A proposal to require all banks to file quarterly call reports electronically instead of on paper is coursing forward, but not without static from smaller banks. Page 2

Why did Rep. Jim Leach put his congressional career on the line by opposing Newt Gingrich's reelection as Speaker of the House? Those who know him simply say he just did what he thought was right. Page 2


The Midwest has seen more consolidation deals than any other region in the last three years, and observers say the trend will continue this year. Page 5


David Payne knows how to give a good sales pitch. The Westamerica Bancorp. CEO has been at the helm of the Fairfield, Calif., bank for eight years and transformed it from a small bank holding company into a regional sales powerhouse and active acquirer with $2.5 billion of assets. "We have a sales culture here that is embedded in the corporation from top to bottom," he said. "It's an on-going process of staying competitive." Page 7


A growing number of savvy entrepreneurs are putting themselves in the driver's seat by forcing lenders to compete for their business. Page 8

First Maryland is capitalizing on its proximity to the Washington metropolitan area by expanding its small-business lending there. Page 8


Two prominent mortgage executives offered some words of wisdom at a recent conference on how to tackle the industry's biggest dilemma - the low level of profitability. Page 13


Mutual fund company American Century Investments is trying to piggyback on banks that are setting up 401(k) plans for corporate customers. Page 14

The transition of Bisys Group taking over the administration and distribution of $30 billion worth of mutual funds formerly handled by Furman Selz has been relatively smooth. Page 15


Wright Express, the nation's top provider of fuel cards to fleets, has won a lucrative contract to run a program for the government. Page 16


Webster Financial is entrusting management of its desktop computer network to an outsourcing company. Page 20


Merrill Lynch beat out Texas Commerce to lead a $125 million syndication for IMcO Recycling, adding another one-stop-shopping deal to its growing collection. Page 24


Thrifts with excess capital from going public are turning to special dividends to keep their shareholders happy. Page 25

With the latest employment data showing the labor market stronger than previously believed, the direction of interest rates has been thrown into uncertainty again. Page 25

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