With a challenging business environment, uncertain economy, emerging technologies and new employee expectations – the need for a high-performance benefit portfolio has never been greater.
WGB Benefits serves employers in a hi-tech, high-touch fashion by seamlessly integrating our services and solutions. While systems and technology have changed over the years, our commitment to preforming at the top of our field has not.
Every business has a unique workforce. We create specialized programs to meet the needs of our clients, while providing quality health, wellness and financial solutions that empower employee prosperity and increase engagement.
A NEW conversation about getting the most out of your benefits dollar
We have a cost problem in the world of employee benefits. Businesses have become used to double-digit rate increases year after year, and insurance company stock prices have skyrocketed over the last decade. In spite of this dilemma, brokers are showing their clients the same old traditional, fully insured options year after year.
We need to have a new conversation. We need to talk about proven solutions that put some of those insurance company profits back in your company’s pocket—a conversation that intelligently addresses cost saving strategies.
These are just a few of the strategies we bring to the table for all of our clients. We believe that if companies keep doing things the same way, they’ll get the same result. We want to take a well-reasoned, proven path to reduce costs in your benefits program.
that improve employee experience and engagement
You spend a great deal of time trying to secure the best possible employee benefits and compensation for your people. But it can be difficult to get employees onboard without a strong benefits communication strategy.
The way employees want to receive information today has been shaped by their experiences as consumers. People not only expect communication to happen where and when they want it, they also want it in a familiar format and in a way that isn’t overwhelming. We deliver your benefits communication to where your employees are and break through the noise. This allows you to reach employees where and when they are ready — in a format that resonates with them.
After building the benefits and financial services department for another independent brokerage, John Janssen came to WGB with the desire to serve as a true advisory partner for his clients, putting their needs first. “I do not see myself as a salesperson,” he says, “but rather as a consultant charged with structuring benefit programs in an intelligent way.”
With 24 years of employee benefits experience, John’s approach goes far beyond showing his clients two or three health plan options and expecting them to choose. Instead, he prefers to show employers the full spectrum of coverage options at every risk level so that executives can truly make the best decisions for their companies and their employees. John has had considerable success in helping clients to control costs, for example moving a PPO client to a self-insured strategy, cutting health care costs by 60%.
John also works closely with a dedicated support team to provide benefit technology solutions that streamline compliance, administration and employee communications. His goal is to minimize work for employers and increase learning opportunities for employees and dependents.
As a registered financial planner, John is well positioned to bring 401(k) programs and other financial services into the mix, for companies that need a well-rounded benefits program – as most of his clients do.
With clients in talent-driven sectors like technology, entertainment, non-profit and financial services, Hunt Turner helps employers thrive even when the labor market is tight. He says a smart benefits strategy is key for employers whose success depends on attracting and retaining talent. “I like to continually have that conversation with my clients in and honest, transparent way, so we can work together to align staffing, growth and budget.”
Along with strategy, Hunt keeps his focus on leading edge tactics that lend efficiency to the traditionally cumbersome process of benefit communications, enrollment and administration. Mixing “high tech” and “high touch” approaches, he’s helped employers streamline their work, while keeping employees feeling engaged with their company benefit programs. “I turned one mid-sized employer from a paper-based platform to an online benefits management system,” he says. “But we still brought in staff for a one-to-one open enrollment process, because that human component is so important. Employees gave the experience a 95% positive rating.”
Prior to joining Wood Gutmann & Bogart, Hunt served as a senior vice president for SullivanCurtisMonroe in the brokerage’s Los Angeles office for nearly six years. He spent a combined ten years at other brokerages focusing on employee benefits, after working more than five years on the carrier side for Great West Life.
Hunt holds a bachelor’s degree in financial management from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and currently volunteers for Cal Poly SLO’s alumni association, representing 40,000 of his fellow alumni who live in the Southern California area. He has previously served as a board member for a Pasadena-area cancer support community.
When Michelle Schuh was presented with the chance to help lead Wood Gutmann & Bogart’s employee benefits practice, she saw all the possibilities of her new role from a macro- and micro-perspective. “Reworking the foundation of WGB’s benefits group is invigorating, because we share the same vision,” she says. “They are collaborative and open to the guiding principles of teamwork, innovation and empowerment that will make a difference for our clients.”
Michelle’s background in human resources is another difference-maker for the firm’s employee benefits clientele. Starting her career as a human resources generalist for Employers Group and then moving to Vantage Oncology as an HR manager, Michelle can personally relate to her HR clients, most of whom are wearing too many hats on any given day. “My job is to help my clients shine, and I can do that by working as both a peer and a subject matter expert, in benefits or any number of other HR areas.” While at Vantage Oncology, she handled a broad range of HR responsibilities – from benefits, to recruitment, to employment policies – all while the company grew from about 50 to 500 employees.
After five years in human resources, Michelle moved to the benefits consulting side of the business, starting with Wells Fargo Insurance Services, and later becoming a senior benefits consultant at Hays Companies. The entrepreneurial environment at Hays Companies gave Michelle the chance to help build a thriving Southern California benefits practice, including making several strategic hires and mentoring her growing team. Her goal is to take that leadership experience and use it to define the structure and strategies of the group she now co-leads at WGB. “As I’m overseeing this service team, I want to make decisions that allow me to look back and see a tangible impact on how we work.”
Michelle earned a certification in human resources management from UC Irvine Extension and a Professional of Human Resources (PHR) certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute. She earned her Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS) designation from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She is bi-lingual and often uses her language skills to help clients with benefit communications programs in both Spanish and English.
With nearly three decades of experience in employee benefits insurance, Elena Viera has discovered that serving her clients well requires vision. Having worked with clients large and small, in fields ranging from high tech to blue collar, Elena has developed a comprehensive understanding of their challenges. Many are facing competing pressures in today’s business climate, she says, such as keeping benefit programs affordable while offering more bells and whistles. “While nine out of ten companies are struggling to attract and retain employees, they are still dealing with a mandate to control benefit costs,” she says. “Luckily, I am a problem solver by nature.”
In keeping with Elena’s high-touch philosophy, she offers a wide range of value-added services. She will not only conduct a benefit education session at an employer’s worksite, she will even conduct it in Spanish, if needed. For employers who want a high-tech solution, Elena has deployed innovative technology platforms for employee learning and engagement. Elena also works with clients to establish alternative funding structures, such as captive insurance programs. Her recent work with a client in the food processing industry resulted in a year-one savings of $300,000.
Elena worked at Cigna Healthcare and at some of the top national and regional insurance brokerages before bringing her talents to WGB. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing from California State University, Los Angeles.
Steve Claflin never thought he’d love any career as much as being a working musician, playing guitar at live gigs around the Boston area in the 1970s. He was soon to discover his second passion when he stepped into a new role as a Prudential agent in 1982 and never looked back. He has since spent more than three decades building a loyal following of clients whose needs range from small group employee benefits to individual health insurance.
“I discovered that I loved connecting with people, building long-term business and personal relationships, and also learning the difficult concepts of the health insurance industry.” Among the most difficult concepts Steve has mastered are the ins and outs of Medicare plans, which raise more and more questions for subscribers, since many Americans are working longer than ever. “I have seen that individuals can have great confusion as they approach Medicare age. I help navigate that path for my clients.”
Steve spends much of his time keeping pace with quickly changing healthcare legislation, especially as it applies to the small group market, a category that he says includes 96% of California employers. Steve served that market for 24 years as the sole proprietor of The Claflin Agency, Inc., after working for eight years at independent brokerage Andrews & Ruecker. Now at WGB, he works closely with the firm’s entire employee benefits team to deliver continuity of service to his clients.
Steve received his training as a registered employee benefits consultant and registered health underwriter while attending the American College of Financial Services. When he’s not working, he loves spending time with his wife of thirty years, his children and his many grandchildren. And, he still plays the guitar.
To Steven Stakley, financial planning is more than just a service he provides – it is dedication to helping his clients build secure financial futures. For more than 25 years, Steven has helped business owners, executives and families protect their most valuable assets. His goal is to educate his clients so they are able to make informed decisions to achieve their financial dreams.
Steven is well-prepared to help guide clients as they plan for future financial independence and for unexpected risks that can disrupt these plans. He assists clients and their tax advisors in implementing strategies – while considering potential tax implications – to position for flexibility and control in how they build, protect, use, and transfer their wealth. He also specializes in managing comprehensive investment plans that assist fiduciaries in achieving their goals and meeting their obligations.
Steven has a Bachelor of Arts degree in business and economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara, as well as a Master’s degree in business administration from the University of Southern California. Steven began his career in New York City in the financial services industry and has also worked on the floor of the Pacific Stock Exchange. His education and experience have brought a strong depth of knowledge to his practice.
As an Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF®) designee, Steven brings an added level of prudence to his practice and has the ability to assist others in implementing proper policies and procedures.
Honest answers and sound guidance. To Jane Archer, these are the cornerstone of a great broker/client relationship. Whether she is tailoring a strategic annual plan for a small business, or sitting down with an individual to discuss ways to protect themselves against un-foreseen medical expenses – Jane applies these principles. Since she began her insurance career in 2008, her mission has been to make the insurance journey less confusing and frustrating for small business owners and individuals by providing the highest quality of service and support, while taking personal needs into consideration.
Jane has guided employers that were struggling to balance their employees’ needs with their own capabilities and bottom line. For individuals, especially the aging senior population, she brings sound explanation and guidance – clearing the confusion regarding individual medical and Medicare.
Jane holds both a Series 6 & 63 securities license and is able to provide both group and individual retirement planning. This includes Term & Permanent Life Insurance, IRA’s, Long Term Care, Annuities, College 529 plans, 401K plans, and many more products from a variety of carriers.
Through personal experience, Jane recognizes that good planning eases the financial and emotional stress related to traumatic events – which is exacerbated by the loss of a loved one. In her world, compassion and education go hand in hand.
Tell us how we can help you make your benefits experience better!