|Banks in insurance (September 2009)|
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ABIA—low-profile resource for banks in insuranceWith everything else going on in financial services, it’s not too surprising that ABA’s insurance affiliate, the American Banker’s Insurance Association, remains something of a hidden asset. Yet the pressure on earnings imposed by the current recession, special deposit insurance assessments, and competitive pressures make alternative sources of noninterest income particularly attractive to banks.
ABIA is in part a specialized lobbying organization, representing banks that have insurance sales operations, as well as the various companies that partner with them, but to a large extent it is a professional development organization with the same specialized focus.
ABIA’s membership is about 55% banking institutions of all assets sizes and 45% other providers, including insurance carriers, brokers, consultants, marketing companies, and technology vendors. In essence, ABIA is a “mini ABA.”
Formed in April 2001 from the combination of the Association of Banks in Insurance and the ABA Insurance Association, the ABIA provides marketing support for bank affiliated insurance agencies, as well as benchmarking data to help improve members’ effectiveness. Several of the services offered are free as part of the ABIA membership dues; others are offered at a substantial discount to members. Services include:
Best Practices Panels. Nine panels exist covering such topics as annuities, agency integration, community banking, compliance, and credit insurance/debt cancellation. The panels meet regularly by teleconference and
Free one-hour insurance licensing consultation. The association has partnered with Insurance Licensing Services of America to consult for an hour ($500 value) to help banks assess their current insurance licensing compliance status.
Free one-hour merger and acquisition consultation. Three bank-insurance consultant partners will meet with any bank contemplating entering the insurance business or expanding its presence ($1,500 value). This member-only benefit is provided by MarshBerry & Co., Reagan Consulting, and Hales and Company.
Research/reports/publications. ABIA provides members with industry statistics, trend reports, and benchmarking surveys through various reports. Among these are:
Study of Leading Banks in Insurance—an annual look at broad trends of bank insurance participation and product strategies, distribution platforms, and more.
Handbook of Bank Insurance Compliance—updated each year, this members-only publication addresses compliance issues specific to bank-owned agencies.
Michael White–ABIA Bank Annuity Fee Income Report—a quarterly report compiled by Michael White Associates based on data from more than 7,000 banks and more than 900 large bank holding companies.
Conferences. ABIA holds an annual conference early each fall. This year’s conference will be in Washington, D.C., Oct. 4-6, and includes new community bank track. In addition, the association hosts one-day workshops and telephone briefings. Recent topics included “Debt Cancellation” and “Agency Integration.”
For more information on these services and others, to see the annual convention program, or to join ABIA, go to the ABIA website, www.theabia.com, or contact Valerie Barton, executive director, 202- 663-5072.
The electronic version of this article available at: http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/sb/ababj0909/index.php?startid=36
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