Surging Profits Boost Consumer Confidence The tidal wave of bank profits has lifted the public's confidence in banks to yet another new high. American Banker's 1995 survey of consumers showed that 77% rate the banking and financial system healthy. November 1 19223 Bankers may finally have achieved equality with nonbank competitors where it counts the most - in the minds of the American public. Though Congress and industry lobbyists continue to haggle over charter differences, Glass-Steagall Act reform, and other issues, consumers have pretty much gotten on with life on a level playing field. November 1 19228 Consumers' embrace of personal-computer technology may be turning the "Field of Dreams" approach to home banking - build the systems, and customers will come - on its head. The American Banker survey suggests that banking providers will have to go after customers in the home, rather than expecting the customers to come to them. November 1 19218 Bank marketers have not fully exploited interest in mutual funds among their deposit customers, the survey indicates. More respondents than in the past said they had bought funds from banks, and 24% of bank customers said they'd be interested doing so. But only 17% said they had been contacted about purchasing funds or other investment products through bank branches. November 1 19217 WASHINGTON Bank Panel Leaders Cut Deal on Thrift Fund The chairmen of the House and Senate banking committees agreed to rescue the Savings Association Insurance Fund and pledged to deal by April with more complicated issues such as merging the bank and thrift industries. November 3 19309 Federal regulators agreed to stop requiring banks to use one set of accounting standards for call reports and another for annual reports. The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council voted to mandate the use of generally accepted accounting principles for bank call reports, starting in the first quarter of 1997. November 3 19312 Regulators are pledging to release examination guidelines for the revised Community Reinvestment Act rules by Nov. 13, about four months behind schedule. The guidelines are expected to resolve scores of questions about how the new CRA rules - which begin phasing in Jan. 1 - will work. November 2 19264 Efforts to modernize banking laws and regulations have not been nearly bold enough, said Comptroller of the Currency Eugene A. Ludwig. He envisioned "a new paradigm for the financial services industry" and hinted that it should involve breaking down all barriers between the insurance, securities, and banking businesses. October 30 18960 Bank Insurance Fund reserves climbed to 1.3% of deposits in the third quarter, leading industry representatives to press for further cuts in premiums. October 31 19167 REGIONAL BANKING A Time of Consolidation For the Top 300 Banks Consolidation continues to radically reshape the distribution of bank assets and deposits, as well as efficiency ratios and profitability measures, according to American Banker's latest survey of the top 300 commercial banks. October 31 19175 Major West Coast thrifts reported generally strong earnings for the September quarter. Fatter-than-expected rate spreads and one-time gains pushed many of their earnings above analysts' expectations. October 30 18948 Chase and Chemical committed $18.1 billion to a five-year community reinvestment initiative. November 2 19258 Banks are making more business and consumer loans, even though the economy shows some signs of slowing down, the Federal Reserve says. November 2 19261 U.S. Bancorp and merger partner West One boosted profits in the third quarter, as did three major Japanese-owned California banks and the two biggest banks in Salt Lake City. But results in Hawaii were mixed. November 3 19311 COMMUNITY BANKING In N.E., Strong Profits, Asset-Quality Worries Northeastern community banks and thrifts turned in generally solid performances in the third quarter, but analysts saw the first signs of trouble ahead. October 31 19197 Executives at the nation's small federal mutuals are worrying more about their future as Congress wrangles over a merger of the bank and thrift charters. November 3 19290 Aftershocks of last year's Northridge earthquake can still be felt in Southern California, but one of the worst-hit thrifts continues to have surprising success in revolving quake-jolted credits. November 2 19272 Farm lenders in California's arid San Joaquin Valley look for a farmer's water source before they leap into doing business. October 30 18955 "It's been a pleasantly busy week," said Jerry Shearer, managing partner of the South Carolina-based Mid-Atlantic Investors. The thrift investor group scored big with the sale of Bankers First to SouthTrust and disclosed the purchase of a new stake in another thrift. November 2 19271 SMALL BUSINESS N.Y. Banks Start Fund For Minority Ventures Jill M. Considine, president of the New York Clearinghouse Association, is spearheading a venture capital fund that can finance $100 million of equity and debt for small businesses owned by minorities and women. October 31 19182 COMPLIANCE Senate Measure Could Encourage Hostile Bids The Senate version of the regulatory relief bill could invite more hostile takeover attempts such as Wells Fargo's bid for First Interstate. Banks with high CRA ratings wouldn't have to notify federal regulators before acquiring another bank, so long as there were no antitrust implications or other problems. And that must need regulatory approval could deal with just one agency. November 2 19263 A federal-state working group expects to have preliminary proposals in hand by yearend on how to regulate banks that operate across state lines. November 2 19246 Cattaraugus County Bank in New York has just completed one of its busiest seasons ever. What made things so hectic? A steady parade of examiners. November 2 19250 CREDIT UNIONS Trade Group Gives Popular Chief the Boot The president of the Credit Union National Association is being forced to step down, after eight years on the job. Ralph Swoboda offered no explanation, but sources said CUNA's board was disappointed with his leadership in fighting a bill that would strengthen federal oversight of federally insured state-chartered credit unions. November 1 19232 For Chuck Zuver, chief lobbyist of the Credit Union National Association, the days of easy relations with Congress are over. The CapCorp failure has heightened scrutiny, and even his own ranks are divided on key issues. October 30 18931 CUNA's annual meeting could be the last conventional one for the group as presently constituted. It is in the midst of a top-to-bottom self- examination. October 30 18946 Thanks to falling rates, fewer credit unions lost money in the first half of 1995 than a year earlier. October 30 18943 CREDIT/DEBIT/ATMs Protecting Privacy: Uncle Sam's Job? A conference in Washington examined the question: Is corporate America capable of protecting consumers' interests in matters of personal privacy, or are government oversight and regulation necessary? November 3 19316 Despite generally upbeat reports on bank earnings and the economy, lenders have been unable to shake a nagging concern this fall: that consumer delinquencies appear to be firmly on the rise. November 2 19276 Merger partners First Union and First Fidelity bought into Nova Information Systems and signed up for it to take over their merchant processing. November 2 19262 American Express' Optima True Grace Card is growing steadily, but GE Capital's Exxon card is lagging behind comparable programs, a consumer survey has found. October 31 19193 Though Elvis is dead, you can still get him to pay for your groceries or even a trip to Graceland if you get the new credit card, in his image, from Leaders Federal Bank for Savings in Memphis. October 30 18976 INVESTMENT PRODUCTS Nontraditional Products Luring More Consumers On a warm fall afternoon in New York, a clown beckoned passers-by to a nearby Marine Midland branch. Those who took the bait found themselves in a newly opened financial planning center. As in past years, financial planning is the "nontraditional service" that drew the highest level of interest from bank customers participating in the annual American Banker consumer survey. November 1 19217 Annuity sales at banks and thrifts fell during the second quarter as many investors jumped to CDs. October 30 18927 Stock mutual funds are still booming, but there are signs that bank brokerage clients are becoming a little wary of the equity markets. October 31 19162 As the merger wave sweeps the banking industry, mutual fund companies are getting caught in the undertow. Many fund companies are suddenly having to build hard-won relationships all over again. November 2 19274 Boatmen's Trust would get a nice lift from a pending acquisition by its parent, St. Louis-based Boatmen's Bancshares. Fourth Financial of Wichita, Kansas' leading trust bank, would bring $5.5 billion of trust assets. November 2 19249 MORTGAGES Odds Are on Las Vegas For 1996 Originations Las Vegas will be 1996's mortgage origination hot spot, according to a Mortgage Bankers Association study of the 60 most-populated housing and mortgage markets. In fact, the Sun Belt dominates the list of promising locales. October 30 18959 Guidelines issued by Standard & Poor's could accelerate mortgage banks' entry into the risky but lucrative business of lending credit-impaired borrowers. November 2 19253 An executive who sold his Buffalo mortgage bank to HSBC's Marine Midland last year and remains in charge advises others in his position to "go with the flow" in a larger organization. November 1 19227 In a letter to lenders, Fannie Mae said credit scoring soon will become standard operating procedure in its underwriting. But chairman James A. Johnson said the agency "won't go back and second-guess loans you have already made and ask you to buy them back if they don't match up to a new way of assessing risks and doing business." Anyway, not right away November 1 19226 TECHNOLOGY First Union Taps EDS To Help with Big Buyout Negotiating nimbly through banking's merger minefield, Electronic Data Systems has won a multimillion-dollar technology services contract from First Union. - which is acquiring one of EDS' biggest customers, First Fidelity. November 2 19266 A consortium of home lending groups has set up a Delaware corporation to manage the long-anticipated Mortgage Electronic Registration System and aims to have it up and running by early 1997. October 31 19171 As Netscape Communications' liaison to the banking world, Charles Jadallah pushes some of the industry's most far-reaching technology advances. The job with the Internet software company has landed him in controversies involving the likes of Microsoft, MasterCard, and Visa. November 3 19284 The Internet will never be secure enough for banking, says Clifford L. Brody, a consultant in Washington. Instead, he argues, smart cards hold the key to electronic transactions. November 1 19208 Home lenders are struggling with how to streamline the operations-heavy processing of mortgages. October 30 18956 FINANCE Marking a 5-Year Rally For Banking Stocks Five years ago on Halloween, bank stocks slipped past the Grim Reaper and began a rally that's still going. Wall Street continues to debate how the industry emerged from one of the scariest periods it has ever endured. October 31 19190 NBD Bancorp plans to sell 25 Ohio branches to Fifth Third, in a deal that continues a buildup by Fifth Third while removing a major competitor from the hotly contested Ohio market. November 2 19267 Concerns over the quality of home equity loans at Money Store helped cool investor ardor for consumer lenders, causing a dramatic selloff in some of the year's hottest stocks. October 30 18970 An $875 million acquisition loan to the parent of retailer TJ Maxx could be a tough sell for BankAmerica, Bank of New York, First Chicago, and Goldman Sachs. The challenge is to distinguish the buyer from retailers that have run into financial trouble recently. October 31 19161 The expected relaxation of an accounting standard for the short term is seen as creating an opportunity for some banks. October 30 18969
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