NU Online News Service, May 13, 2:23 p.m.– New York
Four insurance company chief executive officers gave the career agency system mixed reviews here at a panel discussion organized by PricewaterhouseCoopers L.L.P., New York.
Edward Zore, president and CEO of Northwestern Mutual Insurance Company, Milwaukee, and Sy Sternberg, chairman, president and CEO of New York Life Insurance Company, New York, affirmed their support for the career agency system.
Northwestern gets more than 85% of its business from its career agency system, according to Zore, and Sternberg says New York Life views its career agency distribution system as its “chief distribution system.”
The disastrous end to the do-it-yourself financial services movement of the 1990s has emphasized the importance of the experienced career agent, Zore said.
Although New York Life gets more than 5,000 life applications a week through a direct-marketing relationship with the American Association of Retired Persons, Washington, Sternberg also emphasized the value of career agents.
“By any benchmark, there is no more effective distribution system than a well-managed career agency system,” Sternberg said.
Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, gets 80% of its business from career agents, according to Joseph Sargent, the company’s chairman.
Two-thirds of the career agency business comes from clients with incomes of $100,000 and over.
But Sargent expressed a pragmatic attitude about the value of the career agency system.