The primary recommendation of the Bachar Commission will be that Israeli banks will be defined as advisors in the field of long term savings. Therefore the banks will be allowed to act as advisors in life insurance, pension funds, and provident funds, similar in manner to the way they advise in the investment field. Banks will also be able to collect commissions for marketing pension savings products.
In contrast to projections, the commission, headed by Finance Ministry director general Joseph Bachar, will not allow banks to market basic insurance items such as car or home insurance. The banks were mistaken in assuming they would become insurance supermarkets. The intention is to transform the banks' in-house consultants into experts in the financial insurance field.
The result is that customers will be able to enter their local bank branch and receive the same kind of advice they would get from their insurance agent. The bank will charge a sales commission. The fee will most likely be fixed such that the bank will not have any motive to push one company over another, thus better serving the customer's interests.
The new structure will make it incumbent upon the banks to establish consultant networks and to train several offices in this field.
Insurance agents, particularly the little guys who earn primarily from selling life insurance policies, will most likely suffer the most adversely. However, experience from Europe demonstrates that when banks enter the insurance market, insurance agents do not necessarily get hurt. Rather the overall expansion of the market can actually benefit them.
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