With stagnant demand and overcapacity in so many businesses, regional bankers have been wisely looking to private banking - personal trust and investment management, estate planning, customized credit, and high-yield deposits for the affluent-for earnings growth.

But beware. The attractiveness of private banking has not been lost on brokerage firms and investment boutiques. Over the past decade, these able competitors have cherry-picked one profitable banking business after another, and private banking is their next target.

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