WASHINGTON

Although regulators are offering a better way to sell insurance, national banks are opting for the safest route - through small towns. Page 2

The White House is considering Aida Alvarez, who heads the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to take over at the Small Business Administration. Page 4

REGIONAL BANKING

WHO'S AFRAID of the big, bad superregionals? Not Gerald Lipkin. The CEO of New Jersey's Valley National Corp. plans to keep it on an independent course amid giants like First Union, PNC, and CoreStates. "We do our job right," he says. "They should be afraid of me." Page 6

COMMUNITY BANKING

IN a squeaker, the management of a Chicago-area thrift won shareholder support to merge it with another. Page 7

SMALL BUSINESS

Emergent Business Capital in South Carolina has become the fourth- ranking SBA lender by specializing in loans banks don't want to touch. Page 12

Citizens Financial, the Rhode Island thrift company, has formed a subsidiary to provide subordinated debt financing for businesses sales of $5 million to $100 million. Page 13

TECHNOLOGY

Bank technology stocks were mixed last week. Page 14

In its biggest deal yet, the technology company behind the nation's first Internet bank announced a deal to supply Australia and New Zealand Banking Group with on-line banking technology. Page 16

CREDIT/DEBIT/ATMs

Intellect Electronics, the Australian terminal manufacturer, hired MasterCard's former senior VP of chip card technology. Page 17

Virtual customers of Security First Network Bank have taken a shine to the Internet bank's latest product - credit cards. Page 18

MORTGAGES

Fannie Mae is predicting that home sales and mortgage originations will slip next year but still remain strong. Page 19

INVESTMENT PRODUCTS

ATMs have a role in banks' investment products business, but a far smaller one than some visionaries had foreseen. Page 20

MARKET MONITOR

A longtime bull says the roller-coaster ride for bank stocks may have just begun, and won't end till the Fed clarifies its intentions. Page 25

Investors have suffered several bouts of raw nerves recently, but the global economic outlook seems much too good for them to stay anxious indefinitely, say Merrill Lynch's top economists. Page 25

CORPORATE FINANCE

The brokerage arm of Bankers Trust expects to privately place $125 million of senior notes for Heartland Wireless, a wireless cable TV concern, early this week, sources said. Page 24

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