Charles Lowrey (Photo: Prudential)

Securities analysts have been asking executives from Prudential Financial Inc. when the company’s financial wellness outreach strategy will lead to higher sales.

Prudential announced Thursday that it is making a deal that could help convert financial wellness outreach into sales.

The Newark, New Jersey-based company has agreed to pay $2.35 billion up front to acquire Assurance IQ Inc. of Bellevue, Washington.

(Related: Prudential Names Lowrey Next CEO, and Falzon Vice Chair)

If the Assurance IQ unit meets Prudential’s growth objectives, Prudential could make up to $1.15 billion in additional stock and cash payments.

Prudential and Assurance IQ say they hope to complete the deal between Sept. 30 and end of the year.

Assurance IQ

Assurance IQ gives consumers personalized advice they can use to buy products such as life insurance entirely online.

The company operates an online insurance shopping center at NationalFamily.com. The list of carriers with products available through the site includes New York Life Insurance Company, Mutual of Omaha and American International Group Inc.

Assurance IQ can also connect consumers who want to talk to live humans with live-human agents.

Prudential and Assurance IQ say in the deal announcement that they believe many consumers now do research on their own but prefer to talk to people when they actually make purchases.

Charles Lowrey, who became Prudential’s chief executive officer in December 2018, said in a statement about the Assurance IQ deal that Prudential looks forward to the Assurance IQ team helping Prudential accelerate “the strategy and growth potential of Prudential’s financial wellness businesses, bringing us closer to more people across the entire socio-economic spectrum to better serve the full picture of their needs.”

In the future, the Assurance IQ system will offer Prudential products along with other companies’ products, the companies say.

Rowell and Paulus

Michael Rowell and Michael Paulus, the Assurance IQ co-founders, plan to stay with Prudential after the deal is completed, the companies say.

Rowell, Assurance IQ’s CEO, ran eFinancial for Fidelity Life Association of Chicago for about 14 years. He and Paulus, who came out of the venture capital industry, started Assurance IQ in 2016.

Analysts’ View

Analysts from S&P Global Ratings say the deal is different from most of the life insurance company deals that S&P rates.

“Instead of acquiring a block of business for immediate growth, PRU [Prudential] is making an investment in technological capabilities, digital distribution channels, and a low capital-intensive fee-based business,” S&P says in a comment.

Whether a hybrid digital-agent approach will increase growth is uncertain, but “an investment in such a channel may provide a longer term edge to a life insurer,” S&P says

— Read Prudential and Lincoln Were Talking to Investors. About You, on ThinkAdvisor.

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