Benefit Partners vs. Benefit Brokers: What You Need to Know

Apr 25, 2023

Two women sitting at a table, talking to one another in an corporate office

We don’t believe in cookie-cutter benefits solutions. In fact, we believe those cut-and-dry benefits plans can have a negative impact on employees and businesses – through lack of coverage, skyrocketing costs and not enough flexibility to be beneficial. This is where the difference between Benefit Partners and the average Benefit Broker rings true. 

At the highest level, you can think of each group like this:

Benefit Partners: A group of experienced benefit advisers that work with you to create, implement and refine a benefits plan that meets your needs and has a positive impact on employees and your bottom line. 

Benefit Brokers: A group of benefit brokers that offer up a limited range of benefits and solutions to all clients. There’s very little flexibility and personalization to benefits plans coming from these brokers, which can have a negative impact on your business.

Here’s the truth: Benefits have evolved over the years, and they continue to change and provide more value to employees. Additionally, they serve as a tool to help achieve your business goals, if implemented correctly. According to Ed Ligonde and Eric Silverman, when done well, employee benefits:

“… help connect our clients with whole-person programs that encompass a wide range of perks, rewards and opportunities that enhance the lives of employees, ultimately making them more engaged, productive and loyal to their employers.”

At first glance, Benefit Brokers and Benefit Partners may seem like they offer the same thing. But, tell us – would you rather be told what your benefits plan will entail, with no flexibility? Or, would you prefer to work alongside a consultant in a true partnership to craft a plan that checks all your boxes? We’d choose the latter, too. 

Here are two core areas to consider when choosing a Benefit Partner vs. a Benefit Broker

Plan Creation

Benefit Partners: As mentioned above, when creating your employee benefits plan, a Benefit Partner works with you step-by-step in a consultative role to assist you in choosing the benefits – including voluntary benefits – that would bring the most value to your employees. Every workplace is different, and every employee is different. It’s crucial to view an employee benefit plan from a bird’s eye view as well as down in the weeds. Benefit Partners guide you through the process with ease, so you are confident in the plan created. 

Benefit Brokers: Average Benefit Brokers have much less flexibility when creating benefits plans. They have a cookie-cutter process that doesn’t allow creativity to mold benefits plans into what you really need them to be. The partnership aspect simply doesn’t exist. Because of this, employers are forced into a benefits plan that does not drive value.

Cost Savings

Benefit Partners: Remember the flexibility you get in creating your plan with a Benefit Partner? This has a huge impact on cost savings. Benefit Partners, like Totem, implement plans that reduce spend by encouraging preventive care, directing members to the best physicians and Centers of Excellence, and prioritizing wellness initiatives that prove to be of great value to your employees. The more value your employees (and job candidates) see in your benefits packages, the better your recruitment and retention efforts will be, which can save you time and money. The bottom line is, Benefit Partners like Totem work with you to discover how your benefits plans can save you money — helping you do more with less.

Benefit Brokers: Saving you money? Not a concern for Benefit Brokers. In fact, their lack of flexibility and ability to work with employers to achieve lower costs is not a top priority. Why? They often get kickbacks from vendors and carriers, leading them to create a benefits plan that works for them, not you. Benefit Partners like Totem have no kickbacks from vendors – so there are no strings attached and no surprises. The same can’t be said for Benefit Brokers. Their goal is to meet their quota and increase their own profits, not yours. 

At Totem, we believe that personalization is key. And that isn’t something that can be achieved with a Benefit Broker. We use evidence-based solutions and personalized service to help you offer better benefits for your people and your bottom line.

Our mission is to be there for everyone. We show up, without question, for our clients, our employees and our client’s employees. We take a holistic approach to employee benefits that you won’t find anywhere else. To learn more about a benefit partnership with Totem, connect with one of our benefits consultants today.


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