Guardian Life Set to Add 800 Reps

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Guardian Life is going on a hiring spree, according to Ignites.com. The insurer has announced plans to add more than 800 financial representatives to its ranks this year. It is a significant addition to the 3,000 reps in its network today.

The new hires will sell all of Guardian's products, according to a spokeswoman. The product lineup includes annuities, life insurance, disability income insurance, dental insurance products and funding vehicles for 401(k) plans.

Guardian will target career changers and unemployed and underemployed individuals as part of its recruitment strategy. "Even before the economic downturn, many of Guardian Life's Financial Representatives came to us after successful careers in other industries," said Meg Skinner, chief distribution officer at Guardian Life, in a press release.

"Unlike employers with a more traditional view of the job market, we welcome career changers and experienced professionals who may have recently experienced a downsizing or who are working in unfulfilling jobs where their skills are undervalued. Their skills are highly valued here at Guardian, and we've empowered them to make better career choices."

Guardian ranked 25th among variable annuity providers in third quarter 2011, with approximately $6 billion in net assets, according to Morningstar. It had $306.4 million in new sales in the third quarter, ranking 22nd.

“They are not huge in VA but have an innovative product that is focused on consumer value and clarity,” Tamiko Toland, managing director of retirement income consulting at Strategic Insight, writes in an e-mail response to questions from Ignites writer Mariana Lemann. “They offer a variety of different options that are geared for people from immediate retirees to future retirees. The costs and benefits are clear, so somebody who is retiring in five years doesn't overpay.”

Despite the favorable environment for firms seeking new hires, adding more than 800 people to sell insurance products may be a tall order, says Bing Waldert, a director at Cerulli Associates.

Within the insurance broker-dealer channel, there are basically two options to increase the distribution force, he says. That includes hiring experienced representatives from other firms or training advisors new to the industry.

The second option appears to be the only choice, Waldert says. “If anything, you are seeing advisors leave the industry in the insurance channel. To hire 800, it almost has to be done with the expectation that you may not make it,” he says. From 2009 to 2010 more than 6,000 people left the industry, which represented a 7 percent decline, according to Cerulli.

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