Adviser focuses on progressive benefits to consult clients

EBA 2019 Adviser of the Year
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Beverly Beattie got her first taste of the healthcare industry after college when she worked for a physician recruiting firm. The position not only helped educate her about healthcare consulting but introduced her to hospital systems and large multi-specialty groups. After many years of working in the benefits arena, putting together innovative packages for employers who were interested in improving their core benefits and voluntary options like wellness programs, she decided there was a need for a more “consultative approach.”

Beattie, the CEO of Selden Beattie in Miami found that everyone was “selling insurance, but no one was helping companies think globally about what they should do,” she says.

In the early 1990s, when many people were complaining about high healthcare costs, she decided to found her own company specializing in progressive employee benefits, workforce and healthcare reform programs. “Employers were very much in the dark, Beattie says. “They didn’t understand any of this.”

She thought there was a real opportunity to do something more comprehensive to enable employers to be educated about what they were spending millions of dollars on.

Her initial pitch to potential clients was that she could help save them money on their benefits programs. Once they became her client, she started adapting the relationship to teach them about other opportunities that were available, and encouraging them to think three years ahead and plan more strategically, she says. Beattie would ask them where their business was going and whether they would be growing or downsizing and if they thought they might be acquired in the near future.

“We really help facilitate a conversation with our clients around what success looks like,” she says. “What are the outcomes? We map out how we are achieving them, and then we hold ourselves accountable. That is how we changed the conversation.”

Patty Varona, vice president of corporate services at Femwell Group Health, a Miami-based management services organization, has worked with Beattie since 2015, when her company decided to move to a self-funded health plan for some of its members.

“She is really knowledgeable about her field and what she is doing,” Varona says. “She is always available. Anything we need, any meetings we need her to attend or information we want her to present to the board — she is willing, able and just stellar at her job.”

Malerie Sloshay, vice president of client services at Selden Beattie, says she has known Beattie for more than 15 years through their mutual interest in philanthropy. It was only two years ago, however, that Sloshay came to work for Beattie.

“I knew her for so many years before I worked with her,” Sloshay says. Sometimes, she says, such long-time friendship can work against a professional relationship, but she has nothing but respect for her employer on both a personal and professional level.

“Every year, Beverly finds new and better solutions to further help her clients,” Sloshay says. “She has a joke that she is never satisfied. It is, in my opinion, one of her best qualities because it motivates her to move with each new generation, continuing to improve her strategic plan and be the best advocate for her clients. Her hands-on approach has led to her creation of one of the most successful benefit advisory firms in the Southeast.” Sloshay nominated her boss for Voluntary Benefits Adviser of the Year.

She adds that she likes working for a privately owned firm because “there is no bureaucracy involved. You are able to impact change and make a difference quicker because we are private.”

Beattie says that when she formed Selden Beattie she wasn’t interested in selling voluntary benefits, but over time that market has evolved tremendously. “The reason voluntary benefits have become a major strategy for our company is, first and foremost, employees need them,” she says. “They just flat out need them. I’ve seen the impact these benefits have.”

She adds that voluntary benefits are another way for employees to shift their risk as more and more companies place more of the burden for healthcare expenses on their shoulders.

“We are huge believers in raising healthcare literacy, which is about 12%, a Kaiser statistic,” Beattie says. “Employees don’t understand what they’re buying. They don’t understand how to use what they own and what I mean by that is their health plan. This can come with catastrophic financial consequences to their income. We are passionate about raising healthcare literacy so employees can become great consumers of healthcare and understand how to maximize their benefits and mitigate their own out-of-pocket costs.”

When it comes to voluntary benefits, Selden Beattie focuses on options that help protect clients against accidents and critical illness.

“We are always looking for the least restrictive policies with no loopholes where they wouldn’t pay and where their buckets get replenished often,” she says.

The voluntary benefit market is booming. She and three partners recently formed a company called Work2Live, which is an employer-sponsored benefit platform that offers a way for companies to reward employees for their hard work, dedication and loyalty. Along with travel opportunities and discounts on experiences, travel and hotels, the platform allows employers to open up discretionary lifestyle spending accounts for their employees to help fund their leisure activities.

Beattie says these types of accounts already exist in the United Kingdom and Canada but haven’t taken off in the United States.

“Work2Live is to help prevent or alleviate employee burnout and encourage employees to have a work-life balance,” Sloshay says.

The platform offers anything that “you can do in your free time to help you be better at work, better for your family and better for yourself,” she adds.

The benefit is a “cutting-edge, resourceful tool and advocate to the healthcare and employee benefits industries as it can improve an organization’s retention, productivity, engagement, work-life satisfaction and wholeness,” she says.

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