The staying power of Ibexis and its annuity products for securing retirement.
Introducing innovative features and seamless experiences.
Ibexis Life & Annuity Insurance Company is a Missouri domiciled insurer offering fixed annuity products in 43 States and the District of Columbia. It was formerly a subsidiary of Kansas City Life Insurance Company. In September, it launched a multi-year guaranteed annuity (“MYGA”) called MYGA Plus. Ibexis is currently writing business through nine independent marketing organizations. The Company has hired a management team made up of industry veterans that have demonstrated success growing and running fixed annuity companies. We recently spoke to Nate Gemmiti, Chief Executive Officer & President, and Ryan Lex, its Chief Distribution Officer.
What is the story behind the inception of Ibexis?
NG: The company was formed in 1937 in Washington State as Sunset Life. It had a long history of issuing various types of life and health products throughout much of the United States. In 2021, with equity from Investcorp, it was purchased and renamed Ibexis Life & Annuity Insurance Company. Ibexis now has a new management team focused on launching fixed annuity products. We have an A- (Excellent) rating from AM Best with a stable financial rating outlook.
RL: We also recently launched our MYGA Plus product with a number of independent marketing organizations and will release our FIA in the coming months. With our strong ratings and unique product features, we’re confident that Ibexis will help increase consumer value and interest into the fixed annuity market.
Tell me about the relationship with Investcorp? Who are they?
NG: Investcorp is a nearly $43 billion global alternative asset manager with a 40+ year track record. Over the years, they have owned a number of brands names, such as Tiffany & Company, Gucci, Saks Fifth Avenue, and my person favorite, Carvel Ice Cream. Investcorp has an insurance focused asset management business led by Todd Fonner, the former Chief Investment Officer for Blackstone’s insurance solutions platform. The entity serves as the asset manager of Ibexis. Having access to Investcorp’s financial support, institutionalized platform and asset management expertise across asset classes allows Ibexis to maintain financial stability and offer strong crediting rates.
I noticed a number of familiar names on your management team and Board of Directors. Can you tell me more about the team?
NG: At the end of the day, as an insurance company helping individuals retire with financial security, we are in the trust and relationship business. It was important for me that our team members have both skill and integrity and we’ve accomplished just that with individuals from well-known entities such as Athene, Nationwide and Transamerica, but also Big-4 audit firms, leading actuarial firms and a regulator. I feel fortunate to work with each of them, and am proud of how well-rounded we are collectively.
It is a competitive market? How is Ibexis looking to be different in the annuity space?
RL: Other recent market entrants have shown that there is room in the growing annuity market for a well-rated insurer that offers good products, competitive rates and a smooth agent and client experience. Ibexis built a technology-heavy agent experience with no paper applications, e-delivery of applications and a variety of automated process – we’re meeting the needs of consumers at every phase. Our MYGA Plus product also has some easy-to-understand, yet innovative features that aim to create greater value for our policyholders.
I have read some press on the MYGA Plus. It looks interesting. Tell me more about it and how it is being positioned by agents?
RL: At its core, the MYGA Plus works just like a traditional MYGA. It offers a strong fixed rate for a set duration. It has 10% free liquidity after the first year, annuitization options and a death benefit included. The Plus bucket is where it gets interesting. A client may, at their option, put up to 50% of their initial premium in an event linked bucket that pays the client a substantially higher fixed rate if the S&P 500 goes up in any annual period. If the S&P 500 goes up at all, the client gets 100% of the full fixed rate. The Plus bucket fixed rate is guaranteed for the entire initial term of the contract. So far, the reception has been fantastic! Even if a client doesn’t choose the feature, advisors like presenting our product because it’s different and gives them the option to enhance from the traditional base product offering.
There are several new competitors in the annuity space. Are you concerned about the impact on the opportunity for Ibexis?
NG: Competition is good for the industry. It pushes product innovation and keeps rates competitive. It also gets the message out more broadly to the public that a fixed annuity can be an excellent investment option for someone that wants safety of principal and good returns as compared to other similar investment choices.
RL: The market is experiencing incredible growth across all fixed product types as an aging client base demands safety in a volatile investment market. There is broad need for financially strong insurers with good product and rates. We are proud to be part of an industry that serves financial advisors and those saving for retirement.
What is your commitment to your distribution partners?
RL: We recently launched with limited distribution and nine of the most highly reputable IMO partners. We felt that this limited approach was the best way to ensure that we give “high touch” service to each IMO partner along with their agents and advisors. This approach helps to ensure that in a time of growth, we are still able to act like a true partner and not just use it as a term.
Having a limited group at launch helps ensure that we offer great service, receive feedback and implement positive change on behalf of the partner.
“Given our asset manager’s expertise, lack of legacy business and tech-focused platform, we also expect to continue to offer very competitive rates to clients.”
What are your future plans for Ibexis?
NG: Over the years, we have all seen some insurers come and go. Maybe it’s because they aren’t offering annuities any longer, commitment to certain distribution channels waivers or their product offering falls out of favor. We are here to stay. Ibexis is financially strong and has a large institutional equity partner to support its growth. We intend to continue to enhance our existing distribution relationships and thoughtfully build additional relationships. We will continue to offer innovative features, as well as traditional products. Given our asset manager’s expertise, lack of legacy business and tech-focused platform, we also expect to continue to offer very competitive rates to clients. Finally, we will be a dependable counterparty for each and every advisor or client that chooses to trust us with their business.
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