Spark Advisors, in the age of misinformation, is a spark of light

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James Jiang, CEO of Spark Advisors shares how empathy and trust are critical for building a budding business in the healthcare space.
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Spark Advisors offers concierge-level support to seniors who need help navigating Medicare benefits and their healthcare goals.

The mission of Spark Advisors is to help every senior take control of their health. Believing that the senior demographic deserves a guide along their healthcare journey --- and recognizing that healthcare is fundamentally personal and local --- the Spark team quickly realized the best way to serve their target audience is by partnering with independent agents who are enrolling and supporting millions of seniors already.

And they were right. As the industry increasingly pushes decision-making responsibility onto the consumer, Spark Advisors has found great success in helping their consumer navigate what CEO James Jiang refers to as the “healthcare maze.”

“Senior’s have it the hardest — right when healthcare is at its most complex and highest stakes, traditional support structures like the employer go away, leaving seniors to choose and navigate their Medicare options themselves,” said Jiang. “That’s where we come in.”

We sat down with CEO James Jiang to learn more about how he builds a budding business while simultaneously making a difference in the lives of so many.

For any company, consumer trust is everything

Before Spark, Jiang was running another Medicare-focused health-tech company that prepared him for where he is today. Building and operating tech-enabled in-home care models for high-risk, low-income seniors, he learned that, to do anything in healthcare, you first need to win the trust of your client. 

“Many of the most needy patients are from marginalized groups who --- understandably --- have historical distrust with many healthcare institutions,” explained Jiang. “The best way to bridge that trust gap is by sending someone from the community, who speaks the language and understands the local nuances, into the home to engage the client — human to human. I was inspired to start Spark after seeing the way independent Medicare agents had quietly played this role for millions of seniors right at the start of their healthcare journeys.” 

But like any ‘good’ business person, Jiang also longed to support other entrepreneurs. He liked that, as a business, Spark Advisors could support those who already serve the nation’s elderly. 

“Our agent partners are some of the most diverse, humble, service-orientated people I've met,” said Jiang. “I’m really proud of how our team has stepped into the shoes of our agent partners and the clients we collectively serve to bring everyone up together.”

Moving forward, Jiang said, any business must try to build empathy for its stakeholders, or else its customers will be skeptical, if not disinterested altogether. 

Post-2020, empathy is key

In the past couple of years especially, Jiang said they’ve had much more traction than he’d expected around this vision of serving seniors by elevating the agent, and he believes a big part of that was due to the team’s commitment to building real empathy for all stakeholders.

“Empathy is the driving force behind our brand,” Jiang said. “As our clients’ agent, we don’t work for any insurance company or healthcare provider, and we make the same commission regardless of what plan our clients are on.”

The single business goal, said Jiang, is to deliver consistent service and support, and this value alone will propel any company forward.

Keeping the spark alight

Since the beginning, Spark has worked closely with hundreds of agents, getting to know their pain points and desires. 

For the near future, they will continue to work on and improve their “Agent Platform” to serve as a shared workspace. This is what allows Spark to work with agents to deliver their famously world-class client service. 

“We’ve hired some excellent agent leaders from the industry, and I’ve personally been flying around the country meeting hundreds of agents and agency owners face to face,” said Jiang. “On the member-facing side, we’re now calling on thousands of clients each week and intimately getting to know and solving their problems — whether that’s explaining a medical bill or enrolling in a financial assistance program.”

And the conversations --- like the demand ---  continue with no end in sight.

“Each day, we are viscerally seeing the need for a personal advisor like Spark,” said Jiang. “When it comes to health, we believe everyone deserves a personal advocate they can turn to for trusted advice, and we will continue as a passionate team working tirelessly to be that advocate for you.” 


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