When Sharon Tiger joined Raffa Financial Services in Rockville, Md., last year, she was immediately struck by the “white glove service” the employee benefits brokerage provides to its more than 2,000 clients. The firm’s tag line is “We do more so you can do more,” and it does its best to live up to it.
“I’m amazed and I’m shocked that we take the time to really get into the trenches and do the things that we do” for these employers, says Tiger, who came to Raffa from a large national consulting practice.
The brokerage’s services include calling physicians’ offices to book appointments and fill prescriptions for clients’ employees. Or even personally covering the cost of the medication. Vice president of group benefits Jon Zeisler once paid $400 out of his own pocket for a prescription, so that a client’s employee could get the badly needed medication without delay.
But if some acts on behalf of clients are exceptional, others are more routine. Conducting eight separate web seminars to teach one client’s employees the ins and outs of deductibles, for example. That level of service deeply impressed Alison Seiler, director of administration at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants in Arlington, Va.
Last year, the non-profit introduced a deductible to its health plan for the first time, and Raffa’s director of group benefits Matthew Roberts spearheaded the webinars for each of the company’s national offices to ensure that its employees understood the concept.
“On customer service, they’re terrific,” says Seiler, who has worked with Raffa’s benefits team for more than six years.
A non-profit background
Sure, every benefit brokerage says they provide excellent customer service, but for Raffa it is a true differentiator that grew out of the company’s origins in the non-profit sector. Raffa’s parent company, Raffa, P.C., is an accounting firm founded by Tom and Kathy Raffa in 1984. Based in Washington, D.C., the parent specializes in working for non-profits and is a certified B Corp., a designation that means it meets strict standards to ensure it is serving the greater good through transparent and accountable corporate practices.
In the past year, the benefits firm’s employees volunteered nearly 16,000 hours of service and raised more than $73,000 to support their local community. Corporate philanthropy totaled $2,375,060.
Seiler has been invited to many of Raffa’s charitable events and appreciates the firm’s commitment to volunteering. “I think that really matters. Every year, you find out how they’re involved in giving back to the community,” she says. “As a non-profit, we are in the humanitarian field. They’re not just getting money from non-profits, but also trying to give something back at the same time.”
“It's not a marketing thing for us, we really care about our people, and we care about our clients,” agrees Tiger.
Among all the Raffa companies—including a third D.C.-based business, Raffa Wealth Management—there are about 320 employees who work with a client base that includes non-profits, technology startups, government contractors and other private sector businesses in the Washington region. The benefits firm has more than $50 million in combined revenues and is the 13th largest benefits brokerage in the region.
Together, the three Raffa companies provide the full range of services that most businesses need. The list includes accounting, IT, HR, executive search, retirement planning, business planning, succession planning, employee benefits and more. That allows Raffa Financial to serve clients as a one-stop shop through internal referrals. “I can always say, ‘I have a colleague over at Raffa [P.C.] who could help you with that,” says Tiger. “You're a small business and so you need some accounting help, here's who you can talk to.’”
But Raffa is careful not to present itself as a Jack-of-all-trades, and each of the three companies maintains a specialized focus. “There’s a wealth of resources within the different offices. We utilize that to our benefit and leverage it,” says Roberts. “It’s one thing to have a referral partner off to the side, but I think it’s another thing if it’s under the same umbrella.”
On the benefits side, the firm has emphasized direct primary care, self-insurance, strategic planning and employee engagement.
“If you don’t have engagement, you won’t be able to combat medical increases,” Roberts observes. To that end, Raffa pays special attention to promoting consumer-driven health plans and HSAs.
Although Seiler has stuck with a traditional fully-insured approach for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, she appreciates Raffa’s efforts to educate her about the alternatives.
“Sometimes we reject their recommendations,” she admits, “but the fact is we have them and we know what our options are.”
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