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Year End Celebration

In conjunction with the 2nd Annual Executive Roundtable, Balanced Growth hosted a reception followed by dinner at Truluck’s Seafood & Steak Restaurant. 

The evening was an enjoyable end to a year marked by new partnerships, emerging collaborations and enduring client relationships. The dinner celebration was attended by 30 executives and guests, including executives from American Enterprise Group, American Enterprise Ventures, American Fraternal Alliance, Catholic Financial Life, Catholic United Financial, CGI, GBU Financial Life, iPipeline, Modern Woodmen of America, Options Clearing Corporation and RGAx. The Balanced Growth team is honored to have these organizations as clients and friends of the firm.

The Annual Balanced Growth Executive Roundtable featured 24 hours of learning, collaboration, and celebration, 19 senior executives including 4 CEO’s in attendance. The two-day event took place at the Langham, Chicago, and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business’s Gleacher Center.

“After an inspiring day of learning at the BG Roundtable, the evening event is our way of extending our appreciation to this tremendous group of leaders and their guests. It is also a great opportunity for professionals networking and collaboration between our clients and friends of the firm,” said Jason Bordui, BG President.

Balanced Growth Convenes Successful Executive Roundtable

Senior executives from the insurance and financial services industries met in Chicago December 2019 to discuss emerging trends in technology and innovation during Balanced Growth Consulting’s 2nd Annual Executive Roundtable. The meet-up included 19 senior executives including 4 CEO’s from American Enterprise Group, American Enterprise Ventures, American Fraternal Alliance, Catholic Financial Life, Catholic United Financial, CGI, Delta Dental of Missouri, GBU Financial Life, iPipeline, Modern Woodmen of America, Options Clearing Corporation and RGAx. The two-day event took place at the beautiful Langham, Chicago and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business’s Gleacher Center. 

The Annual BG Executive Roundtable, our flagship event, aims to create an experience that is engaging, insightful, and memorable by connecting attendees with other senior-level leaders in a small group setting. Dave Keith, COO of American Enterprise Group, sees the Roundtable as an, “Opportunity to share and discuss ideas and business solutions that have common threads across the various businesses that encourage discourse and networking.” 

This year’s Roundtable focused on four thematic areas: Strategic Planning, Innovation, InsureTech, and Operational Excellence Informed by Data and Enabled by Technology. Each area was led a BG client-leader who shared real-world experiences and challenges they have been facing. Spirited conversations were facilitated by these same leaders. “It was energizing to share knowledge with top leaders on the topics of Strategy, Innovation and Operational Excellence driven by data and technology,” said Julie Larson, VP of American Enterprise Ventures.

Trends like transformation, innovation, digital, artificial intelligence, robotics, predictive analytics, and many others are impacting all industries. Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos says, “Our job is to invent new options that nobody’s ever thought of before and see if customers like them.” This commitment to create value for consumer’s in new ways has disrupted numerous industries. Leaders in Insurance & Financial Services are forced to decide whether or not meeting the challenges of tomorrow’s reality requires a major paradigm shift or if business as usual will win the day.

“Balanced Growth not only adds value as a consultant to our business, they connect me with their clients, all astute business leaders, to collaborate and envision new opportunities. Their Executive Roundtable is a perfect example of this effort,” said Mike Ahles, Senior Vice President & Secretary/Treasurer, Catholic United Financial.

Balanced Growth Takes Fraternal Alliance Members through the Strategic Planning Process

Balanced Growth led an interactive educational session on strategic planning at the fall “Meet and Eat” membership event of the American Fraternal Alliance (AFA). Held on November 5th, the event was hosted by the Catholic Order of Foresters in Naperville, Illinois. In attendance were over 50 leaders (staff and volunteer leadership) from 12 different fraternal member organizations and several partner organizations. John Forbes, Principal at Balanced Growth, facilitated the session placing an emphasis on:

  • How to avoid chasing the next shiny object so that the organization’s strategic plan would have a better chance of success.
  • How to prioritize objectives and supporting initiatives so that they have good alignment with the mission, vision and values of the organization, are resourced effectively, and are sequenced so as not to interfere with the day-to-day running of the enterprise.
  • How to execute using strategy maps, scorecards, dashboards and regular reviews to ensure the organization, at all levels (staff and volunteer leadership), is highly disciplined on achieving the desired state results.

Forbes summarized the session as follows: “The audience was highly participative and through their sharing of ideas this session seemed to benefit everyone in attendance. I also benefited from their interactions.”

The AFA, a national trade association, unites 59 not-for-profit fraternal benefit societies, and represents nearly 8 million individuals nationwide. Balanced Growth is an associate member of the AFA and is proud to be working with the following five leading fraternal organizations. Regional Meet & Eats are half day events for the purpose of networking and addressing challenges through roundtable discussions with peers. Fraternal executives from all departments can stay connected throughout the year by attending reasonably-priced Meet & Eats. 

Balanced Growth Consulting specializes in strategic and operational innovation. We create enduring value for our clients by enhancing customer experiences, achieving operational efficiency, and generating new sources of revenue. In collaboration with client leaders and teams, we design, implement, and accelerate high-impact operational, technology, and innovation initiatives.

Balanced Growth Facilitates Partnership in Innovation

Balanced Growth (BG) was hired by Catholic Financial Life (CFL) and Catholic United Financial (CUF) in 2017 explore the possibilities of creating shared platforms that would create synergies between the two not-for-profit, fraternal benefit societies. One result of the strategic initiative was an agreement to pursue technology solutions together to create greater value at a lower overall cost than pursuing the solutions independently. The other result was a conceptual agreement to form a joint venture to create long-term value from the agreed-upon technology solutions and to potentially enable participation by other fraternal benefit societies over time.

After the vision was clearly articulated and the strategic framework established, BG facilitated a process to evaluate technology solution providers to support end-to-end processing for over 250,000 life and annuity contracts. After an extensive evaluation process, iPipeline, a leading provider of cloud-based software solutions for the life insurance and financial services industry, was selected as the technology partner. After the selection, BG worked closely with leadership of each organization to create a long-term agreement in support of the vision. In parallel with the negotiation process, Conventus Now, LLC was formed to formalize thispartnership in innovation and will serve as the vehicle through which the two insurers develop and operate state-of-the-art technology solutions used by both organizations. While the initial phase of Conventus will focus on solutions for the two founding members, the technology will be developed to allow possible use by other fraternal benefit societies in the future.

“Balanced Growth’s rigorous process, knowledge of the most prominent providers of financial services systems and experience with strategic initiatives such as this brought sage advice to our leadership, both in forming Conventus and selecting iPipeline as our partner,” said Mike Ahles, Senior Vice President & Secretary/Treasurer, Catholic United Financial. 

“The Balanced Growth team was invaluable in the joint venture and platform vendor evaluation process. Jason Bordui brought structure, expertise and industry knowledge to our efforts that resulted in a better outcome than we could have achieved alone. Jason was as passionate about the success of our initiative as we were,” said Jeff Piotrowski, Managing Director, Conventus NOW, and Chief Information Officer of Catholic Financial Life.

Balanced Growth Consulting specializes in strategic and operational innovation. We create enduring value for our clients by enhancing customer experiences, achieving operational efficiency, and generating new sources of revenue. In collaboration with client leaders and teams, we design, implement, and accelerate high-impact operational, technology, and innovation initiatives.

Conventus Now, LLC is a joint venture between Catholic Financial Life and Catholic United Financial. With assets of $1.65 billion and nearly 140,000 members across the United States, Catholic Financial Life has grown to be the second largest Catholic, not-for-profit financial services organization in the United States. Catholic United Financial is a $1 billion not-for-profit, fraternal benefit company serving more than 75,000 members in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa.

Balanced Growth Supports Fraternal Foundations

Balanced Growth proudly sponsored the annual golf outing of two fraternal benefit societies and current Balanced Growth clients, Catholic Financial Life and GBU Financial Life.

The Triennial Catholic Financial Life Foundation Golf Outing was held on Monday, September 30, 2019 at the Wisconsin Club Country Club in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The 2nd annual GBU Foundation Golf Outing was held on Friday, September 18, 2020, at the Madison Golf Club in Madison, Pennsylvania. Both outings aim to help to raise funds for their Foundation’s scholarship fund. 

Balanced Growth Consulting specializes in strategic and operational innovation. We create enduring value for our clients by enhancing customer experiences, achieving operational efficiency, and generating new sources of revenue. In collaboration with client leaders and teams, we design, implement, and accelerate high-impact operational, technology, and innovation initiatives.

Innovate or Become Irrelevant

Consider the retail apocalypse that has taken place recently. Many retailers have been “Amazoned”. Others, like Walmart and Target, have expanded their e-commerce capabilities and, at the moment, look like survivors. How did Amazon do it? Will your company remain relevant over the next few years?

The challenge of how to innovate in today’s evolving landscape was the topic of a recent executive roundtable held at the Saint Louis Club in Clayton, Missouri on September 18, 2019. The event was generously sponsored by Midwest BankCentre, chaired by Michael Flavin, Regional President, and attended by leaders from the following St. Louis based companies: Northwestern Mutual, Cortex Innovation Community, Delta Dental of Missouri, S.M. Wilson & Co., Neocova, Drilling Service Company and L10 Performance Solutions.

The roundtable was facilitated by Jason Bordui, Balanced Growth Founder and President, and Bill Edwards, Chief Innovation Officer and Chief Information Officer at Midwest BankCentre. During a highly interactive session attendees shared their experiences with their respective innovation journeys. All agreed that innovation is key to the future success of their organizations. The interaction proved to be stimulating and useful in tackling the daunting challenge of keeping up with market forces and emerging technologies.

Watch some excerpts from the roundtable in the video clip below.

Want to read more from Balanced Growth on innovation? For a copy of our presentation from the session, please email us at innovate@balancedgrowth.com.

Balanced Growth Consulting specializes in strategic and operational innovation. We create enduring value for our clients by enhancing customer experiences, achieving operational efficiency, and generating new sources of revenue. In collaboration with client leaders and teams, we design, implement, and accelerate high-impact operational, technology, and innovation initiatives.

Balanced Growth Leads Session at AFA Spring Symposium

(L to R): Bill Hunt, Joe Annotti and John Forbes

Balanced Growth partnered with the CEO of GBU Financial Life, Bill Hunt, and the CEO of the American Fraternal Alliance, Joe Annotti to lead the strategic planning workshop at the American Fraternal Alliance (AFA) Spring Symposium held May 28-30, in Chicago.

The Spring Symposium was attended by approximately 180 attendees from fraternal organizations across the country. Positioned in the Governance track, the session was aimed at board members and senior executives of the fraternal organizations. According to Allison Koppel, AFA COO, the workshop was met with rave reviews from attendees, and was rated as one of the top two workshops by those who attended.

Balanced Growth has significant experience in strategic planning and has helped many of our clients develop and execute their strategic plans. As a value add to the Symposium, Balanced Growth provided the attendees with a white paper on strategic planning. 

(Seated): Bill Hunt and John Forbes
(Standing): John Olvany

The framework provides a holistic view of an organization’s journey in developing, operationalizing, and executing its strategy. It is intended to serve as a guide for organizations that are about to undertake strategic planning activities or may be executing their strategic plan and has been customized for the fraternal sector. Read The Integrated Enterprise – A Strategic Framework whitepaper below.

The AFA, a national trade association, unites 59 not-for-profit fraternal benefit societies, and represents nearly 8 million individuals nationwide. Balanced Growth is an associate member of the AFA and is proud to be working with the following five leading fraternal organizations.

Balanced Growth Consulting specializes in strategic and operational innovation. We create enduring value for our clients by enhancing customer experiences, achieving operational efficiency, and generating new sources of revenue. In collaboration with client leaders and teams, we design, implement, and accelerate high-impact operational, technology, and innovation initiatives.

Balanced Growth Leads Strategic Planning Retreat for Client American Venous Forum

Balanced Growth Consulting (BG) recently led the Strategic Planning Retreat for its client, the American Venous Forum (AVF). The 2-day retreat, held in New York City, included members of the Board of Directors, several past presidents, other leaders, and four staff for a total of 23 participants. 

Incorporating BG planning methodologies used with other clients, John Forbes, BG Principal, served as the main facilitator for the retreat. Significant up-front effort was made to gather stakeholder input, conduct market/member research, and analyze trend data to inform the agenda for the retreat so that meaningful and focused discussion could occur. Dr. Harold Welch, president-elect of the AVF, chaired the retreat.

Following a vigorous discussion and validation of the mission and vision of the AVF and a review of the AVF’s recent history, the participants broke into five working groups each with an area of strategic focus. The groups were charged to creatively and open-mindedly come up with ideas that would enhance member benefits, help the AVF grow efficiently, and move the AVF towards its envisioned future as the world’s leader in venous and lymphatic disease. 

According to Forbes, “The retreat was very successful. Our discussions were authentic, and sometimes vigorous, but always leaning toward creating a better AVF. I was very proud to represent BG in this important effort.”

The next steps include the development of the final report and the review and approval by the AVF Board of Directors at its June, 2019 meeting in Washington, D.C. Following approval, the strategic plan will be operationalized, executed at the Committee and staff levels, and progress monitored on a regular basis.

Balanced Growth Hosts Executive Roundtable

Last week in Chicago, senior executives from the insurance industry met to discuss emerging trends in technology and innovation during Balanced Growth Consulting’s inaugural Executive Roundtable. The meet-up brought together leaders from the life insurance and financial services sector and included executives from American Enterprise Group, Catholic Financial Life, Catholic United Financial, iPipeline, Modern Woodmen of America, Options Clearing Corporation and RGAx. 

The two-day event took place at the beautiful Langham, Chicago and MATTER, an innovation incubator and accelerator located in the iconic Merchandise Mart. Langham, Chicago is the #3 hotel in the USA per US News & World Report and holds the exclusive Forbes 5-star distinction. The discussion revolved around the 4 major themes of vision and values, back-office hyper-efficiency, innovation movement and digital imperative and how each topic creates value for consumers and customers.

Jerry Lyphout, EVP of Modern Woodmen of America, shared a shift in the way they are planning for the life insurance industry of the future. “Our near-term priority is to become more efficient as an enterprise and move from a transactional-centric organization to an organization that focuses on customer engagement. People are living longer and we need to help them live healthier lives.”

Attendees noted the trend toward complex value chain innovations involving partnerships between mature industry participants and new, emerging technology players. Companies are developing separate business entities to pursue innovative business models which can bring new products and process improvements to market more quickly. 

AI and the potential for dramatic shifts to the underwriting process driven by data intelligence also stood out for their potential to up-end the status quo.  Participants shared innovations in business analytics through data warehousing in the Cloud, accelerated underwriting opportunities based on behavior patterns, and incubator-style innovation centers designed to help carriers test-drive new product configurations.

Of the opportunities for value creation, Eric Rea, EVP of iPipeline, observed “We are now at a stage where the risk of not doing something is greater than the risk of pursuing change”. 

Balanced Growth Consulting specializes in strategic and operational innovation. We create enduring value for our clients by enhancing customer experiences, achieving operational efficiency, and generating new sources of revenue. In collaboration with client leaders and teams, we design, implement, and accelerate high-impact operational, technology, and innovation initiatives.

Closing the Year with Executive Roundtable Dinner

In conjunction with the Executive Roundtable Meeting, Balanced Growth hosted a cocktail reception followed by dinner at Truluck’s Seafood & Steak Restaurant. Truluck’s is a favorite of the Bordui family and has recently received the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator.

The evening was an enjoyable end to a year marked by new partnerships, emerging collaborations and enduring client relationships. Among the group were executives from American Enterprise Group, Catholic Financial Life, Catholic United Financial, iPipeline, Modern Woodmen of America, Options Clearing Corporation and RGAx.

Balanced Growth Consulting specializes in strategic and operational innovation. We create enduring value for our clients by enhancing customer experiences, achieving operational efficiency, and generating new sources of revenue. In collaboration with client leaders and teams, we design, implement, and accelerate high-impact operational, technology, and innovation initiatives.