By Cyril Tuohy
New York Life has announced the hiring of 3,680 full-time agents in 2014, an increase of 6.4 percent over 2013.
The company also announced in a news release that it intends to hire 3,600 financial professionals this year.
New York Life did not release the company’s attrition rate.
Mark W. Pfaff, co-president of the Insurance and Agency Group, said life insurance recurring premium sales in the fourth quarter had increased by 27 percent over the year-ago period.
Individual life insurance premium in the first three quarters of 2014 dipped 1 percent over the year-ago period, according to LIMRA’s U.S. Individual Life Insurance Sales Summary Report. Third quarter figures are the latest available.
Fourth quarter and year-end 2014 life insurance sales are expected shortly.
Low interest rates have put a damper on life insurance sales in recent years, but one of the bright spots for future growth rests with the ethnic markets, many of which are growing faster rates than the overall U.S. population.
In 2039, by the time the U.S. reaches a total population of 400 million, more than one in four residents is expected to be Hispanic, up from one in seven in 2006, according to the Mark Mather and Kelvin Pollard of the Population Reference Bureau.
By 2039, the number of Asians and Pacific Islanders is expected to crest 28 million, more than double their 2006 population, the PRB also found.
Large insurance carriers like New York Life see the changes coming and are adapting their distribution channels to reflect the changes.
Pfaff, for example, said that 65 percent of the company’s new hires last year were women or agents representing ethnic markets, an increase of two percentage points over the percentage of new hires in 2013.
Agents representing cultural markets in the U.S. — including African-American, Chinese, Hispanic, Korean, South Asian and Vietnamese markets — accounted for 49 percent of the company’s new life insurance sales last year, he said.
In 2013, agents representing cultural markets in the U.S. accounted for 46 percent of the company’s new life insurance sales, the company said.
Not only is there future growth in the ethnic markets, but many ethnic markets remain underserved for their life insurance needs.
A 2014 Prudential survey of the Hispanic market found that having enough life insurance to protect family and loved ones trailed retirement savings, debt reduction, building up liquid savings and education as a near-term priority.
Among Hispanics, the “saver” mindset prevails over the protection or investment mindset. This also means that “tremendous opportunity” exists for financial advisors, according to Prudential’s “Hispanic American Financial Experience” report published last year.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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