Instant Insights / 2018 Year in Review

Here are some highlights of 2018.


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The diversity of these brokers’ backgrounds—an apt reflection of the industry overall—is a testament to what it takes to succeed in the benefits world. (Photo: Joe Ariniello/ALM)

Our Broker of the Year finalists sat down for one more interview with editor-in-chief Paul Wilson, and at the end, one would be named our 2018 Broker of the Year. There were six chairs on stage at this year’s BenefitsPRO Broker Expo panel instead of the usual five, Bob Gearhart Sr. and Gearhart Jr.’s complementary achievements earning them a shared spot on the panel.

They started with a softball question about how each got their start in the business, giving the packed room a bit of insight into the myriad paths that can all lead to the benefits industry. Gearhart Sr. started in finance, while his son had aspirations to play Major League Baseball. Beth Robertson made her foray into benefits from the HR side, and Julie Freidus started in health care underwriting. Bret Brummitt shared Gearhart Jr.’s dreams of playing pro baseball (but it was his exploration of a career in criminal justice that led him into insurance), and the possibility of majoring in something related to insurance never occurred to our Broker of the Year Billy Potter when he was an economics major in college.

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Emily Payne

Emily Payne is the current deputy editor for ALM's Business & Finance Markets and former managing editor for BenefitsPRO. A Wisconsin native, she has spent the past decade writing and editing for various athletic and fitness publications. She holds an English degree and Business certificate from the University of Wisconsin.

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