Recent years have seen London’s skilled candidate shortage increase, with the Employee Benefits market particularly impacted by the lack of experienced, qualified professionals. While some organisations remain under-resourced due to the dearth of skilled talent, others are seeing an opportunity to target new candidates and explore alternative talent sources. Employee Benefits is a growing market with endless opportunities, yet it’s not an industry often discussed by career advisors or in schools. Many employers are now looking to target millennials, school leavers, graduates and entry-level candidates, with increased training bridging the skill gap and ongoing development ensuring the next generation of Employee Benefits consultants are the leaders of the future.
A career as an Employee Benefits consultant is varied, has significant growth potential and is ultimately rewarding, with 29% of employees saying their benefits package is the driving force behind looking for a new position. You have an opportunity to make a significant impact in the broader industry – but what is it actually like to work as an Employee Benefits consultant, and what can we expect from the industry in the future?
"My days are busy and varied"
An average day can involve a wide range of different tasks, says one of the Employee Benefits Consultants in our network. He explains:
Today, for example, I had a meeting first thing with the team to run through a pitch we’re delivering next week. It’s a global advertising business and our presentation needs to focus on their health and wellbeing strategy and how we can monitor the improvements and evidence success over time. Ahead of a pension governance meeting, I went over the investment reports, scheme data and our summary. The attendees include senior people from HR, finance and payroll. As each has a different focus, the meeting could easily get side-tracked into the underlying detail so I need our findings and recommendations to be crystal clear in order to keep the agenda on track. I have calls with two clients to arrange their annual review meetings. One of them wants me to review their new mental health policy and comment on how their benefits can support it.
"Speaking to employers regarding Employee Benefits isn't like providing advice on other insurances"
Will Offer, PIB Consultant, comes from a General Insurance Broker background. He says the role of Employee Benefits Consultant is vastly different from working as a broker and is ultimately more rewarding:
While you’re making sure the products you’re discussing with businesses are appropriate and fit for purpose, what I particularly enjoy is knowing that once you’ve designed and implemented an Employee Benefits package, ultimately you are making a difference to real people within that business.
Nobody plans to become ill, but if the worst happens the insurances you have put in place will kick in and support employees back to health and, ultimately, the workplace. Historically, Employee Benefits packages have been designed to help those who become ill or need treatment for a condition, but there are a range of benefits now available that are designed to be actively used by all employees, with the intention of promoting and rewarding healthy lifestyles, which in turn can help to stem the root cause of illness.
"Be prepared to work hard and develop a network of contacts"
A strong contact network is the key to long-term success as an Employee Benefits Consultant, according to Saira Chambers, Mattioli Woods’ Head of Employee Benefits.
Spend time getting to know your clients and understand their world and priorities. Expect to solve their problems with whatever the right solution is for them. You should be prepared to learn every day and develop strong interpersonal skills that allow you to get complex ideas across in an engaging and informative way. Successful Employee Benefits Consultants are hardworking, willing to go the extra mile to deliver a great customer outcome and can communicate with people at all levels within a business.
"The market moves quickly and clients expect you to be knowledgeable"
Stuart Stroud, Head of Employee Benefits at BDO, says Consultants needs to constantly evolve their proposition in order to fully support their clients. He has plenty of advice for professionals looking to advance in their careers:
Be interested in what you do and who you work with, show passion and enthusiasm for the role that you provide and demonstrate to clients your understanding of their sector and challenges they face. Clients always come first, so demonstrate client service excellence and how you add value to a relationship. Listen and engage with clients and don’t make assumptions: relationships take many years to develop but can very easily be lost.
"I love working in a role that really allows me to understand a business's ideals and finding solutions tailored to suit their needs"
Working in this field allows you to really get to the heart of an organisation, according to a healthcare consultant from our network of insurance brokers.
Over the last 13 years I’ve seen big changes in the way companies operate and more importantly, in the wants and needs of their employees. The world of Employee Benefits is fast paced, innovative and forward thinking.
"The main changes over the next 12 months may be dictated by how Brexit plays out"
Change is afoot in the Employee Benefits industry, says Mattioli Woods Employee Benefits Consultant Andy Robbins, with Brexit playing its part. There are also other changes ahead he says:
I would like to see a continuation of the recent trend of SME and mid-corporate employers following the lead of large employers in recognising the financial, as well as paternalistic benefits that a happy and healthy workforce will provide. This should drive the creation and implementation of targeted reward and wellbeing programmes, in what could turn out to be a year of considerable financial pressure for many organisations.
Stuart Stroud echoes Andy’s Brexit comments, saying it may lead to staff redundancies and cost reduction exercises. Elsewhere, he predicts fresh changes and challenges for the industry:
We may see automation of Employee Benefits services that lead to a client being able to quote and buy services without the need for their trusted Employee Benefits Consultant. We’re also seeing challenges with fees and needing to show tangible value
"Let IDEX Consulting help you"
There’s plenty happening within the Employee Benefits industry, with a range of roles in organisations of all sizes. We have a dedicated Employee Benefits specialism at IDEX and are proud to match skilled talent with the industry’s best Employee Benefits jobs. Take the next step in your career today: contact us here to start a conversation.