insurance

The Plexus Groupe Hires Todd Neaves as Vice President, Business Development

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The Plexus Groupe, an innovative, client-focused insurance brokerage and risk management consulting firm, has hired Todd Neaves as Vice President of Business Development in its Oklahoma City office. Neaves brings a wealth of knowledge and experience working in the Oklahoma area with employer’s benefit plans, said CEO and Founder of The Plexus Groupe, Walter R. Fawcett, III.

“Todd’s expertise is providing cost effective employee benefit strategies that will help our clients recruit and retain the best employees while meeting all financial objectives,” Fawcett said.

Neaves, who graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in business administration, looks forward to showcasing his skills at The Plexus Groupe.

“It is an honor to join the Plexus team.  I have admired the client-centric focus and work done by Plexus for quite some time and am truly humbled to now be a part of this exciting organization,” Neaves said. “We have a tremendous opportunity to provide a unique service model to our clients. I look forward to continuing my focus of identifying cost-effective solutions that are borne out of each client’s needs and culture.”

The Plexus Groupe offers innovative solutions in employee benefits, property and casualty, corporate retirement plans, personal lines insurance, human resources administration/consulting, benefits technology services, and mergers and acquisitions. Additionally, the Plexus Global Network gives clients access to insurance placement in 130 countries around the world. Plexus is headquartered in Deer Park, Ill., with additional locations in Chicago, Dallas, and Oklahoma City.

For more information on strategic insurance solutions, please contact the firm at 847-307-6100 and ask to speak to a client executive.

DID YOU KNOW? Prepare For Back To School With Insurance Policy Review

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A back to school insurance review is vital for anyone with children living at college or boarding school. Whether it's the first year away or the last, going away to school has several insurance implications that need to be addressed to ensure adequate coverage.

Housing

Students living away from home for the first time present new worries for their parents. What if they have friends at their dorm and someone gets hurt?  What if they forget to turn off an appliance and cause a fire?  What if their laptop is stolen?

Many schools require first-year students to live on campus, so renter’s insurance may not be necessary. Some insurance companies include student housing in their definition of a covered location, but it pays to check with your agent.  If the policy language is unclear or if the policy does not automatically include student housing, a liability extension endorsement can be added to the policy for a very modest increase in premium, usually less than $50 annually.  The endorsement changes the home insurance policy to provide liability coverage to include a student's dorm room at school.  With this extra coverage, if someone gets hurt in their dorm, there is now no question about coverage.

But what about all the stuff they brought with them to school? Most home insurance policies will provide coverage for property located outside the main residence, with some restrictions – usually 10% of the property limit on the home insurance policy. For example, if your home insurance policy provides you with $200,000 of personal property coverage, up to 10% of that limit ($20,000) may be automatically covered while at college or boarding school.

There are two drawbacks to using this approach to cover property located in a dorm. First, the deductible from your home insurance policy would apply to the loss. If you have a high deductible on your home insurance policy, a small personal property claim at the dorm may not clear your deductible. Secondly, Loss of Use coverage (or sometimes called Additional Living Expense) does not extend to other locations listed on the policy. Let’s say a pipe bursts in the dorm, causing damage that will take months to repair. There is no coverage for additional living expenses you might incur while your child is living elsewhere.

If you don’t want to accept these policy limitations, a separate renter’s insurance policy should be implemented. Renter’s insurance will provide liability insurance for the dorm, or off-campus address listed in the policy, as well as the personal property at that location. The amount of personal property coverage is usually subject to a minimum amount ($20,000 to $25,000 is common), but a separate policy will allow you to secure a lower deductible, keep any losses from showing up on your home insurance policy, and provide you with Loss of Use coverage.  Expect to pay around $200 per year for a basic renter’s policy.

Whether you choose to extend coverage or take out a renter’s policy, don’t forget to list this location on your personal umbrella policy.

Itemized personal property

If you’ve made a significant financial investment in a laptop for your student, it may make sense to itemize it on your home insurance policy – much like you would a new piece of jewelry. Some insurance companies don’t like to schedule laptops, but it pays to check.  Expect to pay between $20 and $25 per-thousand of coverage.

Paying this additional premium gives you extra coverage for misplacing the laptop and accidental damage, with no deductible applied to the claim.

Cyber Liability

Free wi-fi might be a great way to attract students to a coffee shop or a study room, but it is also a great way to become a victim of identity theft. Your son or daughter might have your credit card information or other personal data on their cell phone, exposing you to financial loss.  Many home insurance policies offer optional cyber liability coverage by endorsement.  The amounts of coverage can vary widely, and there may even be customizable limits within the endorsement, so a conversation with your agent is essential.

Vehicles

If your son or daughter does not bring a car with them to school, you may be able to get a discount on your auto insurance. Most companies will provide an “away at school” discount if the school is at least 100 miles from home.

If they bring a car with them to school, coverage will need to be amended to show a different “garaging location." Depending on the state and the insurance company, a separate auto policy may need to be written if the car is garaged in a different state.

It is also important to remind your son or daughter that the insurance follows the vehicle. If they let their roommate, a friend, or a friend of a friend borrow their car, the insurance on the car pays for the claim. By extension, this means your personal umbrella would also cover the claim if the claim was severe.  Strongly discourage your child from letting anyone use their car while it is with them at school.

And DO NOT let them sign up as a driver for Uber or Lyft while they are at school. They might think it’s a good way to make a few extra dollars, but there are absolute coverage exclusions on auto insurance policies when vehicles are used as a taxi or livery service. Uber and Lyft provide their own insurance, but there may be coverage gaps as to when their coverage applies and when it does not and how it coordinates with your own policy. The risk far outweighs the financial reward.

Have questions about a back to school insurance review? David Miller has answers. Miller, who writes the monthly, DID YOU KNOW? blog is The Plexus Groupe's Vice President, Client Executive for Private Client Solutions. Miller can be reached by calling 846-307-6141.

Top 5 Insurance Tips for CFOs

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When selecting an insurance brokerage and structuring a risk management plan, Chief Financial Officers (CFO) need a clear perspective on how and where that plan aligns with the business's short and long-term goals. Here are the top 5 insurance tips for CFOs to help select the right insurance brokerage and coverage:

Credit Quality: A.M. Best rates insurance companies on their financial strength. You should not choose an insurer with less than a A+++ or A+ rating. Insurers should have a record of prompt claims settlements and payments.

Risk Tolerance: All risk not financed, avoided or reduced is thereby retained by your business either actively or passively. Your risk manager should be making you aware of both insurance and non-insurance ways to mitigate your risk. This could be as simple as coverage placement, machine guarding or contract language. If you don't know, ask! A large uncovered claim could be detrimental to the balance sheet.

Reliability: Are the presented insurers and the brokers credible? Do they deliver even the small promises they make? Do you feel like you are treated the same as a multi-billion dollar company would be? If not, you should be thinking of change.

Communications: Do you have clear and reliable communication channels with your brokerage team? Do you know who to contact with a general question, a claim or a certificate request? Is your broker communicating information that is relative to your business? Were all of your concerns adequately addressed, or were they glossed over during the presentation?

Knowledge: Insurance lingo, coverage, case studies, bench-marking, and procedures can all be looked up, but is your broker taking the time to understand your business? Does it seem like they are asking a lot of questions? Does your broker ask you uncomfortable questions, or are they skirting around the issues to get a quick sale? A reputable insurance brokerage will ask a lot up-front in order to gain a better understanding of where your business is and where it is going.

If you have not experienced all of the above, consider partnering with The Plexus Groupe. We value long-term relationships and we know that starts with you.

Matt Wilkens, ARM, can be reached at mwilkens@plexusgroupe.com or by calling 847-307-6157.

The Plexus Groupe Retains Best Practices Status

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The Plexus Groupe has retained its IIABA Best Practices status, once again being included in an elite group of independent insurance agencies across the United States. This status is earned by participating in the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big "I") Best Practices group. The annual survey of leading independent insurance agencies documents the business practices of the "best" agencies and urges others to adopt similar practices.

The Plexus Groupe, a fast gorwing, progressive insurance brokerage and risk management consultancy serving clients around the globe, has earned this distinction six times.

Walter R. Fawcett, III, The Plexus Groupe's Founder and Chief Executive Officer, said this designation is important to distinguish the company as a leader in the industry.

"This is something we take seriously and strive for each year," Fawcett said. "This recognition is the direct result of the efforts of all the associates at The Plexus Groupe."

Since 1993, IIABA and Reagan Consulting, an Atlanta-based management consulting firm, have joined forces to study the country's leading agencies. The agencies comprising the groups are selected every third year through a comprehensive nomination and qualifying process and awarded a "Best Practices Agency" designation. The agency was nominated by either an IIABA affiliated state association, or an insurance company, and qualified based on its operational excellence.

The Plexus Groupe Announces Offering Work Shield Solution to Combat Harassment In The Workplace

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The Plexus Groupe recently announced providing Work Shield as a workplace harassment solution for its Employee Benefits clients. Work Shield and its ERISA-qualified Employer Harassment Prevention Plan (“EHP Plan”) is a new and innovative workplace harassment solution that works for everyone. This plan can be purchased and added at any time. The Work Shield solution provides an independent platform for employees to address -- and employers to prevent -- harassment issues in the workplace.

This program was created in part as a response to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement.

Women, usually the victims of sexual harassment at work, are just no longer taking the abuse. They are finding their voice, speaking up and demanding change causing human resource departments across the nation to scramble to reform their ways and find new solutions.

The movement has resulted in more workplace complaints, companies fine-tuning their policies and procedures and even developing new prevention education.

As set forth by the EEOC, more than 33 million women have experienced sexual abuse and about half of those incidents took place at work. However, that number may be low because according to the EEOC, 75 percent of workplace harassment incidents go unreported.

Most victims of workplace harassment don't report the incident because of fear - fear of not being believed, fear of retaliation, fear of losing their job, fear of being ridiculed, and fear of having the incident “swept under the rug”, among other factors. Employees rarely feel safe and protected with their employer's current sexual harassment policies and procedures.

Work Shield serves a third party that provides a safe and secure conduit between all parties involved in a workplace harassment incident. An employee who is feeling harassed can use the Work Shield platform to report the incident on a HIPAA-secured portal – both anonymously and not.

Once an incident report is filed, Works Shield and its team of experts begin an investigation that is based on listening and understanding, while finding the facts surrounding the incident.

Within 45 days, Work Shield will provide an incident report of the findings and make a qualified recommendation to the employer regarding the incident – all with compliancy, confidentiality (as it relates to keeping the matter between only those applicable parties) and sensitivity as the key components to the determination and recommendation.

The existing system of handling workplace harassment issues is broken. The only resource for employees is to file EEOC charges and even lawsuits. Oftentimes, these employees win – BIG – due to an employer not appropriately handling, investigating and procuring the right solution. Since 2010, companies have paid out nearly $700 million in settlements to victims of workplace sexual harassment.

Workplace harassment not only impacts companies through legal costs, but impacts job turnover, sick and low productivity. It is estimated that companies spend an additional $327 million –on these three issues due to workplace harassment. In total, that’s over $1 billion dollars spent on workplace harassment in the past seven years.

But for the price of a cup of coffee per employee per month, the Work Shield platform is the key to preventing and resolving workplace harassment before it gets to a hefty and costly lawsuit.

Have questions regarding Work Shield? Contact a client service team representative from The Plexus Groupe in Deer Park, Ill. (847.307.6100), Chicago (312.606.4800), Dallas (972.770.5010), or Oklahoma City (405.840.3033).

We’re here to help — and we’re happy to help.

DID YOU KNOW? Texting While Driving Deaths On The Rise

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Drunk driving is down by 65 percent since 1982, but deaths and injuries caused by distracted driving – like texting while driving – are on the rise. People are busier than ever, juggling home and work lives, managing kids' schedules and rushing from one thing to the next. It is no wonder that people use their time in the car to navigate their day -- making appointments, responding to email, returning a text -- when instead they should just navigate the road.

This wasn't always the most prevalent problem on the road. Alcohol was.

According to the National Institutes of Health, in the mid-1970s, alcohol was:

  • a factor in over 60 percent of traffic fatalities
  • involved in two-thirds of traffic deaths among persons 16 to 20
  • allowed to be purchased by anyone 18-years old.

Since then, a number of factors have been implemented to reduce drunk driving fatalities. Some of those reasons include:

  • the drinking age is now 21 in all 50 states.
  • The level at which a person can be arrested for drunk driving has dropped from a 0.10% blood alcohol content (BAC) to 0.08%
  • a zero tolerance law of 0% BAC for underage drinking have been adopted.
  • drunk driving has been stigmatized
  • the use of designated driving has been promoted.

 

According to Responsibility.org, these efforts have reduced alcohol-impaired driving fatalties by 65% since record keeping began in 1982.

But with the onslaught of cell-phone use -- over 330 billion Americans use one daily -- the statistics for distracted driving are going in the other direction.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 9 people are killed and 1,100 people are injured per day due to distracted driving and these statistics don’t include near-misses where an accident was avoided at the last second.

A number of years ago, Car and Driver magazine conducted a test that measured the reaction time of a drunk driver compared to a texting driver. The texting drivers took significantly longer to react to an alert than drivers who were legally drunk, yet texting and driving continues virtually unabated.

Despite these statistics, legal deterrents for distracted driving lag far behind those that have been implemented for drunk driving. In Illinois, the average fine for texting and driving is $75 for a first offense and little or no change in your insurance premium with most insurance companies.  Contrast this with a first-offense DUI in Illinois – A one-year suspension of your driver’s license, a fine of up to $2,500 (not counting attorney fees), and up to one year in jail.  From an insurance standpoint, a DUI may also result in non-renewal of your auto insurance, or astronomical increases in your premium combined with coverage restrictions or eliminations for up to seven years.

In order to fill this void, the insurance industry needs to get tougher on distracted driving. Awareness campaigns are a good first step, but meaningful financial penalties need to be implemented as a deterrent. Perhaps tripling a policyholder’s collision deductible for a distracted driving claim would work because it would have an immediate financial impact at the time of loss.

Have questions about your home and auto insurance coverage and want to make sure you are covered if a texting while driving accident occurs? David Miller has answers. Miller, who writes the monthly Did You Know blog, is The Plexus Groupe’s Vice President, Client Executive for Private Client Solutions. Miller can be reached by calling 846-307-6141.

Cyber attacks don't just affect computer systems. Your machinery may also be at risk.

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Cyber attacks threaten the financial stability of a company. The steep, monetary burden of a cyber attack isn't exclusively tied to damaged digital assets, lost records, and the price of investigating and reporting a breach. Damage to an organization’s physical assets can be just as harmful.

The physical damage of a cyber attack typically occurs when a hacker accesses a computer system that controls equipment. Examples include technology-based controls in a manufacturing plant, refinery or electric generating plant. After a hacker gains access to an organization’s machinery, they control it.

These types of events can lead to major disruptions and costly damages. To safeguard physical assets, it’s critical for organizations to understand the types of businesses and assets that are exposed to these attacks.

What’s at Risk?

Let's compare a cyber attacks to a natural disaster or other industrial accident. Following these kinds of incidents, organizations can incur costs to repair and replace damaged equipment in addition to any lost revenue caused by the disruption.

Unlike natural disasters, however, cyber attacks that result in physical damage aren’t limited to a geographic location and can impact an entire network. This means damages caused by a breach can be widespread, affecting multiple sectors of the economy depending on the target.

Because of this, cyber attacks that cause physical damage are often dynamic and extensive. When an attack on critical infrastructure occurs, it not only affects business owners and operators, but suppliers, stakeholders and customers.

Who’s at Risk?

Cyber attacks that cause physical damage — including the targets, assailants, motives and means of the attack — are constantly evolving.

Incidents can occur in a variety of ways, including: phishing scams, internet exchange point attacks, breaches of unsecured devices and plots carried out by rogue employees.

Many experts deem power and energy sector organizations the most at risk. However, vulnerabilities also exist in utilities, telecommunications, oil and gas, petrochemicals, mining and manufacturing, and any other sectors where industrial control systems (ICSs) are used.

ICSs are open computer systems used to monitor and control physical processes as well as streamline operations and repairs. ICSs are not often designed with security as a primary consideration. This leaves them susceptible to attack. And, for many automated processes, attacks don’t even need to cause physical damage to result in significant disruption and losses.

The targets of cyber attacks vary greatly by industry, and the damage can be extensive due to the interconnected nature of ICSs.

Real-World Examples

Organizations are not always required to report cyber attacks, so they largely go unreported. However, here are a number of high-profile incidents that demonstrate how important it is to consider infrastructure cyber exposures:

→ Ukrainian power grid attack. This was a multisite attack that disconnected seven 110 kilovolt (kV) and three 35 kV substations. The attack resulted in a power outage for 80,000 people and lasted for three hours. The attackers caused substantial, prolonged disruption to the economy and general public utilizing a phishing scam.

→ Saudi Arabian computer attacks. Hackers destroyed thousands of computers across six organizations in the energy, manufacturing and aviation industries. A simple virus stole data and then computers were wiped and bricked. Not only did this mean critical business data was lost forever, but all of the damaged computers had to be replaced — a substantial fee for businesses of any size.

→ Petrochemical plant attack. This attack targeted a Saudi Arabian petrochemical plant. The unique attack wasn’t designed to steal data, but rather sabotage operations and trigger an explosion. The only thing that prevented an explosion was a mistake in the attackers’ computer code. Had the attack been successful, the plant would likely have been destroyed and many employees could have died. Experts are concerned that similar attacks could happen across the globe.

→ Hospital ventilation attack. In this incident, a hacker was able to control a hospital’s HVAC system using malware. This attack put the safety of staff, patients and medical supplies in jeopardy, as the hacker could control the temperature of the facilities.

Cyber attacks will likely become increasingly common, as technology advances and hackers become more creative. Even more concerning is that these kinds of attacks not only endanger a company’s data, reputation and finances, but human lives as well.

How Do I Protect My Organization?

Insurance coverage for cyber attacks is still in its infancy, and your organization may have gaps in protection. Even if your property insurance policy includes physical or nonphysical damage overages, you may not necessarily be covered from first- or third-party losses from cyber attacks.

The level of protection your company has depends largely on the structure of your policies. Therefore, it’s critical for businesses to do their due diligence and understand if their policies do the following:

→ Impose any limits on coverage, particularly as it relates to physical damage of tangible property.

→ Cover an attack and any resulting damages.

→ Provide contingent coverage for attacks that aren’t specifically targeted at the organization.

There are a number of steps businesses can take by themselves to protect their physical assets. In addition to implementing a cyber risk management plan, businesses should consider the following:

→ Keep all software up to date.

→ Back up files regularly.

→ Train employees on common cyber risks and what they should do if they notice anything suspicious.

→ Review your exposures and speak with your insurance broker to discuss policy options for transferring risk.

Contact Us

Have questions about today's newsletter or other commercial insurance matters? Contact a property and casualty client executive at The Plexus Groupe at 847-307-6100, or reach out via the Web.

Disclaimer and publishing credit: This Risk Insights is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice. © 2018 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

Plexus Hires Christa Oldham as Vice President, Client Executive in Employee Benefits

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CHICAGO -- The Plexus Groupe hires Christa Oldham as Vice President, Client Executive in Employee Benefits. She will be based out of the national insurance brokerage and risk management consultancy firm's Chicago office. Christa brings nearly two decades of employee benefits consulting and brokerage success to The Plexus Groupe. The Plexus Groupe hires Christa Oldham because she has executed numerous high-level benefits initiatives. She has expertise creating, developing, and deploying strategies that positively impact clients and their employees. She will be responsible for personally managing a portfolio of clients.

“The Plexus Groupe hires Christa Oldham to fill a niche area with her strengths,” said John Dwyer, Plexus Senior Vice President. “Her impressive scope of experience and ability to build client relationships makes her a great addition to our firm. She will be a big part of our efforts as we continue to grow our presence in the greater Chicagoland area.”

WHO IS THE PLEXUS GROUPE?

The Plexus Groupe offers expertise in employee benefits, property and casualty, corporate retirement plans, personal lines insurance, human resources administration/consulting. It also offers benefits technology services and mergers and acquisitions. Additionally, the Plexus Global Network gives clients access to insurance placement in 130 countries around the world. The Plexus Groupe's headquartered in Deer Park, Ill., with additional locations in Chicago, Dallas, and Oklahoma City.

For more information on Plexus’s strategic insurance solutions, contact the firm at 847-307-6100 and ask to speak to a client executive or visit PlexusGroupe.com.

Plexus Introduces 2018 Summer Internship Program

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Deer Park, IL, April 18, 2018. -- The Plexus Groupe, a national insurance brokerage, is proud to introduce its Summer Insurance Internship Program. The Insurance Internship Program allows students entering their junior or senior year in Fall 2018 to apply. Interns will gain valuable real-world business and insurance experience in a workplace environment annually honored as one of the "Best Places to Work in Insurance" by Business Insurance magazine and Best Companies Group. The firm seeks a pair of interns for its Deer Park, Ill. office. It also looks to fill one position in its Dallas office. The paid insurance internship program runs from Monday, June 11 through Friday, August 3.

"We're excited for the launch of our insurance internship program," said Stephanie Martinez, Plexus VP of Human Resources. "It's a wonderful opportunity for students pursuing a career in insurance, a fast-paced field that employs three million nationwide. Also, a field that is undergoing considerable change because of technology. These are exciting times for our firm and we are looking forward to working with these students."

Internship Qualifications

In order to qualify for a Plexus insurance internship, candidates must have a 3.0 GPA or higher. Candidates will preferably major in Risk Management, Insurance, Human Resources, Business, or Finance. Employee Benefits will have two internships open: one in Deer Park, one in Dallas. One intern will work with Plexus's Property & Casualty team in Deer Park.

The Plexus Groupe will nominate interns for the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers' Scholarship. This will give them a chance to win $5,000 towards their college educations.

Who is The Plexus Groupe

Plexus offers expertise in employee benefits, property and casualty, corporate retirement plans, personal lines insurance, human resources administration / consulting, benefits technology services, and mergers and acquisitions. In each of the last eight years, the firm has been honored as one of the "Best Places to Work in Insurance" by Business Insurance magazine and Best Companies Group. Headquartered in suburban Chicago (Deer Park), Plexus also has offices in Chicago (Loop), Dallas and Oklahoma City.

For more information on Plexus's 2018 Summer Internship Program, please contact the firm at 847-307-6100 and ask to speak to a Human Resources team member, or visit the firm's Career Opportunities page to apply.

Why checking your homeowners insurance should be a rite of spring

Double-checking your homeowners insurance probably isn’t on many spring to-do lists. But it should be.

That’s the advice from David Miller, Vice President and risk management expert at Plexus Private Client Solutions, a suburban Chicagoland personal insurance agency protecting the life’s work of successful families and individuals with tailored home, auto, and umbrella coverage solutions.

In his recent article, “Eight Things That Might Surprise You About Your Home Insurance Policy,” Miller highlights some hot-button issues for homeowners, including:

Your home may be underinsured. Via Consumer Reports, which cited data from analytics firm CoreLogic, three out of every five homes are 20% underinsured on average. In the case of a total rebuild, this could leave homeowners left to pick up the pieces — while also picking up the check.

Take a look at your deductible, because it may have changed. Miller, who has more than two decades of insurance experience, cautions homeowners to be aware of wind and hail deductibles. These have been on the rise, with an uptick in roof-related claims particularly an issue. An insurance company can only change your coverage at renewal; make sure to read the fine print. Your agent can help.

Do not assume you have sump pump failure coverage. Most insurance companies will exclude this damage as a cause of loss. However, you can usually buy back a limited amount of coverage. Writes Miller: “Even if you have an unfinished basement, the costs associated with a sump pump/sewer claim might surprise you.”

For more information on the home and personal insurance expertise offered by Plexus Private Client Solutions, contact David Miller at 847-307-6100, or visit plexusgroupe.com. The firm's located at 21805 W. Field Parkway, Suite 300, in Deer Park, Illinois.

About Plexus Private Client Solutions

The personal insurance practice of national insurance brokerage The Plexus Groupe LLC, Plexus Private Client Solutions delivers a superior client experience and comprehensive personal insurance for successful individuals and families, including auto, home, and umbrella coverage. Our experienced, dedicated team takes a consultative approach to your personal risk management needs. For more information on Plexus Private Client Solutions, contact the firm at 847.307.6100 or via the Web.