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Principal Says Advisors Help in the Small-Group Market

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A good relationship with brokers and advisors in the small employer benefits market should help Principal Financial Group Inc. continue to increase sales in that market.

Amy Friedrich, the head of the Des Moines, Iowa-based company’s U.S. insurance solutions unit, gave that assessment Wednesday, in a conference call with securities analysts that was streamed live on the web.

In the market for benefits for smaller employers, “there are some dynamics there that serve as natural gates that keep some of our competitors out of there,” Friedrich told the securities analysts.

Resources

  • The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Fast Search company filing search tool is available here. Enter the company’s stock symbol (such as, PFG for Principal) in the search form to see the official earnings filings.
  • An article about Principal’s latest numbers is available here.

An insurer in the large-case market may have to administer coverage for just 1,000 cases per year, Friedrich said.

In the small-case market, she said, an insurer has to be prepared to administer coverage for 10,000 separate cases per year.

“We’ve built a system that works for that footprint,” Friedrich said. “We have the underlying technology, and we have an awesome sales force. I would argue that some of the relationships we have with brokers who serve those markets have helped us establish really deep and strong relationships there.”

Principal held the call to go over earnings for the fourth quarter of 2019 with the analysts. The company has posted a recording in the investor relations section of its website.

Secure Act Opportunities

Principal executives also talked about the possible effects of the new Secure Act on sales of retirement plans to small and midsize employers.

The new law and new regulations will encourage employers to join together to offer multiple employer plans (MEPs).

Dan Houston, the company’s chief executive officer, said that he thinks the MEPs will appeal to some small employers, but that many of the employers that already have plans will prefer the flexibility they can get by offering their own single-employer plans.

Renee Schaaf, the head of the company’s retirement and income solutions unit, said she thinks most of the MEP users will be employers with new plans, but that some employers with existing plans may switch to MEPs to address fiduciary liability concerns.

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