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New York Life to post record dividends

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Riding strong sales across all of its product lines, New York Life Insurance Co. will post a record dividend payout in 2014, the company announced on Thursday.

The New York-based mutual insurer plans to pay $1.4 billion in dividends to its participating policyholders next year. The total reflects a $109 million or (for the second consecutive year) 8 percent increase over the $1.3 million recorded in 2012.

“Our dividends and sales reflect the diversity and strength of the company,” says Mark Pfaff, executive vice president in charge of agency at New York Life. “We have a remarkably strong capital surplus, good investment experience and ancillary businesses.”

Individual recurring premium life insurance sales through agents are up 12 percent through the third quarter compared with the same period in 2012. The company attributes the rise to robust demand for the company’s permanent products, including whole life, universal life and variable universal life products.

“We’re seeing the most significant demand for the company’s whole life solutions — our most popular product line,” says Pfaff. “Our VUL products, which now boast asset allocation, guaranteed accumulation and waiver of premium riders, also are enjoying greater growth in percentage terms, though off a smaller base.”

New York Life’s sales of guaranteed income annuity products, including single premium immediate annuities and the company’s deferred income annuity (Guaranteed Future Income Annuity) increased 17 percent through the third quarter compared with the same period in 2012. Total annuity sales through all channels are up 36 percent compared with the same period of 2012.

Pfaff says that New York Life will secure this year more than $3 billion in variable annuity premium sold through agents — a first for the company. This product line is up 23 percent year-to-date. The company also projects a record $1.7 billion in agent sales of income annuities in 2013.

The mutual insurer also boasts strong sales through its cultural markets. Agents serving the African-American, Chinese, Hispanic, Korean, South Asian and Vietnamese markets in the U.S. produced 46 percent of the company’s new life insurance policies this year.

In addition, sales through New York Life Direct rose by 5 percent over the same period last year. New York Life Direct includes the AARP Operation, the exclusive provider of life insurance and lifetime income annuities to AARP’s 37 million members. New York Life has been offering life insurance to AARP members since 1994 and lifetime income annuities to AARP members since 2006.

Sales of New York Life’s MainStay family of mutual funds increased by 78 percent to a record $22.5 billion through the third quarter, compared with the same period a year ago, the company reports. 

“Consistent investment performance across the fund family is helping to drive the exceptionally strong mutual fund sales, particularly in funds seeking capital appreciation, which remain in high demand from customers,” the company notes in its press statement.

New York Life’s operations in Mexico, Seguros Monterrey New York Life, had a strong first nine months with 10 percent sales growth compared with the same period last year. To maintain its sales momentum, the insurer recruited 2,246 new agents through the third quarter. New York Life is on pace to make this year the seventh consecutive year the company has hired more than 3,200 agents. Over that period the company’s agent force has grown 16 percent.

“Our total agent workforce has grown by 16 percent over the last six to seven years,” says Pfaff. “And our four-year agent retention rate hovers between 15 and 17 percent — among the highest in the industry. “Our goal is to retain 20 percent of our freshman class four years out,” he adds. “I’m very confident that we’ll be able to reach this benchmark.”