Wells Fargo & Co. is restructuring its investment product lineup by launching four new proprietary fixed annuities.
The products, which include an unusual annuity that gives investors a potential bonus rate, were rolled out at Wells' California branches yesterday. The annuities will be introduced outside the state in August.
Wells had sold only other companies' annuities, including those of Lincoln National Life Co. and Alexander Hamilton Life Insurance Co.
Elizabeth Evans, executive vice president of Wells' investment services group, said Wells brokers will now offer only the proprietary products, as part of a plan to "have a Wells Fargo solution for every one of our customers' needs." "Before, we had a selection of three fixed annuities, but there wasn't much difference between them," she said. The new annuities "fill particular niches for our customers."
Wells has a long history of selling mostly proprietary investments; most of the mutual funds it sells are from its own Stagecoach Funds complex. Last summer it introduced a variable annuity underwritten by American Skandia.
The company's new annuities include the Stagecoach Advantage Annuity, which has a higher-than-average rate; the Stagecoach Flexible Annuity, which allows some early withdrawals without penalties; the Stagecoach Foundation Annuity, a no-frills fixed annuity; and the Stagecoach Index Annuity.
Indexed annuities protect principal but can earn a bonus rate because they invest in products that seek to match or exceed a financial market index - the Standard & Poor's 500 index, in Wells' case. Keyport Life Insurance Co. underwrites the indexed annuity for Wells.
Kenneth Kehrer, a Princeton, N.J.-based consultant, said indexed annuities have had "tremendous growth for a product category, at a time when sales of fixed annuities are flat."
Wells is one of the biggest sellers of annuities among banks, having booked $550 million in premiums last year, Mr. Kehrer said.