SOURCE: Longfellow Benefits

November 28, 2007 10:25 ET

Employee Benefits Brokers Must Provide Wide Range of Skills and Services to Employers, Longfellow Benefits' Joseph Gray Writes

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - November 28, 2007) - An employee benefits broker should do a lot more for clients than shop for a good price, Joseph M. Gray of Longfellow Benefits writes in the November issue of Employee Benefit Plan Review.

-- Regulatory Expertise

Benefits firms must have the resources and intellectual horsepower to educate clients on all regulatory issues. Federal legislation means employers must make sweeping changes to their benefit program, Gray writes.

-- Understanding Compliance and Reporting

Many employers are unaware of all of the Department of Labor filings required. Failure to file may potentially result in significant fines. At the very least, benefits firms should be able to advise clients of their filing responsibilities, and many firms will prepare signature-ready forms for their clients.

Benefits advisors also must fully understand Sarbanes-Oxley regulations to offer appropriate solutions for their clients.

-- Plan Assessment and Employee Education

Controlling health care costs once again ranks as a top priority of finance and HR professionals in national surveys. The most successful plans control costs with sound programs on wellness, disease management, and behavioral modification.

-- M&A Due Diligence Capability

Your benefits advisor must have a strong expertise in due diligence review and acquisition analysis so it can appropriately advise you on the potential exposure surrounding the health and welfare and retirement benefits of companies your firm may acquire, Gray says. Unexpected claim liability and pension obligations can be potentially devastating.

-- Benchmarking Ability

A good benefits consultant should be able to offer you benchmarking reports, with data by industry compiled on both a national and regional basis.

-- Vendor Evaluation

Look for an advisor that can provide you vendor evaluation of outsourcing providers. Advisors must understand the service model and capabilities of the company administering the benefits.

-- Up-to-date Technology

Your benefits advisor should be able to house client-specific benefit information that can be accessed anytime by members using passwords. Additionally, an advisor's web site should function as a resource library where your firm can research legislative, compliance, and human resource questions; access various carrier and HR forms; and review advisor newsletters and white papers. Web-based enrollment and employee self-service solutions should be available.

Gray, CLU, REBC, LIA, is managing partner of Longfellow Benefits in Boston. Serving organizations in New England and nationally, Longfellow Benefits provides employee benefits, retirement plans and executive benefits. For more information, visit or call 617-351-6000.

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