Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Banks should not act like insurance agents

ST Forum

Banks should not act like insurance agents
25 July 2011
Straits Times
(c) 2011 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

RECENTLY, my husband and I were looking to buy some insurance policies. As we had previous bad
experiences buying through insurance agents who were keen on pushing only their own companies'
products, we thought of buying through banks instead.

Since most banks are now positioning themselves as one-stop centres offering a suite of financial
products, we thought they would be independent. We were wrong.

We visited DBS Bank and it was aggressively pushing only Aviva's products. We tried OCBC Bank and
it was pushing Great Eastern's products. We tried United Overseas Bank and Standard Chartered Bank
as well and came out ruffled as their insurance consultants were pushing Prudential's products. In
other words, we had no choice.

The bank staff told us that the insurance companies they were representing were the best and their
products offered the best value. But how would we know if this is true if we cannot make any direct
comparisons and decide for ourselves?

Are banks independent if each pushes only one insurance company's products? Or have they become
agents of the insurance companies? Are banks driven by customers' needs and interests or by the
commissions paid by insurance companies?

Shouldn't the Monetary Authority of Singapore make banks stick to their banking business and stop
behaving like insurance agents?

Jessie Loy (Ms)

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