NU Online News Service, Nov. 10, 2003, 6:29 p.m. EST – The same ease of online processing that AnnuityNet Inc. and Info-One/VARDS brought to annuity sales will ultimately extend to 529 plans, mutual funds and even life insurance, says Shane Chalke, president of Finetre Corp., a Herndon, Va., software and research firm.
Finetre is the new incarnation of AnnuityNet/VARDS, a name the company used briefly after AnnuityNet bought Info-One/VARDS in June from a unit of Wachovia Corp., Charlotte, N.C.
Terms of the sale are not available, but Chalke says Wachovia owns a “significant minority position” in Finetre.
The new corporate moniker is the result of an employee contest to name the company. The winning entry combined the word “finance” with the French word “etre,” meaning “to be.”
“The name signifies a company going forward,” says Chalke.
The old AnnuityNet, which Chalke founded in 1997, originally focused on developing a Web-based system for selling and servicing annuities to consumers through online brokers. When it became apparent consumers wouldn’t buy annuities without the help of a live broker or dealer, the company decided in 2002 to market its Web-based annuity sales system to banks and brokers. Since the company changed its focus, the system has gone from handling virtually no sales to handling more than 30,000 transactions a month.
Then, in June, AnnuityNet purchased Info-One/VARDS.
Although the companies had different customers, both AnnuityNet and Info-One dealt with the same set of carriers, Chalke explains. VARDS was better known as an information service than as a trading business, and VARDS is widely used by producers who are comparing annuities.