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VOL. 7 | NO. 36 | Saturday, August 30, 2014

Client Service Remains Top Priority at The Barnett Group

By Andy Meek

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The Barnett Group, a Memphis-based employee benefits and financial services firm, didn’t get to the point where it’s provided benefits to more than 75,000 people by accident.

It’s always a reality that businesses are looking to do more with less, cut costs and look for areas where resources can be optimized. The industry space in which The Barnett Group operates is a fast-changing one, with a constant stream of new rules and regulations governing it.

Ed Barnett of The Barnett Group.

(Andrew J. Breig)

Which is why the firm has assembled a team of executives who collectively have more than 200 years of experience in the employee benefits industry. The firm’s areas of expertise also extend from the design, implementation and administration of employee benefits programs and financial services.

And today, the firm has affiliations with dozens of insurance carriers and third-party administrators, which lets the firm offer clients a wide range of employee benefit plans and tailor a solution that’s right for them.

“Employers are always looking to optimize their benefits programs, maybe offering something better at a lower price,” said Chirag Chauhan, a partner and director of financial services at The Barnett Group. “None of us under this roof compete with each other. We all have the common goal of taking care of everyone, if they’re our clients or not. At a lot of agencies, a bunch of people may all do the same thing but really work for themselves. We’re truly a team here.

“The thing that differentiates us is we can offer a lot of things under one roof. And the fact that we’re all on the same team here is an advantage. So, we have a lot of experience and lots of resources.”

As far as what the firm does, its work includes helping tailor insurance plans for employers and working to find the most cost-effective premium levels. And the firm isn’t just focused on product offerings.

Its operational philosophy also involves securing long-term contracts with insurance carriers so that it can offer price stability, one of the things that helps it maintain a high client retention rate.

Beyond benefit offerings, The Barnett Group team also works closely with clients to make sure their needs are met year-round, rather than dumping them into a plan and forgetting about them. The goal is to meet with clients at least once every quarter to review their plan and make sure it’s still a good fit.

“We work with large and small employers alike to help design benefit package programs for employees,” Chauhan said.

The firm, which includes a mix of advisers, consultants and brokers, was started in 1987 by founder and president Ed Barnett. In addition to The Barnett Group, he also founded Mid-South Administrative Group LLC, a firm that designed and administered self-funded health care benefits for Memphis-area employers.

Barnett also has been deeply involved in local civic efforts, of which his work in that area has included serving on the boards of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Mid-South, the Methodist Healthcare Foundation and the Multiple Sclerosis Society of the Mid-South.

His firm, meanwhile, takes pride in going against the grain in an industry that’s becoming somewhat automated these days. Instead of having to call an insurance company to handle claims or eligibility questions, the staff at The Barnett Group serves as the front-line contact.

“Our philosophy is the client always, always comes first,” Chauhan said. “A lot of organizations say that and pay lip services to that. It’s one reason we’ll never go to an automated attendant for our phone. We also don’t like to let things lag and we want to handle issues quickly, no matter how big or small. Clients really look to us to put things together for them.”

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