Fees: Get Paid What You Are Worth

For years we have been saying this: There should be no correlation between your income and the commission paid by insurance carriers. The two just ain't the same thing. Now I know this sounds like sedition, but stay with me here.

As your clients have become more sophisticated, many of your firms have added internal resource capabilities.  Whether they be claims, risk control, client portals or financial analysis.  The commission structures that are developed and paid by insurance carriers just don't support the expense of these resource capabilities; and your producer compensation too.

So, the answer comes in 4 possibilities:
  1.  As producers you determine to give up part of your commission in order to support the resources required to stay in the game on larger accounts.  (A bad option)
  2.  Your firm requires you to pay for resources out of your pocket, thereby forcing you to select which clients get resources and who does not. (A worse option)
  3.  You decide as a firm to get out of the larger account arena and simply work on commodity transactions. (The worst option)
  4.  You learn and commit to developing ROI-Based Fees.  (YES!!!!)
There has long been a fallacy built into our business that no longer has legs.  This problem is around the calculation of a Fee and how we present it to clients. Now this edition of the Consultative Broker briefing will not be around the methods of fee calculations.  There are as many calculations as there are stars in the sky.

For today, we all need to accept one universal truth about fees.  At the end of the day, after calculating fees, most brokers then compare it to commissions.  If the fee is too low; they adjust up.  If too high; they adjust down.  So, eventually the fee becomes a function of commission benchmarks.

The key here is that they ultimately peg their income to what the market will bear.  Then, pray to god that another broker doesn't undercut them in a competitive situation!
But what about their quantifiable impact to the client?  Doesn't that count for something?  What about the ROI the client has received from their ability to deploy resources and achieve a consultants goal of improving the client's business model?  What about the impact your client has received in reduced costs, improved efficiencies, competitiveness and productivity?  What about that?  Shouldn't that be factored in the Fee as an ROI?  What about that?  Huh? Huh? Huh?

Now before you scoff at me.  Let me tell you a true story that recently occurred with one of our broker clients.  Over the past several years the broker and firm did a tremendous job of reducing this client's losses and premiums.  So good in fact, that the premium reduced from $550,000 to $300,000.  The fee on the renewal was $50,000 and the client was asking for a reduction.

Here was the problem our intrepid Consultative Broker faced.  He could either lower his fee and therefore not get fully compensated for the firm's efforts.  Or, he could present the client with a complete ValueReport based upon the calculations of our Major Account Development System.  He chose to present the ValueReport prepared by MADs.

So, what happened?  The client fully accepted the $50,000 fee based upon the evidence and proof of the ROI the broker had provided the client.  It approached seven figures over the course of the past 3 years.  Not only that, but the client acknowledged it would be fruitless to entertain any other broker proposals.

So, it is time for you and your firm to get with it.  ROI-based selling is the only way that you can stay in the game and compete for profits.  Remember commissions paid by carriers and under-priced fees should have no correlation to your income.  Hey, we have a vested interest in this.  Our goal is to help firms like yours to prosper and grow, no matter what.

If you keep reading, we will keep writing.

- Rob Ekern
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