PPI Benefits Inc. - June 2020

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Empowering clients with new technology and services IN ASSOCIATION WITH




Empowering clients with new technology and services WRITTEN BY




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Ed Hofstede, President, and Inthida Ngeth, Vice President of Operations, explain how PPI Benefits is prepared to deliver a modern benefits programme


art of Canadian insurance and financial services company PPI, PPI Benefits is an experienced team of consultants

and third-party administrators for group benefits. With a reputation for outstanding customer service and cutting-edge proprietary solutions, the 04

organisation provides access to plans that cover over 1,000 businesses across Canada, tailored to suit that particular enterprise’s individual needs. An expert in its field, the company offers technical support, consulting services, comprehensive implementation services, a range of benefits plans and more, all for an affordable, manageable cost. The success and results of PPI Benefits are driven by its leadership team, who join together in a united effort to promote the best services for clients. Ed Hofstede, President, has been in the insurance sector for over 30 years and calls PPI – “a major player in the Canadian insurance marketing sector” – a natural evolution in his career. Joining the company almost 15 years ago, he started out as a Regional Leader at PPI Financial Group before going on to become the



Year founded


Number of employees

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Ed Hofstede Title: President Location: Toronto, Canada

Vice President (VP) of Marketing at PPI Advisory, the VP of PPI Benefits and finally President in 2016. Inthida Ngeth, VP of Operations, on the other hand, came up via a slightly less linear path. “I don’t have much background


Ed Hofstede is President of PPI Benefits and its fast-growing administration division, CustomCare, where he has embraced technology to build one of Canada’s leading Third Party Administrators (TPA’s). As a prolific idea generator, Ed has reshaped companies through focus on a differentiated customer experience, team building, and revenue growth. Ed believes that people perform their best when they enjoy being at work so he tries to keep things light and even serious meetings are rarely concluded without a few rounds of laughter. His formula for business is: (Innovation + Execution) X Caring = Success Ed is a passionate, vibrant speaker and an active advocate for workplace and youth mental health initiatives. When not working, you will likely find Ed with family, golfing, exercising, or playing guitar.

in employee benefits or insurance per se,” she explains. “My background is in technology, consulting and telecoms; I worked in different roles across various industries before focusing on technology transformation.” Ngeth states that PPI’s open attitude towards digital innovation and its desire to

leverage technology to improve its

change should look like. “I’ve tried to

customers’ and advisors’ experience

always view our business as working

is what encouraged her to join in early

through advisors to help their clients

2019. “I wanted to be part of something

create healthy, engaged, loyal and

exciting and evolutionary; the industry

productive employees,” Hofstede says.

is changing right now.”

He identifies this simple strategy as

Change is certainly in the global zeit-

integral to helping PPI’s clients provide

geist – whether socially, economically

necessary services and be success-

or technologically motivated, in the

ful. “ We believe our role goes beyond

digital era, most businesses are finding

simply employee benefits and pension.

that the only way to stay relevant is to

Our mission is to help clients improve

identify trends and adapt to them. In

their work environment and build an

this regard, PPI Benefits has a clearly

exceptional employee experience for

defined view of what good industry

the modern world.”

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11 This ability to see beyond the mere

contrast that with the Actual results

product or service which it provides is

they are currently achieving,” explains

what gives PPI its edge and continues

Hofstede. Focusing on the two ‘Ps’ –

to inform its approach. Having worked

Possibilities and Priorities – PPI helps its

with some of the top advisors in the

clients identify what’s important to them

country, PPI has developed a sophisti-

and how to execute an effective plan.

cated mode of operation which factors

Access to the latest technology and

in high business ethics, technological

an integrated system for deploying it

innovation and a strong, customer-

is crucial to this operating model, and

centric philosophy. “We use what we

that, in turn, requires a well thought

call a ‘G.A.P.P. consulting methodology’:

out digital transformation. “We know

we look at the goals set by the client,

what our member and advisor jour-

understand why they are running a

ney should look like in terms of what

benefits programme and what they

we aspire to and how we want to

are trying to accomplish, and then we

transform in each of the steps,” says w www.c w w.ppi o mpa.cny a /e wen/ bsite. b en ef com its


Ngeth. Taking an iterative approach,

problems and allows staff to focus their

PPI Benefits has begun to deploy AI

energy on more critical client-facing

(artificial intelligence) in increments to

activities. “I want to automate the

automate less crucial functions whilst

predictable so we can humanise the

gradually developing larger tech solu-

exceptional,” he adds. “It’s all about

tions. It’s an approach that allows the

making PPI Benefits really effective

company to constantly be achieving a

and efficient on the predictable pro-

string of small victories which will add

cesses so that we’ve got more time

up to a larger goal. After all, Hofstede

to deal with people.”

says, repetitive data-entry tasks are


Handling the vast amounts of data

tedious for employees and subject to

relevant to the insurance sector and

manual error. Transferring the respon-

placing it in an integrated environment

sibility of these tasks from humans to

for analytics software led PPI Benefits

machines eliminates this margin for

to start moving to a cloud-based




platform – the company as a whole is actively transitioning to the cloud. Gathering, analysing and presenting that data to advisors and clients forms one of the company’s biggest techno-


Inthida Ngeth Title: Vice President, Operations Location: Toronto, Canada

logical challenges. “We’re looking to evolve how we gather the information in a way that is easier and more consolidated in one location. From there, we can slice and dice it any way we want and structure it accordingly to make it meaningful,” Ngeth states. In the digital era, where data is king, knowing how to extract value from it and use historical

Inthida Ngeth is Vice President of Operations at PPI Benefits. She oversees P&L performance across divisions and leads all facets of operations. As a value builder and connector, Inthida thrives on bringing vision, ideas, and people together to create new potential. With 15 years of experience across the insurance, tech, consulting and telecom sectors, she has led organisations and teams to exceptional growth, by leveraging her diverse operational, marketing and strategic background to deliver impactful results and create customer-first solutions and services. Passionate about helping others develop and succeed, Inthida is a coach and mentor, and serves as an advisor for a portfolio of emerging startups. She is also an active champion for diversity and inclusion and the advancement of women in leadership.

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UNPARALLELED RESOURCES. AT YOUR COMMAND. As a national marketer of insurance and financial services, PPI’s mission is to connect more than 5,000 independent advisors, and their clients, with what they need to achieve leading edge financial solutions. Our deeper role is to challenge people to dream – to plan and create a legacy – for their family, their business and succession planning. And today that’s more important than ever.


patterns to determine decision-making,

we also know that there are a growing

predict and inform risk assessments

number of millennial clients coming

is PPI’s objective. However, far from

through, and sometimes they may also

being purely utilitarian, Hofstede

value interacting with a chatbot, so we

emphasises that a technological

need that capability too.”

approach is crucial to business conti-

Despite a strong tech underpinning

nuity with a new generation of people

to its operations, PPI Benefits ensures

with different expectations. “PPI is

that the human touch is never lost at the

starting to use AI in the customer ser-

customer service level. The company is

vice realm and there’s an opportunity

also careful to ensure that its staff can

to use it for some of our narrower prod-

wield the digital tools they are equipped

uct deliveries. Our wonderful people

with securely. Indeed, cybersecurity

have always been an important part

is a top priority of both clients and the

of PPI Benefits’ value proposition, but

modern, digitalised insurance sector.




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“ Our role goes beyond simply employee benefits and pension. Our mission is to help clients improve their work environment and build an exceptional employee experience” — Ed Hofstede, President, PPI Benefits

The company’s focus on digitisation couldn’t have come at a more fortuitous time; the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has made global businesses question the integrity of their previous ways of operating and seek out more advanced solutions. In this uncertain, new environment, Hofstede says that forging a way forward is “about picking partners that PPI can work with to deliver the digital employee and advisor experience” that it envisions. Critical to helping PPI Benefits on this journey so far have been companies like Oliver, a modern benefits and pension administration software company; and Venngo, a work-perks group discount programme, and IA Financial Group. Although they all collaborate with PPI Benefits on different things, Hofstede explains that there’s one consistent element that these relationships are based on: trust. “One of the first things PPI Benefits does is assess the reasonableness of their promises and commitments. We deal with partners and suppliers every day, so we have to ensure we’re comfortable dealing with them. If we choose to work with them, it’s because they provide high-quality goods and services, they’re ethical and they work well with our team.” w w w.ppi .c a /e n/ b en ef its




“ I think, more than anybody else, we’re poised for success with our foundation of technology. PPI Benefits is optimistic because we know the possibilities and how to reach them” — Inthida Ngeth, Vice President, Operations, PPI Benefits

Although the rest of 2020 will be a challenge, both Hofstede and Ngeth are confident that PPI Benefits has hit the ground running. The changes being ushered in are all about creating a better experience for the people who need PPI’s services, and the company is not being complacent in trying to find out the best way to secure that goal. “These days, you’re not just being compared to other advisors, administrators or insurance companies,” Hofstede says. “Now, you’re being compared to the best experience a customer can


have anywhere, dealing with anybody.”

to empowering advisors with new

With companies like Amazon revolu-

technology and services to deliver bet-

tionising the convenience of shopping

ter value for corporate clients. “We’re

and same/next day delivery, why

excited about the future and how we’re

shouldn’t PPI Benefits try to do some-

doing it differently,” Ngeth concludes.

thing similar in its field, he asks. “In

“I think, more than anybody else, we’re

addition to just the traditional benefits,

poised for success with our foundation

dental plan and pension, maybe there

of technology. PPI Benefits is optimis-

could be an employee assistance pro-

tic because we know the possibilities

gramme, a mental health programme,

and how to reach them.”

alcohol treatment program, employee discounts, etc.” Clearly, the sky’s the limit for what a modern benefits programme could be, and PPI is dedicated w w w.ppi .c a /e n/ b en ef its

PPI BENEFITS 235 ARDELT AVENUE, SUITE 1A, KITCHENER, ON N2C 2M3 T 800-463-4161 W w w w.ppi.ca/en/benefits


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