DALLAS-E.W. Blanch Co. Inc. is entering into a joint venture with a California-based online financial and insurance service firm to boost its $17-million fiscal strategy that is being mortared through pacts with joint ventures and various institutions.

Big Finance and Insurance Services Inc., started five years ago in Laguna Niguel, is setting the stage for an IPO in late fourth quarter or early 2001. The plan culminates nearly a year of planning that has included an initial $5 million private stock placement and $17-million stock offering at $3.50 per share. About $14.5 million has been derived from joint ventures and various institutions, with $2.5 million coming from a retail component.

Dallas-based E.W. Blanch, a subsidiary of E.W. Blanch Holdings Inc., will facilitate total fulfillment of the on-line insurance sales cycle, from quotes to policy issue. The firm’s technology also can be implemented in multiple distribution sources, such as direct point of sale. The joint venture will combine marketing and distribution of leading-edge insurance products to manage risk, eliminate inefficiencies and take advantage of new revenue opportunities.

BigFNI serves as a “back office” for brokers or a tool for lenders and insurers. Financial and insurance institutions have the capability of coupling online underwriting criteria on-line with BigFNI’s risk analysis engine to receive only qualified loan or insurance applicants. BigFNI actually rates and closes transactions for partnered institutions rather than just sending referrals. The risk analysis engine also serves as a centralized data collection point for organizations offering employee insurance packages. BigFNI’s proprietary Odyssey Engine enables real-time processing of consumer applications.

The BigFNI team includes Harold A. Poling, former Ford Motor Co. chairman and CEO, who is a member of the board of advisers, and Toney Anaya, former New Mexico governor who acts as an executive adviser.

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