Nearly 40 years ago-long before Gramm-Leach-Bliley (GLB) was ratified-Charlotte, N.C.-based First Union Corp. was diligently establishing a modest insurance program designed to complement its core banking competencies.

Among a small group of U.S. banking institutions that possessed "grandfathered" powers to sell and distribute insurance products, First Union developed the business around mortgage and credit insurance, with some life coverage mixed in. As its insurance business prospered, First Union continued to regard it as a profit center. The bank's competitors, on the other hand, viewed the business in a different light.

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