Acordia Is Latest to Ink Trans-Atlantic Alliance
Gjertsen, Lee Ann, American Banker
The formation of a retail insurance network by Acordia Inc. -- the Chicago insurance agency that Wells Fargo & Co. is buying -- and the London agency Heath Lambert Group reflects a growing cross-Atlantic trend.
Such U.S.-Europe pairings in financial services have been surging in recent weeks. The British insurer Prudential PLC has agreed to buy the U.S. life insurer American General Corp.; Bank of America Corp. has entered a distribution deal with Farmers Insurance, a subsidiary of Zurich Life; and the possibility has been rumored of a similar link between the German insurer Allianz and Merrill Lynch & Co.
Though the Acordia-Heath Lambert deal, which was announced Thursday, is designed more to improve each company's ability to serve its multinational clients, it would also give Wells a higher worldwide profile.
Timothy J. King, president of Wells Fargo Insurance, said his company was aware that Acordia was negotiating this deal with Heath Lambert. The alliance will be beneficial, he said.
Wells Fargo Insurance has "several customers with international ties," Mr. King said. "This gives us an opportunity to actually increase our international risk management using Heath Lambert and its network through the various foreign countries."
While it is too soon in the process to look at the possible international cross-selling opportunities in detail, the alliance might help Wells Fargo sell insurance to its international clients, he said.
Valerie Jordan, the president of Jordan & Jordan Associates, a Belchertown, Mass. consulting firm, said that if Wells wants to expand its lending operations outside the United States, insurance relationships could be a good way to start a customer base abroad.
The new network, called HLA Global, is based in Guernsey, one of the United Kingdom's Channel Islands. It is meant to increase local servicing capability for Heath Lambert's clients in the United States, as well as give Acordia access to Health Lambert's relationships and offices in 43 countries in Europe, Latin America, South America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Canada. …