Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 July 2013
The globalization of financial markets over the past decade has focused the spotlight on the responsiveness of financial firms to international pressures. Insurance markets have traditionally relied on global networks not only to expand the insurers' sphere of influence but also to support domestic business. Until relatively recently, Australian insurance companies have not played a significant role in the development of international markets. However, in the last decade of the twentieth century Australian insurers ventured overseas on a scale without precedence. This article presents an historical perspective on the internationalization of the Australian life-insurance market with a view to understanding why these firms have been classified “late starters” in the internationalization stakes. In a broader capacity it provides insights into the impediments to overseas expansion and the forces encouraging or discouraging the development of cross border networks.
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47 For example, the leading banking and insurance journal was the Australasian Insurance and Banking Record, which reported in depth on financial conditions in both countries.
48 An example of the link in insurance circles can be seen in the formation of the New Zealand tariff system in the 1890s. The meetings of New Zealand insurers responsible for forming the tariff association took place in Melbourne rather than a New Zealand city. At this point Melbourne was the recognized center of the Australasian insurance market.
49 See note 48 above.
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65 The major life insurers in this context are defined as those whose core business is derived from the sale of life-insurance products and are listed in the top twenty life insurers in terms of assets in 1990. The firms identified were the three mutuals, AMP, National Mutual Life, and Colonial Mutual. The remainder of the top twenty consisted of nine overseas, four general insurers, three bank-owned, and one other (owned by a property management company).
66 AMP, Principal Board Minutes, Appendix, 1 Mar. 1989, AMP Archives, Sydney.
68 The Australian, 21 Aug. and 15 Oct. 2003. Progressive losses due to falling demand for AMP products in the UK and management problems led the AMP to divest itself of much of its UK business when it demerged from its British funds management arm Henderson Global Investors.
69 AMP, Memorandum, 24 Oct. 1997, AMP Archives, Sydney.
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78 Insurance and Superannuation Commission (Canberra, 1990).
79 Centre of Organization Research Design and Strategy (CORDS), Report to the AMP, Aug. 1987, AMP Archives, Sydney.
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