Just over 15 years ago I started my first job in the employee benefits world, as a group insurance sales representative for a major insurance company in Edmonton. Like most people who have careers in insurance, it wasn’t something I had planned. I was referred in for the opportunity by a parent from the basketball team I was coaching at the time and went in for my first interview having never really even been on a benefits plan before. I spent my first 6 weeks on the job training in Winnipeg, enduring what turned out to be a bone chilling end to winter. We put in long days mastering the fundamentals of drug formularies, disability definitions, dental procedures, and benefit plan financials.
I worked my way up in that company through different sales leadership roles, and was fortunate to be awarded one of the companies most coveted transfers- to Kelowna. The Okanagan felt like home right away, and knowing that my time for another transfer would arrive eventually, I decided in 2016 that it was time to apply everything I had learned and work for the end customers themselves. I joined a large insurance brokerage where I cut my teeth in the advice business. Helping employers navigate operating a program in line with their organizational visions, while managing expectations to meet their budgets.
6 years later the world had changed a lot and I found myself on a beach in Costa Rica, wondering what I was going to do for the rest of my career. My experiences working with employers of all sizes and industries, from Vancouver to Halifax – and some much needed time away from the industry to think, crystalized for me a number of ideas about how to deliver value in this space differently.
In the sales world there are a lot of words used all the time that don’t have a lot of real meaning. “We do things differently” is a statement in practice almost totally devoid of value. In the benefits world, everyone vying for your attention will tell you they are different but the reality is brokers are captive to almost all of the same insurance companies. Sure there are some different strategies to be aware of, but in terms of providing the market something that is genuinely an alternative- the existing system makes it pretty hard to do. It would be kind of like going to different dealerships but only being able to buy the same three brands of car at all of them.
The truth is, during my 15 year career in benefits, we’ve been waiting for something different, but even as technology and now AI has advanced, in the benefits world it’s really only meant cosmetic changes to plan member experience. In terms of the way plans are designed, a significant number still have not changed their benefits at all during that time. Annual maximums for things like hearing aids haven’t changed, while the cost of hearing aids has almost doubled. Operational efficiencies realized through technology have also not translated to lower margins for employers. Why? The cost structures of insurance companies, and the insurance sales people in the marketplace have not changed.
I believe that the way forward of creating real value for our clients is helping them understand how to make the most of their budgets, by reducing the fat in the margins. It goes back to my roots learning benefit plan financials that long winter in Winnipeg. Now having the freedom to operate under my own banner, Paramount is offering a cost model you won’t find anywhere else.
So, if you’re still reading – welcome to Paramount! We are actually different. Our approach will save you real dollars, without negatively impacting the benefits you offer. On your retirement plan, we will reduce the erosion on the returns of your members savings by removing the cost of advice that is often not even given.
If this sounds like a service that could be of service to your organization, please reach out and start the conversation.
I look forward to hearing from you,