Though he is a recognized master of the mortgage business, Thomas R. Ricketts is the first to concede that he cannot control his future. In today's environment, a one-product focus is no guarantee of independence.

As chairman and president of Standard Federal Bank, Mr. Ricketts presides over one of the nation's largest and most profitable thrifts. Based in Troy, Mich., the $10 billion-asset unit, the nation's sixth largest, delivered an eye-opening 1.21% annualized return on average asset in the second quarter.

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