CONSUMER CREDIT QUALITY: 1996 has been called "the year of the collector." As a result, consumer lenders of all stripes are tightening underwriting standards, bolstering collection efforts, and experimenting with technology designed to head off problems. This supplement examines the heightened interest in consumer credit quality. Pullout section


WALL STREET bids up the stock price of merging banks that announce plans to consolidate branches and cut employees, a recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said. Page 2


TWO DAYS after Chicago-based Capitol Bank and Trust said it would plead guilty to bribery charges, its parent, CBC Bancorp, announced it was selling out to Banponce of Puerto Rico. Page 5


A COALITION of minority-owned banks is organizing a loan fund to finance the rebuilding of black churches razed in the recent rash of arson fires across the South. Page 6

A YEAR and a half after a branching fight sharply divided the industry, Colorado's banks are more united now than in over two decades, trade group officials say. Page 6


DEVELOPING reliable mutual funds requires a well-informed, accurate sales practice and portfolio management that adheres to the investment process and objectives disclosed in the marketing and prospectus materials, write Joan Binstock and Peter Marshall of Ernst & Young. Page 8

AMERICAN EXPRESS expanded its menu of investment services geared to clients who don't use brokers - and industry experts say bankers should take notice. Page 9


CITICORP and other banks got the green light to be the chief providers of electronic systems for delivering welfare and other benefit payments. Page 10

TOTAL SYSTEM Services has formed alliances with two companies to help its financial institution clients cope with their delinquent accounts. Page 10

VISA INTERNATIONAL promoted a veteran advertising executive to head up its global marketing division. Page 11


ANALYSTS ARE sticking by Cityscape Financial's stock, despite the Elmsford, N.Y.-based home equity lender's rough summer. Page 12

SOME 400 mortgage bankers heard plenty of upbeat talk in Raleigh at a conference sponsored by the Community Bankers Association of North Carolina. Page 12


ON-LINE BANKING: Financial Services, of Glen Rock, N.J., is offering the latest service to help find banks on the Internet - a catalogue of locations, products, and rates. Page 16


COMMERCIAL BANKS have made some impressive strides in the junk bond market over the past year, rising in the rankings of lead underwriters. Back page

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