Despite a modest start, the Phoenix Companies, Hartford, expects banks to grow into a significant marketing channel for its financial products, an company executive says.[@@]
Phoenix has been in the bank market for over 2 years, so financial institutions have yet to become a major channel for the company, acknowledges Mark Tully, its senior vice president for annuity distribution and sales. In fact, the company’s sales in banks suffered a setback last year when it dropped its line of fixed annuities, a favorite product of bank customers, after Phoenix decided FAs were too capital intensive and unprofitable at a time of low interest rates.
The company now is building its bank strategy on variable annuities, life insurance and mutual funds.
In April, it plans to introduce a simplified version of its Edge variable universal life policy, emphasizing retirement income rather than a death benefit, Tully says. Because it would provide advisors and clients with an underwriting decision within as little as an hour or two, it should be especially attractive to banks. The product could be purchased over 5 to 7 years or funded with a single-premium immediate annuity if desired.
Phoenix currently offers 4 deferred VAs and 1 immediate VA in the bank channel. In or around June, it expects to launch a VA that will allow a great deal of flexibility in designing the product to client needs, a feature designed to appeal to the bank market. Its benefits would include changeable benefits and surrender charge periods and a choice between living or death benefits, Tully explains.