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So far Keaton Alexander has created 40 blog entries.

The Social Determinants of Health All Employers Should Understand

Building a culture of health within your organization isn’t always as easy as changing your own policies and practices. In fact, something as simple as a zip code can play a major role in your employees’ health. Where your employees live, work, and play can affect their health risks and outcomes. 

In our latest webinar, Brad Lawson from Interactive Health discussed how understanding the social determinants of health—such as safe neighborhoods, education, and access to healthy food—will help you impact your employees’ health for the better. 

Brad covered:

  • What social determinants of health are and why they should matter to employers
  • The link between health behaviors and social determinants
  • Ways to address employee health needs in geographically diverse locations by analyzing social determinants of health data
  • Real-life examples of how social determinant data is being used in companies like yours to bolster wellness programming and improve employee health

For more information on the topic of social determinants of health and how to better connect community and workplace health, listen to this podcast hosted by Interactive Health entitled “Social Determinants of Health: Is Your Zip Code as Important as Your Genetic Code?” for valuable insights.

Visit our PartnerWell Wellness Consulting page for more information about how The Partners Group can help you incorporate health into your business strategy.

More about Brad Lawson

Brad Lawson joined Interactive Health in 2018 and serves as chief commercial officer where he leads and provides strategic direction for sales, marketing and account management.  Brad brings nearly 20 years of experience in the healthcare and population health management field starting with WebMD where he served in several leadership positions.  He continued his career with clinical telemedicine companies and spent several years with The Staywell Company. Prior […]


Total Absence Management Team Presenting at DMEC Annual Conference 2019

TPG’s Total Absence Management (TAM) team is in Washington DC this week to participate in the premier conference for absence and disability professionals—the Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) Annual Conference.

“The 2019 DMEC Annual Conference offers a one-of-a-kind deep dive into the challenges that leave professionals face each day. With a focus on progressive solutions, absence experts will share successful approaches to FMLA and ADA compliance, benefit programs, return to work, mental health, benchmarking, paid leave, technology, and much more” (dmec.org).

Join our TAM team at the following sessions to gain expert insight about your leave solutions and data:


Decipher Your Leave Data: A Focus on Quality and Reporting

August 6, 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM 

Brycie Repphun, CPMD, Account Executive

Total Absence Management

“Leave management programs generate a huge amount of valuable data; however, few employers know how to effectively leverage it. In this session, we will provide an overview of the types of data needed for leave management and how leave systems integrate with other data sources, such as HR and time & attendance systems.”


ROI: Building the Business Case

August 7, 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM

Patty Borst, National Practice Leader 

Total Absence Management

“When we have inefficient or non-compliant absence programs, we often know what we need to do to fix them but don’t know where we will get the money. During this session, we will discuss how to find funding and push the executive leadership to make the investment.”

Attending DMEC? Visit our TAM team at booth #502 to learn more about their services and enter to win a Northwest Gift […]


Understanding the 2020 Presidential Candidates’ Health Care Proposals

Ready or not, the 2020 presidential campaign has begun, and health care is key to many of the candidates’ platforms. But with so many terms flying around—Medicare for All, socialized medicine, universal coverage, public option—how is one supposed to develop an informed opinion?

Like millions of other Americans, our very own Sarah Friend watched the recent 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate debates and found herself scratching her head in confusion.

“Even for someone who follows health care legislation,” Sarah said, “it was hard to determine what each candidate’s position really was as it relates to future health care policy and legislation.”

Luckily, Sarah is a self-proclaimed “health care policy nerd.” She resolved to get to the bottom of the 2020 health care proposals and share what she learned.

Sarah Friend, Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, The Partners Group


In her one-hour webinar, Sarah pared down her extensive research into something more easily consumable for the average American. Not only does she clearly define campaign buzzwords and confusing health care concepts, she also summarizes the leading candidates’ proposals in layman’s terms and discusses how other international health care systems compare to the US candidates’ proposed plans.  

Sarah added, “If anyone else is as interested in this topic as I am, I’d love to have coffee and discuss. Don’t hesitate to reach out!”

If you missed Sarah’s webinar (July 31, 2019, 11:00 AM PST) and would like to learn more about the 2020 health care proposals, email communications@tpgrp.com for access to a recorded version.


Pilgrimage to Omaha: Advice from Warren Buffet

By Mike Gallagher, Portfolio Manager

Every year, Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholders meeting is held in Omaha, Nebraska, which is considered the Mecca of the investing world. Most people think New York City or London holds this title, but Omaha has one thing they don’t…Warren Buffett. Each year, nearly 40,000 people travel from all over the globe to listen to, and hopefully gain insight from “Uncle Warren”—the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway.

The first investing book I ever read (based on Buffett’s glowing review) was The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham, Warren’s mentor. Graham was also the forefather of what would become the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, the professional certification for financial analysts. For the past 15 years, I’ve kept tabs on Warren and religiously read his annual letter to shareholders. It is with this backdrop I finally crossed the pilgrimage to Omaha off my bucket list.

Warren (88) was joined on stage with his long-time business partner, Charles Munger (95). Warren and Charlie, known for his humorous quips, took six hours of questions from shareholders with topics ranging from investing successes and mistakes to advice for people just starting their careers. On the latter, Charlie offered the following, “I think the right strategy, for the great mass of humanity, is to specialize. Nobody wants to go to a doctor that’s half-proctologist and half-dentist.”

On display at the meeting was the second-to-none investing track record of Warren and Charlie, as evidenced by the price of Berkshire Hathaway’s stock. In 1980 it traded around $300 per share and today it trades around $300,000 per share. This growth helped make Warren the third richest person in the world. (The second richest person, Bill Gates, was also in attendance). It’s no wonder people look to him for insight!

Warren shares insight through […]


TPG Mentors Share Top Advice for Young Professionals

Manuel, Inez, Grace, and Alyssa

We’re excited to work with four new interns this summer! Grace Cruickshank, Alyssa Johnson, Manuel Torres, and Inez Hernandez-Fuerte are each partnered with a mentor at TPG. Mentor and mentee connections help young professionals navigate their career goals, provide networking opportunities, and create long-lasting relationships. Our interns are motivated and sharp, and they’ve been teaching us new things all summer long!

We asked our mentors what their best piece of advice for a young professional is, and we asked our mentees about their most influential mentor to date. Here’s what they said:

Mentor: Alexa Galluzzo, Managing Consultant, PartnerWell

“As a young professional, there were several major opportunities that came to me simply because I had a good attitude. Knowledge and skills are obviously important, but being open, confident, and optimistic can get you far in any career.”

Mentee: Grace Cruickshank, HR/Operations & PartnerWell Intern

 “I worked at an athletic club for the past five years, and my supervisors had this positive and contagious attitude, even when it was 5 AM. They taught me that work is really what you make of it.”


Grace and Alexa

Mentor: Aaron Fastenow, IT Operations Manager

“If you really love what you do, you’ll develop your skills outside of work for fun and become more versatile in whichever role you step into.”

Mentee: Inez Hernandez-Fuerte, ELI IT Desktop Intern

“My middle school Language Arts teacher inspired my love for […]


The Partners Group One of the Largest Money Management Firms in the State

Have you seen our Wealth Management team lately? We’re bigger than you think! Portland Business Journal ranked The Partners Group the 22nd largest money management firm in Oregon and SW Washington.

John Woolley, Managing Director of Wealth Management said, “While it’s great to be climbing our way up this list, it’s especially gratifying to see clients making the choice to be served by a local, independent team of trusted advisors. We’ve worked hard to make sure our clients remain at the center of all we do.”

Since we’re a multifaceted company, we bring a wide lens and depth of perspectives to wealth management. We use a team approach and user-friendly technology to build a broad range of custom strategies that recognize the wealth needs of the entire household.

“I think our growth reflects the value clients place on having a team that works together on their behalf in so many important areas of their lives,” added Woolley. “Planning, investments, protection, benefits, and retirement all have to come together for each client’s unique situation, and I think they get a real sense of comfort knowing we are serving them well on it all.”

For a local, independent perspective on your wealth management needs, contact our team, or visit our website for more information.



The Partners Group Welcomes Ignite Class of 2019

We’re excited to welcome three new teammates to our leadership development program. Ben Musser, Lexi Peterson, and Josh Gustin were selected from a competitive pool of college graduates to spend the summer developing their professional skills at the school of TPG, also known as the Ignite program. They’ll join one of our many growing divisions at the end of the summer.

Ben Musser, Lexi Peterson, and Josh Gustin

From left to right:

Ben Musser is from Grants Pass, OR. He graduated from Oregon State University in June 2019 with a degree in Economics and History. At OSU, Ben was a member of Be the Match, Phi Delta Theta, and the Organic Grower’s Club. He worked as a Financial Advising Intern at Foresters Financial and was a Student Fundraiser at OSU Foundation. He looks forward to joining TPG’s Personal Lines team at the end of the summer.

In his free time, Ben enjoys golfing, kayaking, gardening, reading, and sports.

Lexi Peterson graduated from Wheaton College in May 2019 with a degree in Business and Economics. She was a member of the running club, a campus tour guide, and a student ambassador for the advancement office during her time there. Lexi has enjoyed internships in Human Resources and Operations for TPG and in Sales and Marketing for Vistage Worldwide. She is most excited to be a part of the friendly and fun culture here at TPG, and really looks forward to serving TPG employees in Human Resources and Organizational Development!

In her free time, Lexi enjoys water skiing, running, hiking, and spending time with her husband, Tyler. They recently got married on June 2.

Josh Gustin is from San Clemente, CA. He graduated from Azusa Pacific University in 2018 with a degree in International Business, which led him to spend […]


The Partners Group Named One of Washington’s 100 Best Workplaces

Last week, Puget Sound Business Journal named The Partners Group one of Washington’s 100 Best Workplaces in 2019. At TPG, we pride ourselves on the excellent service we deliver to our clients and communities, and we know it all starts with being an Employer of Choice.

Delivering excellent service doesn’t happen without investing in our people. We strive to maintain a workplace full of laughter, joy, generosity, and flexibility. Why? Because employees spend a third of their lives at work, and we’re thankful TPGers choose to spend that time with us.

“We’re going to continue focusing on doing a great job and serving our customers, as well serving the community,” said Craig Pankow, leader of TPG’s Washington team.

We want to thank our employees for their impeccable services, innovative strategies, and expertise. But we also want to thank them for being enthusiastic dancers at our employee offsites, for being some of the best Pacific Northwest adventurers out there (you should see their Instagram feeds), and for making us laugh nonstop.

Who says insurance can’t be fun?

Click here to see PSBJ’s full list.

Click here for tickets to the Washington’s Best Workplaces Event (Aug. 22, 2019, 4:00 PM at T-Mobile Park in Seattle, WA).



TPG Market Commentary: Trimming the Sails

After the uncomfortable 4th quarter last year (when stocks declined 14%), we wrote about a few items keeping our attention. Besides our indicators (which were negative at the time), the trade war with China and the Fed tightening monetary policy were top of mind. Here we are three months later and the negative trajectory of each item has reversed course sending stocks 13% higher. This increase basically recoups most of the previous quarter’s decline. If we were on a boat experiencing these ups and downs, we’d all be seasick!

Last month we passed the 10 year anniversary of the Financial Crisis lows. On March 6th, 2009 the S&P 500 touched 666. For context, it traded at 1,576 five months earlier, a decline of 58%. Today, the S&P 500 is trading around 2,800, 320% higher than the ’09 lows and 78% higher than the ’07 highs. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for anyone who bought in the midst of the panic. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and it’s a lot easier to see that now than during the storm.

Everyone learned a lot throughout the Financial Crisis and its aftermath (at least we hope so!). Here are a few of our favorite lessons:

  • The storm will pass – even though it may not feel like it at the time
  • Choose the right boat – the right portfolio is different for everyone and minimizes the risk of abandoning ship
  • Trim the sails – there are telltale signs that must constantly be monitored and used to adjust investment strategy

It’s the last point here we’d like to highlight in this letter. While there is no indicator or set of indicators that is 100% accurate in determining market turning points, we believe there are certain warning flags that have helped more often than not. One of these […]


5 tips for self-insurers to up their population health management game

How can employers move past some of the roadblocks and pick up the pace in the pursuit of successful population health management?

By Case Escher | Originally published in BenefitsPro March 25, 2019 

Organizations interested in approaching population health first need to understand the data available, the nature of the data, and the data’s context. 

Self-insured health systems are adept at looking at individual patients, diagnosing a health problem and pinpointing a solution. Looking across a population to identify and act on health improvement opportunities for their employees is much more challenging.

The reasons for self-insured employers to master population health management are compelling. First, it’s the right thing to do by their employees, helping to keep them healthy and head off any problems that might be on the horizon. Second, these organizations are responsible for their employees’ health care costs, and effective management can slow cost escalation. Third, research substantiates that healthier employees are more productive, and that minimizing absenteeism—as well as presenteeism— has a positive impact on the organization’s bottom line. And finally, they have a wealth of data at their fingertips about their employees, so they can truly be effective at risk identification and stratification, as well as the feedback loop on which interventions work best.

So, how can self-insured employers move past some of the roadblocks they have faced thus far and start to pick up the pace in the pursuit of successful population health management? The key is often in the data.

1. Involve the right people from square one

Recognize that population health management is a business strategy as well as a clinical one, which will dictate the people you involve in the program. The C-suite needs to be involved when the health of the business is at stake. The head of human resources, the […]


Cotiviti Case Study: The Partners Group

Powerful, nimble healthcare data analytics provide market differentiation for The Partners Group

 The Partners Group is a financial services firm specializing in employee benefits, commercial/personal insurance, and wealth management. A key differentiator for the company is Interas, a division of the company that is dedicated to data: its acquisition, analysis, and interrogation. The company then consults with that data for decision support and engagement.

Read Cotiviti’s case study to learn how and why Interas chose Medical Intelligence as its performance analytics solution, and how it uses the tool to give its clients the guidance they need to make the right decisions about healthcare spending for their employees.



Case Escher is managing director of Interas, the data analysis and consulting division of The Partners Group, serving more than 600 employee benefit clients in the Northwest with employee benefits, retirement, and investment services; commercial and individual insurance services; data and analytics; and health and productivity consulting.

Questions? Give Case a shout!




When Water Goes Where it Shouldn’t

If you live in the beautiful Northwest, you are likely mentally preparing yourself for the next few months of our rainy season! Many of you might be researching a sunshine vacation now.  As a homeowner, water damage can be challenging, frustrating and expensive. Read here to understand how your homeowners insurance works with water losses and tips on how to prevent water damage from occurring. 


Read this article about protecting your home from water damage




Carrie McHale

Managing Director, Personal Lines

Contact: cmchale@tpgrp.com / 503.726.5668

Carrie McHale is affiliated with Geneos Wealth Management, Inc.





Investment Committee Fourth Quarter Update

From the TPG Investment Committee: 

The fourth quarter has been ugly for stocks around the world. After a wonderful third quarter, U.S. stocks (as represented by the S&P 500) have declined around 15% from the high in October. As unsettling as that may sound, the magnitude of this selloff isn’t out of the ordinary for typical intra-year declines:

The chart above shows how the size of any given drop in a year (red dot) doesn’t often predict how the full year will turn out (gray bar). While a drop near the end of the year certainly leaves little time to recover, there are years shown above where intra-year drops of 20-30% still result in a positive return for the full year. The takeaway is that swings in the stock market – even big ones – are a normal part of a healthy market.

While the exact cause of this selloff can be debated (and constantly is on TV), one of our jobs is to decipher the signal from the noise. This could be another correction like we saw in January/February that ended up recovering and heading higher or the start of a new season in stocks. Regardless, we build client portfolios to endure downswings, not avoid them, and your particular time horizon and financial plan matters more than the swings of the stock market over a few weeks. As always, we are monitoring our indicators and will make portfolio changes if necessary.

We encourage your comments and questions at any time. 


Michael W. Gallagher, CFA
Director of Investments





Health Matters: to Your Employees, to Your Bottom Line, to the Health of your Company

Problem: Rising Health Plan Costs and Undetected Health Issues are Continuously Escalating to High Cost Claims

HR executives, CFOs, and CEOs must continually find new ways to manage health plan costs to keep up with increasingly competitive markets. They are forced to do more with less while offering dynamic benefits packages to attract and keep the best industry talent. What can employers do when facing these challenges? Is a large claims crystal ball the new tool required for successful HR and Benefits leaders? Even if we could predict the future, how would we change it? Click below to gain access to this whitepaper and about possible solutions for your organization.







12 Days of Christmas – The Partners Group version!

Employees gather together for a rendition of this Christmas classic. Wishing you a safe, happy, and FUN holiday season from all of us at The Partners Group. Happy Holidays!

As the largest benefits broker in the Northwest, we believe local commitment and service is only a starting point. Our core values include having FUN and spreading joy throughout the year. Check out our holiday video to see our wonderful teams putting these values in action!

When we’re not coming together for holiday shenanigans, The Partners Group serves the financial and insurance needs of employers, medical professionals, and successful individuals with services including employee benefits and healthcare analytics, retirement planning, wealth management, commercial and individual insurance. The Partners Group has offices in Portland, Lake Oswego, and Bend OR; Bellevue, WA; and Bozeman, MT.

About Us Subscribe


Employment Practice Liability: Coping with the Growing Risks of Workplace Misconduct

Featuring The Partners Group, HR Answers and Tonkin Torp

Click image to view video. Double click for larger video.

Oregon Business hosts a panel discussion on how to assess your risk and protect your organization against potential lawsuits and reputational damage. Community members also gathered to network and share insights on their business and experiences with workplace misconduct. Below are 5 key takeaways from this discussion followed by an audience Q&A.

Read an overview of the discussion published by the Oregon Business Magazine by clicking here.



Linda Baker, Editor, Oregon Business


Laurie Grenya, co-President of HR Answers, a provider of Human Resources training and consultations. HR Answers supports attorneys in their preparation for litigation as well writing policies and investigating harassment claims. Laurie brings 15 years’ experience in harassment in both private and public sectors.

Haley Morrison, partner with Tonkon Torp, primarily counsels on harassment and discrimination practices. Tonkin Torp provides litigation, advice and counsel including all employment defense work for a number of different employers of all sizes. Haley started her practice in California and focuses on employers on the West Coast.

Roxanna Jessen, Account Executive at The Partners Group, who focuses on commercial insurance markets and employment practice liability. The Partners Group is among the largest independent benefits brokers in the Northwest with services including commercial insurance, employee benefits analytics, wellness programs, wealth management, retirement plan consulting and personal insurance.

Contact The Partners Group Subscribe […]


FMI Webinar part 1

Webinar Series
Passing the Baton: Taking the Mystery Out of Succession Planning

December 12th, 2018 / 10am 11am PST


The Partners Groups welcomes FMI to this webinar series. Session 1 will introduce attendees to the options available for company owners and leaders for transferring ownership of their business. We will discuss both external and internal options including topics such as the current M&A market, valuation, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) and other stock transfer techniques.

Register Now

Subsequent webinars in this series include: 
Part 2 – December 19th, 2018 / 10 am to 11 am PST- Succession Management. Register here
Part 3 – January 3rd, 2018 / 10 am to 11 am PST – Personal Leader/Emotional. Register here
Join a happy hour to meet the FMI and TPG Teams – January 22nd, 2019 / 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm PST, The Harvest Wine Bar, Lake Oswego, OR.


RSVP for Happy Hour

Presented by:

Presented by-
Matthew Drake, Director, FMI Capital Advisors
Matt Drake is a Director with FMI Capital Advisors, FMI’s registered investment banking subsidiary. 


Healthcare Industry Employer Fights Rising Health Plan Costs

Success Story: Healthcare Industry Employer Fights Rising Health Plan Costs

By Helping Employees Detect and Treat Serious Health Conditions in Advance

Every year employers analyze the previous year’s cost data and find that five percent of the insured population drove 50% of plan costs. Often, one percent of insureds are responsible for 25% of total costs! What is driving their need for medical services? What can be done to manage their medical costs, while maintaining or even improving their treatment and outcomes?

Typically, the top five percent of health plan costs can be attributed to catastrophic accidents and new cancer diagnoses. Identifying large claimants from the previous year is a standard practice in the healthcare industry. However, it is reactive. While measures can be taken to manage the cost of continuing treatment for these hardships, initial costs have already been incurred. Future interventions will have limited impact. The money has been spent. Plus, in a given year, it’s not unusual for more than 50% of high-cost claimants to turn over.

Would early detection have improved their outcomes and cost? You bet it would have! Individuals who fail to practice preventive care may be unaware of existing or developing health conditions that, left untreated, have a high probability of adversely impacting their health and productivity. For example, detecting and treating cancer at an early stage can and does save lives, as well as money.1 But how can employers possibly foresee large claims? Is a large claims crystal ball the new tool required for successful HR and Benefits leaders? Even if we could predict the future, how would we change it?

Employers need programs to help employees identify unknown and emerging health risks and direct them to the right care at the right time, early, and ideally […]


Three Strategies to Manage Health Insurance Renewal Increases

As January approaches, approximately 70% of employers who offer health benefits to their employees are getting ready to begin their renewal process. Most organizations feel like they have very little control or insight into why premiums continue to rise which makes budgeting for health benefits very difficult. Experts agree that heading into 2019, the medical cost trend should remain stable around 6%*, however many employers continue to see double-digit premium increases from their insurance carriers. With the right strategy in place, you can keep costs down for your organization and your employees without slashing your benefits program.

1) Know your options and negotiate
Many employers going through their renewal process are faced with the imminent question “to bid or not to bid”. Insurance carriers will often offer a reduction to their renewal if an employer is willing to forgo a market review. But how do you know if you are getting the best deal? If you have access to your claims data and work with a sophisticated insurance broker, there should never be a surprise at renewal time. However, many employers don’t have access to their data or work with a broker who relies on the insurance carrier to do the underwriting for them.  Insurance carriers will typically provide very rational reasons for requesting premium hikes such as “you had a large claim” or “your population is getting older” however a good broker should be able to point out considerations the insurance company should take to lower your premiums. In addition, they should be well versed in market trends to ensure you are getting the best pricing, terms, and conditions based on your employee demographics. Plus, they should try to lock those terms in under a multi-year rate guarantee.

2) Consider a refundin[…]


Employee Benefits

The Employee Benefits Division of The Partners Group serves the employee benefit needs of over 500 West Coast employers, with offices in Portland, Lake Oswego, and Bend, OR; Bellevue, WA; and Bozeman MT. Our benefits consulting team specializes in providing a highly-consultative approach coupled with problem-solving wellness analytics, to help employers reduce healthcare costs, improve employee health, and create long-term health plan stability.

Business Consulting

The Business Consulting Division of The Partners Group is dedicated to consulting with healthcare systems and jumbo employers to manage the health and well being of their employees, families, and communities. Our focus is to provide an innovative, solution-oriented service that capitalizes on data to pinpoint potential problems. Whether it be uncovering potential sources of escalating healthcare costs, or other anomalies in data, this service provides endless, problem-solving advantages to a variety of industries.

Commercial Insurance

The Partners Group Commercial Insurance Division manages the business risks for hundreds of employers. We provide an unmatched depth and breadth in commercial insurance and risk management services combined with extraordinary people who possess an unusual ability to connect on a personal level. We work hard to understand the unique risks and exposures of your business, and identify the solutions to provide the right coverage for the right price. As an independent company The Partners Group can tailor solutions to work specifically for you, even creating new policies and programs, if that’s what you need.

Private Client Services

The Partners Group Private Client Services Division advises business owners and high income shareholder groups comprising just over 3,200 successful individuals, families and medical professionals on investment services, retirement planning, and personal insurance. We’ve been in business for over 30 years as a privately held company based in the Northwest, and we’re here to stay. Additionally, we are not tied to products and plans. We provide various platforms and a multitude of options to fit your needs, which can change over time as your life changes. When you work with TPG Private Client Services, you’re dealing with the shareholders of this firm, and we are honored to play a role your life, your family’s lives, and your next generation’s lives.