Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America introduced a new preferred distribution program last week that those left out of the program are unhappy with. According to Darla Mercado of Investment News in the article “Allianz Preferred perks strike nerve with agents,” agents and marketing groups who are not included in Allianz Preferred are worried that they will lose clients or agents within their groups. The program gives extra support to top sellers of Allianz’s fixed equity indexed annuity products. Allianz Preferred offers these top field marketing organizations some special products and more support and in turn, they allow Allianz increased oversight of their organization. Allianz says that they want to make sure the companies who represent them best are thriving and getting the resources to improve in the marketplace.
The annuity market could see some changes because of Allianz Preferred, since agents and marketing groups could look specifically for FMO’s who are part of this preferred group. Some critics of the program think that the $75 million of Allianz annuities that FMO’s must sell to be in this preferred group is too high. Others worry that compliance officers hired by Allianz to look into the materials related to competitors’ annuities may not be in the best interest of the consumer looking to compare annuities. Allianz is already the top indexed annuity seller with 21% of the market and this move may make it nearly impossible for its top competitors, like American Equity and AVIVA USA, to catch them. The 25 or so organizations who will be part of this preferred program are excited for all of the benefits, and even for the opportunity to recruit agents whose organizations are not eligible.