Employers set to see more explicit adviser services and price

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Employee benefit advisers are becoming much more explicit on service and price in light of the fast-moving employer environment, Aviva has said.

John Lawson, head of policy corporate benefits at Aviva, speaking as one of four panellists at the Employee Benefits Connect 2013 conference, said with the onset of auto-enrolment traditional adviser business was a thing of the past.

He said: "The employee benefit adviser skill set is a bit of a big data project, making sure data is clean before feeding it all through the right systems. They might even have to bring data experts into the firm to offer a full service.

"Advisers have maintained really long relationships with employers in the past. I have noticed a lot more turn around in recent years."

Lawson said the fast moving environment meant employers were often looking for different skills and advisers needed to tap into client need to offer the right added-value services.

Thomas Humphris, head office HR and UK reward director at Informa, said intermediary budget was kept to an absolute minimum but did not mean getting the cheapest adviser.

"Our cost for using an intermediary has now shifted considerably from the broking role to an advice and consultant role," he said.

"One of the key things for us is the ability to get information online. Getting information at our fingertips is a requirement for us and the online piece is integral. We have an adviser that has an online ticketing system for queries and we can see where it is at in the firm online."

Rebecca Prebble, benefits and international assignments manager at Catlin Group, said the company had used the same adviser for nine years and a well-established relationship was more important to the company than technological capability.

Lawson said employers could expect to see more explicit services and price from intermediary services as advice firms adapted to the fast-moving employer changes.

"It is getting harder and harder for smaller firms to deal with companies that are merging and getting bigger because they do not have the resources," he added.

"The auto-enrolment rollout for SMEs will be a massive opportunity for small adviser firms. For advisers that want to be successful in this area they will need to be specialists. The smaller guys need to think about their services and how they can work with local employers."

Catlin Group still operated on a commission basis with its adviser while Informa said it switched to a fee arrangement five years ago.

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