From carrier to brokerage
After working on the carrier side with MetLife for two years, Doherty became a broker, eventually starting his own shop, Pinnacle HR Solutions. When the business began, he says, he worked with his team to reimagine the role of the broker based on the demands of the marketplace. “We had four key values,” he says. “To always be forward-thinking, to be authentic in everything we did, to be engaged with the client, and to raise the client’s expectations.
“Our goal was to meet with decisionmakers and have them walk away feeling not like they had just met with an insurance broker, but that they had met with an advisor,” he adds.
As a nod to that new type of relationship, Pinnacle’s motto became “Changing the Conversation,” underlining an approach that values new ideas, along with the notion that collaboration is more meaningful than a sales pitch.
The higher expectations at Pinnacle soon included how the firm looked for clients. Doherty says his agency became selective about the employers they work with. “We wanted a client that matched our personality.”
A background in service
Being a team player is a key part of Doherty’s personal story. A former hockey standout as a student at St. Sebastian’s School in Needham, Massachusetts, Doherty continues to be active at the school, which has a motto of “Love God, work hard, and take care of one another.”
“Sebs is a New England prep school with a strong hockey tradition,” he says. “My father was a hockey captain there and is now the CFO; I was a hockey captain; my son was hockey captain two years ago; and my brother played there and now teaches AP Government and is the assistant hockey coach. I feel like I’m the person I am today because I had teachers and coaches at Sebs that believed in me, and I didn’t have the heart to let them down—the old Abraham Lincoln quote.”
Doherty has paid back that trust by serving on the alumni association, and by serving as President of the Board of Trustees, of which he is still a member. “I graduated from Sebs, but I never really left.”
Dedication and service have been important values for Doherty, and those values serve as an anchor in an industry where change has become the norm. With the uncertainty brought on by regulatory challenges and disruptive technology, Doherty says that being creative about finding solutions will help the industry weather the current storm.
“Brokers need to take the initiative with these innovations; people are solving these problems in the trenches day to day. Going forward, I think we’re always going to have some form of employer-sponsored plan, and there’s always going to be a role for strategic-thinking advisors.”