Broker Spotlight: Tracie McPherson, Gallagher Benefit Services
Today’s Modern Benefits Broker
The role of benefits broker has changed. We recently talked with Tracie McPherson, Mississippi area president of Gallagher Benefit Services, about the evolving role of brokers and how employers can work with their brokers more effectively.
Clients are looking for strategic solutions that help them reach their business goals rather than a one-size-fits-all package, she says, and the very best brokers help clients find a path through the complex world of compliance requirements and the demand for customization. Read more about what Tracie had to say about the role of today’s modern broker.
“…brokers are more than representatives of insurance products… many have the capability to be much more…”
What do employers need to keep in mind when working with insurance brokers? What do brokers wish employers knew?
“Insurance brokers vary greatly in terms of the skills sets and value they bring to clients; there’s a wide variety in the industry. One of the things I wish employers knew is that benefits brokers are more than representatives of insurance products. They want to be valued business partners, and many have the capability to be much more than just product representatives.
“We tend to be really good listeners. We’re interested in understanding our clients’ business objectives. We also want to know about the things that are keeping them awake at night. There are a lot of companies that are plagued with high turnover; they have to deal with that from a business standpoint as well as the stress it puts on HR, the benefits system and other employees.
“The issues HR faces today are much more complicated than they were five years ago. Companies are having to do more with less as they deal with benefits compliance and compliance overall. There’s an opportunity for brokers to take some of the pressure off there.”
What are some things employers might not know that brokers can help them with?
“Years ago, clients were solely interested in benefits brokers to find the best product at the cheapest price. Now there’s so much more when it comes to the operations and administrative components. It doesn’t matter how good the price or product is if the client can’t administer the product or the employees aren’t satisfied. Clients are relieved when they find out we can help integrate products with their current HR system in the most efficient manner.”
“It doesn’t matter how good the prices or product is if the client can’t administer the product or the employees aren’t satisfied.”
What are some of the biggest challenges facing employers now when it comes to employee benefits?
“With so many generations in the workforce now, there’s such a need for choice, and with choice comes flexibility. We look for ways to make that easier and smoother for employers. Finding creative options that can be simplified from an administrative standpoint is really important.
“The ACA has changed the role of the broker as well as the client. While we always had compliance issues, there’s just going to be more. HR is already dealing with compliance, and the role of the broker will mean being a better problem solver. We have an obligation to help clients see a clearer path through that while meeting their business goals.”
Talk a little bit about the role of technology in compliance. How can brokers help clients navigate their options?
“Brokers need to be consultative when working with clients. They don’t need to be tech experts, but they need to be able to help clients work through the technology that’s available to them and help find the right solution.”
Tracie joined Gallagher Benefits Services as Area President in 2015 with 20 years of experience as a benefits consultant. Prior to joining GBS, she owned and operated McPherson Benefits Group (MBG) for 10 years. Prior to starting MBG, she was Senior Vice-President at a large consulting and brokerage firm, and Vice-President Claims and Customer Service for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi.
Tracie specializes in developing comprehensive benefit programs for healthcare and governmental clients with special emphasis on voluntary products and self-funded medical plans. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University and a Certified Public Accountant. She was recognized as one of Mississippi Business Journal’s 50 Leading Business Women in 2005, and currently serves as the Treasurer of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation of Mississippi.
Learn how AlwaysCare and Starmount make benefits administration simple with AlwaysAssist.