Recognizing the challenges (and headaches) involved in taking care of setting up their own benefits plans, a majority of small businesses say they recognize the need for an outside adviser to help.

According to new research by industry organization LIMRA, 94% of small business owners surveyed say they believe the need for contracting with an external advisor will probably increase in the next two years.

Newly established companies, companies wishing to rapidly expand and smaller businesses with between 10 and 24 employees were the most receptive to getting outside adviser help, LIMRA says.

Mary Boyce, associate analyst with LIMRA Insurance Research, says the findings indicate a good opportunity for benefits advisers – and also suggest that business owners themselves seem more open to outsourcing their benefits shopping and decision-making.

The advent of the ACA’s health care exchanges may also remove some advisers’ middleman role in plan management, but employers say they still see the need for objective advice on the rapidly changing world of benefits.

"While the new public and private exchanges will eliminate the need for many of the administrative functions that advisers perform such as requests for proposals, helping both employers and employees understand the options available within and outside the exchanges will be a new way for advisers to grow their business,” Boyce says.

Employers surveyed by LIMRA indicated they used advisers to help review benefits plans for costs, services and preferable renewal rates. Those employers who weren’t so keen on their relationship with their adviser largely noted that cost was a major factor in eliminating an adviser, as many viewed their adviser’s role as purely transactional.

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