Diversification Keeps Barnett Group Thriving

By Aisling Maki

Since its establishment 25 years ago, The Barnett Group has grown to provide benefits for more than 54,000 individuals and has affiliations with more than 50 insurance carriers and third-party administrators, enabling the company to offer clients a broad array of benefit plans.

Chirag Chauhan is a director and partner of The Barnett Group, a local employee benefits firm that keeps clients up to date on the provisions of health care reform as they take effect, and helps clients understand and prepare for how technology plays a role in the upcoming changes. 

(Photo: Lance Murphey)

In 1987, after a successful stint at International Harvester where he was a district sales manager, Ed Barnett founded Barnett Benefits, which evolved into The Barnett Group.

The business, at 7906 Players Forest Drive in Memphis, today employs almost a dozen employee benefits and financial services specialists.

Barnett serves as president, leading the firm’s employees and overseeing day-to-day operations.

“Like any small-business owner, I think Ed’s proud of what he’s built,” said Chirag Chauhan, partner and director of financial services at The Barnett Group.

“We like to think that we’re on the forefront of market trends and things like that. I think we’ve got broad-based diversification under our roof, not only doing employee benefits, but financial services, as well.”

The company’s areas of expertise include the design, implementation and administration of employee benefit programs and financial services for both business and individuals.

The Barnett Group’s services for employers include medical, dental and vision benefits, life insurance, disability and long-term care benefits, and a host of voluntary protection policies for their employees.

But the company also provides services such as retirement planning.

“A lot of times a company may use an insurance broker and then use someone different for a 401(k) plan,” Chauhan said. “It’s important for us as we’re building our brand to let everybody know that we do it all. And it’s not just about going out and getting more business. It’s about working together. To be able to know the entire scope for a benefits package, from the employer standpoint, I think gives us a little bit of an advantage out there.”

Chauhan said companies want to offer competitive benefits packages that will help attract, retain and recruit talent.

“Therein, those benefit packages help the people who end up working for those companies, to prepare for their personal future,” he said. “That leads over into the individual side of financial planning and management – helping people manage their individual households as opposed to a company. It all overlaps; you can’t think of one or the other in a vacuum.”

“I think Ed (Barnett) is proud of what he’s built.”

–Chirag Chauhan
Partner, director, The Barnett Group

The Barnett Group also offers personal financial management, retirement and estate planning.

The company serves a broad base of clients from many sectors, but Chauhan said it has a particular strength for serving the health care sector. The firm’s clients include more than 200 physicians’ practices.

“We certainly don’t limit our market to any one sector, but we have built a niche in the medical marketplace,” Chauhan said. “We’ve done that pretty successfully.”

And even if a client is not involved in the health care sector, keeping up with the provisions of health care reform is an issue at the forefront of many employers’ minds.

“With a lot of the uncertainty, and all the rules and regulations coming down the pike, it makes it harder for businesses to plan,” Chauhan said. “What is the impact going to be? How do you quantify the impact? People look to us for answers from us about where we think it’s going based on what we’re hearing and seeing in the marketplace. It’s an interesting time. People in business look for certainty and this issue is providing some uncertainty.”

Chauhan said with the plethora of information available on the Internet, The Barnett Group is helping clients “filter out all the noise and focus on the things that truly are the issues.”