FOCUS: SMALL-BANK OPERATIONS As data processing companies merge, many community bankers are worrying about getting lost in the shuffle. Page 16 Back-Office partnerships among small banks seem to be fading, victims of the outsourcing alternative, changing needs, suspicions, and ego. Page 10 INVESTMENT PRODUCTS INSURANCE: If banks are granted powers to underwrite life insurance, National City will be one of the first in line to buy a life insurance company. Page 6 ITT Hartford, long the top seller of annuity products through banks, is far from tops with them when it comes to service. Page 6 FEW customers realize that their primary banks sell mutual funds. But advertising experts say there's plenty banks can do to boost awareness. Page 7 CREDIT/DEBIT/ATMs HAVING dropped its U.S. advertising firm, MasterCard is searching for a new one. Page 14 MasterCard is tightening its grip on Mondex. It plans to buy 51% of the company that will own franchising rights for the smart card in much of Asia. Page 14 REGIONAL BANKING After two weeks without a response from Great Western Financial, H.F. Ahmanson is taking its merger bid directly to Great Western's shareholders. Page 8 With more mergers predicted this year, many bankers are preparing for the possibility of being laid off by going back to school. Page 9 COMMUNITY BANKING Virginia's largest minority-owned bank plans to buy three branches from First Union. Page 11 MORTGAGES Three superregionals ranked among the top five bank holding companies in mortgage investments as of Sept. 30. Page 12 In its latest move to team up with rivals, Banc One Mortgage is readying a Web site featuring its products and those of at least two other lenders. Page 12 TECHNOLOGY Fischer International Systems has a way for banks to use personal computers to read smart cards without waiting for PC manufacturers to add special card readers. Page 17 As more banks get into home banking, a persistent question is whether to charge consumers extra for the service. Page 17 MARKET MONITOR The subprime auto lending business continues to unravel. Page 22
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