Mind the gaps: Getting smart with participant education

Client company’s name: Brown & Brown Insurance

Client’s primary business: Insurance and risk management

Challenge we helped solve: Knowledge and participation gaps


The client

Brown & Brown is one of the largest and most respected insurance brokerages in the US, spanning over 300 locations with more than 10,000 teammates. This growing company has an 80-year track record specializing in risk management and insurance solutions and services, with a community-minded culture.

In 2016, Brown & Brown made an important commitment to their workforce (who they refer to as teammates — an important part of their organizational culture) by updating their company stock plan experience. The company converted the administration of its stock plan benefits to the industry-leading Equity Edge Online® platform from E*TRADE Corporate Services.

The transition to E*TRADE meant significant technological progress for both stock plan administrators and plan participants and piqued the latter’s curiosity. The enhanced participant experience on etrade.com also helped uncover some participant questions.


The challenge

With the upgrade to a more advanced participant experience came the call to address a critical knowledge and participation gap many years in the making.

Once Brown & Brown completed the transition to E*TRADE, participants were able to access detailed information about their stock plan benefits, which gave them a fresh perspective. The etrade.com participant portal included helpful information and user-friendly tools that inspired many participants to seize the opportunity to explore their stock plan benefits more actively. The greater visibility into the stock program meant participants wanted to know more and more about their benefits.

Feedback flooded in. Engagement with the new portal led to a spike in frequent, detailed questions about the stock grants, and Brown & Brown plan administrators realized they needed an education campaign equal to their program’s new visibility. Participants were hungry for help understanding and interpreting the information available to them on etrade.com. Along with the transformational platform update, administrators needed a way to help participants visualize and internalize the value and details of their stock grants.

Brown & Brown decided to build an arsenal of targeted participant education resources that would walk through both general stock plan information and the intricacies of their company’s unique award structure. The goal was to foster a stronger company-specific understanding of their stock plan benefits while addressing any participant questions that the new portal had brought to light.


The solution

As they prepared to tackle the challenge of the knowledge gap exposed by the transition, Brown & Brown administrators planned a comprehensive and detailed suite of resources. Since the portal itself was a central resource and hub, they collaborated with E*TRADE to roll out a robust knowledge and engagement campaign tailored to the unique needs of their participants.

To get started, Brown & Brown leveraged their in-house team to develop short and digestible education videos. They also connected with E*TRADE to confirm and include the most up-to-date guidance on navigating the new participant experience and the wide suite of offerings available on etrade.com. Video topics covered everything from activating and navigating new E*TRADE accounts, to overviews on specialty stock plan topics including provisions, types of awards, taxation, and Employee Stock Purchase Plans (ESPPs).

The Brown & Brown team also developed step-by-step guides for a variety of topics such as beneficiary designation and dividend reinvestment program (DRIP) enrollment instructions, expanding on E*TRADE resources to adjust for their specific in-house culture and participant questions.

But they didn’t stop there: To help participants better understand the wide-reaching financial benefits of their stock plan, administrators developed an internal platform dubbed the Wealth Dashboard. This tool provided a one-stop interface where participants could quickly access and understand their ESPP, stock plan, and total rewards data, and get a clear picture of the total wealth created through their relationship with Brown & Brown. Participants could also view their individual performance goals, grants, and vesting schedules in user-friendly charts. The future vest date table feature was an immediate hit with participants and was expanded to become available through etrade.com.


The results

Thanks to their monumental efforts in facing the participant knowledge gap, Brown & Brown experienced a renaissance in its participants’ attitudes toward the stock plan–and the positive feelings directly translated through to engagement with their grants. The company saw healthy growth in their ESPP enrollment over three years, and their grant acceptance rate is now at nearly 100%.

At the same time, Brown & Brown launched a proactive engagement campaign showcasing personalized messaging from the company’s CEO to congratulate new grant recipients, which boasted a remarkably successful open rate of 90% and a click rate of 68%.

The symbiotic collaboration between Brown & Brown and E*TRADE contributed to a deep knowledge library for participants. While this was an admittedly heavy lift upfront, down the road these educational resources saved substantial time for administrators when it came to responding to individual participant inquiries. This freed them up to concentrate on more strategic areas like evaluating plan design, improving the participant experience, and updating existing assets.

This Brown & Brown case study demonstrates that thoughtfully investing a company’s time, resources, and energy into its employee base can lead to dramatic results. After the upgrade with E*TRADE Corporate Services provided an opportunity to reconnect with their participants, Brown & Brown’s education campaign led to a reputation makeover for their stock plan program. Participants are now actively engaged and express positive feedback toward the program and their new portal.

Each company understands its people and their needs better than anyone else, which is what helped Brown & Brown create such impactful materials. But moving the engagement needle requires focus as well as resources that many companies may not have. That’s where collaboration with an industry-leading provider like E*TRADE can help create space and provide support as administrators craft custom solutions for their participants. Going above and beyond to invest in what is best for participants can pay dividends in engagement and positive feedback.


This commentary contains current opinions from E*TRADE Financial Corporation and its affiliates which are subject to change without notice. E*TRADE is not affiliated with Human Resource Executive® and all commentary is owned solely by E*TRADE.

This is not an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy securities, products or services, by any person or entity in any jurisdiction or country where such distribution or use would be contrary to law or regulation.

The laws, regulations, and rulings addressed by the products, services, and publications offered by E*TRADE Financial Corporate Services, Inc. and its affiliates (“E*TRADE”) are subject to various interpretations and frequent change. E*TRADE does not warrant these products, services, and publications against different interpretations or subsequent changes of laws, regulations, and rulings. E*TRADE does not provide legal, accounting, or tax advice. Always consult your own legal, accounting, and tax advisors.

In connection with stock plan solutions offered by E*TRADE Financial Corporate Services, Inc., E*TRADE Securities LLC provides brokerage services to stock plan participants.

E*TRADE Financial Corporate Services, Inc. and E*TRADE Securities LLC are separate but affiliated companies.


Brown & Brown, Inc. (NYSE: BRO) is a leading insurance brokerage firm, providing risk management solutions to individuals and businesses. With more than 80 years of proven success and thousands of teammates, we offer knowledge you can trust and strive to deliver superior customer service. For more information, please visit bbinsurance.com.