Models of success.
OUR ANNUAL Broker of the Year awards provide an opportunity to highlight the many advisors who are doing things right: innovating, adapting, finding ways to provide value and save clients money, and disrupting the very core of American health care. It's an exciting responsibility, and one we take very seriously.
It's also really hard.
Do I wish there was a machine into which we could pour the hundreds of nominations, all the data, the many personal recommendations and various intangibles, that could then spit out a list of finalists? Sometimes.
But the very human process of researching and winnowing the list provides a great chance to get to know these brokers.
This year's group offers another snapshot of the transformation taking place in the benefits world.
* Julie Freidus is a top producer for Brown and Brown Insurance, but she also plays a key role training other brokers at the firm. Freidus sees herself as a consultant, not just a broker. "I always do what's best for the client," she says. "I've done that since day one, and I think the clients see that and they appreciate it."
* Bob Gearhart Sr. and Bob Gearhart Jr. are the successors to DCW, a longstanding insurance business. However, their focus on consulting over a traditional brokerage model and an emphasis on developing a fee-for-performance approach places them in the vanguard of next-gen benefits advisors. "We listen to the clients," says Bob Jr. "We watch the market, and we continue to deliver value."
* Billy Potter, a principal at Snelling Walters, is a student of the industry who attributes much of his success to the company's culture and focus on identifying and solving clients' most pressing issues. "I feel like we've morphed into an insurance industry think tank," he says. "We have very robust and detailed processes to help build our business in a way that we think will reshape the industry."
* Beth Robertson works at one of the largest brokerages in the country, NFP, and like her company, she prides herself on a personal touch. "I try to ensure that every client is receiving the exact same level of service and thoughtful strategy," she says. One of the first things she asks clients? "What is your approach to disruption?"
* Bret Brummitt's 18-year career at AG Insurance Agencies has been built on hard work, curiosity and a few "aha" moments. "If we're not willing to learn, we're not good consultants," he says. Despite frustration with the industry's "antiquated" tendencies, his focus is on the future. "We're hitting a new tipping point."
I hope you get enjoy getting to know them as much as we have.
by Paul Wilson