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Common Qualities HR Looks for in a Broker

Common Qualities HR Looks for in a Broker

Gaining clients is one of your main priorities. As a broker, you know this. But—have you ever thought about what your clients' main priorities are? Focusing on what your clients want can help you get what YOU want—client retention and MORE clients. Throughout this blog, I’m going to look from the lens of HR professionals. You may discover that understanding their perspective might be your golden ticket.

HR professionals often encounter various issues with brokers and have to shop around. But what do they actually look for when hiring a broker? 

As with any hire a company makes, it is essential to find the right add, versus someone who is just a fit. You don’t want to just be a fit when you could add so much more to an organization. HR puts a lot of effort into finding the right broker for their organization, and showing what you can contribute in the early phase of the broker/client relationship will not only help you gain clients, but it will also ensure you keep them for the long haul.


What Are the Top Qualities HR Looks for in a Benefits Broker?

1. HR will want to know the services you provide.

Overall, employers are looking for good service. The way you present your service will be a key factor in HR’s decision to hire you as their broker. What sets you apart from other brokers? With the standard being that brokers bend over backward, showing HR professionals you are the broker who is the most efficient, responsive, and solution-oriented will help your case. How do you go the extra mile compared to other benefits brokers? Inviting them to conferences and providing resources is the cherry on top. They want to know you are thinking about how you can help better not just their business, but the HR role as well.

2. The use of HR systems will set you apart.

A huge factor for employers looking for a broker is the HR systems and support the broker offers. Many brokers now utilize HRIS software to administer benefits for their clients. These systems can manage HR processes that can significantly benefit employers and sometimes even help with the entire lifecycle of an employee, starting at applicant tracking all the way to the distribution of COBRA. 

As a broker, partnering with a software solution will stand out to an HR professional by giving them another resource they can use. An HRIS saves time from EFATS (employee-facing administrative tasks), and utilizing one can enhance HR’s role significantly. If employee-facing administrative tasks such as payroll, benefits, and compliance are automated, their role will not only become much easier, but it will free up time for them to go above and beyond with things like employee experience and manager support.

3. HR will appreciate your attention to detail.

What deadlines do your clients need to have their eye on, and how can you help them stay on top of these deadlines? How you handle compliance and regulatory needs is a crucial consideration for HR professionals who may hire you—or may be deciding if they want to keep you. The best brokers provide their clients with resources to ensure they are on top of compliance updates. Here are a few things a broker should provide to HR for compliance needs:

  • Answer their questions and provide guidance
  • Keep them up-to-date on new laws
  • Remind them of upcoming deadlines
  • Offer educational resources

Details of compliance can be tedious and sometimes overwhelming for HR professionals. They will look to you to diligently ensure all bases are covered.

4. HR will look for quality communication and support.

This one may sound like a no-brainer, but it's actually not something all brokers are equipped and ready to handle. Being a broker comes with being ready to answer questions and help with client needs. Although you may not always have the answers, response time matters. Our blog on optimizing technology to provide great service for benefits agencies provides great insight into leveraging technology for efficient communication. Having a clear-cut layout of what your client can expect from the support and communication you provide will add value and ultimately could be their deciding factor. 



What Are the Tactics HR Uses to Find a Broker?

As I stated earlier, a good way to become a highly desired hire for a prospective client is to put yourself in the shoes of the one who is hiring you. When it comes to benefits, employers want to have competitive offerings for their employees. To do so, having a strategy for finding the right broker is important. Here are a few things they keep in mind. 

1. HR will consider ALL options.

There are many brokerages and, therefore, many options to choose from for an employer. The broker who benefits them the most is able to provide them with what they need. When talking to employers, it is important to discover what these needs are, such as how many employees they have and what they budget for insurance benefits. Their answer will give you clarity on the points they will resonate with the most.  

2. HR will ask questions.

When employers are seeking out a broker, they will ask many questions. It is important you can confidently answer most of the questions they present. This will show confidence and that you will be helpful in the future.  

3. HR will talk to others and ask about the broker’s clientele.

The best referral is word of mouth. Getting a few solid clients under your belt will help with growth based solely on the fact that you have had success with other employers. This provides comfort in knowing you have historically done a good job.  

4. HR isn’t afraid to make a change.

This is a scary one for brokers. Employers have to put their company first and if their broker is making mistakes, they will start shopping around pretty quickly. They will oftentimes shop around to save themselves money, so it is important to keep in mind showing higher quotes could mean losing the client completely.


How Has the Role of a Broker Evolved?

The role a broker plays in the employee lifecycle has advanced far beyond healthcare benefits. Employers now also rely on brokers for help ensuring accurate payroll deductions, control of healthcare costs, compliance, and more.

Since the Covid-19 outbreak, more than 90% of brokers have reported an increased demand for benefits communications support. Due to this increase, 66% of brokers admit that offering communication services sets their business apart and adds value. This demand encapsulates all four of the top qualities HR looks for in a broker listed above. Services, HR software, compliance, communication, and support all play into this demand because they are additional resources that can aid HR in providing the best benefits for their employees. 

In the past, brokers were only relevant around open enrollment. Now, brokers are experiencing a rise in clients relying on communication support that expands far beyond open enrollment and into a year-long process providing education, insight, and more. To maintain a competitive edge and protect your BOR, it is important to communicate with clients more than just when their renewal date is approaching.  

Here’s a tip: make sure this communication provides value. Your goal is, ultimately, to help your employer groups (and the HR professional you work closely with) improve their organization. Each time you communicate with the HR person, keep in mind that you are doing so to provide value to them in some way, shape, or form. 


Additional Resources: 

  • Brokers’ Corner Podcast—watch and subscribe to the Brokers’ Corner podcast, which dives into the topics that affect your agency and industry and identifies strategies so you can protect and grow your book of business 
  • BerniePortal Brokers’ Council—a council of benefits brokers from across the country that advises BerniePortal on industry concerns, trends, and the ways technology can best support their agency and employer groups 
  • BerniePortal for Brokers—leveraging technology to increase your agency valuation and support your employer groups is easier than ever with BerniePortal’s software solution, built for brokers by brokers


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