How do you start distributing a whole new product line after you've just cut 10% of your wholesaling staff? According to Alex MacGillivray, president and CEO of Equitable Distributors Inc., it's all part of the plan.

Equitable recently announced a 10% cut among its annuity wholesaling staff, amounting to 13 external wholesaling positions. At the same time, however, MacGillivray said the firm added five insurance wholesalers and expanded its sales desks.

The upcoming AXA Premiere multi-manager fund family will be marketed by Equitable's existing annuity wholesalers. While such a mandate might appear over-taxing to the newly thinned ranks, MacGillivray said he has confidence in his field force.

"We can be pretty expansive and cover the landscape. We think the annuity and mutual fund game is less complicated than the life insurance sale," he said.

Equitable has reorganized its wholesale staff in order adopt a consultative sales model. The firm's wholesalers will be split into two primary groups covering 40 territories. One group will cover the bank and broker/dealer channels while the other will cover the wirehouse and independent planner channels.

"We had an opportunity to change our dynamic in terms of how we dealt with our customer. What we thought would be appropriate was for our wholesalers to be in the territory, not above it," MacGillivray said, referring to the time many wholesalers spent flying to meet with clients.

Furthermore, Equitable has added a staff of eight direct wholesalers who act as a hybrid of an external and internal wholesaler.

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