Glenbrook Life and Annuity Company has launched a variable annuity series for AIM Distributors, Inc. The VA offers 18 of AIM’s funds in three different share classes. AIM and Glenbrook, a member of the Allstate Financial Group, have been allied for seven years, but the firms have developed a new marketing infrastructure for the AIM Lifetime America Variable Annuity Series.

"It’s basically a reallocation of resources to maximize our distribution presence in our focus firms," explained Mark Santero, SVP and director of AIM’s alliance products division. Previously, internal and external wholesalers worked for Glenbrook; now, the team of five dedicated wholesalers licensed by Glenbrook supported by internal wholesalers at AIM, where they will ultimately interface with the 75 or so wholesalers in AIM’s existing team. The annuity wholesalers will also handle AIM’s variable life products.

The VA world is increasingly populated by multi-manager products, but Santero was confident that focused distribution and a strong story would carry the brand far.

"We realize we’re a single-manager product in a multi-manager world, so what we’ve focused on from a distribution and product development standpoint is, as AIM has grown, we’ve added the investment expertise in all asset classes and put together an asset mix in our own annuity that can rival any multi-manager," said Santero.

Furthermore, AIM will focus its distribution on the distribution partners that are most likely to succeed with the product. When the VA makes it to the shelf, explained Santero, "We’ll know exactly who we’re targeting, exactly how we’re going after them. It’s going to be a rifle vs. shotgun approach."

Although the new VA features an uncommon three-tiered enhanced earnings benefit rider (the rider provides lower annual charges and higher benefits for younger policyholders), cutting edge features have not been the focus of product development. "Product features may come and go -- and they do," argued Santero.

Rather than focusing on releasing the product quickly, the firms built the product with the reps in mind. "We’ve taken our time in developing this product because we wanted to make sure that we listened to our account reps," said Santero.

The AIM Lifetime America VAs are sold in an A-share (7-year surrender charge, 130 basis point mortality and expense), L-share (3-year surrender charge, 145 basis point mortality and expense), and C-share (no surrender charge, 150 basis point mortality and expense). While L-share products have been very popular, especially among wirehouses, many firms have opted to not even develop C-share products.

Nonetheless, Andrea Schur, SVP at Glenbrook, felt that the success of the L-share heralds a good future for the C-share. "We do see packets of reps that do like the c share as they mature into their business and what they call annuitizing their commissions. I think the fact that the l share has caught on is the first step in the evolution."

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