The myHSA story...so far
Updated: Feb 2, 2021
Many people ask us where our name came from. I wish I could tell you it was by design, that it was derived from Ancient Greek mythology or we spent a ton of money at a marketing firm to get it. The real answer? It was named in a lunchroom raffle for a shitty bottle of homemade wine on a regular Friday afternoon at my old company.
In my past life I owned a commercial insurance brokerage. The only exposure I had to benefits was when my broker would drop off a bottle of scotch every year, hand me my policy and a bill and say see you next year. The program worked ok but always felt weird. I used to bust my ass off for my clients to get paid. This guy just dropped off a bottle of scotch.
If this was all benefits was, then I better buy a benefits company as I felt with the levels of service we provided from a commercial level that we could definitely add value to an industry. So, I went hunting for one. Through a mutual acquaintance I ended up buying a brokerage but sometimes things are for sale for a reason. The reason for this was that the founder was a bit of a “techie” who built an old database to facilitate Health Spending Accounts, and it is still my belief to this day he knew it was not going to last. He loved it, as most tech founders do, whether it worked or not the passion was clear. Side note (and weirdly enough), the one thing I remember about this founder’s business practice was that he didn’t deliver scotch every year….it was cookies. He actually used to tell me this was a great way to solidify client relationships. I used to laugh when our new hire Steve was trained to do the same thing. The brokerage practice was my new nightmare. We were now delivering cookies and not selling as many group benefits policies as we were spending all of our time with this software for spending accounts. Not only was the thing clunky and always broken, but there was so much paper involved with it that it ended up taking all of my new employee’s time – Steve McEwan, for those still following. Things had to change. We looked at ways to get rid of it in the industry. Should we sell it? Should we use someone else’s technology?
The problem was that every other platform we looked at was a clunky as ours (maybe not as clunky but close). So, we ended up deciding to build our own software. I did not know it at this time, but this 30-day project would launch me into my next career and my new partnership with Steve. We originally used it for our own purpose which was ridiculously effective. We now not only had an amazing and almost guaranteed way to prospect new accounts by selling them an HSA, but we had a solution for a benefit that was not insurance. We had unknowingly launched our business into the next level. Not only were we doing something that other advisors were not doing, but we were also actually getting clients referring their clients to us. The smart few did not want us to take their clients, they wanted to use our software, which we allowed a few to do so. At that point in time, I realized that employee benefits were broken. Spending accounts were a quickly growing industry with some giants already in it, however, I could not help but always ask, “why was it that when you wanted insurance you would go to your insurance broker, yet when you want to try self-insurance through a spending account, your insurance advisor would send you somewhere else?” A spending account is a form of insurance, it is just self-insurance so why should it be with another party outside of the person who handles the benefits program? Easy answer - it shouldn’t. This is how the idea was born.
In 2013, after a burning desire that I could not ignore anymore, I sold my brokerage to move forward with my new partner Steve to form myHSA. The idea was simple, to introduce a platform that allowed an insurance advisor to introduce self-insurance strategies to their insurance clients. One thing I always knew is that if you had a client for long enough, the concept of self-insurance always came up. Introducing the myHSA platform was the way for an advisor to do this in a structured form, using HSA’s. For the first few years we bumped along with a concept and a product but not really a business. Our real business entrance came in the later part of 2016 after a highly funded competitor entered the market and a couple of major mistakes on our part pushed us to bring in a technology founder (Mark Young).
Now, entering 2021, I am very proud of what we have built. Not just the technology and the advisor network of over 3000 across Canada, but the backbone of myHSA is our service levels which were strangely the same levels or more that we had at my past business. I believe that customer service is a culture, and a culture of customer service will build any idea. We now have encompassed many other aspects of the benefits business which we feel were important. Our name is still myHSA, but that is not all we do. If your benefits client comes to you and asks for a service, that after your calls to an insurance carrier are not a viable option, I would highly suggest you try myHSA.
I often look back at the person who held the raffle (the person whose benefits brokerage I bought) or the employees who worked with us for 4 weeks who won the raffle and wonder if they have followed the myHSA story. I am proud of where we have been, the challenges we have overcome, and the opportunity to continue learning and growing our business.