GNA Corp., eager to leverage its footing with banks, will be out this month Mth its first proprietary variable annuities.
The GNA Power Portfolio annuities will invest in four mutual funds managed by the Seattle investment products marketing firm and four others overseen by its sister company, GE Investments.
The annuity also will offer a fixed-rate investment option with maturity dates ranging from one to 10 years. GNA, already one of the biggest sellers of mutual funds and annuities through banks, will make the Power Portfolio available to existing clients and other financial institutions, company executives say.
The new products represent "a significant broadening" of GNA's product line, said GNA president Patrick E. Welch.
Until now, GNA has had its own line of fixed annuities for banks, but has not offered proprietary variable annuities, relying instead on other insurers.
Annuities are insurance contracts whose tax-deferred returns make them popular with people planning for retirement.
Fixed annuities offer set returns, much like certificates of deposit. Payouts on variable annuities fluctuate according to the value of an underlying pool of mutual funds.
GNA has been spreading its wings as a product manufacturer since last year, when the company was acquired by GE Capital, a unit of General Electric Co.
GNA rolled out its own family of mutual funds last spring, and now will be launching the proprietary annuities.
Mr. Welch believes GNA's role as a manufacturer enhances the company's relationships with banks, since both organizations serve customers long after the product sale is made.
"GNA has the same goals as the banks - to establish and strengthen customer relationships," he said.
St'all, the company must tread carefully to avoid giving banks the impression that proprietary products are being pushed over other offerings that might be more appropriate, industry observers say. GNA also has its work cut out to make a name for its annuities in a market that's crowded with other products and distribution methods. observers say.
"They would have some leverage through their existing clients," said Gary Scott, a managing consultant in the bank practice of Towers Perrin, Chicago.
"But it all depends how they position the products," Mr. Scott said.