Are you hoping to strengthen and enhance the benefits package offered to your employees and executives? Concerned that your current program may be outdated and/or overly expensive? Confused about the wide array of products and services? Wondering where to start?

A well established, reputable employee benefits consulting and brokerage firm can provide all of the answers you're seeking. Such firms specialize in delivering leading-edge solutions to meet the changing needs of employers and their employees in today's fast paced world of business.

Working with an experienced and knowledgeable benefits broker allows you to leverage the strong relationships the broker has built with health care and insurance companies over the years. Benefits consulting has become a highly specialized discipline and not every firm has the people and resources to design and deliver comprehensive, cost-effective programs and services that reflect your unique corporate culture and business objectives.

In addition, new approaches like Integrated Disability Management are blurring traditional boundaries between employee benefits consulting and property & casualty risk management, making it increasingly important to select a broker who can provide integrated delivery of a full spectrum of products and services.

While broad product offerings and market clout are important characteristics of top benefit consultants, the "best of breed" distinguish themselves through an unwavering focus on understanding their clients' operations, business objectives and needs in short, they establish themselves as consultants and trusted business advisors.

Top firms view themselves as an extension of their clients' operations , evaluating options, recommending the best possible course of action and, perhaps most importantly, playing a proactive, hands-on role in effecting positive results. Quality employee benefits brokerage firms are staffed by executives who participate on many professional and legislative advisory boards, positioning their companies at the technical "leading edge" of their industry.

The best firms will also conduct ongoing research in risk reduction, benefit plan design, cost containment, and other issues affecting employers. They place a premium on professional development and communication and are the first to learn about the latest developments and innovations in group benefits.

How do you find these firms? Here's what to look for.

When selecting your employee benefits broker, it is important to establish that any firms you are considering can both understand and effectively respond to your specific needs.

In general, find out if the firms provide objective counsel in the design, funding, and administration of group benefit plans.

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