About 215 bankers are expected to attend the Consumer Bankers Association small-business banking conference today and Tuesday in San Antonio-13% more than last year.

"More banks are realizing the valuable contribution that small business makes to the profitability of a retail bank," said J. Kevin Toomb, a vice president in charge of marketing for First Union Corp. and a member of the association's small-business committee.

Hot topics expected to be on the minds and lips of people at the conference include marketing and strategic alliances to offer products such as insurance or leasing.

"Strategic alliances are going to be absolutely essential," Mr. Toomb said. "Banks want to broaden their product set to meet more customers' needs."

Sessions will address Community Reinvestment Act lending, customer profitability, effective use of the branch network, and small-business strategies.

Speakers include Richard C. Hartnack, vice chairman of Union Bank of California; Alexander B. Berry, an executive vice president at Crestar Bank, Richmond, Va.; Roger Dunker, president and chief executive officer of Cleveland-based KeyCorp's insurance management group; and Henry Coffey, a research analyst for J.C. Bradford & Co. in Nashville.

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