By Cyril Tuohy
Tom Marra, president and chief executive officer of Symetra Financial, said the company would push even harder to sell fixed, indexed and single-premium annuities through banks and broker/dealers in 2014 to take advantage of rising interest rates.
“Our products are being sold in most of the major U.S. banks and several of the largest broker-dealers, and we still have a lot of runway to increase production on each of these platforms,” Marra said in an earnings conference call with analysts.
“On income annuities, we’ll drive more sales of our single premium immediate annuity (SPIA), which we sell through the same banks and broker/dealers,” he also said. “As more baby boomers look for short-term retirement income solutions, we see attractive opportunities for shorter duration single SPIAs.”
Fourth quarter sales for the company’s retirement division shot up to $818.3 million, from $358.4 million in the year-ago period, the company said. Full-year sales for the retirement unit reached $2.45 billion, up from $1.40 billion in the year ago period, the company said.
Marra also said the company would continue selling universal life (UL) insurance policies through the broker general agent (BGA) channel.
“We’re making real progress in establishing Symetra as an important UL writer,” Marra added. “Our distribution expansion efforts will center around increasing penetration of existing partners, but we also look to add partners in 2014.”
Last year, the company tripled the number of BGAs – from three to 10 – through which it sells, and Symetra plans to introduce a second UL product for broker general agents in the second half of this year, Marra said.
Individual Life Division fourth quarter sales hit $9.4 million, up from $1.3 million in the year-ago period. Full-year Individual Life Division sales reached $18.6 million, more than double the $9.1 million in the year-ago period, the company said.
Marra also said that the company relaunched its bank-sold single-premium life insurance product at the end of last year. The company will promote the product through banks and broker/dealers in 2014, he said.
Single premium life insurance policies allow policyholders to pay one premium payment in a lump sum in exchange for the guaranteed death benefit.
For the fourth quarter of 2013, the company reported income of $64.4 million, or $0.55 per diluted share, compared with $31.0 million, or $0.22 per diluted share, in the year-ago period. For full-year 2013, Symetra reported net income of $220.7 million, or $1.74 per diluted share, compared with $205.4 million, or $1.49 per diluted share, in 2012.
Cyril Tuohy is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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