Magazine article American Banker

Wachovia Recruits 10 Underwriters for Sales Program

Magazine article American Banker

Wachovia Recruits 10 Underwriters for Sales Program

Article excerpt

Wachovia Corp. is plunging into the life, disability, and long-term care insurance markets, and it's doing so in an unusual way.

The Winston-Salem, N.C.-based banking company announced Wednesday that its subsidiary, Wachovia Insurance Services Inc., has arranged to sell policies to private banking and trust customers and small businesses through 10 carriers.

By contrast, most banks in the insurance business tend to be able to count their underwriters on one hand.

The bank is marketing insurance in four North Carolina cities at first and plans to expand throughout the state by the end of the year and into South Carolina and Georgia early next year, said David L. Holton, president of Wachovia Insurance Services.

Mr. Holton said Wachovia's strategy is based on research. In planning to move beyond its previous insurance lineup-of credit, unemployment, and accidental death and dismemberment products-Wachovia executives made a list of the insurance products customers would need.

In what Mr. Holton described as a cherry-picking expedition, the company then looked for insurers that specialized in each product.

"We found insurance companies oftentimes specialize themselves in various niches," he said. "We wanted to offer a broad array to work with the best carriers we could assemble."

Wachovia's decision will entail more work for the bank because more carriers require more training and more due diligence, Mr. Holton said. But the tradeoff is worth it, he said. …

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