With nearly 12 years of experience in the insurance industry, Thomas A. Jensen, employee benefits practice leader for Connell Insurance, credits his background as a high school athlete to help him with his competitive edge.

The soft-spoken, 34-year-old broker from Springfield, Mo. — with a book of business that clocks in at $753,000 annual revenue — works to serve his clients and was selected by EBA as a 2017 Rising Star in Advising.

“One of the primary keys to my success is that I have a constant commitment to learning and a lack of being complacent. I just strive to be the best. It’s the drive to know as much as I possibly can because my clients are expecting me to be the expert, so I hold myself to an extremely high standard,” says Jensen.

Jensen’s clients are looking for more than a broker to provide new solutions — they are looking for an expert. “If I'm keeping them up-to-date with all the changes that are taking place and I'm bringing fresh and innovative ideas and keep them abreast of new trends, technology and strategies, they would have no reason to try something new,” he says, adding, “Because they are more than likely happy with our service and they're getting the sense that I'm constantly working for them.”

His clients are demanding a keen balance of new technology with a human touch, especially when it comes to the complexities of health insurance coverage and compliance.

“They are looking for creative and innovative ways to reduce the expenses related with their health insurance programs. Obviously five or seven years ago, with the increases in costs and new trends like the ACA are completely different than what we are doing now so firms are needing help and guidance with healthcare reform and staying compliant with technology solutions that can help,” he says.

Looking for simplicity
When it comes to new technology, he and his clients have embraced social media platforms like LinkedIn and YouTube, but Twitter is not important to his client base in Missouri. That said, Jensen proudly notes that his CEO’s office boasts a wall painted green so that staffers can shoot quick, impromptu YouTube videos using green-screen special effects.

“We're seeing a lot of interest in the administration platforms and in the ease of administering a benefit plans. There's been so much regulation that it's just been continually put on the employers’ shoulders and as a result, I think a lot of employers have almost forgotten about ERISA,” he says. With ERISA, Cobra and the FMLA, his clients are “looking for simplicity, or at least a simplified way to administer their benefits program.”

Also see:20 young leaders in benefits.”

Jensen has served Connell Insurance for the past three and a half years, and before that he spent two years with CoxHealth Systems and six years with Assurant Employee Benefits.

He is expecting a very positive year for his firm, which ends its fiscal calendar year in June. “It's been extremely positive [and we have a] very bright outlook,” he says, adding that he sees plenty of opportunity for finding new clients as his competition ages out of the workforce. He says that there are “several factors at play it right now.”

“Most my competitors are easing out or they have reached a point in their career where they're tired and tired of learning about [new trends] that they're becoming complacent and the industry changes so much that it doesn't allow for complacency.”


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