A day in the life of benefit adviser Richard Fahn

Richard Fahn is founder and president of the Northbrook-Ill.-based Excell Benefit Group, which specializes in group benefits, including health, life, disability and voluntary products.


5:30 a.m.

I wake up — no alarm clock needed — and grab my cell phone. I check my emails and text messages to make sure nothing crazy happened overnight. I head downstairs to get my caffeine fix in, prior to starting my morning workout with one of my virtual trainers. If I don’t get my exercise in early, it’s not going to happen.

7:30 a.m.

The first 15 minutes are spent reading emails pertaining to industry updates and health reform. I roughly plan out the day’s agenda; however, I always leave time for the unexpected. I return any outstanding emails and phone calls and review pending issues and meetings. Keeping my inbox to 100 emails or less is vital.

9:00 a.m.

The team has arrived. I check in with everyone to review tasks pertaining to the day ahead, provide updates for ongoing matters and strategize client administration items.  

10:15 a.m.

Multi-tasking is critical for benefit advisers. During an insurance carrier webinar on one monitor, I take a few minutes to check on our marketing analytics on another to see how many hits we’ve gotten on our website, social media pages and email campaigns. My company is very active with digital marketing and I receive great feedback from clients and colleagues about that.

12:00 p.m.

I always step out for lunch, even if it’s only for 20 minutes. Lunch is often with clients, carrier representatives or other centers of influence. With the craziness of running a business, having a family, and staying active within the industry, it helps to get a little fresh air to re-energize for the afternoon.

2:00 p.m.

I catch up on the latest posts on my client’s social media pages and then it’s time to head downtown for their group renewal meeting. Knowing what is going on with my clients’ businesses gives me the ability to be a key business partner to my clients, not just their broker. Arriving early and being respectful of my clients’ time is important to me. The meeting agenda has numerous items for discussion, not just limited to the renewal. Obviously, since the Affordable Care Act has become a prominent discussion point for employers it’s vital for me to inform my small-group clients that they are no longer renewing “as is,” but with new plans and new rating methodologies.

4:30 p.m.

I’m back at the office and preparing for a client video call via Skype. I have a number of West Coast-based clients, so I often use video chatting to further engage my clients.


5:30 p.m.

Since I get to the office early, I try to head home for dinner to spend quality time with my family. I enjoy cooking and will often spice up dinner by trying a new recipe or perfecting a favorite, while dreaming I’m an Iron Chef. Post-dinner, I spend time with my 11-year-old twins playing Wii or watching TV.


10:30 p.m. 

I’m fading fast and it’s time for bed! I do one last check of emails, text messages, and social media and then it’s lights out.   

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