Q.: How do you see life insurance fitting into your retail banking product line?

William Schenck 3d

Executive VP, retail banking division

Great Western Financial Corp.

Chatsworth, Calif.

The early winners among banks that sell life insurance are going to be those that put in dedicated life insurance sales forces who understand the sales cycle.

We do have a dedicated group of salespeople who work independent of the branches, and we're beginning to discuss in-branch sales through a dedicated sales force.

The sale of life insurance is a very different sale than most bank products, even including securities. The sales cycle is much longer - a decent parallel is the business lending relationship - and sometimes it can take months.

So it's not without good reason that life insurance has been sold historically by a group of professionals who do only that.

R. William Shauman

Executive VP, trust and financial services division,

First of America Bank Corp.

Kalamazoo, Mich.

Insurance sales is still a fairly new undertaking for us.

When we talk to our customers, we go through a profiling process to find out what they have - not just financial assets, but also insurance coverage.

We deliver insurance products a number of ways.

Licensed (platform) sales professionals can sell simple life products, in addition to annuities and mutual funds. If the insurance needs are more sophisticated, customers are referred to people who concentrate on insurance, who we've gotten by owning insurance agencies or hiring agency- type personnel.

Pretty close to 50% of customers don't come into branches. So we will sell auto and homeowner mostly through direct mail. And life insurance, I think, will be a combination of direct and face-to-face sales.

Timothy J. King,


Norwest Insurance Inc.


We approach insurance through all our different product lines.

We sell life and term insurance through our credit card products, mortgage units, and through direct marketing. We also have a dedicated sales force that sells through our private banking and trust areas, and our investment sales group.

And in some states we also have platform employees that are licensed to sell insurance.

We have been partnering with several life insurance companies, and we have a very large commitment with American International Group to direct market and telemarket to our customers.

Our insurance sales, bottom line, are over 10% of the bank's whole bottom line. Our goal is for insurance, investments, and trust combined to be 25% of the bank's bottom line by 2,000. Scott Hensley and William Plasencia contributed to this report.

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