Sometime next year, Comerica's Texas subsidiary is expected to rename its group of five annuities to get the bank's name in the title.
The name of the annuities group, which has yet to be determined, is all that will change. The products, developed by Life Insurance Company of the Southwest, or LSW, and managed by the insurance carrier, will remain exactly the same.
They are now called LSW Select Annuity Series, after the Dallas-based carrier. But Comerica of Texas hopes that by affixing its name to the annuities-and transforming them into private-label products-they will be more attractive to customers who know and trust the Comerica name and the bank's products.
"This will fit with the full Comerica spectrum of products," said Mike Bartlett, senior managing director of Comerica Securities, Detroit.
"It will allow (customers) to buy the product from us," he added, emphasizing the last word.
Comerica of Texas, based in Dallas, is not alone in seeking to use its name to get its customers to buy annuities that are developed and managed by another company.
Dozens of banks have trotted out private-label annuities in the past five years, said David Shapiro, a consultant in Los Gatos, Calif.
As the regulatory climate grows more conducive to banks' selling insurance, they are looking for ways to successfully compete, he said.
Two prominent examples of banks with fixed-label annuities are First Union, of Charlotte, N.C., which offers products developed by Western National Life, Houston; and Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., which offers annuities developed by American Enterprise Life, Minneapolis.
Valerie Jordan, a consultant in Belchertown, Mass., said the logic of private labels is simple.
"You're trying to tie the customer more closely to you by trading off your name," she said.
Because naming annuities after a bank is time consuming because of the regulatory paperwork required in Texas, Comerica decided to launch the product first and change the name later.
The LSW Select Annuity Series comprises five products consisting of fixed-rate annuities and equity-indexed annuities; each is tailored to fit a particular customer profile.
David Sanderford, LSW managing president, said the company is banking on the popularity of private labels for its success.
One of the attractive features of the arrangement is that banks pick up the marketing and distribution costs. There is no haggling over who contributes to those aspects of the business, he said. u