This adviser’s harrowing history drives her passion for helping others
Over the course of her decades long career, Le Phan — a benefit adviser and the founder and CEO of Strategic Benefits Solutions — has implemented more than 20,000 benefit policies.
From the start, Phan discovered a passion for developing plans that fit the needs of a variety of diverse workers. But it was persistence born out of her own unique struggles that would end up being Phan’s biggest driver for helping clients.
Phan was born in Saigon during the Vietnam War. When she was just over a year old, her family was forced to flee their home when the northern Vietnamese and Viet Cong captured the capital city. It would be a treacherous journey to a refugee camp in Hong Kong — one the Phan family wasn’t sure they would survive.
Eventually the family made their way to the U.S. and settled in Lincoln, Nebraska. Growing up in rural America, Phan and her family dealt with language barriers and a bias against Vietnamese people.
“My history fuels my desire to help others,” Phan says. “I have found a way to do this through my firm’s services. The very core of what we believe is that education to the employee is an imperative.”
Strategic Benefits Solutions’ clients are employers who place great focus on their employees having equitable access to the information and education that empowers them to be better consumers of their benefits, she says.
“With the changes in the workforce demographic — being multicultural or multilingual — education is a necessary resource to empower employees to build greater financial security and help protect generational wealth,” Phan says.
Since becoming an adviser in 2001, Phan strived to provide clients with innovative strategies to positively impact their employees’ lives, while also making their businesses stronger and driving sustainable growth in voluntary benefits.
Her experiences growing up have also sparked her passion for issues surrounding diversity in the workplace. As a result, she’s active in the supplier diversity and inclusion space. This is a business strategy that ensures companies utilize a diverse vendor base when procuring goods and services.
“The intent behind it is that with diversity comes diversity of thought,” Phan says. “Innovation resonates from not being okay with the status quo, but really understanding the nuances that may exist, so that you can actually improve any inefficiencies that may exist in the supply chain.”
Major organizations often have a corporate mandate to designate 5% or 10% of their total expenditures to doing business with minority or female owned businesses, says Jack Kwicien, co-founder of Daymark Advisors and a columnist for Employee Benefit Adviser. When organizations put out their request for a proposal they give preference to these businesses as part of a commitment to their local community to support female and minority led businesses.
“What [Phan] has figured out is that up until five years ago, everything employers were focused on were dollars that were spent on hard goods, supplies,” Kwicien says. “What she has realized is that if it’s structured correctly, the monies expended on benefits and voluntary benefits can count toward the company’s diversity spending goals.”
There are many different aspects of her career in which Phan takes pride, but she is perhaps most proud of the relationships she has built with her clients. One example: Resorts Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where her firm is also based.
“We were introduced to [Phan] and Strategic Benefits Solutions through a local businessman that was familiar with her company and its services,” says Barbara Hulsizer, executive director of workforce development at Resorts Casino Hotel. “Although cost to employees is always top of mind, we were searching for a group not only to provide best in class pricing, but willing to educate employees on supplemental benefits one on one.”
During a recent renewal with Resorts, Phan brought up the idea of offering a long-term care solution. After searching for providers, she came back with a benefit offering that included universal life and long-term care insurance at an affordable price
“Employees are extremely satisfied with their selected coverage, along with the personalized service Strategic Benefit Solutions provides,” Hulsizer says. “As a by-product of the amazing offerings and pricing, participation rates continue to increase year after year.”