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Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MetLife) began in 1863 as the National Union Life and Limb Insurance Company which insured Civil War sailors and soldiers against disabilities due to wartime wounds, accidents, and sickness. In 1868, after several reorganizations and five difficult years, the company decided to focus on the life insurance business. The new company sold “ordinary” insurance to the middle class. The founders chose the name because they had been most successful in New York City, or the “Metropolitan” District.

MetLife was the first insurance company to establish a financial holding company with a nationally chartered bank in 2001. It acquired Grand Bank, N.A. of Kingston, New Jersey in August 2000 and renamed it MetLife Bank in 2001. MetLife leveraged its distribution channels and entered the retail-banking business with MetLife Bank. The company built on its record of on-line insurance service to provide on-line banking services and round out the services it can offer its customers.

The bank offers regular services, such as checking, savings, and certificates of deposit, but is also expanding into college planning, retirement planning, and wealth management. Their website features rate calculators and other ways compare various investments. products.

MetLife Banks sees its Web site as an educational tool and a marketing channel for its products. MetLife Investors is the investment arm of MetLife and through this subsidiary has formed relationships with outside banks to create a distribution channel for its life insurance products in addition to MetLife Bank. They sell fixed and variable annuities.

The Banker, one of the world’s leading financial journals, ranked MetLife as the number 6 bank among US banks in 2005 and number 7 in 2004. The ranking was based on pre-tax profit figures for common stock, non-cumulative preference stock, share premium reserve, disclosed reserves including retaining earnings, minority interests and funds for general banking risk.

With $ 356,808 million in assets MetLife was ranked 6 in asset size. For Soundness (capital/asset ratio) MetLife ranked 184 in 2005 and 185 in 2004. MetLife pre-tax profits were reported as $3,915 million. It ranked 166 for performance based on return on assets.

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