Saturday, 25 August 2012

Citibank Life

Citibank Life was a UK based Life Assurance company in the United Kingdom. It was a division of the large Citicorp organisation which is famous for its international banking with branches in many countries. Diners Club charge card is also operated by Citicorp.

In 1986 Citicorp entered the UK market with the purchase of British National Life which was subsequently re-named Citibank Life.

From offices in Haywards Heath Citibank Life operated a large sales force of direct sales representatives often referred to as Associates or Managing Associates if they ran teams or recruited new sales reps.

In the late 80's and early 90's the UK was ripe for a number of prolific Life Assurance Companies to make money by selling pensions, life and savings plans. In a booming consumer market the life assurance representatives would either be tied or independent. In Citibank Life's case they were tied to Citibank Life and could only sell the products of that company.

In 1994 Citibank took the decision to pull out of the life assurance market in the UK. Under the leadership of Marcel Polk a deal was brokered with a company called Cannon Lincoln ( known as Lincoln National in the UK ). 

The reasons given for the sale of the UK division was based on Citicorp being pressured into returning to its core business of banking. In part the new legislation and plans to curb mis selling of life and pensions products in the UK could have sealed the end of Citibank Life. 

Up until this point the regulations covering the selling of life and pensions had been weak and there were many concerns about mis selling of products. The lack of proper training was a factor and as a result agents in the life and pensions direct selling role were required to take a serious of exam papers known as Financial Planning Certificates I, II and III. Many agents failed to reach the standards or left before they had to upskill.

Lincoln National merged its branches with those of Citibank Life but the two cultures were at loggerheads here and the integration between Citibank Life and Cannon Lincoln ( Lincoln Assurance ) did not go as well as planned. Rationalisation of the 100 plus offices led to a large exodus in sales agents and higher management who either left the industry or jumped ship to other life assurance companies.

Early expectations that the new organisation would have more than 1,400 salesmen and 1,040 tied agents did not materialise and after just a few short years later the company closed its sales force and branches and continued to supply services through independent advisers. New legislation, mis sold policies and the ensuing claims had finally put the dampener on what had once been a lucrative business.

In 2012 Lincoln Assurance sold its insurance book and assets to Canada Life the umbrella under which it now operates. All previous and existing policy holders of of British National Life Assurance, Citibank Life and Lincoln Assurance are now  administered by Canada Life.

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