Change is at the heart of the news business and is the thing that most gladdens a journalists heart. In the financial arena, change can come in many formsa fall from grace, a rise to prominence, an entity changing hands, a new company where there was none before.
A lot of people dont like change in the nostalgia-haunted insurance business. Yet that doesnt stop it from happening, thank goodness.
What brings these ruminations to mind is that even though we are still very early in 2005, it looks to be shaping up as a year when an awful lot of shuffling and reshuffling is going to occur.
The announcement of MetLifes agreement to acquire Travelers Life & Annuity for the hefty amount of $11.5 billion is the years biggest case in point so far.
It just so happens that this came only a day before another interesting developmentAmerican Express decision to spin off its American Express Financial Advisors operation because the latter was a drag on the parents faster-growing charge and credit card business.
In another sizeable deal earlier last month, Ameritas Acacia Mutual Holding Company agreed to acquire Union Central Life Insurance Company through a merger.
And then there was also AIG Advisor Group saying it plans to combine three of its brokerages into a new entity, AIG Financial Advisors Inc., to build a stronger brand identity among independent broker-dealers.
This is a lot of activity for so early in the year, but my guess is that theres going to be a lot more in the pipeline. You almost can feel the pent-up energy of deals not yet done and reconfigurations just waiting to happen.
Some pundits are saying that the MetLife-Citigroup deal spells the end of what Gramm-Leach-Bliley promised and the end of that enduring dream of a financial supermarket that goes back to at least the early 1980s.