STEVE WATSON CPA, SHRM-SCP
I am licensed as a CPA and I was the CHRO for the company for about 8 years and got licensed as a SHRM-SCP and attended many SHRM conferences. My company is in the healthcare space so I negotiate and work with all of the major insurance companies from a provider perspective. Over the past 10 years, I have also had a small consulting company. My niche has been working with companies that are big enough that they need CFO/HR help, but small enough that they can't afford someone full-time. I've done this for an ENT practice, billing company, non profit, and recently an insurance broker.
The recent experience being a CFO for an insurance broker agency is what really got me into this world. I was shocked at how things worked for brokers vs. what I thought was going on when I just saw it from the employer's perspective. At the same time I read Dave Chase's book. I really didn't believe that things could be that bad. So I spent most of 2018 interviewing all of the brokers and fellow peers (CFO/HR Professionals) that I could find to get their perspective. And the result....it was worse than I imagined. There were a few folks doing some very creative things that I had never heard of (like skipping the broker and just going directly to a TPA, I didn't even know that was possible). On the flip side, I was extremely frustrated with a lot of the brokers out there. They lacked the knowledge, the desire, and frankly were incentivized to set up crappy plans for employers. In addition I was embarrassed at how little my peer group knew about this world as well as their lack of accountability. I think Kevin said it best when he told me that there is no other industry that could be so mediocre and get paid so much.
So I decided to jump in to help. I've started down a few different paths. Partnering with a broker (actually had 3 that wanted to hire me). Building out an education/certification platform for employers. Working with Health Rosetta. As well as just going at it alone as an independent broker. I did get licensed as a broker and set up with most carriers. I also got set up with a local GA in Arizona.
After 2018, and now starting into 2019, I really feel like to lower employee benefit costs, employers need to go down a step by step plan:
1. Get educated
2. Get the right partners in place
3. Build a plan that is set up for the employer/employee's to win and not everyone else
4. Get a control on high cost claimant pricing (out of network, etc)
5. Get a control on pharmacy
6. Work on lowering frequency and severity of claims
I see a lot of brokers/advisors that are doing amazing work on steps 4-6. I get really excited about their work. However, in order to implement these plans they have to get the employer to fire their broker and go with them (step 2), and they have to help them set up the right plan (step 3) to get off of fully insured. If those steps don't happen the employers get no benefits really from steps 4-6.
Which brings me to where I want to focus which is steps 1-3 . I think I'm uniquely placed to help educate employers from an unbiased perspective. As well as help them get connected to the right partners (say Q4 advisors) to help them build the right plans for 2020, so that they can reap the benefits of steps 4-6.
So that's really who I am. I'm trying to produce lots of content for employers and to get them to trust my advice. My hope is to either charge them directly a fee, or to get a referral fee or to partner with advisors/solution partners to get paid through a referral fee or shared fee schedule. I've had a lot of interest in the latter. I've had a lot of employers push back on the former as they feel like they are already paying someone even if they aren't getting very good service. This is where I am currently in the process and trying to figure out. My hope in 2019 is to pilot it in a few areas with a few partners and see how it works. I want to create enormous amount of value for employers and solution partners.