As the debate over Bank Insurance Fund and Savings Association Insurance Fund premiums continues - pitting banks against their thrift cousins - one key fact seems to have been overlooked: The fate of banks and thrifts is intertwined like never before.

By recognizing this evolution in the financial services industry and responding to it, which means joining forces and seeking common ground on the BIF-SAIF battlefield, banks and thrifts can help avoid a financial crisis that could affect both - and cost everyone. Moreover, unifying in the face of nonbank competitors will go a long way toward maintaining market share and consumer good will.

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