Magazine article American Banker

Commercial Union Steps Up Marketing through Banks

Magazine article American Banker

Commercial Union Steps Up Marketing through Banks

Article excerpt

Commercial Union Life Insurance Co. of America, which had taken a passive approach to selling annuities through banks for nearly a decade, is getting serious.

The Boston-based insurance underwriter has hired its first marketing executive to actively hawk annuities and life insurance products through banks, said James Madden, the company's president.

A subsidiary of Commercial Union Insurance Cos., London, the U.S. unit is aiming for banks to generate 20% of total sales in two years, Mr. Madden said.

The company hired Gary W. Warden in June as vice president for financial institution marketing. Mr. Warden, 45, had held a similar position for two years at Banner Life Insurance Co. in Rockville, Md.

Mr. Warden's plan is to get exclusive or priority sales arrangements with five banks that each have between $5 billion and $10 billion in assets. His mission is to get these companies each generating annually $100 million in annuity sales, and $10 million in life insurance sales.

Commercial Union was prompted to act by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in March that lifted some restrictions on bank insurance sales, he said. Since 1987 the company has made fixed annuities available to about 120 banks, but sales were nominal.

"We just sat here," Mr. Madden said. "We prided ourselves on being the best-kept secret in the industry."

Several third-party marketing firms had solicited the company for its products, and the closest the company had to a marketing executive was an ombudsman. …

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