We have long said, the greatest time to be in this industry is right now; the greatest opportunities we have ever been afforded are still ahead of us. However, we are also quick to point out that those opportunities look different than those of the past, and the way you have to work to have them for your own is definitely different than ever before.
This past week we hosted a conference that not only validated our position, but opened everyone’s eyes to the fact that the industry as we have known it is quickly transforming into something unbelievably special. It’s not enough to do more of what you’ve always done; it’s not enough to become a better version of what you’ve always been. It’s time to commit to becoming an impactful member of a new category of advisor. It’s time to embrace a new normal.
We gathered a room full of some of the most forward-thinking, intolerant-of-the-status-quo, committed-to-a-better-way minds in the industry for our conference, #Q4LiveTampa. It's safe to say the future of the industry was analyzed, debated, and charted in that room, in the hallways, and maybe over an adult beverage or two.
We were fortunate to assemble, what we would argue, was the most powerful line up of speakers (top to bottom) ever gathered at an industry event. Initially, we were going to provide an overview of their topics, but Paul Wilson, Editor-in-Chief of BenefitsPro has done such a fantastic write-up, capturing the essence of each speaker, that we’ll let him be the voice on the recap. His first article, which includes Tony Moore, Dave Chase, and Jeff Bernhard is available to read now. And we’ll update with his second in the series covering Adam Russo, Dr. Alex Lickerman, Tim Thomas, and David Contorno when it’s posted.
After the conference, we asked attendees for some key takeaways from the session and, in perfect alignment with the interactions over the three days, all were generous in sharing ideas. As the ideas came in, it became obvious that they centered around a handful of key concepts.
Rich Hecker of EHL Insurance summed up a lot of the conversations:
The thought provoking topics and thought leader presentations were absolutely amazing. The most impressive takeaway is how the ideas were introduced and surrounded with “actionable” solutions, which enables the attendees the ability to go to market in a rather short period of time, removing the barriers toward execution. I look forward to the strategic implementation of the impressive array of solutions that I learned about at Q4Live.
Internal preparation is a must
Your team must first learn, understand, and be prepared to have conversations and execute on the ideas before running out and making a lot of noise and empty promises with clients and prospects.
I will be taking these concepts to leadership and starting the conversation about how they will impact the future vision of the agency. We’ll break out groups with each of our teams to create a categorized evaluation sheet for vendors we utilize to assist in the sales process, help the teams identify potential candidates for certain initiatives, and work on our sell sheets. The goal will be to not force everyone to drink from a fire hose, but really attempt to create processes and then move forward with them.
There is so much opportunity to make a positive impact. Not taking advantage of rehearsing and practicing the delivery on my internal team could waste a real-life opportunity on a client.
Make a plan
Before dumping ideas on clients and prospects, think carefully about what change will mean to them.
I need to temper my enthusiasm for these great solutions… people can be very skeptical, so I need to give them time to adjust to these new ideas. It’s less threatening with a clear vision and a solid plan.
One step at a time
There are many opportunities to make change, and it doesn’t all need to happen instantaneously. Introduce ideas slowly so as not to overwhelm with too much change at once.
It was kind of overwhelming, but the takeaway upon reflection was to talk about and try to implement one thing. Whatever that idea might be, just introduce one thing to clients and prospects that can have a small impact. Make clients aware of the long term, strategic ideas and if we talk about one thing and then slowly introduce more after that, we can start to have a larger impact on our books and our communities.
There are lots of opportunities to contain costs… soft steerage through plan design and more aggressive medical review (BUCA auto adjudicates close to 90% with a review threshold at $25,000).
Reference based pricing doesn’t have to be step one. There are other, more simple ways to make immediate impact while respecting risk aversion from the client. Speaking it into action, or rather speaking it into a client/prospect’s reaction, is where to start to attract those who are going to take part in the solution.
Employers should be looking to help clients better manage their fiduciary responsibilities.
There is a lot of opportunity to develop credibility with a complete plan doc review.
The diversity of speakers was tremendously helpful. Each of them targets their own areas of healthcare and benefits and were willing to share already proven solutions. Removing wasteful spending from the health plan should be every employer’s mission because it’s simply the low-hanging fruit. I liked that the speakers shared specific strategies and techniques to identify and remove wasteful cost for employers and their employees.
ERISA Fiduciary Risks in Healthcare are coming! Because I am so familiar with our retirement plan practice and the requirements of the Pension Protection Act and the new DOL Regulations, I view fiduciary issues as a huge issue. Our employers are withholding employee money for healthcare and I agree that they do have a fiduciary responsibility to manage these plans in the best interest of the employees. I definitely see this becoming an issue and our role protecting both employers and employees will be magnified.
It’s important to be looking for high-value impact items that aren’t specifically about the solution, but promote behaviors that lead people to explore the solution on their own (an example from Adam Russo about free diapers for parents isn’t about the solution, but rather it’s about deriving value in their lives because the opportunity to participate in the solution exists.
Collaboration is key to learning, practicing, and scaling
Without a community of people sharing ideas, solutions, and example stories of successes and failures, it’s going to be difficult to scale at an impactful level.
Having met so many passionate advisors/brokers at the conference, I’m much more confident in sharing our ideas and having people we can collaborate with who are willing to share theirs as well. I will certainly be taking some specific ideas back to my clients and prospects, some of which came from attendees, and not just the speakers.
I liked Tony’s story about the people fishing and going upstream to see the bully throwing people into the river. You have three choices… do nothing, go back to fishing and save people every 10 minutes, or confront the bully.
Transparency is key
There are so many hidden fees within the system. Make clear what’s being charged, by whom, and find solutions.
Transparency – I think this was the word for the day. It came up in almost every presentation. The healthcare industry hides or disguises unnecessary expense throughout the entire system. The CrystalClear RX presentation Pharmacy Benefits was the best example of this problem.
Direct Primary Care – Understanding the history of Medicare reimbursement levels and the effect on doctors was so important. Learning that your primary care doctor’s patient load is somewhere between 2,500 and 4,000, yet by contrast, direct primary care has patient loads of 600 was eye opening. I was very encouraged by the potential for DPC to significantly reduce healthcare expenses and eliminate services we currently build into medical plans like wellness, case management, teledoc, etc.. I can already see myself telling employee groups, “We’re going to go back to Marcus Welby, MD!
Medical trend is fabricated… the expectation is set so low that we’re happy with a 10% increase.
It's just the beginning
Yes, this past week was a significant learning experience for everyone involved. But, it’s just a start. We encourage you to connect with and follow those we have listed here. We encourage you to consider joining us in the ongoing conversations we are committed to facilitating, but we also encourage you to consider joining us at our next Q4Live.
As a bit of a shameless plug to motivate you to do just that, please consider what we heard from so many attendees:
This was the best conference I’ve been to in a decade. Not even close. This blows others out of the water. The presentations were dense with quality and thought-provoking information. The size of the group was really conducive to conversations and connections.
We were blown to bits by the content and are still picking up some of the pieces today. Exciting times! It was great to meet you and the incredible network of people that make up the Q4i community. The entire event was first class and a cut above anything we have ever participated in.
Thank you so much for the invite to one of the best events of my entire career.
This was so energizing and spot on for where we are as an industry right now, my mind is blown away!! I am so energized with the possibilities of the future and the opportunity to architect the future of our industry over the coming years. What a great event and what a great group of folks!!