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EBC and MBIS offer flexible security for WBA-member banks

By Daryll J. Lund

As National Insurance Awareness Day approaches on June 28, all WBA-member banks should take a moment this month to review their insurance policies. While this is good practice in preventing certain aspects of the bank from going underinsured, it is also important to verify your bank and employees are getting the best offers for the best price.

The Wisconsin Bankers Association – Employee Benefits Corporation (WBA EBC) offers WBA-member banks competitively priced plans covering life and disability, dental, medical, prescription drug, and vision insurance. Our flexible plans allow Wisconsin community bankers the purchasing power usually only offered to larger groups and access to an online insurance portal. Contact Brian Siegenthaler at 608-441-1211 or bsiegenthaler@wisbank.com to learn more.

Additionally, Midwest Bankers Insurance Services (MBIS), co-owned by WBA, offers banks throughout Wisconsin security with three distinct lines of coverage — professional lines (FI bond, D&O liability, and cyber liability), property casualty lines (building, liability, business auto, workers compensation, and umbrella liability), and lending-related lines (mortgage protection/E&O, lenders single interest, force placed hazard, and flood). These coverage lines protect banks across the Midwest and allow them to stay ahead of the unexpected. MBIS offers solutions and protection from the best carriers in the insurance industry. Contact Jeff Otteson at 608-217-5219 or jeffo@mbisllc.com to learn more about enrollment.

As uncertainty in our daily lives remain — be certain that WBA EBC and MBIS are here to offer the best, competitively priced policies for both your bank and employees. Take the first step in strengthening your employee benefits package or bank coverage lines this June by enrolling with WBA Insurance Services!

By Daryll J. Lund

The Wisconsin Bankers Association Employee Benefits Corporation, Inc. (WBA EBC) was formed in 1982 and as our Association Health Plan (AHP) begins its fourth year, I would like to thank each WBA member that has chosen to trust us for their insurance needs.

The flexibility of our high-quality health benefits (dental insurance, medical insurance, prescription drug plans, and vision) as well as life and disability insurance are typically reserved for large employers but — through the purchasing power of WBA EBC — are offered exclusively to WBA members at preferred prices. In the last three years alone, our member banks have collectively saved $1.8 million thanks to their member-driven AHP.

This year we are pleased that nearly 40 banks throughout the state have chosen the WBA AHP through UnitedHealthcare for their health insurance program. Through your enrollment in our AHP, 1,800 members will have access to affordable, highquality benefits and insurance throughout Wisconsin. In addition, our partnership with Lincoln Financial provides life and disability coverage for 10,000 members and our Delta Dental plans cover 7,000 members.

I, along with WBA EBC Vice President Brian Siegenthaler and our dedicated team look forward to continuing to assist you and your employees through our one-stop-shop for members enrollment and administration. We thank you once again for choosing WBA EBC to provide for the well-being of all employees in your organization.

Visit www.wisbankins.com or contact Brian Siegenthaler at bsiegenthaler@wisbank.com or 608-441-1211 to learn more about the advantages we offer.

By Daryll Lund

The Wisconsin Bankers Association Employee Benefits Corporation, Inc. (WBA-EBC) was formed in 1982 and as our Association Health Plan (AHP) begins its fourth year, I would like to thank each WBA member that has chosen to trust us for their insurance needs.

The flexibility of our high-quality health benefits (dental insurance, medical insurance, prescription drug plans, and vision) as well as life and disability insurance are typically reserved for large employers but — through the purchasing power of WBA-EBC — are offered exclusively to WBA members at preferred prices. In the last three years alone, our member banks have collectively saved $1.8 million thanks to their member-driven AHP.

This year we are pleased that nearly 40 banks throughout the state have chosen the WBA-AHP through UnitedHealthcare for their health insurance program. Through your enrollment in our AHP, 1,800 members will have access to affordable, high-quality benefits and insurance throughout Wisconsin. In addition, our partnership with Lincoln Financial provides life and disability coverage for 10,000 members and our Delta Dental plans cover 7,000 members.

I, along with WBA-EBC vice president Brian Siegenthaler and our dedicated team look forward to continuing to assist you and your employees through our one-stop-shop for members enrollment and administration. We thank you once again for choosing WBA-EBC to provide for the wellbeing of all employees in your organization.

The Wisconsin Bankers Association is pleased to announce the hire of Ryan Pettersen to its subsidiary, WBA Insurance Services. Pettersen will serve as account manager for the WBA Employee Benefits Corporation, Inc. and will assist Wisconsin banks with insurance options to fit their unique business needs, including health, life, and disability coverages.

“Ryan’s experience in building strong business relationships makes him a great fit for our organization,” said Rose Oswald Poels, WBA president and CEO. “Especially where important employee benefits are concerned, having a trusted, personable partner for bankers to work closely with is so important.”

Pettersen comes to WBA from the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, where he worked for over 20 years, most recently in the role of supplier services specialist and Wisconsin Restaurateur Magazine advertising director. Working with members is the aspect of the trade association profession he enjoys most. Pettersen is a native of Richland Center, Wis., and earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

By, Alex Paniagua

After nearly 30 years of dedicated service, Kathy Gallagher will be retiring at the end of May. We are very appreciative of all of Kathy’s efforts over the years and she will be greatly missed.  

Kathy began working at the Wisconsin Bankers Association on Jan. 20, 1992, as the Employment Benefits Company’s (EBC) insurance trust enrollment administrator. At the time of her hiring, she wasn’t the only new part of the company — her position was brand new as well! As a result, Kathy figured parts of the position out as time went on and quickly mastered her responsibilities while she got to know the many bankers she would regularly communicate with each day. In a 1997 WBA Profile titled “She ‘Benefits’ All”, Kathy noted that, “It’s exciting to interact with such a variety of people in the industry on a daily basis.”  

Although Kathy began as trust enrollment administrator, she has had many new titles since her hiring. In 2004 she was promoted to client service specialist and in 2010 was promoted to assistant director of insurance services. Since 2015, Kathy has taken on the role of director of insurance services, and in 2017 she celebrated her 25-year anniversary with WBA. Four years later, she now celebrates her retirement after almost three decades with the association.  

In her ‘97 WBA Profile, she also noted that “It’s challenging, but very rewarding, to be able to assist more than 225 banks in the state on so many different aspects of the Insurance Trust.” Several members that Kathy has worked with in the past have reached out to share how grateful they’ve been to have Kathy to contact. One member recalled their first experience speaking with Kathy and noted her “sweet, patient, completely knowledgeable voice on the other end of the line” who helped them understand everything from “health, life, dental, AD&D, vision, LTD insurance — you name it, she knew it inside and out.”  

Thank you, Kathy, from all of WBA, for the countless memories and the 29 years of incredible work! 

By, Alex Paniagua

In October 2018, the Wisconsin Bankers Association announced it would become the first business group in Wisconsin to launch a statewide Association Health Plan (AHP). The plan, launched on Jan. 1, 2019, was created in response to a rule change from the U.S. Department of Labor aimed at providing the same flexibility to small businesses that large organizations enjoy when it comes to negotiating pricing and coverage options for health care.

In two short years, WBA’s plan—offered exclusively to WBA member banks through WBA Employee Benefits Corporation (EBC), a subsidiary of the WBA, and administered by UnitedHealthcare—has saved WBA member banks over $1.2 million! We’ve added 1,200 members and are UHC's fastest-growing AHP in the country. This success comes from combining the collective resources of WBA’s 200+ member banks to create a strength-in-numbers approach to pricing and coverage.

Online Platform Launched Oct. 1!
WBA EBC is thrilled with the successful launch of a new online system for streamlined insurance and human resources tasks. The online portal, accessible through a partnership with the Iowa Bankers Insurance Services, provides member banks with enhanced service, better transparency on costs and expenses, member driven control of enrollment/changes, and the ability to better control administrative costs in the future. 

Haven’t seen it yet? Contact EBC’s Racheale Ward at rward@wisbank.com, 608-441-1260 for more information. 

Joining the WBA AHP has several benefits, including:

Local association team: We provide a consultative approach to help you create a desirable benefit portfolio for your association groups. Our strong customer support teams helps ease the process of addressing health care needs.

Opportunity for cost savings: As a small group of 1–50 employees, you can access plans that give you strength in numbers. For rating purposes you’re seen as a large employer, and not subject to Adjusted Community Rating. For Groups with 51 or more eligible employees, UnitedHealthcare is offering a Premium Discount and a Renewal Rate Cap of 9% for the first renewal.

More plan options: UnitedHealthcare offers plan flexibility with dozens of plan designs to choose from – allowing flexibility in options to balance costs. Consumer-driven plan flexibility includes high deductible options, health reimbursement accounts (HRAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs). The AHP features a customized 45-plan package for the WBA Association Health Plan Employers.

Easy to switch: Our array of plans, doctors, and services are likely similar to what members have today making for a smoother transition.

Strong national network: The nation’s single largest proprietary network that reaches 98% of the United States’ population – more than 907,000 physicians and health care professionals at over 5,500 hospitals.

Convenient resources for members: Mobile, online, or person-to-person resources that help members make well informed choices about their health care costs and needs.

For more information or if you have any questions about WBA EBC’s insurance options, please contact WBA EBC Director – Sales Brian Siegenthaler at bsiegenthaler@wisbank.com or 608-441-1211.

Lund is WBA executive vice president – chief of staff and president of EBC and MBIS.

By, Ally Bates

WBA EBC is excited to announce the upcoming launch of an innovative new online system for streamlined insurance and human resources tasks. The online portal, accessible through a partnership with the Iowa Bankers Insurance Services, will provide member banks with enhanced service, better transparency on costs and expenses, member driven control of enrollment/changes, and the ability to better control administrative costs in the future. 

This upgrade and all included features are available to all WBA EBC bank clients for free as a value-add for your membership with WBA and commitment to our industry through your partnership with WBA EBC.  

The transition to an online system will benefit WBA EBC’s customers by facilitating fast, smooth, and consistent workflows that save time and money. Client banks will now have more time to devote to the strategic initiatives that drive the institution's bottom line rather than filing and documenting. 

After go-live, WBA EBC clients will have access to a one-stop-shop portal for administrators and employees for medical, dental, vision, and life and disability products through WBA. The new Benefits Portal includes some of the following features:  

  • One “Benefits Portal Login” button on the WBA/EBC home page that both benefits administrators and employees will use to log into the portal. Administrators will have access to their administrator account(s) for all employer records to which they have access AND their employee account using a single login. 
  • Standardized login credentials and login process that enable users (administrators and employees) to create, retrieve, and reset their own credentials 
  • Report Builder tool that supports custom queries and reports 
  • E-signature validation for online employee enrollment and maintenance transactions 
  • Mobile-friendly user interface 
  • Ability to search for forms, SPDs, and other documents 
  • Option enabling users to provide online feedback (report issues and suggest improvements) 

Leading up to the system launch on Oct. 1, 2020, WBA EBC will host training webinars to demonstrate features and provide tips on how to navigate the portal.  

If you are a WBA EBC client and haven’t registered yet for your training, please contact me at dlund@wisbank.com or WBA EBC Account Manager Racheale Ward at rward@wisbank.com, 608-441-1260.  

Hurry! Trainings are scheduled for Sept. 1 at 1:00 p.m. or Sept. 3 at 10:00 a.m.! 

Click here to register

For more information or if you have any questions about WBA EBC’s insurance options, please contact WBA EBC Director – Sales Brian Siegenthaler at bsiegenthaler@wisbank.com or 608-441-1211. 

Lund is WBA executive vice president – chief of staff and president of EBC and MBIS. 

By, Ally Bates

Why and How to Incorporate Ancillary Benefits Into Your Compensation Package

The global workforce shortage now impacts nearly half of all employers. According to Manpower Group's 2018 talent shortage report, 45 percent of employers say they can't find the skills they need, up from 40 percent in 2017 and the highest figure in over a decade. In Wisconsin, the unemployment rate has plunged to an historic low and many businesses are struggling to find talent. "We have a saying at MRA: the war for talent is over, and the candidates have won," said MRA Director, Total Rewards Deborah Schultz, GPHR, SPHR, SHRM-SCP. Traditional, cookie-cutter benefits aren't effective attractors for today's empowered candidates. "The one-size-fits-all approach no longer works well with benefits," said Brian Siegenthaler, director – sales at WBA Employee Benefits Corporation. "Employees are looking for flexibility and choice. The right benefits package can make a huge difference, especially in the current environment of small salary increases."

As a result, many employers—including banks—are turning to ancillary benefits in an effort to stand out to the most qualified job seekers. "Organizations, banks included, are taking more of a total rewards approach," Schultz explained. "In the competitive talent community today, it's all about differentiation." Ancillary benefits are the "extras" beyond the retirement, health insurance, and life insurance products that round out a traditional rewards package, sometimes including other insurance products such as vision or hearing, cancer, and critical illness, or non-insurance perks such as remote work options and tuition reimbursement. 

While quantitative research proving that ancillary benefits cause employees to join or leave an organization is limited, they are a motivating factor that can keep top talent engaged for a longer period of time. "Many employees put a high value on ancillary benefits," said Ed Caillier, human resources director, MRA. For many employees, the benefits carry more weight than salary alone. "Better benefits are usually more valuable than higher-than-average pay," said Kaydi Sobottka, human resources officer at The First National Bank of River Falls. 

Five Keys to Success 

If your bank is considering complementing your total rewards package by adding ancillary benefits, consider the following five keys to a successful rollout:

  1. Align with the bank's mission and strategy. The most successful benefits packages closely align with the company's strategic plan and also reinforce its mission and/or values, and often it's the ancillary benefits that do the most to create that synergy. "Benefits encompass more than insurance, 401(k) plans, and PTO," explained Molly Bauer, vice president – human resources officer at the Bank of Wisconsin Dells and Chair of the 2018-2019 WBA Human Resources Committee. "Culture and benefits are tightly entwined." For example, if the bank has a strong culture of community service, then paid volunteer time might be a good ancillary benefit to introduce. "Make sure you stay in alignment with the culture you're trying to create and your business strategy," Schultz advised. 
  2. Determine what the bank can afford. Careful cost analysis is a critical component in launching any changes to a compensation and benefits plan. "Organizations need to do a careful assessment of what the organization can afford and sustain," said Schultz. Many banks provide benefits in an unofficial capacity, so it is important to factor in those costs, as well. For example, Bauer knows of one bank that offers unlimited bereavement leave simply because "for them, it's just the right thing to do," she said. "Generally, community banks look out for their employees in times of need. It's not always just about the written benefits." In order to offer that kind of support and flexibility, the bank needs to understand the costs it will need to absorb in order to do so. Working with the right vendor can help keep costs in check, Siegenthaler says. "Partnering with the right carriers is important," he explained. "Price is, of course, a major consideration, but working with a partner carrier that understands our industry is key."
  3. Communicate clearly, early, and often. Human resources leaders must establish clear communication with all staff before, during and after the implementation of any changes. "It's really all about communication," Siegenthaler said. "If employees don't understand how to utilize the benefits, the value of the programs isn't fully realized." In addition to increasing utilization, open communication can provide direction on what kinds of benefits employees will appreciate the most. "Doing an employee survey is a great way to cast a net out there to gauge interest in different types of ancillary benefits," said Kelly Greinke, survey project lead at MRA. 
  4. Involve staff. Every company will have a unique benefits package because no two employees need the same things. "There is no one-size-fits-all package," said Bauer. She recommends polling staff or creating a committee with all levels of the organization represented to discuss benefits. "Most people are willing to tell you what they like and don't like if you ask," she said. Involving staff in the design and implementation of a custom benefits package not only increases the changes that package will meet the specific needs of your staff, but also provide the right number of choices so employees can further customize their options to fit their situation. "Each employee is uniquely different," said Sobottka. "Choice is key to meeting the needs of each employee."
  5. Demonstrate support from the top. Like any significant change at the bank, support from senior leadership is critical to rolling out new or updated benefits successfully. "Senior leadership's visible support and actions around a company's benefits program is very important in overcoming skepticism," said Caillier. He used the example of paid time off to volunteer. "If that's not fully supported by senior leaders with their words and actions, employees will view it as something they shouldn't take advantage of," he explained.

 ​Ancillary Benefits
Across industries, organizations have added a wide variety of ancillary benefits to their rewards packages. Here are a few of the most common and creative: 

Additional Insurance
Siegenthaler said offering dual or triple option health plans is one innovative approach he's seen. "Offering voluntary or supplemental coverages that allows the employee to pick and choose what's most important to them is also a good option," he said. Providers like Aflac often offer this type of coverage at no cost to the employer. In a recent banking industry survey, MRA found that cancer insurance and critical illness insurance were two popular ancillary benefits; vision and/or hearing insurance are also fairly common.

Flexibility 
"We've definitely seen an influx of the kinds of benefits that work toward work/life flexibility," said Schultz, who says the term "work/life balance" is difficult as a goal because each individual brings his or her own definition. Additionally, MRA employer surveys have found that opportunities for time off and social interaction are very popular, especially among younger workers. Greinke cited spontaneous time off to leave early, summer hours, teambuilding events, and sporting events as examples. 

Paid Volunteer Hours
Having paid time off to volunteer in the community "can tie in with the overall mission, vision, and values of the organization," said Caillier. "Building communities is a large part of what the financial industry is about." A related benefit banks might consider is charitable contribution gift-matching. 

Wellness Programs
A company-sponsored wellness program is a good way to incentivize healthy living, and several banks have found them very popular with their employees. "Our wellness program has been incredibly successful," said Sobottka. "It's become a main pillar of our culture, aiding retention." Long-term, such programs can also lead to healthier employees and therefore lower insurance costs and less productivity lost due to sick days. 

Wisconsin Banking Industry Compensation & Benefits Report 
Do you need easy-to-understand, usable, and meaningful compensation and benefits data about Wisconsin's banking industry? As a banking HR professional, of course you do! Now available to you, the 2018 Wisconsin Banking Industry Compensation & Benefits Report is the largest Wisconsin-specific report, containing salary and benefit information for 113 different jobs with data from 111 participating Wisconsin banks! Visit www.wisbank.com/WICompensation for a sneak peek at this year's data and to order your report.

Cathy Yanke, human resources director at Bank of Prairie du Sac, and Kari Davis, VP – human resources director at State Bank of Cross Plains, also contributed to this article. 
WBA Employee Benefits Corporation (EBC) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Wisconsin Bankers Association.  

By, Amber Seitz