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The gap in small business employee benefits advice

November 12, 2015

Yesterday I had a great telephone conversation with a guy I met on LinkedIn. His business sells a variety of innovative  employee health care solutions. I was impressed. The problem is that they focus on groups with 50 or more employees. I explained that my business is driven by incoming inquiries and that these are overwhelmingly NOT the owners of businesses with more than 50 employees. I could recall only one client over the past year that fit this category. When a reporter from The Wall Street Journal asked me to refer the owner of a business with more than 50 employees for a comment to his story in progress my one client in this category declined and I was unable to make any other referral. In fact the U.S. Census Bureau found that in 2010 only 3.6 percent of all firms fell into this category of having more than 50 employees.

Then later on the same day, I was motivated for the first time to remove comments from a blog post where I felt that a writer was using misleading comments to sell his own firm’s products and services. It strikes me that unfortunately small business owners and their advisers are not in a position to distinguish between good tax advice and bad advice, particularly in the field of implementation of the Affordable Care Act. In this case the only resource I have is to distance myself from what I consider to be bad advice.

By the end of the day yesterday I was left with a confirmation of something I knew already but it still worth repeating: There are great services and plenty of well-qualified  employee benefits professionals available to largest firms but a ‘black hole’ in qualified advice for smaller firms who need employee benefits advice. This service gap has been a problem for as long as I’ve been in practice and I don’t expect any significant improvement anytime soon.

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