Magazine article American Banker

SouthTrust Letting Brokers Lead Insurance Charge

Magazine article American Banker

SouthTrust Letting Brokers Lead Insurance Charge

Article excerpt

SouthTrust Corp. is using its growing series 7 sales force to drive its insurance program.

The Birmingham, Ala.-based banking company has more than doubled its sales force to 120 brokers from just 50 two years ago. The brokers are responsible for selling insurance as a part of a total financial plan for the customer, said Richard S. White Jr., the executive vice president in charge of the capital management group.

By creating a financial plan for a customer, the broker gets to know the person's needs and can determine who is a good candidate for insurance, he said.

The financial planning process can help customers understand why they need insurance and how much they need, he added. "It takes some talk," Mr. White said.

Because buying insurance is triggered by events like marriage or buying a house, Mr. White said, "you have to have a relationship so you know when these events are going to take place."

A broker can advise a customer on what events are likely to spark a need for insurance, Mr. White said. "A lot of people don't really know they are underinsured," he said. "And no one has taken the time to sit down and talk with them about it."

Since the 1970s, middle-income households have been increasingly overlooked by independent insurance agents. But banks can afford to sell insurance with tight margins when the product is offered as part of a financial plan to customers who meet with an adviser.

Banks also have to be sensitive to the changing attitudes of customers, Mr. …

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