Recent studies of the experience of the British life insurance industry indicate that a period of transition, and the development of more diversified investment strategies, began in the interwar period. Australian life insurers lagged behind their British counterparts in the introduction of such strategies. This paper investigates why this was the case. It argues that in the Australian market there was both a lack of opportunity and incentive to broaden asset portfolios. However, this did not mean that asset management practices did not advance. Australian life offices became progressively more sophisticated in their approach to portfolio management during this period. Developments in the interwar period provided a grounding for post-war expansion into the equity market.