WASHINGTON

Anticipating the unification of bank and thrift charters, the OTS is floating a plan for a new community bank charter that would scrap restrictions on bank ownership and ensure equal access to credit. Page 2

Bankers urged the Office of the Comptroller against forcing national banks to comply with New Jersey's lifeline checking law, saying the move would create a compliance nightmare. Page 3

COMMUNITY BANKING

A small bank in California has established a merger and acquisitions unit to provide acquisition financing and advice to other community banks, and to generate more fee income for itself. Page 6

When Alan W. Ott turns 65 in December, he'll have to relinquish his job as chief executive of Michigan's Chemical Financial. It's a rare case of a mandatory retirement rule in effect at a community bank. Page 7

COMPLIANCE

With regulators starting risk-based exams this year, many banks are scrambling to adopt policies addressing threats to their institution's business. Not Natwest. Its risk policies are already a year old. Page 8

MORTGAGES

During House Banking hearings on the performance of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, Rep. Richard H. Baker criticized the agencies for failing to justify the government-sponsored financial benefits they enjoy. through their congressional charters. Page 10

New Jersey's acting banking commissioner is offering to help Fleet Financial borrowers holding high-rate mortgages cut their interest charges and investigate whether the loans violated any state laws. Page 10

INVESTMENT PRODUCTS

First Michigan is overhauling its brokerage to jump-start sales and slow the loss of assets, dumping its full-time brokers in favor of platform sales and hiring wholesalers to push its proprietary funds. Page 12

In a survey of mutual fund buyers, two-thirds said they had considered the risk factor before buying shares in a stock or bond fund. Three- quarters indicated they considered risk second only to performance. Page 13

CREDIT/DEBIT/ATMs

What is it that drives consumers to choose bankruptcy over other ways of resolving debt problems? The main factor, writes Visa's Kenneth Crone, is a lack of awareness of alternatives to bankruptcy. Page 14

The Credit Union National Association has reached out to its member leagues to borrow about $4.5 million. The funds are to bolster the association's battered credit card unit. Page 15

TECHNOLOGY

In a bid to take bank business from Hewlett-Packard and IBM, Sun Microsystems has unveiled a new line of powerful computing systems meant to be low-cost alternatives to mainframes. Page 16

FINANCE

A prominent investment banker predicted that banks will dominate the investment banking business within a decade. Page 22

The Federal Reserve is ready to begin testing a plan to let banks set their own capital requirements for trading and derivatives operations. Back page

LETTERS Page 18

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