This week we’re learning more about Darren Radies from Fairfield Watson.
Where does your firm operate, geographically speaking?
Fairfield Watson is based in Calgary, Alberta. However, we also have team members in Edmonton and a new Consultant in the Sylvan Lake/Red Deer area. While most of our clients are based in Alberta, some are headquartered in other provinces and/or have operations (employees) across Canada.
How did you enter the industry?
Like most people, not exactly on purpose. I was graduating from university in the States and looking to put my new business degree to use back in Canada (Kelowna, at the time, as that’s where I had grown up). My dad would ask many people he encountered what they did for a living, as he has a son looking to start a career. One gentleman said, “I’m an independent insurance advisor, and Great-West Life often hires young people out of university for sales and marketing roles, he should check them out.” The rest is history.
I’ve been in the benefits industry for over 19 years now. Wow. I started with Great-West Life as an Account Manager and have now been in a consulting capacity for about 15 years (eight with Fairfield Watson… and I never want to work anywhere else).
What are some things that people don’t know about you?
I asked my kids and they said “do they know that you coach hockey and that you make great forts for us?”
Totally a coincidence, but it turns out that Tony Fairfield’s dad was my doctor when I was an infant living in St. Albert.
People may know this, but in case they don’t… my wife and I (with lots of help) created a fundraising campaign in May of 2020 called “5 for Humanity”. It raises money for The Unlocking Potential Foundation, which helps support many people in our community. It has raised $132,000 so far (and counting!). It’s kind of my baby!
What are the biggest lessons that you have learned in the business?
- As much as possible, be proactive rather than reactive.
- We’re in the service business! Partner with your clients as an extension of their team – believe it and live it!
- Deliver value and not just a good price today. If you sell only on price, you can lose on price, too.
- Relationships are key!
- Patience – it takes an average of 2+ years to get larger clients to hire you.
- Care more than the next person and always remain genuine and authentic.
- Be transparent, it builds trust. It’s okay to not always know the answer in the moment. Find the answer.
What are you hoping to do with The Benefits Alliance Group?
I want to be known as someone in our industry (and life) that tries to give more than I take. Whether that’s through mentoring others or helping build on our collaborative nature, the BA is a community that we all benefit from – but in order for it to really thrive, we all need to contribute in our own ways.
Do you have insights about the industry that you would like to share?
First, I think it’s incredible. The benefits industry is always evolving – look at how much we rely on digital technology now! Staying current can be a challenge but it’s also an opportunity. Continuing to grow your business while managing a large client base is really only possible if you are being efficient, so to constantly be learning requires us to stay engaged and be on top of our game. All that said, as much as technology is changing things, I’m still a firm believer that creating and maintaining deep, meaningful relationships with clients is so important. The other critical piece is that the work I/we do is possible because of an incredibly talented and caring team of people supporting one another and therefore our clients.
The Benefits Alliance Member Spotlight showcases our members across Canada who provide custom solutions for their clients Employee Benefits and Group Retirement.