NU Online News Service, Dec. 11, 3:00 p.m. – Minnesota Life Insurance Company, Saint Paul, is launching an annuity distribution and sales drive that it says could lead to $1 billion in annuity sales in four years.

“Annuities are a scale and risk management business,” says Kerry Geurkink, director of the company’s annuity marketing. “Minnesota Life very much understands the risk management side. We currently are recruiting a team of wholesalers who will help us increase our scale by expanding our distribution system.”

Minnesota Life has a nationwide network of more than 1,000 financial advisors to distribute its products. That network was branded for the first time in May as Securian Financial Network, whose advisors sell products from other manufacturers as well as its own. Minnesota Life says it will distribute its products through additional outlets outside of its wholesaler network.

“We need more than the Securian Financial Network to grow the scale of our annuity business,” says Geurkink. “But expanded distribution will make the network more effective by providing more market-standard products and services to sell and increasing the Minnesota Life brand penetration.”

Minnesota Life says it plans to have a wholesaling team of 20 professionals–10 internal and 10 external–by the end of 2003, with a goal of selling $1 billion in annuities by the end of 2005.

The company offers a variety of variable, fixed and immediate annuities with investment options from Franklin Templeton, Credit Suisse, Warburg Pincus, Janus, Fidelity, and Advantus Capital Management. Geurkink says Minnesota Life plans to introduce a series of new annuity products in coming years.