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Appearances, News

Top 5 Advisors in the Country

By Scott Wooldridge | The original version of this article was published on Benefitspro Magazine

Felipe Barganier has a history with public service. His mother is a teacher, and his father worked as an attorney for the IRS for many years.

“A lot of individuals in my family were in public service in some form,” he says. “They weren’t making a lot of money, but they did have job security. So I understood how valuable good benefits are.”

Barganier has put that background to use as a broker who deals with a lot of public-sector employers. In 2003, he founded GAB International, an Atlanta-based brokerage that specializes in public-sector employees, but also works with a number of private sector companies. GAB serves approximately 125 clients and was recognized with the Georgia Minority Business Insurance Industry of the Year award in 2016. Barganier was also recognized with top sales awards in areas such as public sector and direct sales from Colonial Life in 2004, 2005, 2013 and 2015.

Barganier believes figuring out exactly where he could best use his talents was an important step toward success.

“In my opinion, you have to start off with a niche,” he says. “The opportunities are so vast, if you don’t have a niche, you just become like every other broker. On the other hand, if you learn a certain segment of the business, then you become an expert—and you start to get referrals.”

However, as Barganier points out, finding a niche is not the same as getting into a rut. He notes that the days of brokers only meeting with companies at renewal time are long gone.

“You can’t do that in this day and age,” he says. “There’s just too much information out there. You have to have the personal touch. We make sure we’re taking care of not only employers, but employees.”

Like the other finalists this year, Barganier underscores the importance of seeing employers as collaborators in finding benefit solutions.

“We try to become a partner with our clients, whether it’s the HR department or the city manager. We want employers and employees to see us as somebody who’s here to help them.”

At a time when consumers are overloaded with information and the industry is changing rapidly, Barganier says a balance needs to be found between innovation and personal interaction. “We have to make sure we’re leveraging technology; but one thing [technology] can’t give is the personal touch,” he says. He adds that providing ongoing education about new resources is an important focus of his group. This includes monthly newsletters and an HR specialist on staff. “The reason we’ve been able to solidify our client base is because we’re always going to them with new things that can help them retain employees,” Barganier says.

“It’s those little value-added things that can make a world of difference. To the employee, it’s clear the employer is looking out for their interest.”

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