Investment Executive magazine interviewed the Founder and President of The Benefits Trust, Robert J. Crowder, during their IE TV ‘Winning Strategies’ segment with host Dan Richards at the TMX Broadcast Centre at the Toronto Stock Exchange this past Monday, October 29.
Click here to watch the interview.
“A Promise to Employees”
The sustained five-minute interview, entitled “Benefits Plans a Hot-Button for Small Business Owners,” explored customized benefits plans as a key relationship-builder for employers and employees. Crowder immediately emphasized the importance of employer-customized benefits plans for businesses of all sizes by calling them “nothing less than a promise to employees.”
In response to Richards’s question regarding the fundamental importance of customized benefits plans, Crowder replied that “there are a number of tax advantages for business owners—one being, quite simply, the ability to pay for things through a benefits plan without having to pay with after-tax dollars.”
“Covering the Groups within Your Group”
Noting that benefits plans can be tools for recruitment and retention, Crowder observed that “one of the most important things about designing your benefits plan is to get the most value out of it for each of the groups within your organization.”
But how might an employer begin the process? asked the interviewer. Crowder suggested that, after recognizing that a benefits plan is “a promise between an employer and employee, you should consider whom you want to promise what to,” keeping in mind that there are “levels of employment and achievement” for any organization just as there are “levels of compensation” within any organization—“your customized benefits plan should reflect this and start at the top.”
Commenting on the flexibility of a customized benefits plan, Crowder noted that any organization is “free to choose their promise to employees: look at the ownership group, then the executive group, and then consider what you want to promise all of the other vital groups that comprise your team— from the leadership team to the new arrivals.”
“Flex Plans for Small Businesses”
Crowder then advised business owners to “consider the budget for those particular categories, or groups, of employees” in order to “maximize the value” of their benefits plan.
When asked if ‘Flex Plans’ are emerging as an important trend, Crowder agreed that they were for “large organizations,” but are “not so popular for small businesses.” However, he emphasized that flexible benefits can and should still be considered by smaller businesses:
“At The Benefits Trust we build in flexible components to those benefits programs for smaller businesses—what we conversationally call ‘Flex-Lite Plans’—so that small to mid-sized business owners can maximize their plans while remaining within their budget. It’s all about custom-designing the benefits plan according to the business owner’s needs.”
When asked to define for viewers what a ‘flow-through plan’ is, Crowder succinctly stated that, essentially, “it’s having expenses paid by your benefits program with tax-deducted dollars as opposed to paying for them with after-tax dollars.”
“Inefficient Tax Dollars”
Crowder centred in on the crux of benefits plans, ensuring that benefits plans count as a non-taxable benefit for employees so that value is maximized for both employer and employee alike, using his own situation as a humorous example:
“A prime example is me last week. I had a root canal—a unique experience that I’d rather not have again, thank you very much—that cost me $2,000. Now if my benefits plan wasn’t structured properly—the promise that my employer made to me wasn’t there—I would have had to pay out of my pocket with the most inefficient tax dollars available, and I would have had to earn $4,000 to pay that original $2,000 expense.”
“A Customized Benefits Plan”
To achieve the most efficient use of benefits-plan dollars, Crowder then discussed the beauty of built-in flexibility, noting that “you can have the best of both worlds” in terms of having “insurance where you need it” and still have “administrative self-insured expenses covered in the most tax-efficient way—so, a combination of both of those creating a customized benefits plan to meet the needs of the employer to ensure that employers continue to deliver their promises to employees.”
>> Robert J. Crowder founded The Benefits Trust in 1994 to provide customized administration services for employee benefits plans. He has over twenty years’ specialized expertise in Third Party Administered customized benefits plans.
Contact us today to discover how The Benefits Trust can help you choose a better, customizable way to administer and manage your employee benefits plan—because you keep your promises.