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This article examines the ways in which insurance companies modified their investment policies during the interwar years, arguing that this period marked the start of the transition from ‘traditional’ to ‘modern’ investment practice. Economic and financial conditions raised considerable doubts regarding the suitability of traditional insurance investments, while competitive conditions forced insurance offices to seek higher-yielding assets. These pressures led to a considerable increase in the proportion of new investment devoted to corporate securities, including ordinary shares. Meanwhile new insurance investment philosophies began to be advocated, which accorded both legitimacy and importance to the role of ordinary shares in insurance portfolios.