York Financial Corp., the parent of York Federal Savings and Loan Association, is planning to enter the property-casualty insurance business with a deal to buy Owen Insurance Agency for an undisclosed price.
The $1.7 billion-asset York, Pa., thrift company already has more than 50 people selling life insurance, annuities, and mutual funds in its branches.
Robert W. Pullo, York Financials president and chief executive officer, said the Owen deal, announced Tuesday, would diversify his companys revenue stream. Property-casualty insurance is a very complementary financial services product for our very large householder customer base, he said.
The Owen agency, also based in York, offers auto, homeowners, and business insurance as well as employee benefits. It generates about $20 million of premiums a year.
York Financial said it had been looking for nearly two years for a property-casualty agency to buy.
We evaluated several firms, said Gerald C. Vigneron, a consultant at North Bridge Advisors in Concord, Mass., who helped structure the deal. York Financial was looking for an agency that had a strong local presence and good financial performance, he said.
Offering additional products like insurance is vital to the success of community banks. Mr. Vigneron said. I think for community banks to distinguish themselves from other banks, they need to be able to offer a high level of professional services and other related financial services, he said. I think this is a place where they have an edge over bigger banks.
The agency to be renamed Owen Inc. would keep its current offices and staff, including chief executive A. Thomas Owen.
Keeping employees is often vital for success when a bank buys an insurance agency, Mr. Vigneron said. To cross-sell effectively, a bank must build on the knowledge and customer relationships of its agents, he said. When a bank gets into this business, the management talent is as important as the book of business.
In addition to the savings and loan, York Financial operates First Capital Brokerage Services, First Capital Insurance Services Inc., and the title company YF Settlement Services.
In a related development Harris Financial Inc. of Harrisburg, Pa., edged closer Tuesday to closing its deal to buy York Financial. Harris depositors approved its conversion from a mutual holding company to a public stock company.
The post-merger company to be called Waypoint Financial Corp. would have assets of more than $4.5 billion and would be the second-largest banking company in south-central Pennsylvania.
Both deals are expected to close this month.