Executives at a big seller of supplemental health insurance products talked warmly, and often, about insurance agents and brokers during the company’s latest earnings call.
The company, Aflac Inc. (NYSE:AFL), organized the call to discuss its fourth-quarter performance with securities analysts.
Aflac is a major seller of health insurance products in Japan as well as a major in the U.S. voluntary and worksite benefits markets.
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The company is reporting $2.5 billion in net income for the latest quarter on $21 billion in revenue, compared with $3 billion in net income on $23 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2014.
The drop in net income reflects the effects of the weak yen-dollar exchange rate and the cost of currency hedging. Operating earnings per share, which exclude those effects, held steady at $6.16.
At the Aflac U.S. unit, pretax operating earnings increased 18 percent, to $237 million; premium revenue increased 2.7 percent, to $1.5 billion; and new annualized sales increased 9.6 percent, to $497 million.
For a look at three things Aflac executives said about the U.S. operations that might interest agents and brokers, read on.
1. The company is trying to do a better job of building both career agent and outside broker distribution.
Executives at publicly traded major medical insurers have said little about agents and brokers during their recent earnings calls, and many of those insurers have announced agent compensation cuts.
Aflac executives referred to agents and brokers dozens of times during their earnings call.
Daniel Amos, the company’s chairman, said the Aflac U.S. unit saw 2015 as a “year of building our business through our career and broker distribution channels.”
“We not only enhanced our career sales management of infrastructure over the past year, we also set the foundation for greater opportunities within the broker market,” Amos said.
The number of agents focusing on employers with 99 or fewer employees rose 5.3 percent, and the total number of agents increased 2.5 percent, Amos said.
2. The company wants its agents and brokers to get along.
Aflac has been trying to carve out separate markets for agents and brokers, to keep them from feeling as if they are competing with each other, Amos said.