Bank One Corp. has trimmed its annuity lineup a year after its merger with First Chicago NBD left it with 20 fixed and variable annuities on its menu.
"That's too many," said Tina Haza, vice president and product manager of annuities and investment life, who said the sheer number confused both employees and clients. "We like to keep our product line simple."
With a plan for six annuities, Banc One Insurance Group's new menu eliminates product redundancy, introduces some features, and serves the customer segments the bank has identified, Ms. Haza said.
The One Family of Annuities now offers fewer products drawn from several underwriters, including American General Corp., PFL Life Cos., Glenbrook Life, and Nationwide.
The idea is to have variety without dividing the pie so many times that no underwriting partner can count the relationship with Bank One as significant, Ms. Haza said. The selected underwriters had bid on the redesigned products, she said.
Bank One is among the largest bank sellers of annuities in the United States, with $675 million of sales last year. This year it is on track to double annuity sales, Ms. Haza said. She said the new lineup should figure prominently in driving sales growth.
The banking company is among the handful that have large enough volume to single-handedly move an underwriter's position in the annuity sales rankings for the bank channel, said Kenneth Kehrer, a Princeton, N.J.-based consultant who tracks annuity sales.
Allstate, for instance, charged up to fourth position in annuity sales through banks this year, from seventh at the end of last year, largely on the back of its sales through Bank One, Mr. Kehrer said.
The new product line begins with two variable annuities, and a third is to follow this fall.
This month Banc One Insurance launched its One Multi-Manager Annuity. Underwritten by American General Corp. in Houston, the variable annuity gives investors a choice of four asset allocation models or self-directed asset allocation.
Asset allocation models have been popular with investors in the One Group portfolio of funds, Ms. Haza said. She said putting an insurance wrapper around the allocation models made sense.
The One Investor annuity has been revised to offer new investment options and an initial purchase payment of $2,000. Sales of the annuity, which is underwritten by Nationwide, are expected to surpass $1 billion next month, Ms. Haza said, counting from its inception.
In November a third variable annuity, the One Income annuity, will join the menu, Ms. Haza said. Details have not been released, but Ms. Haza said it will have a feature giving customers emergency access to money in the account. The bank has also redesigned three fixed annuities.