Bonnie McMillan

Bonnie McMillan

Charleston Benefits Firm Opens Savannah Office

SAVANNAH, Ga. (March 19, 2014) – Charleston-based employee benefits consulting firm McLaughlin Smoak & Clarke is partnering with property-casualty insurance broker Palmer & Cay to create a presence in Savannah. As the first step, McLaughlin Smoak & Clarke has recruited local insurance executive Bonnie McMillan to anchor its Savannah operations and serve as the office’s senior benefits advisor. McMillan will share office space with Palmer & Cay in the Cay Building on Ellis Square.

McMillan, a fixture in the Savannah insurance community, has more than 35 years experience managing employee benefit programs for middle-market and large employers throughout Georgia. She most recently served as a benefits account executive with Wells Fargo Insurance Services in Savannah.

In her new position with Mclaughlin Smoak & Clarke, McMillan will continue advising local and regional clients on cost-containment strategies for fully-insured and self-insured group benefit programs, compliance issues, and legislative changes.

McMillan’s expertise includes strategic planning, benefit solutions marketing, vendor management, regulatory analysis, and employee enrollment services. She began her career with Savannah-based Palmer & Cay and continued with the firm through its acquisition by Fortune 100 giant Wachovia Insurance Services and its subsequent acquisition by San Francisco-based Wells Fargo.

A lifelong resident of Savannah, McMillan has been an active volunteer with numerous civic and non-profit organizations. She is the current president of Savannah West Rotary Club and recently served on the board of the Savannah Red Cross and has chaired many committees for local area charities.

The strategic partnership between McLaughlin Smoak & Clarke and Palmer & Cay has been an ongoing relationship since Palmer & Cay opened its Charleston office in 2012. Each firm specializes in areas that compliment the other firm’s capabilities thereby broadening their service capabilities.

“In today’s hyper-competitive market, you need the resources of a major corporation but the flexibility of a small entrepreneurial operation,” said Trey McLaughlin, founding partner with McLaughlin Smoak & Clarke. “By teaming up with a like-minded firm with differing skills, each firm is able to solve a wider range of problems for their clients,” McLaughlin stated.

According to Palmer & Cay’s president, Jack Cay, the chemistry is perfect between the two firms. “The sense of urgency and professionalism in the McLaughlin Smoak & Clarke team matches our own, so we work well together. More importantly, our mutual clients appreciate that our two teams operate as one, focusing on a single goal,” Cay said.

Both executives see the recruitment of McMillan as a further means of strengthening the bond between their two firms. “We are extremely pleased with Ms. McMillan’s decision to join our firm as she will be a valuable addition to our team of experienced consultants,” stated McLaughlin. For Cay, McMillan’s presence in the local Palmer & Cay office is a strategic move for his firm. “Bonnie knows the Savannah business market as well as the local healthcare and benefit issues; she’ll be an immediate resource to our existing clients as well as future ones,” Cay said.

McLaughlin Smoak & Clarke employs 20 associates and operates offices in Charleston and Columbia, South Carolina. The firm was launched in 2006 as McLaughlin & Smoak and in 2010 merged with Columbia’s Clarke & Company Benefits to form McLaughlin Smoak & Clarke. The privately-owned firm provides employee benefits, compliance and human resources consulting services to clients throughout the Southeast.

Palmer & Cay was originally established in 1868 on Savannah’s Bay Street and operated under five generations of one family’s leadership until the firm was acquired by Wachovia Insurance Services in 2005. Re-launched in 2009 as a privately-held insurance brokerage firm headed by former president Jack E. Cay IV, Palmer & Cay is now headquartered in Atlanta and employs 20 professionals in Atlanta, Charleston, Savannah and Birmingham.

Palmer & Cay provides property and casualty insurance brokerage and risk management services to mid-size to large clients with complex business needs. The firm specializes in niche industry sectors such as institutional timber, healthcare, social services and private equity, and has special expertise in technical product areas including executive risk, cyber liability and employment practices liability.