Allianz Life has big plans to push its popular annuity products further into the advisor space.
That is one of the main goals for new president and CEO Jasmine Jirele, elevated this week to succeed Walter White as head of Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America.
"Building more of a footprint in the advisory market is clearly a focus for our distribution team," Jirele told InsuranceNewsNet.
On the product side, Allianz is coming out with a new annuity that will be marketed to advisors, she added.
"We have a product that we're developing that we'll be launching later this year that utilizes our index variable annuity chassis or concept, but it's really specifically tailored for that market," Jirele said. "And we think that will have a lot of potential for growth."
Jirele brings a lot of leadership experience to the CEO office, primarily in strategy, product innovation, marketing, operations, and digital and experience management. She has served as Allianz Life’s chief growth officer since 2018, where she is responsible for defining the company’s growth strategy, including its expansion into new markets, and leading product innovation, marketing, communications, Allianz Ventures and enterprise agile.
Annuity Sales Leader
White assumed leadership of Allianz Life in 2012. During his eight years, the company's assets under management grew from $93.9 billion to $156.6 billion.
Allianz is a powerful market leader in annuity sales. Specifically, the insurer finished 2020 ranked second to Athene in fixed index sales, and third behind Lincoln Financial and Equitable Financial in registered index-linked sales, according to LIMRA data.
The company will continue to promote both product lines, Jirele said, with tweaks here and there. Projected sales are definitely more promising for Allianz’s Index Advantage registered index-linked annuity. Allianz is pursuing new distribution opportunities with broker-dealers, in particular, she added.
The popular Index Advantage contract promises to protect investors from the first 10% of losses and caps the S&P 500’s return at 20%. RILAs are perhaps the lone bright spot among annuity sales numbers. In 2020, RILA sales were $24 billion, up 37% from 2019 sales, LIMRA reported, representing a nearly quarter of all VA sales during the year.
"We certainly see increased momentum in the RILA market," Jirele said. "And we've continued to invest in enhancements in our products that position well among competitors and will allow us to continue to capture market share."
The FIA market is likely to take longer to bounce back in a low-interest-rate environment, she acknowledged. LIMRA is predicting that FIA sales resume a pre-pandemic growth trend late in 2022. Introduced in 2020, the Allianz Benefit Control FIA is a good fit for the current market, Jirele said.
'There Is Still Demand'
The Benefit Control FIA gives the owner the ability to begin income on any monthly contract anniversary after age 50, with no minimum waiting period. In addition, while the client is accumulating assets, they can choose between two options for how to grow the contract’s “protected income value.”
"When we launched that product last year, it actually ended up becoming the fastest-growing FIA that we've launched in our company's history," Jirele said. "So I think that does demonstrate that there is still demand for the principal protection that those products offer."
Before re-joining Allianz Life in 2018, Jirele was an executive vice president within Wells Fargo's Consumer Bank division, and was previously a senior vice president in Wells Fargo's Wealth and Investment Management division. She also held various leadership roles in marketing, product innovation and operations at Allianz Life.
Jirele is the first woman to head up Allianz Life, and a commitment to expanding diversity at the company is one of her goals.
"I have it in my role to really help continue to create opportunities for that next generation of leaders and really continue to make a place that is welcoming and fostering a great network of women who are really proud to be part of our culture," she said.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @INNJohnH.
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