Advisers rise to meet the COVID-19 challenge

AOY 2020
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Even during normal times, engaging clients and providing the best advice for benefit plans can be challenging. Those hurdles have only been magnified during the historic healthcare and financial crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic, sparking massive changes in the U.S. workforce. For advisers and benefit brokers, this reality also has forced changes in behavior to meet these new tests under quarantine, remote work and our disrupted lives.

This year’s annual Adviser of the Year list of top advisers, brokers and consultants recognizes those trusted advisers who have best been able to pivot and change during these remarkable times. For our 2020 Adviser of the Year honoree Josie Martinez, associate editor Amanda Schiavo interviewed the senior partner and general counsel at EBS Insurance Brokers to find out how she has managed under crisis. “Josie always seems to be one step ahead,” says colleague Marah Funder, director of marketing and communications at EBS. “She has always been the one to identify a need or a deficit before anyone else does.”

Martinez stood out to our editorial committee for her forward thinking on pushing her company to move to a remote workforce in February, weeks before a mandatory state work-from-home order went into effect in Massachusetts, where she is based. Outside the office, her work and public service for the Latino community also earned her accolades from two governors and her peers.

We also recognized Cameron Black, wellness director at Ollis/Akers/Arney in the Wellness category; Tech Adviser of the Year Chelsey Koster, an employee benefits specialist at Advantage Benefits Group; and Voluntary Adviser of the Year Dana Simms, a voluntary benefits consultant at Gallagher. With our retirement Adviser of the Year Julie Yusko, a senior consultant at Portfolio Evaluations, colleagues recognized her ability to continue to engage with clients and stand out.

“Julie strives to understand what drives her clients, whether it be to improve on the visibility and recognition of the plan to increase participant appreciation and engagement or to ensure a strong governance foundation is in place to protect the plan fiduciaries,” says her colleague Rebecca Hughes. “Julie is not only a role model for others at the company, but other women in the financial industry. Her commitment to continuing education and furthering her career is a guide for others to follow.”

Read about all of their stories here and online at

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