No longer able to ignore a major source of non-interest income, a third of the nation's banks now contract with insurance carriers to sell insurance products, and they may soon be able to underwrite their own policies. This trend has even produced a new breed of consultants dedicated to delivering innovative solutions to help banks sell multiple kinds of insurance.

One such consultant, Robert Grasing, evp of Robert E. Nolan Company in Simsbury, CT, says that eventually every bank could sell one or more insurance products to every one of its retail customers and a good portion of its small business customers. "The size of a bank's customer base and its capacity to handle the new work load are the only limitations," he says.

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