New York Life Insurance has been providing life insurance policies in the Big Apple since it was a tiny seed. While the top mutual life insurer in the US has branched out a bit, it retains its core business: life insurance and annuities. Its 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 throughout the US. The company also operates offices in Mexico. It exited its operations in Taiwan and India during 2012.
New York Life has a total of more than $800 billion in life insurance policies in force, as well as $380 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 12,000 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 new brand campaign and redesigned its consumer website in 2012 to increase ease of use and facilitate broker-customer relationships via social media platforms.
In 2012 New York Life and its subsidiaries achieved revenue growth of 6% to some $25.1 billion, following a 2% increase to $23.8 billion in 2011. Growth was mainly driven by increased premiums, as well as a rise in investment income during 2012.
The company's net income rose by 54% to some $2 billion during 2012 due to higher revenues and lower expenses. In 2011 profits fell by about 29% to $1.3 billion, mainly due to a 7% increase in expenses, including benefits and liabilities for future policy benefits.
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 2013 New York Life agreed to acquire 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.