Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance, known affectionately as MassMutual, brings a multitude of financial services to its membership base. A leading US mutual life insurer, the firm provides life policies, annuities, money management, and retirement planning to individuals and businesses in the US and abroad. Founded in 1851, MassMutual also offers disability income insurance, long-term care insurance, structured settlement annuities, and trust services. Its subsidiaries include OppenheimerFunds (mutual funds), Baring Asset Management (international investment), and Babson Capital Management (investor services) with its Cornerstone Real Estate Advisors (real estate investment management) subsidiary.
In addition to MassMutual's operations in the US, where it is licensed in all states, the MassMutual International division has established subsidiaries or ventures in Chile, China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Luxembourg, through which it focuses on new product development and broadened distribution in Asia, Europe, and Latin America. The majority of international sales come from products or channels developed within the last few years.
MassMutual has some $521 billion worth of in-force insurance policies, as well as some $508 billion in assets under management (based on fiscal 2012 figures). The company's OppenheimerFunds unit is a top US mutual fund manager, with 11 million customers and some $196 billion in assets under management.
Insurance premiums account for about 80% of MassMutual's annual revenues. The firm's operations are divided into four segments: US insurance, international insurance, retirement services, and asset management.
Sales and Marketing
MassMutual distributes its products through a network of some 5,000 affiliated sales representatives and financial advisors located at about 80 agencies across the US, as well as select international locations. It also conducts advertising campaigns through television, video, print, digital, online, and social media outlets. Customers include individuals, families, businesses, unions, not-for-profit organizations, government agencies, and employer associations.
MassMutual's strategy of positioning its insurance operations and asset management businesses to provide diversified sources of growth and earnings continues to serve it well. In 2012 MassMutual achieved more than $12.7 billion in surplus, the highest level in its history. The company's surplus, in fact, has averaged 10% growth since 1996.
Revenues for MassMutual increased by 36% to some $26.7 billion in 2012 due to a 50% jump in income from life insurance, annuity, and retirement product sales, as well as rising net investment income and fees. Sales of whole life insurance policies (the core product line) rose 26%, while retirement sales rose 79%. Total US insurance sales rose 30% and the investment management division saw an 11% spike in revenues as well.
In 2012 the company reported solid profitability with net income rising 90% to $872 million due to higher revenues and net realized capital gains. Growth in 2012 followed a 23% drop in profitability in 2011, however, due to lower long-term interest rates that resulted in higher variable annuity reserves for product guarantees.
Like so many other insurance firms, MassMutual (sometimes known as MassMutual Financial Group) hopped on the financial services bandwagon to expand its product range. However, its management and policyholders have repeatedly reaffirmed their intention to keep MassMutual a mutual company despite the efforts of some policyholders. Also, the company doesn't seem too eager to throw out either the insurance baby or the bathwater -- it has also reaffirmed its commitment to good old whole life insurance products and retirement income products.
To attract new customer groups, as well as to broaden product sales to existing customers, MassMutual has expanded its line of insurance and retirement products in recent years. For instance, in 2012 it launched the RetireEase flexible annuity and RetireSmart online planning resources to enhance offerings for aging professionals. It also added a reduced-premium disability offering for young professionals, and it formed a partnership with the Asian-American Hotel Owners Association to increase financial product sales to the association's members.
Mergers and Acquisitions
To expand its core operations, MassMutual acquired The Hartford Financial Services Group's retirement plans business for $400 million in early 2013. The deal builds on record growth within the company's retirement operations, doubling the division's coverage to some 3 million members and expanding its geographic reach.
Along with investment partner Cerberus, MassMutual acquired troubled reinsurance firm Scottish Re in 2011. Scottish Re services existing life insurance policies but does not write new policies.