Fixed indexed annuity (FIA) market leader Allianz Life has announced the appointment of sales veteran Corey Walther to lead the company’s broker-/dealer distribution channel sales growth.
Walther, who joined Allianz Life nearly 20 years ago, assumes the title of head of Distribution Relationship Management. He will report to Tom Burns, CEO of Allianz Life Financial Services and chief distribution officer of Allianz Life.
Walther brings an “entrepreneurial spirit” to the position and is expected to play a key role in supporting Allianz’s sales partners and establishing new relationships for the annuity giant, Burns said in a news release.
“Corey is well respected in the industry for his expensive experience in sales, marketing and strategic planning,” Burns said.
Walther succeeds Mike Brandreit, a nine-year veteran of Allianz Life Financial Services, who was named Allianz Life Financial Services president.
Brandreit took over from longtime leader Robert DeChellis who was appointed to lead a new business unit within the company.
The personnel changes became effective Jan. 1, Allianz said.
FIA Market Upheaval
The executive moves at the U.S. subsidiary of Munich-based Allianz SE come at a critical time in the U.S. fixed indexed annuity market in the face of new Department of Labor regulations that raise investment advice standards.
As a result broker/dealers of all stripes — independent, regional and national — are likely to play a more important role in the sale of FIAs.
Regulators have anointed broker/dealers, banks, insurers and registered financial advisors “financial institutions.” This designation grants distributors the authority to guarantee that the sale of an FIA by a sales representative into a retirement account is in the investor's best interest.
Independent marketing organizations (IMOs), which distribute the majority of FIAs, are not considered financial institutions. However, but Labor Department regulators are expected to grant IMOs an exemption within the next few weeks.
Walther, who joined Allianz Life in 1998 after serving as an executive with broker/dealer RBC Dain Rauscher, has held senior roles at Allianz Life. Those roles include serving as senior vice president of strategic accounts and head of advisory distribution.
He most recently served as chief operating officer and chief compliance officer for Allianz Life Financial Services and will continue to serve as chief compliance officer until his replacement is named, Allianz said.
Allianz Life is a perennial annuity market leader and the top seller of FIAs led by its popular Allianz Life 222. However, the carrier saw its FIA sales plunge 31.3 percent in 2015 compared with 2014, according to FIA market tracker Wink’s Sales & Market Report.
By contrast, archrivals American Equity Investment Life, Great American Insurance Group and AIG delivered double-digit and even triple-digit sales gains over the period, Wink’s Sales & Market data also show.
In the fourth quarter of 2015, Allianz Life was the No. 1 issuer of FIAs with a market share of 14.5 percent.
FIA sales reached $53 billion last year, Wink’s reported. Market researchers estimate 2016 sales will approach $60 billion as buyers prefer higher yielding index-linked FIAs compared with bank products hampered by low interest rates.
FIA sales jumped 22 percent to $46.9 billion In the first three quarters of 2016 compared with the year-ago period, LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute reported.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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