In 1994, Harris H. Simmons, the soft-spoken and slightly built president and chief executive officer of Zions Bancorp. in Salt Lake City, took it on the chin.

A controversial push into government securities was compressing interest margins, causing Zions' stock price to languish. The trouble spilled over into the first quarter of 1995, when a trading snafu forced the bank to take an unusual $4.3 million charge against earnings.

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