Sales of investment products at banks were down just 1% last year despite the stock market selloff in the summer, a survey found.
Banks took in an average $2,059 from investment services per $1 million of deposits, or almost $172 per month, according to a study of 19 banks by Kenneth Kehrer Associates of Princeton, N.J. Midsize to large banks were surveyed.
Though revenues were off, the productivity of the average full-time broker was up 7.9%-to a gross commission revenue of $22,795-partly because of downsizing.
"This is another very good year for the industry," said Michael T. Dibbert, president of the financial institutions arm of Equitable Distributors Inc. of Newport Beach, Calif. Equitable Distributors, a unit of Equitable Life Assurance Society of the U.S., sponsors the survey. "We weathered the August/September volatility without bank customers running for the door."
Indeed, "if August and September hadn't happened, things would have been better for the year," said Kenneth Kehrer, the consulting firm's principal.
While overall investment sales at banks have become more solid in recent years, the survey suggests that the product mix is fluctuating.
Mutual fund sales were flat last year, at 39.3% of overall revenue per $1 million of retail deposits. But revenues from variable annuities, which usually move in tandem with fund sales, rose slightly. They were 18.9% of the revenue, compared with 16.1% in 1997.
Mr. Kehrer said variable annuity sales were strong because vendors were promoting products with bonus interest rates. In addition, last year insurance companies began offering a guaranteed income benefit, where calculations are based on a minimum fixed rate of return.
Meanwhile, revenue from fixed annuity sales plummeted 49%, partly because of a flat yield curve, Mr. Kehrer said. He said he expected investors to buy more fixed annuities as the yield curve returns to normal.
He said he also expected sales of life insurance and trailer commission products to increase. These products accounted for 15.8% of sales revenue last year, compared with 10.7% in 1997.