While competitors are completing block purchases of captive agents, Penn Mutual Insurance is expanding via its traditional hub-and-spoke model – recently adding three new offices.
The new managing partners are: Dewane Lewis Jr., in Nashville, Tenn., Scott Stone in Kansas City, Mo., and Danny J. Noles in Birmingham, Ala., announced Penn Mutual, a Horsham, Pa.-based seller of life, annuity and financial planning products and services.
“We normally would not put three agencies on in 30 days, but they approached us and we had great conversations,” said Bill Stevens, vice president of career agency distribution at Penn Mutual.
Penn Mutual, ended 2015 with about 800 career agents and hopes to end 2016 with over 900 agents, Stevens said.
The 170-year-old carrier operates its captive distribution channel using the hub-and-spoke model, which means that Lewis, Stone and Noles will each have responsibility for growing their respective territories by hiring other managers and agents.
Each of the three is expected to oversee the hiring of about 10 to 20 advisors a year as each executive expands his location, Stevens said.
A Kansas City native, Stone previously headed northeast life insurance sales at Prudential Financial. Noles is a former managing director with American International Group, Penn Mutual said.
With a presence in 23 hubs and 48 locations around the country, Penn Mutual hopes to grow its career agency force to between 25 and 30 hubs and more than 60 locations around the country over the next four years, Stevens said.
Block Buy Not a Preferred Strategy
Four years ago, Penn Mutual had 18 career agencies in 30 hub-and-spoke locations, and the average age of a career producer was 56. Today the average age of a Penn Mutual career agent is 47, and most agents in the career channel are millennials, Stevens said.
In addition to career agents, Penn Mutual works with about 5,000 independent producers to distribute life, annuity and financial planning products through affiliates. They include a wholly-owned broker-dealer Hornor, Townsend & Kent, a regional securities broker-dealer Janney Montgomery Scott, and its registered investment advisor (RIA) Penn Mutual Asset Management.
In last five years, Penn Mutual has opened two offices in California and Stevens said the company could use more offices in “parts of the heartland” and closer to the Rocky Mountains.
Penn Mutual, with a reputation for being patient and paying close attention to the tight cultural fit of its distribution force, isn’t inclined to purchase a block of advisors. MassMutual went that route last month when it added about 4,000 agents belonging to MetLife’s U.S. retail distribution force.
Penn Mutual isn’t against a block purchase, only that the carrier remains protective of its distribution culture and prefers to bring agents on one by one in a deliberate and controlled manner as the insurer seeks to solidify its national footprint, Stevens said.
A block buy “may not match what you are looking for,” Stevens said.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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