‘Vast knowledge’ leads to exploding growth for Voluntary Adviser of the Year
Eric Silverman is at the forefront of the broker-to-broker model, partnering with firms across the country to offer voluntary products to a wide array of clients, and experiencing exploding growth in the process.
With nearly a dozen separate nominations, EBA chose Silverman, principal and owner of voluntary benefit boutique Silverman Benefits Group, as Voluntary Benefit Adviser of the Year, based on his numerous accomplishments, ranging from being ranked “Best of the Best,” by Aflac since 2005 to achieving double-digit growth in 2016. And, he is on track to beat last year’s growth record.
“Even at his young age (37), Eric Silverman has achieved much more than many other advisers twice his age,” says Scott Cantrell, chief marketing strategist at Bottom Line Solutions Inc., a sales, marketing and management consulting firm in Nashville, Tenn. “Certainly, Eric’s vast knowledge and understanding of voluntary benefits is a key part of his success and growth.”
Nearly 100% of Silverman Benefit Group’s revenue comes from broker partners the company works with. “We’re a carrier agnostic, ‘broker’s broker,’ and our partners hire us to form and become their enhanced benefits division, most times white labeled with their branding, costing them zero overhead or expenses,” Silverman says.
Cantrell works with Silverman through the Agency Growth Mastermind Partnership — which helps independent employee benefit firms by offering peer exchange programs for non-competing firms — and says Silverman’s ability to provide valuable insights to other, non-competing top advisers on a variety of benefits and business-related topics never ceases to amaze him.
“Eric’s straightforward yet humor-filled personality has certainly accelerated his success,” Cantrell says. “He can hold his own in any room, and is always willing to collaborate and share his success, failures and best strategies to help those around him. Unfortunately, that’s still a very rare quality in our industry.”
Over the last decade, Silverman has recruited, trained and developed more than 2,000 commission sales agents, interns and brokers. This activity secured more than 2,500 commercial worksite payroll accounts and generated more than $65 million in gross annualized revenue.
Silverman prides himself as the go-to guy for brokerages that cannot handle voluntary benefits on their own.
With high demand for his services, he examines each voluntary benefit opportunity that comes across his desk critically to ensure his partners are offering the best product to their clients.
“It takes a lot for me to bring in something new,” Silverman says. “We have a very long and extreme vetting process for new benefits that can be delivered to my broker partners and my clients across the nation.”
Prior to forming his own business, Silverman spent 15 years in a multi-office voluntary insurance agency representing Aflac with locations in and around the Baltimore metro area. This is where Rachel Pennington, vice president of Silverman Benefits Group met Silverman.
“I’ve known Eric since 2010 when we both worked for Aflac as single-carrier reps and management team leaders,” Pennington says. “Although I never worked directly with Eric at this time, he had an excellent reputation for recruiting and selling.”
Silverman’s intense vetting process is the reason Pennington decided to form a partnership with him. Silverman’s team works closely with multiple best-in-breed carrier reps to provide best pricing, product design and underwriting concessions for clients.
Because of these close business relationships, Pennington says Silverman has negotiated the best contracts with carriers and provides full comprehensive transparency to his broker partners.
“His services provide the client and their employees top-notch comprehensive education inclusive of all benefits being offered; offer consolidating billing services to help streamline a client’s multi-carrier invoices; provide quick response customer service and work direct with the carrier on their clients’ behalf to help save them time,” she says.
Bob Gearhart, partner at brokerage DCW Group, says Silverman’s extensive knowledge of voluntary benefits is what helped his company jump into the voluntary space with the confidence necessary to advise their current clients.
“We had dabbled twice, in the eight years I have been here, into the voluntary space and both occasions we didn’t really know a lot about it,” Gearhart says. “Eric really is the broker’s broker. He allows you to not just have a presence in the voluntary space, but a best-in-class nationally recognized presence and the back office to support any account you can throw their way.”
Another of Silverman’s partners, Cathy Aitken, president of Corporate Benefit Analysts, Inc., says since the implementation of the ACA it has become harder for her to keep up to date with what is going on in the medical market and the voluntary market. Silverman provides that assistance, and Aitken has gone from calling him a colleague to a friend.
“If we want to continue to be there for our clients in all aspects of their benefit program,” Aitken says, “as opposed to hiring and managing individuals in-house, it is now time to work with individuals [like Silverman] as strategic partners and align ourselves with individuals who are best in class, to work together to reach a common goal, which is what is right for the client.”