The Holden Group, a variable annuity marketing and administration company, is reaping the rewards of receiving the, American Bankers Association's seal of approval.

The trade group named Holden its exclusive sponsored provider of annuity products to the ABA's 8,000 member banks four years ago, and new clients are still signing on.

"It's really snowballing this year," said said Michael R. McCoy, Holden's senior vice president. Since getting the ABA's blessing, 85 banks have sealed agreements with Holden and 31 of those deals have been consummated in 1993, he said.

Variable annuities are insurance products that provide an income stream, but are tax-deferred until tapped, making them even more popular since President Clinton's tax plan was passed.

Signet Bank is the most recent addition to Holden's client list. This month, Holden's subsidiary, Security First Life Insurance, allied with Signet to provide variable annuities to the bank's customers.

Foray into Midwest

The bank, which is based in Richmond, is making its Signet Select variable annuities available to customers in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.

But Los Angeles-based Holden isn't tied down to the Middle Atlantic states. It's now going after the Midwest bank market.

Holden joined forces with the Burnham Insurance Group of Battle Creek, Mich. Aug. 31 to "introduce our firm's annuity programs to the banks of Michigan," Mr. McCoy said.

d that's just a start. "Customers of America's banks are on track to buy an estimated $16 billion of annuities this year, up from $12 billion in 1992," Mr. McCoy said. "We anticipate signing another 16 banks before the end of the year."

The ABA recommendation "provides an extra level of due diligence for senior decision makers," he said. It "has done a good job in helping us open doors and getting CEOs to talk to us."

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