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Phoenix Launches Saybrus

An insurer has started a unit that will market wholesaling and insurance expertise to other financial services companies.

The Phoenix Companies, Inc., Hartford, (NYSE:PNX) says the unit, Saybrus Partners Inc., has agreed to provide life insurance consulting services to financial advisors affiliated with Edward D. Jones & Company L.P., St. Louis.

Saybrus also will sell consulting services to other companies, and it will provide support for the Phoenix product line within Phoenix's own distribution channels, the company says.

The creation of Saybrus "leverages Phoenix's reputation and track record for offering top-notch wholesale distribution expertise and support," says Edward Cassidy, Phoenix's executive vice president of distribution, who was named managing principal of Saybrus. "The initiative is also one of four pillars of Phoenix's growth strategy."

Saybrus will have 45 to 50 wealth management consultants and internal sales consultants helping about 11,700 Edward Jones investment advisors find insurance products that meet the Edward Jones clients' needs, Cassidy says.

Saybrus and Edward Jones will start with a 3-year agreement.

Edward Jones already has sales agreements with John Hancock Life Insurance Company, Boston, and Pacific Life Insurance Company, Newport Beach, Calif., and the Saybrus consultants will focus on helping advisors select products from those insurers.

Cassidy says the Saybrus services will complement the services of John Hancock and Pacific Life.

"We're not offering Phoenix's products as part of the Edward Jones' relationship," Cassidy says. "Saybrus' wealth management consultants will provide the requisite expertise, but John Hancock and Pacific Life will sell their own products to their high-net-worth clients."

The creation of Saybrus is part of a Phoenix strategy for increasing penetration of the middle market, Cassidy says.

Phoenix has traditionally served high-net-worth space, and it will continue to do so, Cassidy says, but the company's "declining ratings and sales" has spurred the insurer to broaden its focus.

The distribution outlets for the middle-market strategy include insurance marketing organizations and brokerage general agencies, Cassidy says.

Meanwhile, at Saybrus, "we'll be looking to add another four to six clients over the next 14 to 18 months," Cassidy says.

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