A focus on clients leads adviser Marne Bell to success

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Marne Bell doesn’t believe in conducting business the traditional way. Her unique approach to her job as senior vice president, client development at Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. has paid dividends and led to her being named to EBA’s 2017 Most Influential Women in Benefit Advising list.

To select this year’s honorees, EBA editors asked readers to submit the names of thought leaders who are making their mark on the benefit business through their unique approaches to client relations, benefits technology and/or mentoring other women. From the dozens of submissions received, the editors chose 30 benefit advisers to recognize for their outstanding achievements.

Bell does not provide potential clients with a standard broker-of-record deal. Rather, she focuses on each company’s specific needs and shapes Gallagher’s proposals, teams and resources to better fit individual client requirements. Her method recently led to a Fortune 500 sports apparel company signing with Gallagher.

She is “changing the way we approach selling as a whole by making it more creative, consultative and truly tailored to each organization’s needs,” says Megan Birkett, wellness and engagement consultant at Gallagher.

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She is also shaking up the way Gallagher and its more than 3,700 benefit division employees worldwide are doing business. She has brought multiple different teams within Gallagher together, such as benefits experts and communications experts.

“What started as one U.S. Open Enrollment project turned into a global communication strategy project,” Birkett says. “You have to be able to hone in on what a company needs for a project to grow the way her projects do once she has her foot in the door. There is truly a rhyme, reason and rhythm to everything she does.”

Yet, Bell’s career has not been without challenges. In the early stages of her tenure at Gallagher, she was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. For more than a year as she fought this illness, she still managed to rise to the top in terms of producers with the most recognized brand name clients.

Outside the box
Bell focuses on being innovative because she knows she is “only successful if I can help my clients achieve their strategic goals, many of which require me and my team to think ‘outside of the box,” she says.

“If I can help clients find innovative solutions that ultimately drive employee engagement, while meeting competitive needs and budget pressures, I’ve got happy clients,” she explains. “I know those solutions aren’t the same from one organization to the next, and therefore I’m really pushed to think about how I can bring different ideas to the table.”

Bell remains a step ahead of others, Pat Boughey, executive vice president at Gallagher, says.

“She’s constantly anticipating the needs of her clients and developing solutions that are not always obvious or clear cut,” he says. “Marne eats, sleeps and breathes what her clients need. No sacrifice is too great when it comes to solving their problems.”

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