giant Allstate is now enlisting its agents to sell financial products, changing the business unit's moniker to "Allstate Financial." Twenty percent of the 13,000 agents have become licensed as "Personal Financial Representatives," but by 2002 the company expects half to have jumped on board. Agents are now marketing select annuities and mutual funds in addition to Allstate's insurance products.
"We've moved beyond traditional life insurance to include financial products and services to help Americans achieve a secure financial future," said Tom Wilson, president of Allstate Financial. "Allstate's strong brand name gives us the leverage to provide these enhancements tailored to a customer's personal financial needs."
In addition to providing direct access to Allstate's customer base, agents capitalize off the reputation of stability and safety associated with their insurance products. Not all agents are eager to join the new program, however.
"I don't like taking people's money and putting it into variable funds based on the stock market because I don't want my customers to lose their money," said one local agent who has resisted Allstate's push for agents to become licensed.
"Based on our experience, that represents the overwhelming minority," responded Allstate spokesman Justin Schmitt
. "The fact is, lots of Americans aren't confident with their retirement portfolio. Allstate's customers are, on the whole, middle-income people. We see a market of people that we can provide a service to."
The marketing strategy targets the underserved middle-class of Americans, many of whom are undercapitalized and not finance-savvy, he added.
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