this week to securities firms and insurance companies.
That decision would be the latest step in a yearlong effort by the trade group, formerly known as the Bankers Roundtable, to reposition itself as the voice of diversified financial conglomerates. The group changed its name in April and then hired former Rep. Steve Bartlett as president to guide its transformation.
On Thursday more than 100 members attending the Roundtable's annual policy conference here will be asked to vote for the proposal after an endorsement by Leslie M. Baker Jr., chairman and chief executive of Wachovia Corp. Mr. Baker led the special membership task force that developed the road map for the group's future. The Roundtable board plans to finalize the decision on Friday.
"The world has changed," Mr. Bartlett said in an interview. "Financial services are now delivered in an integrated way. It's pretty logical that trade associations should change, and there should be a premier organization that represents the new world of financial services."How many nonbanks will take them up on the offer remains unclear.
Trying to get financial reform legislation back on track, executives of big banks will be pressing lawmakers this week to settle their differences and act this fall.
Members of the American Bankers Council -- executives of the 100 largest banks belonging to the American Bankers Association -- and the Roundtable will spend Thursday morning visiting House and Senate lawmakers. Other issues on their agenda include bankruptcy reform and tax cuts.
The lobbying will go both ways. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm is scheduled to address both groups Thursday. Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers plans to speak to the Council on Wednesday, and Gary Gensler, the under secretary for domestic finance, is set to address the Roundtable on Thursday. House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach plans to speak to the Roundtable on Friday.
Meanwhile, the ABA's Government Relations Council is meeting here this week to finalize priorities for next year. Those bankers will hear from Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., who successfully offered an amendment this year to prevent commercial companies from buying unitary thrifts.
After its proposed merger with the ABA collapsed last week, America's Community Bankers immediately kicked into spin control.
"ACB has concluded that it can best represent the interests of progressive community bankers as an independent organization," ACB president Paul A. Schosberg wrote in a Sept. 9 letter to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert. "We will continue to seek out allies to maximize the competitive strength of the banking industry, but are compelled to reaffirm our unique vision of an industry based on business flexibility, consumer choice, and commitment to community."
And Mr. Schosberg assured the Speaker that the group's flirtation with the ABA had not compromised its defense of unitary thrift powers. "Our public policy objectives remain firmly in place," Mr. Schosberg said, noting that the group would also continue to push for interest payments on business checking, Federal Home Loan Bank system reform, and workable consumer privacy protections.
Meanwhile, ACB chairman E. Lee Beard warned members against defecting to commercial banking groups. "Don't be misled by the messages of organizations that talk a good game about community banking but continue to obstruct freedom of choice in charters, products, and services."