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Life Health > Annuities > Fixed Annuities

Pillar Life Aims to Sell Annuities Directly to Consumers

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What You Need to Know

  • Regulators have approved a Pillar Life SPIA form and a single-premium deferred annuity form.
  • It hopes to open its digital doors by April.
  • AM Best has concerns about the direct-to-consumer strategy.

Two Global Bankers Insurance Group veterans are helping to start Pillar Life Insurance — a company that hopes to begin selling non-variable annuities directly to consumers through a web-based self-service process by April 2023.

The insurer has posted guides to multi-year guaranteed annuity (MYGA) contracts and single-premium immediate annuities — or SPIA contracts — on its website.

The Interstate Insurance Compact, an organization that helps participating states review product and rate filings, has already approved Pillar Life forms for an SPIA contract and a single-premium deferred annuity contract.

Pillar Life says it also intends to offer life insurance and supplemental health insurance products.

What It Means

Your clients may soon have more ways to buy annuities on their own, without the help of any financial professional.

That might further complicate the task of going through clients’ paper and online files and finding out what they own.

The People

CEO Wilfred Romero previously was the head of risk and strategy at Global Bankers. He also spent 10 years working for New York Life and 10 years as managing director at Swiss Re.

Robert Kiesel, the chief investment officer, was global head of credit at Global Bankers’ GB Capital affiliate. He also has worked at investment firms, including at Intermediate Capital Group, a private equity firm.

Global Bankers was once controlled by Greg Lindberg’s Eli Global holding company.

Aspida Holdings acquired Global Bankers about a year ago.

Pillar Life chief operating officer Adam Litke previously served as president of Bridger Insurance Technology, and before that, as head of enterprise risk services at Bloomberg.

The Company

Romero, Kiesel, Litke and a fourth executive — John Ganter — teamed up to create Pillar Life by forming Pillar Insurance LLC and using Pillar Insurance to acquire Continental Life Insurance Company of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, from American Benefit Life Insurance Company of Dallas.

Continental Life was founded in 1957. It was not related to Continental Life Insurance Company of Tennessee, which is part of CVS Health.

Romero has a 33.3% stake in Pillar Insurance, and each of the three other top Pillar executives has a 22.2% stake, according to a Pillar Insurance acquisition approval order signed by Jessica Altman, a former Pennsylvania insurance commissioner, in December 2020.

Pillar Insurance changed Continental Life’s name to Pillar Life in February 2021.

Pillar Life started with $1.7 million in capital immediately after Pillar Insurance bought it. Pillar Insurance then invested another $20 million in the company, according to an examination report posted by Pennsylvania insurance regulators.

AM Best, an insurance rating agency, last week gave Pillar Life a financial strength rating of B+, or good.

AM Best suggested that Pillar Life has a strong balance sheet but that its direct-to-consumer distribution strategy may expose it to a high level of risk.

“This model is untested,” the rating agency said.

(Image: Adobe Stock


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