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Bancassurance efficiency gains: evidence from the Italian banking and insurance industries

Franco Fiordelisi and Ornella Ricci

The European Journal of Finance, 2011, vol. 17, issue 9-10, 789-810

Abstract: Bancassurance has rapidly grown in Europe over the past 20 years catching the attention of managers and academia. Most dedicated studies have only been descriptive in nature, while the number of empirical studies is very limited. Potential efficiency gains are a poorly investigated issue, even though cost and revenue synergies are commonly recognised among the main economic rationales for conglomeration. Our paper aims to assess bancassurance performance gains (from both the banking and the insurance standpoints) in the Italian banking and insurance sectors over the period 2005--2006 by estimating cost and profit efficiency using stochastic frontier analysis. With regard to the banking industry, we do not show any strong evidence in favour of entering the life insurance business. The investigation into the insurance industry highlights the competitive viability of bancassurance as a distribution channel, especially in terms of cost efficiency. In terms of profitability, our findings suggest that the mix of products should be continuously revised to adapt to customer needs and the evolution of financial markets. As a consequence, ownership links are not necessarily the best bancassurance strategy, and the parties involved should also consider more flexible forms of cooperation, such as cross-selling agreements and non-equity strategic alliances.

Date: 2011
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DOI: 10.1080/1351847X.2010.538519

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