IFS Financial Services is looking to ramp up bank distribution of its insurance and fund products.

The Cincinnati company gained access to New York insurance customers last year when its corporate parent, Western and Southern Life Insurance Co., bought National Integrity Life Insurance Co.

Now IFS is negotiating with four New York banks about selling its insurance products in the state, said Jim Loveridge, a senior vice president.

National Integrity brought a "pretty robust array of fixed annuities" as well as a license to sell insurance in New York, he said.

IFS has also added six members to its wholesale staff, bringing the total to 18, to expand bank distribution of its insurance and funds nationally.

The company distributed about $700 million of annuities and insurance through banks in 1999 and hopes to push that number to $1 billion in 2001, Mr. Loveridge said.

As it pushes its products in the New York retail market, support service will be handled by employees at IFS headquarters, said Mr. Loveridge, who was at National Integrity when it was acquired.

He said he would not name the four banks until the deals are complete.

IFS has distributed its products - mostly variable and fixed annuities and insurance - through banks for 10 years, Mr. Loveridge said, and will also try to expand bank distribution of insurance, annuities, and funds from affiliates that typically have not been sold through banks.

To expand bank distribution nationally the firm has added four external wholesalers and two internal wholesalers, bringing the combined total to 18. External wholesalers make contacts and try to make sales, while internal wholesalers provide support services to the salespeople, Mr. Loveridge said.

IFS is also in the early stages of a plan to expand the distribution of its Touchstone family of funds, he said. He declined to give details.

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