Banks must reconnect with their customers if they hope to beat specialty financial firms like Countrywide in mortgages, MBNA in credit cards, or Fidelity Investments in mutual funds, a top industry analyst said Monday.

"The truly exceptional performers are going to excel in sales and marketing, and they are going to explode and rebuild their distribution systems," said Thomas K. Brown, senior vice president of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette. "Superior execution of traditional skills - risk, expense, and capital management - is just going to enable banks to stay in the game."

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