SPECIAL REPORT: SOUTHEAST ASIA is slowly opening itself to foreign banks to help it finance economic growth that is expected to double that of the United States into the 21st century. Pullout section WASHINGTON: AN IMPORTANT ALLY, Rep. Richard Baker, appears ready to join banks in their battle against legislation that would bar the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency from expanding national bank insurance powers. Page 2 A NEW RULE adopted by the Farm Credit Administration will almost certainly lead more Farm Credit associations to sell insurance, estate planning, and tax return preparation. Page 4 REGIONAL BANKING: NEW YORK-AREA consumers are more interested in saving money than Americans have generally been given credit for, and their savings are much more likely to wind up in a bank, according to a survey. Page 5 GREAT WESTERN Financial is within two months of hiring a new head of retail banking, filling a job vacant since March. Chief executive John C. Maher says the retail chief will come from a commercial bank, rather than Great Western or another thrift. Page 6 COMMUNITY BANKING: BANDING TOGETHER has helped community banks unwilling to be preyed upon by larger institutions. The smaller banks are bidding in groups on branch divestitures by regional banks - a method that proved successful in the Midwest this year. Page 7 MORTGAGES: MANY EXECUTIVES have eagerly awaited the accounting profession's gift to the home loan business: a new treatment of servicing rights that could bolster reported earnings. But the gift has also become a burden that could cause earnings volatility. Page 8 LOCATION and a stronger focus on consumer lending have done wonders for Fifth Third Bancorp. The Cincinnati bank increased its volume of home equity lines of credit by 56% last year in the extremely competitive Midwest market. Page 9 TECHNOLOGY: GENERAL ELECTRIC Information Services says it will offer electronic data interchange services on the Microsoft Network, an on-line service set to begin operating this summer. Page 10 LOMBARD Institutional Brokerage, a discount broker, has created an Internet-based service that lets customers buy, sell, and manage investments on-line. Page 12 CREDIT/DEBIT/ATMs: CREDIT QUALITY of consumer loans declined in the first three months of 1995, for the second consecutive quarter, as indicated by an American Bankers Association index. Page 13 THE INDEPENDENT Bankers Association of America picked a unit of Fiserv to be its electronic banking ally. The trade group's Bancard division had recently formed an electronic funds transfer unit designed to benefit smaller banks by establishing an alliance with a national partner. Page 13
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