Lincoln to revamp retirement strategy

Nov 13, 2006 @ 12:01 am

By Gary S. Mogel

NEW YORK - Lincoln Financial Group last week announced the formation of a retirement income security ventures group charged with obtaining more business from advisers' soon-to-retire baby boomer clients.

The decision is the result of a yearlong study of the Philadelphia-based insurer's products, distribution and service capabilities conducted by 12 executives - eight from Lincoln and four from Jefferson-Pilot Corp. in Greensboro, N.C. Lincoln acquired that firm in October 2005.

"The company is in the process of recruiting three more executives - possibly from outside of the insurance industry - to join the five-person team," said Heather Dzielak, senior vice president of the group. She will report to Lincoln president Dennis Glass.

Among the new hires probably will be people from the academic, asset management or consulting sectors. Anyone who can provide the company and its advisers with a better understanding of the needs of the retirement income market are being sought, Ms. Dzielak said.

The group's initiatives may include increasing Lincoln's adviser force, though she couldn't yet say by how many. Hiring additional wholesalers is also a possibility down the road.

In addition, there will be a renewed emphasis on wholesaler training of advisers on boomer retirement security needs and how to translate those needs into business opportunities for the advisers.

"One of the keys is making it easier for advisers to do business with Lincoln by providing the right combination of products, services and education, and improving speed to market," Ms. Dzielak said.

There also may be a push to "leverage Lincoln's franchise" by private-labeling annuity and insurance products and services through banks, asset managers and 401(k) platforms, she added.

Lincoln's inability to execute multicultural marketing plans is among the factors holding back new sales, Jon Boscia, its chief executive, said during a panel discussion at Windsor, Conn.-based LIMRA International Inc.'s annual meeting in New York last month.

Lincoln initially will be working on bringing in more business from women, and such groups as blacks and Hispanics may be targeted later, Ms. Dzielak noted.

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