The American Bankers Association doesn't often break bread with the Independent Insurance Agents of America, but Rep. Rick Lazio, R-N.Y., managed to bring the two warring parties together over breakfast last week.

And while Rep. Lazio didn't get the two groups to lock arms on banking and insurance, as he had hoped, at least they didn't lock horns.

"It was the first time these groups really got together," said a House Banking Committee aide. "Beforehand, we were worried about a fistfight, but it worked out."

Though no agreements were reached, "the fact that the meeting took place is news in and of itself these days," said Robert A. Rusbuldt, IIAA vice president of federal affairs, who attended on behalf the agents.

Floyd Stoner, ABA director of legislative affairs, attended on behalf of the bank trade group. Sam Baptista, president of the Financial Services Council, was at the breakfast as well.

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Reform of the Federal Home Loan Bank system and the problems facing the thrift insurance fund top Jim F. Montgomery's lobbying list now that he has decided to step down at yearend as chief executive of Great Western Financial Corp.

Mr. Montgomery said now that he will have more time on his hands, he intends to walk the halls of Capitol Hill and lobby for the thrift cause.

"I've been spending a whole lot of time here already, but I'll be spending even more now," he said.

He added that being the former chief executive of the nation's second- largest thrift company ought to improve his chances for getting through to lawmakers.

"That ought to help because Great Western got through the last thrift crisis with our powder dry," Mr. Montgomery said.

A bill introduced by Rep. Richard Baker to modernize the home loan bank system is of special interest to Mr. Montgomery because "one of the biggest assets on our books is our investment in the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco."

But Mr. Montgomery said that the upcoming disparity in bank and thrift insurance premiums will be a top priority for him.

"Especially with the turnover after the elections, there are a lot of people you have to make sure understand this issue," Mr. Montgomery said.

Mr. Montgomery will retain the title of chairman when he steps down from his current job.

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