Hugh McColl, a community banker? Far from it, but that didn't stop the flagship bank of his $187 billion-asset NationsBank Corp. from joining the Community Bankers Association of North Carolina.

Up until a few months ago, the largest institution in the trade group had just $500 million of assets, about 375 times smaller than the Charlotte-based colossus.

"We wanted their input and their view of the world, and quite frankly we have common interests on a lot of things when we go to the General Assembly," said Peter Keber, state government relations officer at NationsBank, explaining the bank's decision.

The trade group opened its membership to the state's larger banks last February after merger talks with the North Carolina Bankers Association collapsed.

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In addition to information on bank hours and services, Homeland Bankshares' Internet site offers browsers a little culture: a collection of Iowa artwork.

The Waterloo-based bank company has had local art on display in its offices since 1976, so the World Wide Web was the next logical step.

The art either was created in the state or by artists born or educated in Iowa. Six works now are shown on the $1.2 billion-asset company's home page, and 11 more are available from an archive. Homeland said it would rotate its displays, "just as in a museum."

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Connecticut's lawyers - and their down and out clients - love People's Bank.

The Bridgeport-based thrift was honored recently by the Connecticut Bar Foundation for consistently paying the highest interest rate on lawyers' trust accounts.

Under the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts, or IOLTA, program administered by the foundation, interest earned on escrow accounts is distributed to legal services programs for low-income residents.

While other banks have cut escrow rates to less than 1.5%, People's has consistently paid 2.5%, generating an additional $125,000 for IOLTA funds.

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