MARY R. BUSH Senior vice president, controller Citizens Fidelity, Louisville, Ky.

Criticize your client enough and you may just get a job offer.

That's one lesson in the blossoming career of Mary R. Bush, 36, senior vice president and controller at Citizens Fidelity Corp., a Louisville, Ky.-based unit of PNC Corp.

In 1986, working as an accountant for what is now Ernst & Young, Ms. Bush made some powerful suggestions to change the way Citizens Fidelity was doing business. The result: The company asked her to sign on as a vice president in accounting.

"My main objective was to take the tax expertise and spread it into the lines of business, as opposed to isolating it in the accounting department," she explains.

That approach helped Citizens identify the vast potential for home equity lending, a business line that has helped the banking operation boost its assets to $5.2 billion.

Now, Ms. Bush is the controller at Citizens, responsible for a finance staff of 45. And she has already shown the ability to stretch the role of her division beyond mere numbers crunching.

One of her major efforts was the installation of software that helps the bank analyze the profitability of its different lines of business. "It will help us to make better decisions about where to allocate our resources," she says.

The future of the banking industry will depend on its ability to weed out marginally profitable activites, sometimes sheeding unprofitable units - much as Citizens shed its merchant banking company in 1991.

An added side benefit of Ms. Bush's profit analytics: Citizens Fidelity will be able to provide more detailed financial reports to its parent company in Pittsburgh as well as to stock analysts and the public.

In addition, Ms. Bush's work will help focus the bank's acquisition effort. Her thorough analysis of Citizens is central in the work of figuring out what banking concerns in the region might be good merger matches.

"With the technological advances and expansion, we're creating an incredible delivery system," she says. The question that remains to be answered, of course, is exactly what banks will deliver. And that's yet another area where Ms. Bush's work will no doubt prove important.

Ms. Bush says she intends to continue broadening her role at PNC. And she feels she will be given the chance: "There's a strong belief here that young people are capable of doing anything you put in front of them."

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