2018 Rising Stars in Advising

Published
  • February 04 2018, 6:05pm EST
This year’s group of standout advisers ages 35 and younger is taking charge of the employee benefit supply chain with a determination to reduce costs and improve client outcomes. They’re creating employer coalitions. They’re negotiating with stop-loss carriers. They’re streamlining technology. They’re owning employee engagement. And that extends to their internal employees as well. The 2018 Rising Stars in Advising — chosen by the EBA editorial team after a month-long online nomination process — are compassionate leaders who practice what they preach, allowing flexible work hours and seamlessly integrating cultures as brokerages merge. Listed in alphabetical order, these 20 leaders are active community and industry mentors who are taking the field of advising to new heights.

2018 Rising Stars in Advising

This year’s group of standout advisers ages 35 and younger is taking charge of the employee benefit supply chain with a determination to reduce costs and improve client outcomes. They’re creating employer coalitions. They’re negotiating with stop-loss carriers. They’re streamlining technology. They’re owning employee engagement. And that extends to their internal employees as well. The 2018 Rising Stars in Advising — chosen by the EBA editorial team after a month-long online nomination process — are compassionate leaders who practice what they preach, allowing flexible work hours and seamlessly integrating cultures as brokerages merge. Listed in alphabetical order, these 20 leaders are active community and industry mentors who are taking the field of advising to new heights.

Adam Berkowitz, 32

Founder & President
Simpara

With a decade of experience, Adam Berkowitz launched his own firm in the fall of 2016. Within a year, he brought in 28 new clients with the philosophy of turning the typical brokerage model upside down through a focus on exciting and engaging employers with better benefits. As a testament to this commitment, he has been accepted as a Charter Member of the Health Rosetta Institute, the mission of which is to drive down healthcare costs by aligning employer and adviser incentives, value-based care, transparency and more. He is saving businesses 20%-40% on health insurance.

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Tom Brew, Jr., 32

Senior Wellness Consultant
ERChealth and Oswald Companies

Tom Brew is a leader in health risk management, overseeing the entire book of business for the wellness coaching platform of ERChealth, a division of Oswald Companies. Under his leadership, the program has more than 87% of enrollees seeing a wellness coach and brings in more than $3 million in annual revenue. Brew is also the founder and chair of OswaldCLIMBS, an internal association at Oswald that he established to attract, recruit and retain young professionals in the industry.

Niko Caparisos, 33

Health and Welfare Consultant
Prosperity Benefits, LLC

As the founder of Prosperity Benefits, one of Niko Caparisos’ driving motivations is to “deliver solutions, not spreadsheets.” For example, he brought more than 50% savings, worth $95,000, to a new client in their first year working with him. He works with clients to define and manage risks to control costs with a forward-looking perspective, bringing Fortune 500-level benefit programs to small- to mid-sized organizations.

Mark Fox, 30

Vice President
Collateral Benefits Group and Collateral Educator Services

Backed by leadership at the National Association of Health Underwriters — including NAHU’s president — Mark Fox is known as a leader and influencer. He spearheaded research to develop a NAHU playbook for its national chapters and helped build internship programs for agency growth. He built his book of business at Benefits Negotiator with a transparent commission structure tied to a reduction in PEPM payments for clients. Now, in a year and a half at Collateral, Fox has helped the company transition from paper to digital, create sales leads from three times as many channels and helped to build a marketing plan, to name just a few advancements.

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Cory Friedman, 29

Vice President, Benefits Consulting
Alera Group | GCG Financial, LLC

A second-time honoree, Cory Friedman continues to build on his success by developing a self-funded employer health insurance captive that is focused on the veterinary industry. By identifying cost and risk-management strategies such as care coordination and cost-based reimbursements, he is changing the way plan members purchase healthcare services. He is growing his team and mentoring young advisers just entering the business in the process.

Bob Gearhart, Jr., 31

Partner
DCW Group

A third generation partner at his family’s firm, Bob Gearhart, Jr., is the driving force behind DCW Group’s new business. Loved by clients, he has transformed his practice into a cutting-edge creative operation. Clients applaud his proactive approach to digital benefits management, having moved into offering full benefits administration. So confident in his ability to save clients’ money, he is not afraid to put part of his compensation on the line as a guarantee. Recently, Gearhart helped to bring in 10 new clients in a matter of months — all while refusing to quote insurance business.

Suzannah Gill, 34

Benefits Strategy Consultant
EPIC Insurance Brokers & Consultants

Although the youngest producer at the time she joined EPIC two years ago, Suzannah Gill quickly became known as a company and industry thought leader. She uses her background as an ERISA attorney to deliver unique expertise as a consultant. She is driving down employers’ costs and guaranteeing her incentives are aligned with theirs in the process by offering to work on a fee-basis and tying her compensation to performance targets.

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Matt Gilroy, 33

Employee Benefits Consultant
HUB International Northwest

Along with his partner Melissa Koontz, Matt Gilroy serves two niche audiences, public school districts and cannabis companies. He takes the lead with cannabis clients, using his background in real estate and sales to develop overall client strategy. The pair — who split their sales, book of business and responsibilities evenly — have brought nearly $900,000 into their book in just the past two years. They are heavily involved in the community through volunteer organizations, industry associations and actively lobbying on behalf of their specialty practices.

Erik Hansen, 30

President
Vita Companies

Erik Hansen contributes to the success of Vita Companies by owning user experience at all levels of the organization. Regardless of size, all clients have access to compliant paperless benefits workflows and cutting-edge tools that deliver strategic modeling abilities. His efforts contribute to Vita’s Net Promoter Score of 84 and were a factor in his promotion to President in November 2017. Hansen is the technology chair for California United Benefit Advisors and Chairman — Young Professionals with the Northern California Human Resources Association.

Melissa Koontz, 28

Senior Employee Benefits Consultant
HUB International Northwest

Along with her partner Matt Gilroy, Melissa Koontz serves two niche audiences, public school districts and cannabis companies. She takes the lead with public school clients, using her background in HR and accounting to focus on compliance and financial analytics. The pair — who split their sales, book of business and responsibilities evenly — have brought nearly $900,000 into their book in just the past two years. They are heavily involved in the community through volunteer organizations, industry associations and actively lobbying on behalf of their specialty practices.

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Taylor Lindsey, 29

Partner
Employee Benefit Consultants, Inc.

A fourth generation partner at Employee Benefits Consultants, Inc., Taylor Lindsey is taking over a large amount of business in his market by focusing on client transparency and innovative self-funding strategies. It is his goal to help employers and plan participants to be smarter purchasers and consumers of healthcare by designing effective and efficient benefit programs.

Rachel Miner, 32

Employee Benefit Strategist
Employee Benefit Advisors of the Carolinas

Rachel Miner is a quick learner who became an adviser in the summer of 2016 after working in benefits technology sales. The incoming president of the Charlotte Association of Health Underwriters, she is committed to providing expert guidance to clients through cutting-edge plan design and technology. In less than 18 months in the business she built up a book of more than $250,000 while maintaining a commitment to proactive, transparency-driven service and consistently meeting quality metrics.

Braden Monaco, 35

Co-Founder and Managing Partner
Blue Horizon Benefits

Over the last decade, Braden Monaco has turned his firm from the traditional sales-centric approach to benefits toward a new business model, driven by working in partnership with clients. Using a concierge service platform, he adapts to individual client needs by combining proactive management and communication with state-of-the-art technology tools. It is his goal to go beyond the role of consultant and become an integral part of each client’s business operations.

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Courtney Nelson, 30

Vice President, Employee Benefits Leader
Brown & Brown of Tennessee

Quickly rising through the ranks at Brown & Brown’s Florida headquarters, Courtney Nelson was promoted to run the company’s Tennessee operation, where she’s since led a once declining division to achieve steady, solid growth. She is a thought leader who participates in MetLife’s Broker Advisory Council and is a board member of the Middle Tennessee Association of Health Underwriters. Colleagues describe her as motivated, persistent, caring, devoted and determined to serve her teammates as well as clients.

Bethany Radloff, 29

Assistant Vice President
HUB International Midwest

Bethany Radloff has a unique ability to meet client objectives while maximizing their return on healthcare spend. Through strong leadership and willingness to go above and beyond for clients, she is continuing to expand her book of business at a rapid pace, even as she works toward her CEBS designation. Clients and colleagues alike provide “amazing feedback” on Radloff’s performance, emphasizing her technical competence, ability to make the complex simple and desire to share best practices.

Derek Rine, 28

Vice President
David Rine Insurance

Determined to change the benefits conversation, Derek Rine isn’t afraid to speak with a prospective client’s CFO to explain how his approach to the business will benefit the company’s bottom line. After explaining his philosophy, he’s been known to have a broker of record letter signed on the spot. Beyond meeting clients’ insurance needs, he works with them to implement long-term strategies that will eliminate compound rate increases. Through programs such as prescription advocacy and elite concierge services he and his team are working to provide clients with high quality at a low cost.

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Josh Sailar, 28

Investment Advisor
Miracle Mile Advisors

Josh Sailar personally manages more than $51 million in high-net-worth assets, developing corporate and employee benefit plans for the majority of his business owner clients. He is dedicated to the financial empowerment of employees and has single-handedly driven his firm’s retirement and benefits practice far beyond expectations, becoming a go-to financial resource for plan participants in the process. He is a member of mentoring program Youth Business Alliance as well as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles.

John W. Sbrocco, 34

Healthcare Strategist | Principal
Questige

John Sbrocco isn’t afraid to speak his mind to the C-suite, explaining how to re-engineer the healthcare delivery system to bring substantial savings. It’s a promise he delivers on, regularly delivering large reimbursement checks. He co-created a coalition of employers willing to implement effective risk management strategies and tirelessly works on their behalf, such as negotiating exceptional stop-loss rates with carriers. As one industry peer says, “His sole focus is to become a master of his craft.”

Tyler Spears, 31

Managing Partner
BKCW Insurance, Risk Management & Benefits

In the eight years Tyler Spears has been with BKCW, he’s led the charge in tripling the size of the agency and integrating three different company cultures after major acquisitions. Nominated by multiple employees, his appreciation for them shines through in the family-friendly environment he has created, including flex time and a scholarship for employees’ children. Colleagues refer to him as “the ultimate visionary” who has streamlined advanced technology platforms and drawn people into the field through his passion for benefit advising. He is an active member of the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas, where he received Young Agent of the Year.

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Walter Winter, 32

Vice President and Technology Practice Leader
Parker, Smith & Feek

Walter Winter specializes in working with companies that employ 100-1,000 employees, managing his firm’s technology practice to create innovative solutions to drive down the cost of employee benefits without diminishing their value. He helps clients to design a sustainable multiyear strategy through alternative funding, best-in-class vendors and targeted incentive programs that encourage plan members to be informed healthcare consumers. He had 100% client retention in 2017, while acquiring several new accounts. Under his leadership, the technology practice has grown by more than 25% each year for the last three years.