Jay Sidhu, chief executive officer of Sovereign Bancorp, is trying to keep several steps ahead of his banking peers on what is quickly becoming a new frontier for hawking mutual funds - the Internet.

The 44-year-old Internet junkie's Web page offers a variety of financial planning services, more than most banks of Sovereign's size, observers say. But Mr. Sidhu, who oversees an $8.4 billion-asset thrift in Wyomissing, Pa., says he isn't brighter than other chief executives, just faster.

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