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The potential for portfolio diversification in financial services


  • Alan K. Reichert
  • Larry D. Wall


The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act sweeps away most of the barriers limiting the affiliation of banks with nonbank financial services providers. The focus now shifts to financial services executives who must decide which combinations provide the best opportunities to increase shareholder wealth. Existing empirical evidence suggests that an important consideration in this decision is the potential gain from portfolio diversification into new activities. The empirical evidence also suggests that the potential for such gain clearly exists. ; This article builds on earlier studies, in particular updating the contribution of Wall, Reichert, and Mohanty (1993). After reviewing studies since the 1993 article of the potential gains from diversification, the authors summarize the legal changes resulting from passage of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. The article then updates the 1993 analysis of return on assets using data from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to cover the 1991-97 period and also examines return on equity from 1991 to 1997. ; The new empirical results are consistent with the prior study in finding substantial potential gains from diversification using IRS data. The results also support the earlier finding that the efficient combinations (lowest risk for any given level of return) vary through time, perhaps for reasons such as the macroeconomic environment or technology. For bankers, one positive change in the 1991-97 period over the 1970s and 1980s is that banks have become a larger part of the efficient financial services portfolio.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan K. Reichert & Larry D. Wall, 2000. "The potential for portfolio diversification in financial services," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q3, pages 35-52.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedaer:y:2000:i:q3:p:35-52:n:v.85no.3

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Simon Kwan, 1998. "Securities activities by commercial banking firms' Section 20 subsidiaries: risk, return and diversification benefits," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 98-10, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    2. Wall, Larry D., 1987. "Has bank holding companies' diversification affected their risk of failure?," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 313-326, November.
    3. Larry D. Wall & Alan K. Reichert & Sunil Mohanty, 1993. "Deregulation and the opportunities for commercial bank diversification," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Sep, pages 1-25.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stiroh, Kevin J. & Rumble, Adrienne, 2006. "The dark side of diversification: The case of US financial holding companies," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(8), pages 2131-2161, August.
    2. Dicembrino, Claudio & Scandizzo, Pasquale Lucio, 2011. "Can portfolio diversification increase systemic risk? evidence from the U.S and European mutual funds market," MPRA Paper 33715, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Pierre-Guillaume Meon & Laurent Weill, 2005. "Can mergers in Europe help banks hedge against macroeconomic risk?," Applied Financial Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(5), pages 315-326.
    4. Yoram Landskroner & David Ruthenberg & David Zaken, 2005. "Diversification and Performance in Banking: The Israeli Case," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 27(1), pages 27-49, February.
    5. Aigbe Akhigbe & Jarrod Johnston & Jeff Madura, 2004. "Consolidation in the financial services industry: Are there industry gains for acquisitions of security firms?," Journal of Economics and Finance, Springer;Academy of Economics and Finance, vol. 28(1), pages 14-31, March.
    6. Aigbe Akhigbe & Jeff Madura, 2004. "Bank acquisitions of security firms: the early evidence," Applied Financial Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(7), pages 485-496.
    7. Diaz, Belen Diaz & Olalla, Myriam Garcia & Azofra, Sergio Sanfilippo, 2004. "Bank acquisitions and performance: evidence from a panel of European credit entities," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 56(5), pages 377-404.
    8. Kevin Stiroh, 2006. "New Evidence on the Determinants of Bank Risk," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 30(3), pages 237-263, December.
    9. Alan K. Reichert & Larry D. Wall & Hsin-Yu Liang, 2008. "The final frontier : the integration of banking and commerce. Part 2, risk and return using efficient portfolio analysis," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    10. Calmès, Christian & Théoret, Raymond, 2010. "The impact of off-balance-sheet activities on banks returns: An application of the ARCH-M to Canadian data," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(7), pages 1719-1728, July.
    11. Mercieca, Steve & Schaeck, Klaus & Wolfe, Simon, 2007. "Small European banks: Benefits from diversification?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(7), pages 1975-1998, July.


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