Developing credibility and creating a footprint in the benefit industry are the top challenges for young advisers, says EBA 2017 Rising Star in Advising Bridgette Reilly.

But at just 27 years old, the employee benefits specialist for Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. in Northern Florida is accomplishing both of them while managing a growing book of business worth approximately $400,000.

Responsible for intern recruitment, Reilly coordinates their training throughout the summer to ensure the interns understand the industry while developing the traits of an exceptional ethical consultant, explains Valerie Fedele, marketing specialist with Gallagher in West Palm Beach, Fla.

But that effort has not stopped Reilly from continuing to educate herself and improve her credentials. She bet her area president that she could get her Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation in less than time he did — and she did.

“It is very important for me as a younger adviser and as a female adviser … to establish myself in the industry and [become] a subject matter expert,” she says.

Reilly also learns from her peers through networking events throughout Florida. “You need to find a niche skill set or area of expertise to set yourself apart and learn everything you possibly can about it,” she adds.

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And her growing knowledge pays off for her clients. “While working with some of the largest, most complex clients in the [Gallagher] branch book, her ability to learn on the fly and her desire to constantly challenge herself has helped her develop a considerable knowledge base, including intricate self-funding and stop-loss arrangements, multifaceted employee communication campaigns, implementation of onsite centers for employee health/clinics, ever-changing compliance requirements, development of employee wellness programs, and much more,” Fedele says.

Embracing wellness
Reilly knows that for her clients it is more than learning about the buzzword of the year: healthcare reform. The industry is reaching a point where the only way to lower healthcare costs is to get people healthy, she explains. That has caused her to work with clients to develop robust wellbeing programs, not just for physical health but financial, as well.

“Look at the whole person, because the whole person comes to work every day,” she says. “Look at presentism and absenteeism. Stress can be tied to a number of physical conditions.”

“Understanding and embracing wellbeing is a huge opportunity and challenge for the industry to help us change cost [trends],” Reilly adds.

For one of her clients, automobile services company Club Assist, she has become a “terrific resource,” says the company’s compensation/benefits/HRIS analyst Jason Kosnick. “She has offered up some great solutions for benefits,” he says. “We can offer different programs to improve our employees’ [wellbeing].”

He adds, “She really helps to drive beyond regular consulting. [She gives] ongoing support and the opportunity to advantage of [improving] employees’ entire wellbeing.”

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