Engaging employees from ‘hire to retire’

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Frustrated with a lack of control over the level of service his clients received from vendors, adviser Dan Cronin wanted to be able to walk down the hall at his benefit brokerage to handle any issues that arose himself. So, one of the first things Cronin did after he became the sole owner of his firm about a decade ago was to buy a small benefits administration company and incorporate it into his practice. CGI Business Solutions has been thriving and growing at a rapid pace ever since.

The Hooksett, N.H.-based firm has grown from 16 to 78 employees and expanded its offerings to include not only all benefits-related products, but also wealth management, wellness, and property and casualty. Coming soon: payroll services.

“If you go with us, hire to retire can be done within our system,” says Cronin.

To ensure “clients are always getting the best possible service at the best possible price,” CGI’s ben admin services across the company’s offices in New Hampshire, Maine and Florida include flexible spending accounts, health reimbursement arrangements, COBRA, wellness and online enrollment systems that are all operated internally. “We don't really farm anything out, including HR support and compliance services for our clients,” says Cronin. “For us, that's really the core thing that is the big differentiator for CGI versus all the other names you could be with.”

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Employers have one CGI team they work with on all aspects of their benefit plans, typically a consultant and an account executive. “The client doesn't need to be calling a vendor for their flexible spending and another vendor for their wellness program or a vendor for their payroll,” says Cronin. “They're able to call those two key components, consultant and account exec, and both should be able to answer anything they need.”

Should any issues arise outside of the company’s immediate expertise, CGI also has a national partnership with NFP, which provides access to compliance and risk management attorneys when needed, Cronin adds.

Internal strength
Of course, in order to excel at offering nearly all client services internally, a brokerage must be backed by a strong team. CGI’s departments work efficiently together because all divisions are supported by a strong manager, Cronin says. “It's a pretty wonderful team, so it makes my life a lot easier,” he adds.

A 25-year benefits veteran, Anne Vallette joined the firm about eight years ago because she was drawn to the company’s one-stop shop capabilities. “As the industry grows and the needs are different for HR professionals, Dan has always been forward-thinking, reinvesting in the organization to be able to offer all of these services that other brokers will outsource,” says the CGI benefit adviser. “We can always maintain the level of service that we promise to our clients because we’re doing it internally.”

Vallette appreciates Cronin’s “big personality” in leading the firm, and his continual commitment to reinvest in the business. “He’s constantly thinking of the next thing,” she adds. “He never rests on his laurels.”

Cronin’s next move is to bring in payroll services. He’s starting with his own staff, moving them to the CGI system July 1 and opening it up to clients by Oct. 1. The payroll expansion — along with all new initiatives — is solely funded by Cronin, who owns 100% of the company.

David Twitchell, vice president of human resources at Catholic Charities New Hampshire, has worked with CGI for four years. He appreciates the business relationship he’s developed with Cronin, calling it a true partnership.

“When they broker for us, they really do a tremendous job getting the best possible deal for us, as well as what we pass on to our employees,” says Twitchell. “I have felt, time and again, are we their only client? If I were to pull out a dictionary and look up the term ‘business partnership’ I would see CGI Business Solutions.”

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