AXA Assurances also launched its integrated financial services formula in Quebec: Gemini.
Gemini is inspired by the financial centre concept. The insurer is integrating financial advisors into P&C agencies who will sell life insurance, mutual funds and even mortgages under an agreement with the National Bank.
At press time, 88 brokerage firms had agreed to adopt the program, and it was already in place at 29 of them.
Raymond Rivest, Vice-President Marketing, personal insurance and financial services, hopes to bring this figure to 40 by the end of the year. He has already recruited 38 financial advisors.
To better serve this distribution network, AXA has acquired a mutual funds dealer, along with a 20% interest in the MGA Agence G. Gadoua. The agency offers products of a dozen other insurers.
After one year of operations, Raymond Rivest is visibly pleased with the results: $2 million in new life insurance premiums and over $12 million in investments. "It's good for a first year... in four or five years, we are aiming for $7 million to $7.5 million in life premiums. Between 40% and 50% of our new life insurance business will originate from our brokerage network that uses the Gemini formula Canada-wide. The P&C financial services sector is clearly developing more quickly under Gemini than traditionally. "
AXA hopes to export the formula outside Quebec in second quarter 2001.
Some participating brokers have benefited significantly from the program. For example, Thetford-Mines P&C agency Vigneault Lachance saw its volume literally explode. "We set an objective of $30,000 in 1999, and we ended up with $60,000 in premiums. This year, we are heading toward the $300,000 mark!" said broker owner Raynald Lachance. Most of the brokers at his firm have life insurance licences, but they did not have the expertise to be truly efficient, he explained.
Mr. Lachance commented that he felt like an Arab sitting on an oil well at the start of the automobile revolution: "You're very rich without even knowing it!"
In fact, the firm enjoys an excellent rapport with its clients: "They trust us. All we had to do was recommend new products."
To avoid misunderstandings between the firm and the financial advisor, the contract stipulates that it is the firm that conserves the clientele. If a financial advisor leaves, the firm will by back his service commissions.
The critical feature of Gemini is its data mining strategy. AXA analyses data on the firm's clientele to offer brokers the most complete picture possible of the financial situation of their clients.