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AIG resurrects brand in financial advice industry

Jan 13, 2014 @ 3:10 pm

By Bruce Kelly

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American International Group Inc. is once again embracing its three-letter moniker — AIG — as it looks to expand in the financial advice industry.

The giant insurer said Monday that it is once again anointing a broker-dealer and registered investment adviser network with the AIG name and launching AIG Financial Network.

The company is home to 1,400 insurance agents. Of those, only about 100 have a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. license to sell securities.

As those insurance agents get their securities licenses, they will become employee brokers registered with SagePoint Financial Inc., said John Deremo, an executive vice president with AIG Financial Distributors.

SagePoint will expand to have two sides of its business, its current line for independent-contractor representatives and its new line for employees, which will operate under the brand AIG Financial Network.

“With this particular group, the advisers are largely not securities licensed. They are life-insurance focused,” Mr. Deremo said.

“Over the course of five years, we aim to have around 1,800 to 2,000 advisers in the network, with all [Finra]-licensed.”

The insurance agents operate under another AIG company, American General Life Cos.

One big focus will be securities products that create retirement income for clients, Mr. Deremo said.

After the credit crisis and the market collapse of September 2008, AIG was one of the most widely disliked companies on Wall Street. It accepted an $85 billion bailout from the federal government, enraging consumers and financial advisers.

The AIG brand became toxic, and the company in January 2009 changed the name of its network of independent broker-dealers — FSC Securities Corp., Royal Alliance Associates Inc.and AIG Financial Advisors Inc.— to Advisor Group. AIG Financial Advisors was renamed SagePoint Financial. That group will maintain its name and business structure.

Mr. Deremo said that AIG has put the credit crisis and the fallout behind it.

“We monitor our brand among financial advisers and the consumer, and we have seen dramatic improvement in that since the conclusion of the financial crisis, particularly once we paid back the government assistance, along with a $22 billion profit,” he said. “The focus is on the corporate brand and one AIG type of approach.”

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