Parker, Smith & Feek’s launch into the world of social media has highlighted more clearly the delineation of the generations within our firm. Not surprisingly those of us nearing the end of our careers are skeptical of any benefit. This is the same group, however, that championed the purchase of the first personal computer, the first fax machine, and introduced voice mail. Time has a way of taking the pioneering spirit out of us and it is hard to imagine how Facebook will help my golf swing in retirement.
The Gen Xer’s are at peace and accepting of social media, they tend to focus on the policies that govern its office use (many of them have dealt with their children’s use of the internet and communications technologies), if it will add any additional expenses to operations, and how to leverage the technology to improve the bottom line.
The Millenials seem mildly annoyed that we are making any fuss over the launch at all, then yawn and go back to texting their lunch appointment. They do bring up one significant point in that they will one day be the leaders of the firm and their peers will be our CLIENTS, and their style of communication will be very different than that of letters and phone calls.
But at all ages, each of us agrees that Parker, Smith & Feek has a tradition of being an early adopter of technologies and it is in this vein that we are embracing the social media channels as tools to tell our story. We enjoy a distinct and unique place in the insurance brokerage world and if can share our way of doing business with a wider audience and learn to communicate in new ways, then bring on the tweets.
You may have noticed that we have just updated our website’s home page to accommodate some new enhancements. The new look is designed to give you easy access to the latest articles, case studies and other events here at Parker, Smith & Feek.
Just because we are an Insurance and Risk Management Professional Services firm, does not mean we are immune to the increasing costs of Healthcare. We advise our clients to seek out solutions to help manage their healthcare costs - however it has been increasingly difficult to just look at employee participant cost percentages and increased deductibles as a long term solution.
We have extended our service offerings to include a Wellness Executive. However, we can only consult on what we know ourselves. Our Wellness Executive started with us first. Our focus the past two year s has been on incorporating Wellness into our culture and how to affect behaviors that will make our employees healthier and happier, but also slow down our increasing healthcare costs in the long-term.
So how are we doing? Well it is hard to change behavior as we knew it would be. Our employees certainly all want to live healthier lives, but in the hustle and bustle of a work day, old habits are hard to break and new habits difficult to introduce. We also underestimated the impact our vendors have on food that filters into the office. Donuts, cookies and other fast food s continue to make its way into meetings.
But we are making progress. I see more of our employees walking during their lunch hour. We have two "on site" exercise programs that are popular with employees and are well attended. Our Wellness team is implementing a communications piece to our Vendors to ask for their participation in our wellness initiative.
As the U.S. enters a reform era for Healthcare, we are doing our small part to help our clients and our employees try new pro-active approaches to cost containment and hopefully cost reduction.
The Parker, Smith & Feek, Feekers n Sneekers Team (including the newest member Jacen, 8 months old) gearing up for the Fred Hutch Cancer Reseach Centers 2010 Shore Run. One of the goals for our company wellness program is to get out in the community, be active and support our local charities.
The two "hot" topics in the insurance and risk management industry that we are focused on. The first of course is Health Care reform. Our current activity in our Employee Benefits department is centered on ensuring that our clients understand what the reform regulation means for their employees and their businesses.
Not only is it important to understand the immediate impacts and what program structure alterations that need to be made, but to lay out a plan and strategy for the future with regards to the additional reform changes that will be phased in over time.
We are sending out updates via email to all our contacts.
On the Property / Casualty front, the recent BP Oil spill is a reminder to our clients that being well prepared for worse case scenarios can mean the difference between simply managing through a catastrophic event but actually surviving one.
Many businesses over look the importance of a detailed business disaster recovery plan and focus too much attention on the insurance purchase transaction. Good risk management and preparation is critical for businesses of any size. BP purchased a lot of insurance, but their survival is hinging on their ability to execute a response to the spill and damage to their reputation long term - not how high of limits were purchased from an insurance carrier.
Stock markets are considered to be good leading indicators of future economic activity. Company values, or share prices, are based on expectations of future earnings, and future earnings are based on expected company revenue growth and profitability.
Recently, markets (Nasdaq Composite, S&P 500 stock index, Dow Jones Industrial Average) have taken a turn after an 80% increase in the broad averages from March 2009 to April 2010. The months of May and early June 2010 have witnessed sharp declines. What’s going on? Perhaps just a normal adjustment after a strong run-up in prices or is there more to it?
In the business pages the news of the day is more telling: Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve warns that “the federal budget “appears” to be on an “unsustainable path” and the recent report of economic activity from the June ‘beige book’ released Wednesday notes that economic activity improved across the country: manufacturing picked up, retail sales grew, and housing was helped by the now expired tax credit, and a ‘modest’ recovery was unfolding. The Economic Optimism Index released this week, however, reported that consumer confidence fell sharply over the last month on continued job worries and fears about the future as uncertainties multiply: when will interest rates rise, what will new tax rates look like (after the Bush tax cuts expire), what will ObamaCare really cost, what will cap & trade and new energy policies cost, will ‘card check’ pass, and how much stronger will unions be, how will the financial sector be altered by new regulations. There is hardly a shortage of concerns out there at the moment.
While the world might be focused on the magical tablet scene, the revolution of instant-on computing and finger smudges on a screen, there is one sleeper technology that is about to hit mainstream: Video conferencing.
On Friday, the House passed the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act (H.R. 4213) that would require 401(k) fee disclosures, provide relief for pension funds and extend unemployment benefits.
However, the planned extension of the COBRA premium subsidy was omitted prior to voting to gain additional support for passage.
At this point, employees terminated on or after June 1st are not eligible for the subsidy. The Senate will address the legislation when they return from recess on June 7th. We expect the COBRA subsidy issue to be revisited in the future.
We will continue to gather information about these and other changes as it becomes available. Please contact your PS&F Benefits Team if you want to discuss how these provisions can or will impact your plan.
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