More brokers are confident about the voluntary employee benefits industry, a new survey shows. Results from Eastbridge Consulting Group’s Voluntary Industry Confidence Index finds confidence increased to 99.7 at year-end, up from 98.4 in a mid-year 2011 survey.
The index is calculated using three key expectation measures about the voluntary industry: sales growth, profitability of the industry, and employee enthusiasm about voluntary products.
“Feelings about the profitability of the industry rebounded the most,” says Gil Lowerre, president of Eastbridge. The percentage expecting lower profitability declined to just eight percent (down from 18 percent last time) and the percentage expecting increased profitability was up to 54 percent. “The percentage expecting sales growth for 2012 also improved nicely, with 95 percent expecting more sales,” Lowerre says.
The only measure that showed a decrease was employee enthusiasm about voluntary products. The mean was down from 3.82 to 3.80 primarily because more people said there would be “no change” in employee enthusiasm, explains Eastbridge vice president Bonnie Brazzell.
Eastbridge conducts the survey semi-annually and includes responses from individuals active in the market, among them carriers, brokers, vendors and employees. Like other confidence indices, the index is a single number that compares the current results to a baseline measure. The first Confidence Index survey was completed in December of 2005; the results from that survey serve as the “base” year (meaning the index was at 100 for that year).
By Kathryn Mayer