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The 9 biggest announcements from life and health insurers this week

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Moore Communications Group (MCG), an integrated communications firm, has acquired Denver-based Financial Social Media (FSM), a social media firm. Founded in 2010 by Amy McIlwain, a social media expert, speaker and author, FSM specializes in digital and social strategy execution and training in the financial services industry. The firm has a deep understanding of Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) compliance requirements, and has worked with clients such as Jackson National Insurance, Transamerica Financial Advisors, LPL Financial, Lincoln Financial Distributors and others. With this acquisition, MCG expands its reach in the financial sector and establishes a stronger presence in the west with a new location in Denver. Amy McIlwain will continue to lead as vice president of social and digital strategy.  

InforcePRO announced that it has raised seven figures in private equity for what it says is a comprehensive platform for managing the 500M+ inforce life insurance policies globally. InforcePRO’s features include policy data standardization and feeds, 40 years of historical contract knowledge, and the first automated multi-carrier comparison quoting. The tool looks to manage “orphaned” policyholders — those without an agent — and those with an agent who doesn’t have the technology to regularly communicate with them about policy provisions, market changes, and price improvements. InforcePRO provides inforce management software to some of the largest IMOs, BGAs, and carriers with significant orphan books of business. Clients range from ScotiaBank, Canada’s third largest bank, to over 100 BGAs and the top IMOs in the United States, covering a broad array of use cases.

Ohio National Financial Services announced record capital growth, assets under management and sales, including an unequalled industry record in individual life insurance sales performance. According to a press release, some of the company highlights from its 2014 results are a record-breaking $150.7 million of new annual premium reported for individual life insurance, up 11.3 percent from 2013, total assets under management reached $41.4 billion, increasing 6.6 percent, and equity capital (including mark-to-market) was a record-breaking $2.2 billion, an increase of 12 percent.

LTCI Partners, a brokerage general agency specializing in long-term care insurance, has added critical illness insurance to its portfolio of long term care planning solutions. Critical illness protection, a popular benefit overseas for many years, is gaining momentum in the U.S. market due to a variety of converging forces, including health care reform. Critical illness insurance can be used as a supplement to disability insurance. It pays a lump sum upon diagnosis of certain conditions, such as cancer, a heart attack or stroke, making it possible to provide benefits for non-working spouses and access to experimental medical treatments. LTCI Partners will offer advisors a range of critical illness products from a variety of carriers to allow for different options when financial planning with their clients.

MetLife announced the launch of its new FlexChoice guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefit (GLWB) rider, which is available with the company’s flagship variable annuities. This new option is designed to provide clients guaranteed lifetime income with an opportunity to benefit from market growth, while offering flexibility should their financial needs change. Clients who elect the FlexChoice rider can benefit from market growth and are guaranteed to receive lifetime income, even if market declines or withdrawals reduce their account value to zero. FlexChoice is unique in the industry as a GLWB rider in that it does not require the client to elect coverage of one person or two spouses at issue. Additional features include the opportunity for clients to start and stop withdrawals at any time without losing their ability to receive lifetime income, and the ability to cancel the rider if their needs change and receive a return of their purchase payments, adjusted for any withdrawals. An optional death benefit can also be elected for an additional charge for those who seek added protection for their heirs.  

New York Life announced that the company hired 3,680 full-time agents last year, continuing its strong track record of hiring in recent years.  The company has grown its active agent force by 24 percent since 2007, and in 2015 intends to hire an additional 3,600 financial professionals, with more than half expected to be women or individuals who represent cultural communities. “New York Life agents distinguished themselves in 2014 as trusted insurance professionals committed to helping families and businesses to make the right financial decisions – and in the process produced a record fourth quarter in life insurance recurring premium sales, up 27 percent over the same period in 2013,” said Mark W. Pfaff, co-president of the Insurance and Agency Group, New York Life. “For results-driven professionals, New York Life offers a career where individuals can create their own work schedule and find pride in assisting families and businesses in their own communities.  They will also find a career that gives them support of full-time managers and trainers in every office, and the prestige of joining an agent force that has led membership in the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT)* in the United States for 60 consecutive years,” said Pfaff. For more information, please visit New York Life’s recruiting website here.

Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners (BKS-Partners) launched a new division that will work with businesses, entrepreneurs, families and successful individuals to design, procure and implement advanced life insurance and disability insurance for protection from loss of income and assets. The BKS-Partners asset and income protection business segment will design programs that respond to expected and unexpected events to ensure a client’s liquidity needs are met, business operations continue without interruption, personal and business assets are transitioned in an efficient manner and the impact of estate and business taxation are effectively minimized. Jordan Loebel, J.D. will spearhead the new offering.

Lincoln Financial Network (LFN), the retail wealth management affiliate of Lincoln Financial Group (NYSE:LNC), announced James G. Sorey has joined LFN as vice president, advisor recruitment. Reporting to Christopher W. Flint, senior vice president, and head of advisor recruitment and Lincoln Financial Securities Corporation, Sorey will be responsible for developing and implementing enterprise wide strategies and processes to increase recruitment of top-tier advisors, agents, and advisory firms across all LFN affiliation channels and further strengthen LFN’s national presence. Sorey joins Lincoln from LPL Financial, Charlotte, N.C., where he served in a variety of business development leadership roles from 2002 to 2014, including regional director, division manager, and most recently senior vice president, national sales manager for the East region.

Prudential Group Insurance, a business of Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), announced the realignment of its distribution and product management operations under James Gemus, effective immediately. Gemus’ new title is senior vice president, distribution & product management. In this new role, Gemus will have responsibility for all aspects of product strategy, product execution, distribution and account management. Gemus will be based in Roseland, NJ reporting to Prudential Group Insurance CEO Lori Fouché. Gemus joined Prudential Group Insurance in January 2007 and most recently served as senior vice president of product with overall product responsibility for life, disability, voluntary and PruBenefit Funding (non-qualified benefits), as well as responsibility for International Group Benefit Solutions and the Office of Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (OSGLI). Additional client facing appointments, reporting to Gemus, within the newly formed distribution & product management operation include: vice president Bob Lovewill become the new leader of the national accounts market segment and vice president Chuck Brousseau will lead premier accounts covering businesses with less than 5,000 employees.