For years, bankers complained that the section 20 firewalls were expensive and inefficient due to the required separation of people, products, and information between banks and their broker-dealer affiliates.

So a collective hurrah could be heard throughout the banking industry when the Federal Reserve announced in 1996 that it would lower a few of the 28 firewalls. The Fed then received a standing ovation when it raised the much anticipated ineligible revenue limit to 25%, prompting major acquisitions such as Bankers Trust/Alex. Brown and CIBC Wood Gundy/Oppenheimer. Just imagine the ticker-tape parade the bankers will give Alan Greenspan when the remaining firewalls disappear Oct. 31.

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