Fledgling coalition of group benefits advisors says it will speak for consumers

By Susan Yellin | February 21 2018 09:45AM

Photo: Freepik

Group benefit advisors and brokers are being urged to join a new Canada-wide group called the National Coalition of Benefit Advisors (NCBA), which it says will speak for consumers rather than insurance companies.

The group is being spearheaded by a number of Canada’s benefits firms, including TRG Benefits and Pensions Inc. in Vancouver, and follows the release of G-19, a compensation disclosure guideline created by the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA).

Robert Taylor, managing director at TRG, said a number of benefits brokers were told eight months before G-19 was issued that the advisor community would be consulted to help craft the guideline. “We were told that not once, not twice, but on numerous occasions from multiple sources, from the CLHIA and members themselves. [Even] CLHIA members are miffed. They’re wondering what happened along the way.”

Misses the target

Taylor said the guideline was entered into hastily and misses the target when it comes to transparency, conflict of interest and the best interests of the consumer.

“When you have insurers’ self-interest at the table it’s pretty difficult to hit those three marks. You need to have a collaborative consultation.”

New coalition is in favour of disclosure

Taylor said the fledging NCBA is 100 per cent in favour of disclosure – on all sides – and wants to restart the disclosure discussion with all the key stakeholders at the table.

G-19, as released by the CLHIA, is broken into two parts. It aims to disclose brokers’ commissions as well as other inducements like travel rewards and bonuses directly to brokers’ clients rather than through the brokers themselves. Phase 1 of the disclosure is set to begin January 1, 2019 and the second stage January 1, 2020. Some of the disclosures will be retroactive.

The guideline applies to both insurers’ group retirement services and group benefits business.

Fair treatment of clients

The CLHIA says the goal of the new guideline is to be more customer-focused and transparent in compensation disclosure by establishing industry standards. It also says that insurers are responsible for the fair treatment of clients and having the insurer disclose compensation will ensure consistency throughout the industry.

Since the email went out last Friday, Taylor said he has received about 200 emails from brokers all across the country who want to sign up for the NCBA.