Kent Bermingham II (aka Kent Jr.) joined Milestone Benefits Agency in 1999 and on January 1, 2009 was named the new President.

Milestone Benefits Agency provides “Value Beyond Benefits”, and is built from the bottom up to support everything employers do for their employees’ benefits program. Shopping plans and negotiating the best cost for the right benefits is just the beginning. They dive deeper to support organizations with compliance, communications, reporting, benefit administration, strategic planning, open enrollment, employee service, employee education and more.

What is your background, and how did you get in the EB business?
After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from a small university in Michigan, I accepted a position in Materials Management at a 300-bed acute care hospital in Maryland. While there, I passed the CPA exam and earned an MBA in Marketing at The Johns Hopkins University. Along the way I was promoted to be the Manager of Decision Support Services and then the Comptroller of the hospital. After working really long days for months on end, I needed a change and accepted a position in the Medical Economics Department at Aetna. In the fall of 1998, my dad started Milestone Benefits Agency and then in February of 1999, he convinced me to move to Ohio and join him. The rest is history.

What are your leadership principles?
Follow the Golden Rule. Be honest and transparent. Have empathy and be compassionate. Recognize we’re human and we all make mistakes. Make sure everyone knows they’re valued, appreciated and essential to the success of the agency. Hire people to fill careers, not jobs. Treat everyone as a colleague, not an employee. Lead by example and be open to change.

What are you looking forward to achieving as a BAN member?
Over the years, BAN has evolved, as has our agency and the people working in it. I’m looking forward to BAN continuing to assist us with that evolution by bringing collaboration, support, new ideas, and new partners to work with.

How are you advising your clients regarding ongoing inflation, higher interest rates and a shaky economy? Are you concerned about a recession?
Medical inflation (aka “Trend”) has always been part of the medical insurance landscape. That said, it’s accelerating again as seen through exploding drug costs, higher fee schedules and higher utilization. For our 100+ groups, we send monthly plan performance tracking reports so we’re proactively talking about costs and preparing them for the upcoming renewals all year long. We are concerned about the economy in terms of how it impacts our groups, their ability to pay for benefits, and the number of people they employ which translates to lower revenues to the agency. However, the beauty of this industry is that even during a recession, people and businesses still need the products we represent.

What is your outlook for your agency in 2024?
One of our biggest strengths has been our ability to retain clients through high levels of service and products (e.g., Employee Navigator) we provide to benefit managers and their employees. We have no reason to believe that will change. Building on that strength, we aim always to target manageable growth and bring the right kinds of clients into the agency.

What is this industry’s most significant challenge?
Helping employers manage rising costs has always been and will continue to be the greatest challenge. For many groups, the runway of increasing deductibles, out-of-pocket costs, and employee’s share of premium contributions is running out.

What are two lessons you learned during your career that you can pass along to future leaders in the insurance industry?
First, always do what’s in the best interest of your clients. Be honest and transparent with them. You’ll sleep well at night knowing you’ve always done right by them. The money and success will follow. Second, support and empower everyone in the agency. Make sure they know they’re valued and you appreciate them. The agency can only ever be as successful as they are in their roles.

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