They were the best of times, they were the worst of times ... No, this isn't a tale of two cities, but a tale of today's financial services industry: one sector that is encumbered with an ever-increasing regulatory burden and legislative micromanagement and another, virtually nonregulated sector, which is reaping the benefits of its competitive advantages without bearing the social and fiduciary responsibilities of depository institutions. While banks and thrifts are experiencing record capital levels and record profits, there is a sense of foreboding, the likes of which 1 cannot recall in my 27 years in the banking business.

The cold, hard truth is that while depository institutions are occupied trying to cope with a seemingly endless array of government requirements, financial service providers - subject to much less government oversight and regulation - are gaining a significant percentage of financial assets and customers.

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