Now that Lincoln National Corp. has agreed to sell its reinsurance unit to Swiss Re, it can concentrate on offering retail financial products and services to the wealthy.
The sale, announced Monday and set to be completed next quarter, would let the Philadelphia company complete its transition from the multiline insurer we were in the early 1990s to what we are now a business focused on wealth management services, said president and chief executive Jon Boscia.
The $2 billion that New York-based Swiss Re has agreed to pay for the unit would give Lincoln National several options, according to Mr. Boscia. He said that trust services which several insurance companies are exploring are a possibility but that banking products are not.
We have no interest in moving into general banking, where the primary products are checking accounts and home mortgages, he said.
Stockbrokers are Lincoln Nationals top distribution channel, but banks and independent financial planners are its fastest-growing channels. Were offering financial planning through all of them, Mr. Boscia said.
Ann G. Perry, vice president and senior credit officer of the life insurance group at Moodys Investors Service in New York, said that any company targeting high-net-worth clients should have a trust services arm.
Having a trust capability is important, because youre keeping the money in the family, Ms. Perry said. It would be advantageous for Lincoln National to be able to offer the services, which include estate planning and putting life insurance into a trust, instead of handing the customer off to a bank, she said. Keep it all cemented to the insurer.
The company could also buy a small provider of variable annuities to build mass, Ms. Perry said.
A lot of smaller annuity providers are deciding that if they cant build mass its probably not worth staying in the market, she said. If a small company decides to get out, Lincoln can buy them. But, she added, $2 billion doesnt go as far as it used to.
Mr. Boscia did not rule out acquiring an annuity, life insurance, or money market account provider or we can use the money to continue to build our distribution, he said.
Weve reached the goal of being an asset accumulation and financial planning company, he said. The upper-class market is a place that a lot of companies aspire to be, but not very many have made inroads, so it continues to be underserved, he said.
In October 1997 Lincoln National exited property/casualty insurance by selling American States Financial Corp. to Safeco Corp. It used the proceeds to buy Cignas individual life and annuity unit to build up its distribution of annuities, mutual funds, and life insurance through banks, wire houses, financial planners, and broker-dealers.
Lincoln National is the third-largest seller of variable annuities and seventh-largest seller of life insurance in the United States, according to Mr. Boscia.
Weve grown the bank channel along with the other channels, and now I think our core businesses are pretty well set, he said.