New York Life Insurance has been providing life insurance policies in the Big Apple since it was a tiny seed. While the nation's top mutual life insurer has branched out a bit, life insurance and annuities remain its core businesses. The company's products include long-term care insurance and special group policies sold through AARP and other affinity groups and professional associations. New York Life Investments' offerings include mutual funds for individuals and investment management services for institutional investors. Through New York Life International, the firm provides life policies in overseas markets. Founded in 1841, New York Life is owned by its policyholders.
New York Life operates service and marketing offices nationwide, as well as in Mexico. (The company exited its operations in Taiwan and India in 2012.)
New York Life boasts a total of more than $840 billion in life insurance policies in force, as well as $425 billion in assets under management. The firm's operations are divided into three segments: Insurance (life, health, and long-term care for individuals and families), investments (retirement and savings products for retail and institutional clients), and agency (consisting of its field distribution operations).
Sales and Marketing
New York Life distributes its products primarily through its network of some 12,250 career agents in the US. In addition to individuals and families, the company serves institutional customers including businesses, government agencies, not-for-profit entities, financial service firms, and multi-employer trusts. A network of brokers represents the company's corporate and bank-owned products and those aimed at high net-worth customers.
Marketing efforts include online video, social media, and digital sponsorship display campaigns. The company launched a brand campaign and redesigned its consumer website in 2012 to increase ease of use and facilitate broker-customer relationships via social media platforms.
In 2013 New York Life and its subsidiaries logged relatively flat growth -- a $72 million boost -- to $24.8 billion. Its modest growth was mainly driven by increased premiums, as well as a rise in investment income during 2013.
The company's 2013 net income dropped some $183 million, or 9%, to $1.8 billion from 2012's $2 billion. New York Life attributes the decline to an increase in policyholder benefits, increase in liabilities for future policy benefits expenses, and the absence of gain from discontinued operations.
Indeed, cash generated from the sale of long-term investments and policy claims contributed to New York Life posting $8 billion in cash flow in 2013, a $136 million increase from 2012.
New York Life has earned the rank as one of the nation's top providers of guaranteed lifetime income annuities by being prudent and savvy. To its benefit, the firm's mutual fund sales have grown steadily, nearly doubling in 2013, thanks to successes across the MainStay Funds family and from adding a few new funds to its portfolio.
New York Life bases its strategy on protecting its financial strength, which it does by conservatively refusing to take risks or gamble on its policyholders' dime. The firm manages its investments for long-term strength through its own research and analyses, and as a result, it does not fall into deficit. More than 90% of New York Life's invested assets are in fixed-income investments diversified across multiple industries and regions allowing the firm to avoid the pitfalls of riskier investment choices.
At the same time, New York Life pursues business growth through marketing and sales efforts. In 2012 the company added a number of sales force agents and financial professionals to sell its products; it also launched new branding and digital media campaigns that year.
Reversing the past goal of expanding in emerging markets, New York Life has divested the bulk of its international operations to refocus on US customers in recent years. In 2011 the company sold its life insurance operations in Hong Kong and Korea to ACE for about $425 million and its 47% stake in Siam Commercial New York Life Insurance Public to Thai partner Siam Commercial Bank for about $280 million. Then, in 2012, it divested two smaller units in India and Taiwan, leaving Mexico as its sole international market. It narrowed the focus of its Mexican operations on life insurance (through the Seguros Monterrey division) when it sold its Fianzas Monterrey unit (surety insurance) to ACE for $293 million.
Mergers and Acquisitions
To boost its investment services, in 2014 New York Life acquired the asset management unit of troubled European finance firm Dexia. The €380 million ($512 million) transaction will boost the company's assets under management to some $480 billion.