Vanta Group provides insurance, group benefits, pension, and risk management services, but they are anything but a typical insurance firm. At the helm are four partners with a singular mindset: giving business owners financial peace of mind.
Rich Groom, Ross Langford, Noah Jones, and John Huot have known each other for decades. Their complementary skill sets (Langford and Huot started their careers in accounting, while Groom and Jones were business competitors) meant they were always in each other’s orbits, collaborating, advising mutual clients, and providing professional support.
“I think the reason we all came together is to collaborate amongst like-minded individuals and create a best-in-class option in the marketplace,” Jones explains. “A number of us worked together in the past, but at different firms. Instead of working against each other, we decided to come together and create something better.”
“The next 25 years of working will be better with friends and we have a chance to have a lot of fun,” Groom adds.
Huot agrees, “I see this as an opportunity to do meaningful work with great people and have a good laugh.”
Wait… fun? Laughter? In an insurance and risk management firm?
It’s true. The vibe in the office, from the reception lobby to the board room, is one of utmost professionalism, but there is a relaxed feeling that permeates the atmosphere – and, dare I say, there is also a feeling of joy. It’s because despite the demands of their profession, the four partners wake up looking forward to coming to the office, working with their team, and helping business owners succeed. They love what they do, and it really shows.
Despite their different skill sets and professional backgrounds, all four have one overarching goal – helping business owners succeed. They realize the best way to do this is through providing customized insurance and risk management solutions and services.
“When I started my career as a tax accountant, I had no idea what insurance could do. Since then, I found out how powerful it can be for attracting employees and really protecting families,” says Huot. “All of us were attracted to insurance because of what it can do for the people we work with.”
Vanta Group’s mantras of “sophisticated planning made simple,” and “world-class advice in your own backyard” are best realized by business owners helping other business owners. Vanta Group’s partners all know what it’s like to be in their clients’ shoes: sweating through the startup phase, seeking out and retaining talent, growing their brand, and planning for succession.
They explain, “Most people think insurance and risk management is complicated and expensive, but it can be a real financial asset. More enlightened employers see the benefit of our solutions for their employees and see tools they can use to substantially build their asset base. A lot of what we do is providing that advantage to not just the employer’s business, but also to their employees and their families. Frankly, having the right structures in place improves lives.”
Being entrepreneurs themselves, the partners know how challenging it can be to balance a demanding career with family life and downtime. Because of this, they create as much balance and flexibility for their own employees as possible.
“We are lucky to have an incredible team of people who are great at what they do and that allow us to spend time with our families,” Jones says of the partnership and the members of the Vanta team.
“Personally, I have never been less stressed. It feels good to know the people around us have our backs,” Groom agrees.
Huot adds, “In our line of business, there are a lot of lone wolves and sole proprietors, but we have come to learn that just because you can do it alone, doesn’t mean you should. It’s one of the big reasons we came together to form Vanta. When you work as a team, you get balance and synergy and that flows to your clients.”
They also have a lot of energy.
“In an industry where many advisors are well past retirement age, we are comparatively young, but very experienced,” says Jones. “That opens up great opportunities for acquisitions and growth as older advisors move on to the next phase of their lives.”
“Ours is a completely fresh look at an old industry,” says Langford. “The two ends of the spectrum seem to be the independent insurance advisor at one end and the large financial institutions at the other. In between, typically, there was a lack of a personalized approach to planning. The old model is to always be pushing products. We choose to offer tailor-made solutions to problems instead of just a listing of products for sale.”
Groom concurs, “Vanta is about interacting with our clients as one business owner to another. This marketplace is made up of highly competitive entrepreneurs, and we’ve learned that entrepreneurs want to deal with other entrepreneurs. We walk in their shoes and experience their challenges. This gives us a clear advantage.”
“Vanta Group loves to roll up our sleeves and work directly with the business owner and their entire team. This team usually includes internal HR and finance people, as well as external accountants, lawyers and bankers. It’s total collaboration,” Jones summarizes.
Collaboration is not just on the human front. The partners are very much aware of how technology is changing their industry as well – and they embrace it.
“We are investing heavily in AI,” Langford confirms. “The industry is definitely moving in that direction. We are a leader in this area and embrace the fact that AI will not replace the human touch of what we do. We simply need the technology now that will make us even more effective in the future.”
Jones agrees, noting, “We are not burying our heads in the sand about where the industry is going. We are, instead, trying to be thoughtful in meeting those challenges.”
Langford gives an example, “In dealing with a robo advisor, you are not going to learn whether the person that needs insurance has a sick colleague, a family member in need of help or a business in need of succession planning. Technology is a great tool, but our business will always be about interaction with people.”
Vanta Group’s interaction with people goes way beyond the client sphere and extends deeply into the community as well. The partners sit on the boards of various non-profit organizations and support a variety of causes through sponsorships and hands-on participation. They also encourage philanthropy with their clients through mentorship and education, focusing on the impact in the community, and how to maximize the effectiveness of those donations.
Supporting the business community through the services they offer and the community work they provide is a source for pride for each partner.
“I love everything about the Edmonton business community,” says Jones, and the rest nod in agreement. “In a world where a lot of our competitors have sold to public companies or amalgamators, we have invested heavily in our community for the long term. This shows what we think of this city and this country. We are betting on it and we know it’s a safe bet. In particular, Edmonton is a small city but feels very big. It’s a community that is supportive, positive, and has a wonderful entrepreneurial sprit. Edmonton has a big heart; its citizens are always looking out for each other.”
Yet, as much as the partners have helped other businesses, the community, and their own team grow, they know Vanta Group is helping them personally as well. Their roles are making them stronger, better, and more agile leaders.
“It’s nice when someone cultivates leadership,” Huot muses. “We’ve all worked in places where the leaders were absent and the impact that causes on the culture of a company is devastating. Without leadership, the team disintegrates and the fun quickly leaves the building. We’ve all lived through that in various places, which is why we are keen on being good leaders to support our team.”
They know leadership is not always easy.
“You must have the courage to stand up for your convictions and do what is right, even when it’s hard and costs you financially,” Langford says firmly.
Jones says, “I feel that on some level, work should be fun. As leaders, we try to create an environment where everyone feels that way.”
“I’m excited by Vanta Group, the team, and the future!” Groom exclaims. “I don’t feel like it’s work. We’ve all concluded that we really don’t care if the team is punching the clock as long as the work is getting done. If a team member has to be home with a sick child, we understand.”
As family men, they know what that is like.
“We all have children. We understand how hard it is to juggle work and home life, so we don’t ask our employees to do anything we wouldn’t do ourselves. We listen to and respect the needs of the team. It all works towards Vanta being successful.”
Wise, agile, full of energy, technology-driven, client-focused, community-minded, team-oriented and having fun – the partners have a lot going on, but each still finds endless inspiration in their workplace.
“I love entrepreneurship, collaboration, and building a business,” says Groom. “We have a great team around us, and it’s fun to have younger advisors coming on board and to be able to provide them with mentorship. There is an art to problem identification and problem solving. We study it and have fun with it.”
“I like educating our clients and knowing we are making a difference for them,” says Langford.
“We have done planning that has literally saved entire businesses from going under. That actually happens on a regular basis. It’s nice to see that what we do makes a difference,” says Jones.
“One thing that inspires us all,” notes Huot, “is that we get to go help a busy entrepreneur that has a million balls in the air. We go in, help, provide education, and get them moving in the right direction. We find that incredibly rewarding. It’s very challenging for any business to juggle banks, taxes, and day-to-day operations. When we come in, we are swift and succinct, and that comes with years of experience.”
With their well-honed expertise and fresh approach to leadership, team-building, and the future, Vanta Group is poised to continue breaking new ground.
“We need to take advantage of chances and say yes to opportunities, but we will never sacrifice the quality of our advice or service. There is currently a gap in how businesses access advisory services regarding insurance planning and risk management. We will continue to fill that void and have fun while we’re doing it.”