NU Online News Service, Mar. 7, 3:03 p.m. – A new project to study sales of insurance through banks was spearheaded by a group of life insurance companies eager to assess growth prospects in the bank channel, officials involved in the project say.
Many of the 426 members of the American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, have pushed the trade group hard over the past year to look at the bank channel, says Chris Orestis, ACLI’s senior vice president for membership and development. “They wanted us to be more actively involved in it”, he says.
Orestis declined to identify which life carriers were in the forefront of the new initiative. His group’s advisory council includes such names as Nationwide Financial, New York Life, Aegon/Transamerica, Swiss Re and GE Financial..
Insurers are not yet clear on what the study should encompasses, Orestis says, but ACLI’s immediate goal is to predict the scope and shape of the bank-insurance industry in the next three to five years. To that end, it has commissioned the Washington law firm of Baker & Daniels to undertake an extensive study of the legal, economic and operational issues that are changing the industry.
Charles Richardson, chair of Baker & Daniels’ insurance and financial services team, expects his firm to make a preliminary report to ACLI in about a year based on input from executives in both the bank and insurance industries. ACLI retained his company to do the study because of its history of involvement in bank-insurance transactions, particularly in reinsurance.
“It’s going to be a double-vision examination,” Richardson says. “We’re going to look at how insurers perceive banks and vice-versa. Our working title is, ?Bank Insurance: Threat or Opportunity?”‘”