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SHAPING THE FUTURE: Julie Freidus.

Julie Freidus is not only a top producer for Brown and Brown Insurance, she also plays a key role training other brokers at the firm.

"My primary job is retaining my block of business, but my leadership duties include running the broker development program. I train all the new folks and make sure they are prepared when they roll out into sales."

Freidus admits to being busy but says the work is rewarding. "I really enjoy what I do," she says. "I enjoy working with clients, and I enjoy working with younger folks--sometimes I think they teach me more than I teach them! "

TRAINING THE NEXT GENERATION

Freidus has been training new brokers since she started at the company. "All of our teammates spend time training new hires," she notes. "We have a very strong culture of teamwork."

She says the training program has expanded a lot since she started with Brown and Brown. "At first, it was one trainee here or there, but it's grown into a fullblown broker development program. We recruit talent to become part of the program, and we train them here and also at the Brown and Brown University."

So what does a promising broker candidate look like? "We're looking for high-quality individuals who are smart, hard working, and who have a sense of urgency," Freidus says. No background in insurance is necessary, she adds. "We feel we can train people in insurance-the people we end up hiring are up for the challenge. They're not just looking for a job, they're looking for a career."

COMMUNICATION AND CONSULTATION

As for her sales strategy, Freidus says it's not rocket science. "I always do what's best for the client. I've done that since day one. It's part of the culture at Brown and Brown, one of our core values," she says. "I think the clients see that and they appreciate it."

Like many Broker of the Year finalists, Freidus sees herself as a consultant, not just a broker. "I take a very consultative approach," she says. Part of that is bringing resources such as technology solutions to the table.

"I think employer groups are looking for cost containment and benefits efficiencies," she says. "Vendors and insurance companies are always coming up with new technologies and better reporting to focus on how to solve the cost-containment challenge, especially with drilling down to the analytics and utilization of each group."

With so many companies seeking cost containment, she says, getting buy-in from employees has never been so important.

"Employee education and engagement is a large challenge that we're focusing on," she says. "As technology becomes more advanced, the data becomes much better--it presents a huge opportunity to become more engaged with consumers in terms of managing their health."

Communication is important, she adds, but there will always be room for the personal touch. "There are so many different ways to communicate with employees now--text messages, apps, and face-to-face meetings. That sometimes gets lost, but face-to-face meetings can be very valuable in addition to the technology.

"At the end of the day it's important to remember that this is a relationship business."

PHOTOGRAPHY BY KEVIN GARRETT

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Title Annotation:2018 BROKER OF THE YEAR finalist
Publication:Benefits PRO
Date:Apr 1, 2018
Words:526
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