News from Advocate AuroraHealth, CBIZ, Go2solution, Hotchkiss Insurance, Mercer Advisors,National Association of Plan Advisors, Versant Health, WillisTowers Watson & more. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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The employee benefits industry saw new policies, partnerships,promotions, and more in late 2018. Think there's no good news?There is in employee benefits. Read on.

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Non-profit health system AdvocateAurora Health in Illinois and Wisconsin announced itis increasing its minimum wage to $15/hour by early 2021, withplans calling for $13/hr in mid 2019 and $14/hr in early 2020. Moreinformation will come in Spring 2019 in advance of the plannedincrease.

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American International Group (AIG) announceda new surrogacy reimbursement benefit and an enhanced adoptionbenefit for its U.S. employees effective January1, 2019:

  • AIG will reimburse up to $13,800 of eligible surrogacy-relatedexpenses per child.
  • AIG also will increase its adoption reimbursement per childfrom $7,500 to $13,800.
  • The combined lifetime maximum reimbursement amount per employeeunder the new program is $27,600, which represents a total maximumreimbursement for two adoptions, or two surrogacy arrangements, orone adoption and one surrogacy arrangement.

Assurance, a Top 50 U.S. insurance brokerage,announced the hiring of Greg Sand as a VicePresident with a focus on the transportation industry. He will workout of Assurance's downtown Chicago office. He brings over 16 yearsof insurance experience and six specializing in transportation.

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BerniePortal, the all-in-one HR softwareplatform for small and mid-sized employers, announced it added 86brokerage partners and more than 15 new integration partners in2018. It also announced the addition of several new integrationpartners, including Indeed, MetLife, UnitedHealthcare, InfoArmor,Paycor and Proliant.

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CBIZ, a provider of financial and employeebusiness services, announced the hiring of EllenBoade as Vice President of EFL Associates, expanding thefirm's presence in Denver talent management market. EFL Associates,a CBIZ company, specializes in retained executive search.

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Eagle Asset Management, an affiliate ofCarillon Tower Advisers and a global provider of equity andfixed-income products for institutional and individual investors,announced that James Camp has been named ManagingDirector of Strategic Income. His current role includes PortfolioManager of the Strategic Income Portfolio (SIP) and PortfolioManager of the Vertical Income Portfolio (VIP), and he continues asManaging Director of Fixed Income.

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Go2solution, an insurtechcompany, announced the appointment of DimitriWulich as Chief Operating Officer. He has over 20years of international experience in financial, insurance andreinsurance sectors. He held holding senior leadership positions atSwiss Re in Risk and Asset Management domains.

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Gryphon Investors, a San Francisco-basedmiddle-market private equity firm, announced it has completed thesale of its portfolio company Orchid Underwriters Agency,LLC to TowerBrook Capital Partners L.P.Gryphon initially invested in the Company in November 2014, andwill maintain a significant equity position in the Companypost-closing. Financial terms of the transaction were notdisclosed.

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HotchkissInsurance, a full-service independent agency, hasexpanded its employee benefits division with the addition ofChris Hamilton as the employee benefits practiceleader and Natalie Cooper as an account executive.They will be based in the Dallas office.

  • Hamilton will direct the organization's employee benefitspractice, maintaining best-in-class service standards, whiledeveloping additional capabilities.
  • Cooper serves clients as a strategic resource in managing theiremployee benefit programs.

Mercer Advisors, a national RIA,acquired McDermott Advisory Group inWilmington, Delaware. It has more than $150 million AUM,approximately 150 clients, and was founded in 2006 by Daniel M.McDermott.

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Mercer Advisors acquired Bell Wealth Management, a Texas-basedRIA firm headed by Colin Bell. Bell serves approximately 125households with assets under management (AUM) of $200 million. Thisacquisition brings Mercer Advisors' total offices to 37 andincreases AUM to $15 billion.

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The National Association of Plan Advisorsannounced its inaugural list of Top WomenAdvisors. More than 500 nominations were provided byNAPA's extensive list of broker-dealer and RIA Firm Partners.Nominees were asked to respond to a series of quantitative andqualitative questions. Those responses were anonymized and thenreviewed by a blue-ribbon panel of industry experts who selectedthe individuals honored in three separate categories: All-Stars,Captains, and Rising Stars. The list is available at the NAPAsite.

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The National Association of Plan Advisors announced its list ofthe nation's Top Defined Contribution (DC) AdvisorTeams. This year's list, which focuses on firms with atleast $100 million in AUA, represents more than $640 billion in DCassets under advisement. The coincident publication of the TopMulti-Office DC Firms highlights the nearly $2 trillion in AUA,more than 187,000 plans supported and more than 25 millionparticipants supported by the actions of these firms. The list isavailable at the NAPA site.

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Standard Insurance Company andPortlandState University School of Business announced thatAmaradri Mukherjee, assistant professor ofMarketing, has been selected to receive The Standard PSUProfessorship in Analytics. The professorship is funded by TheStandard over the next five years and includes support for appliedresearch.

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TIAA announced that United WorldCollege-USA, in conjunction with LongView AssetManagement, LLC, has adopted a new default investment fortheir retirement plan with special consideration to environmental,social and governance (“ESG”) criteria. UWC-USA is the first TIAAclient to use the Custom Portfolios Model Service to create asocially responsible set of models.

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United Benefit Advisors an independentemployee benefits advisory organization, welcomed Resecō InsuranceAdvisors, LLC as a partner. Founded by Greg Prentice,Paul Lee and Todd Newton, with the addition of Steve Hanrahan andSteve Tusa, Resecō Insurance Advisors joins a network of employeebenefits advisory firms that serve employers of all sizes acrossthe United States, Canada, England, and Ireland.

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United Benefit Advisors welcomed JPGriffin Group as a partner. Founded by a 27+ yearveteran of the employee benefits industry, JP Griffin Group isheaded by Jeff Griffin. JP Griffin Group is a national employeebenefit consulting firm specializing in the design, implementationand management of complex multi-site, multi-state employeebenefit

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Versant Health, a national managed eye healthand vision plan company, partnered with Transitions Optical tocreate a Vision Loss Simulator. With this tool, viewers can seethrough the eyes of someone living with glaucoma, cataract,diabetic retinopathy, presbyopia, glare, and macular degenerationand can learn how to prevent eye disease later in life.

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Voluntary Disruption, a division of SilvermanBenefits Group, a carrier-agnostic independent enhanced benefitsfirm with a large national footprint announced the hiring of17-year industry veteran Misty Fussell. Fussell isbased out of Columbus, GA. As Senior Account Manager, reportingdirectly to founder-owner Eric Silverman([email protected]), Fussell will work closely withVoluntary Disruption's adviser partners and group benefitsclients.

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Willis Towers Watson, a global advisory,broking and solutions company, announced the appointment ofSteve Allan to lead its M&A Advisory andSolutions business within the company's global Human Capital andBenefits segment. Allan takes over this role having served asM&A leader, U.K. and Western Europe, for the past eight years,as well as leading the company's Global Services and Solutions(GSS) business in Great Britain since 2016.

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Three 401k industry veterans with a combined financial servicesexperience of 85 years have formed Wise RhinoGroup — the “advisor's advisor.” Dick Darian,Bob Francis and Adam Sokolic chose the firm's name as asymbol of strength, determination and steady intent. In addition,Wise Rhino Group recently announced the hiring of TomDickson, formerly the director of the Atlantic Region at401(k) Advisors.

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READ MORE:

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Benefits industry newsmakers: Voluntary Disruption,Healthjoy, NAPA

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Employee benefits newsmakers: Human Interest,Zenefits, Thrive Global

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Employee benefits newsmakers: Risk Strategies,Wellbeats, Genome Medical, HERO

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C.J. Marwitz

C.J. Marwitz is a writer and editor.