Michael J. Gilotti admits the Phoenix Companies, Hartford, Conn., is not a big player in life insurance in the bank channel at the moment. But hes looking to change that.
“Increasing sales [of life products] in banks is easy, because we dont have a strong presence there now,” Gilotti comments wryly. Phoenix promoted him in August from head of annuity sales to executive vice president of wholesaling, distribution and marketing. Part of his charge is to expand greatly upon the companys currently modest entry in the bank market.
Phoenix dipped its toe in the channel with a fixed annuity in May 2001. After gradually increasing its bank foothold in annuities, it now wants to build sales of its life products to banks affluent investors.
Phoenix has 147 wholesalers, many of whom will be working closely with banks to help them to sell its products, the executive says.
“Its not something where we are going to be satisfied with marginal increases in bank sales,” says Gilotti. “We want banks to be [an] integral part of our overall business. We decided to dedicate some resources to the task and hired some people who are truly specialists in the banking arena.”
The specialists of whom Gilotti speaks are two industry veterans hired at the end of September to fill two new corporate positions. James J. Polhemus became senior vice president and Richard Sippel was appointed vice president of bank distribution for Phoenix Home Life Variable Insurance Co., a subsidiary.
Polhemus comes to Phoenix from bank insurance consultant Strategic Financial Solutions, White Plains, N.Y., a subsidiary of the Sage Group Ltd., Johannesburg. He will be responsible for his companys overall bank strategy, including developing partnership deals with banks to sell annuities and insurance.
Sippel will be responsible for developing existing bank relationships. He had previously been a regional vice president of Keyport Life Insurance Company, a subsidiary of Sun Life Financial Services Inc., Toronto.
Phoenix already hired a number of Keyports annuity specialists late last year after Sun Life acquired Keyport.