a failed benefits plan and a system that will help your business save thousands over a longer period of time.

Delivering what’s promised

A common mantra many business owners swear by is to “under-promise and over-deliver.” While this idea of keeping expectations low and significantly exceeding them seems good in theory, a great advisor will simply be honest about what to expect from their services. As an employer, you deserve to know exactly how your plan can affect your business, and an advisor who “under-promises” is just as guilty of deception as one who gets you to sign a contract by offering to work miracles.

Your advisor should present you with a variety of choices and the pros and cons involved with each decision. Most likely, no solution will be flawless, but a great advisor will help you pick the one that will have the best impact on your business. If you can’t take your advisor’s word at face value, then they don’t deserve your trust or your money.

The power of performance guarantees

Getting the most value out of your benefits plan means believing that your advisor is truly looking out for your best interests. Many traditional brokers earn commission, and chances are, they’ll be looking out for their own paychecks when they offer you “the least expensive option” when it comes time to renew your plan.

An easy way to tell if your advisor can be trusted to do their best work in decreasing your benefits spending is by seeing if they offer a performance guarantee. The concept is simple: their pay relies on delivering the results they promise. A performance guarantee helps eliminate the advisors who promise big changes and then deliver more of the same high-cost, low-quality benefits that all business owners are accustomed to and tired of.

An honest take on benefits

By learning the difference between advisors who are trustworthy and advisors who are just out for themselves, you can make better choices for your business’ benefits plan that will pay off long-term. If your prospective benefits advisor gives you a realistic timeline, is up-front with you about the good and bad points of all of your potential options, and offers a performance guarantee, take it as a sign that you’ll be able to trust them throughout the process of building you a new and improved benefits plan.

This article originally appeared on benefits pro.


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