NU Online News Service, Dec. 17, 2003, 6:02 p.m. EST – Executives at MetLife Inc., New York, say they have been trying to streamline the MetLife career agency and New England Financial distribution organizations, and to improve sales of life insurance through independent distributors.[@@]
The executives discussed distribution Tuesday at MetLife’s annual investor day conference, according to a collection of presentation materials filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
MetLife executives told investors that the company is using MetLife Financial Services career agents to sell individual products to reach “low market” and “middle market” customers; New England Financial agents to reach middle market customers, affluent customers and small business owners; and independent distributors to reach affluent customers, business owners and wealthy customers.
The MetLife Financial Services unit will end 2003 with 5,350 career agents at 129 agencies, down from more than 6,000 agents in 2001, according to a presentation prepared by Edward Reynolds, a senior vice president at the unit.
The agents earn straight commission compensation, and 91% of their sales come from sales of MetLife’s own proprietary products, Reynolds reported, according to the investor day conference materials filed with the SEC.
The MetLife Financial Services agents still get about half of their revenue from sales of life insurance, just as they did in 1999, but Reynolds’ presentation shows the agents are getting a bigger share of their revenue from sales of annuities and a smaller share from sales of mutual funds.
Reynolds reviewed MetLife’s efforts to increase the career agents’ productivity to more than $36,000 per year in annual commissions in 2004, from less than $33,000 per year in 2002.
The company has been “trimming low producers” and closing less profitable agencies. The company also plans to “limit who can recruit and who can train,” “grow our agent population more selectively” and “reduce management infrastructure,” Reynolds reported.