NU Online News Service, March 11, 4:33 p.m. – Lincoln Financial Corp. is changing the name of its the name of its Lincoln Annuity unit to “Lincoln Retirement” because that’s where the money is.
“There are 43 million baby boomers moving into retirement over the next 20 years, holding about $16 trillion in assets by the end of that time,” says Judimarie Thomas, a second vice president at Lincoln Retirement. “They’ve spent all this time building and accumulating and are now at the stage where they’re taking that money and are looking to invest it.”
Lincoln Retirement’s name change was spurred by the huge growth potential that Lincoln Financial foresees in the wealth accumulation and retirement income protection marketplace, Thomas says.
The Fort Wayne, Ind.-based parent company broke into the annuities market in a big way in 1997, when it bought the individual life insurance and annuities business from CIGNA Corp., Philadelphia, for $1.4 billion. The following year, it purchased the domestic individual life insurance business of another Hartford insurer, Aetna Inc., for $1 billion.
Since then, Lincoln has been making large strides. Although the company declines to cite specific variable annuity sales figures, it says VA sales for the fourth quarter of 2001 were 15% higher than VA sales for the fourth quarter of 2000. Industry figures show that most other VA manufacturers saw sales decline in late 2001 because of the stock market slump.
Thomas attributes her company’s continued success with VAs to introducing new products that consumers and brokers want, and also to developing partnerships with aggressive annuity vendors such as Wells Fargo & Company, San Francisco; American Funds Distributors, Los Angeles; and SEI Investments, Oaks, Pa.
Kenneth Kehrer Associates, the Princeton, N.J., research firm, reports that the company increased overall sales of annuities through banks 879% last year, jumping to fourth place in that channel at year end, from seventh place in the third quarter.
Much of that growth came from adding new banks to the distribution roster as well as from penetrating each bank’s customer base more deeply by adding more products, Thomas says. For instance, last year the company introduced StepFive, a fixed annuity with a five-year guarantee, just as the stock market began to become unsettled, Thomas notes.
Lincoln’s name change should help agents and other producers increase sales further by clarifying the company’s image in consumer’s minds, Thomas says.
“It increases our top-of-mind awareness among consumers, and shows we have the ability to offer a wide range of products,” Thomas says.