MetLife is in discussions to sell its U.S. advisor force to MassMutual Financial Group, the company announced Thursday morning. No timetable has been set for an agreement, MassMutual said in a statement. MetLife has 4,000 advisors, according to published reports.
Earlier this year, MetLife announced plans to split off its U.S. retail operations, which include its broker/dealer and advisory operations, as well as life insurance, variable annuities and property-casualty units. The move is driven, in part, because MetLife’s U.S. retail division has been classified as part of a Systemically Important Financial Institution (SIFI) and “risks higher capital requirements that could put it at a significant competitive disadvantage,” Steven A. Kandarian, chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement.
In January, MetLife said it was considering its options for separating the business lines, including a public offering of shares in an independent company, a spin-off and a sale. Now it looks as though the firm will sell its retail advisor group to MassMutual.
MetLife’s captive brokerage operations have gone through several upheavals in recent years. In addition to slashing employee headcount, Metlife revamped the unit in October 2013, pulling MetLife Securities Inc., New England Securities Inc. and MetLife Resources together under a new group titled the MetLife Premier Client Group.
Prior to that, in April 2013, MetLife sold its independent b/ds, Tower Square and Walnut Street Securities, to Cetera for an undisclosed sum. At the time of the deal, Tower Square and Walnut Street had a combined $25 billion in assets under management and 850 advisors.