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Senior Vice President, Employee Benefits Compliance Practice Co-Leader
Wells Fargo Insurance Services Inc.
Helping employers make sense of the complexity of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act seems like a problem made especially for Liliana Salazar. As Employee Benefits Compliance Practice co-leader at Wells Fargo Insurance Services Inc., Ms. Salazar directs a compliance team dedicated to advising employers on their benefits responsibilities under federal, state and local laws. An attorney, Ms. Salazar's first job out of law school was at a law firm in Bogota, Colombia, that represented some of the largest shipping companies in South America and the world. Ms. Salazar moved to California in 1997, joined employee benefits broker/consultant HCM Benefits and soon passed the California bar examination. She quickly established herself at HCM, which was purchased by ABD Insurance & Financial Services in 2003. She now brings her years of expertise in areas such as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act to bear for Wells Fargo, which acquired ABD in 2008.
What's your advice for women entering this field?
I suggest that women have an open mind, as the insurance industry is one that is constantly evolving as new products and laws are enacted almost on a daily basis, impacting group health plans and their administration. Women will excel in the insurance industry, as it is an industry that requires individuals to be organized, to be effective at multitasking, and to be excellent communicators as they will be required to interact on a regular basis with health insurance providers, insurance carriers, regulators, employers and their employees.
What attracted you to this industry?
I chose to join the insurance industry as an ERISA attorney, as I have always enjoyed working with employers and assisting them to understand and comply with new and existing laws and regulations impacting the administration of group health plans.
What aspects of your job give you the greatest sense of accomplishment?
I enjoy assisting our clients as they navigate through the complexities of employee benefit laws, most recently health care reform. I have assisted over 2,000 employers to understand their new obligations under the Affordable Care Act and develop short- and long-term strategies that will enable them to continue to offer benefit coverage to their employees while meeting their budgetary goals. I also enjoy interacting with regulatory agencies and acting as an advocate for clients and employers nationwide, as regulators are sometimes unaware of the actual implications that new regulations will have on employers and the administration of their group health plans.
What's the most important lesson you've learned in your career?
The most important lesson I have learned in my career is that nothing in the insurance industry is static. There will always be new products or laws impacting group health plans, and I must stay current in order to help clients remain competitive and in compliance.
Outside family, what woman has been your role model?
I particularly admire two women: Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Margaret Thatcher. They both embody the characteristics that I admire most in women. They pursued their vision and dreams and made them a reality through hard work, perseverance, and determination.
What's at the top of your bucket list and why?
At the top of my bucket list is to travel around the world with my husband and daughter, as we have a lot to learn and experience from different cultures and countries.
What's your secret vice?
That is a great question. As of today, I do not have a secret vice. However, I must confess I did read the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the reconciliation bill, Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, as well as all regulatory guidance issued so far on the ACA.
Business Insurance's annual Women to Watch feature recognizes women who are doing outstanding work in commercial insurance, risk and benefits management, and related fields, including consulting and law.