CHARLOTTE, N.C. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act has scarcely transformed banks approach to the insurance market, but it has made a difference in reinsurance and underwriting, bank marketing executives gathered here said.
They spoke at the fall conference of the Financial Institutions Insurance Association.
David Fried, president of HSBC Insurance Agency Inc., a subsidiary of Buffalo-based HSBC Bank USA, said the 1999 law offers opportunities for his bank.
Among the products HSBC sells is Senior Secure, a guaranteed-issue whole-life policy launched in May and sold through its branches for customers 55 to 75. It is underwritten by Boston-based CGU Life Insurance Co. and reinsured by HSBCs MarMid Life reinsurance subsidiary in Arizona.
Sales of Senior Secure have averaged 55 policies a week.
Mr. Fried said HSBC, whose ultimate parent is based in London, hopes to underwrite some nonlife products, but he would not discuss specifics.
CGU Life is stepping up its own involvement with reinsurance. It is in talks with two large banks one national and one regional to reinsure insurance products. It hopes to have two announcements in the next six months, Gary Warden, vice president of financial institutions marketing, told American Banker.
Gregory Vacca, first vice president at California Federal Investments, a unit of $60 billion asset California Federal Bank in Sacramento, said that for three years his bank has had a broker-dealer subsidiary that sells through 1,000 investment representatives in 350 branches in California and Nevada.
The law change made no difference to us, Mr. Vacca said. The approach has been to educate the customer through workshops, breakfast clubs, and meet with the customers to help them reach a goal.
John Seminary, insurance business manager for Wells Fargo Insurance Inc. in St. Louis Park, Minn., said Gramm-Leach-Bliley has had no effect him, as Wells Fargo has been cross-selling home insurance through its loan originators for 11 years.
Those looking for a magic bullet for boosting sales of insurance products certainly did not get one from Gramm-Leach-Bliley.
Even in the early 1980s, banks were trying to market life policies, said bank insurance sales consultant Alan Blank, president of Encino, Calif.-based Midwood Financial Services Inc. Selling life insurance policies to depositors has been a tough nut to crack for banks, he said, and Gramm-Leach-Bliley hasnt given them the answer.