The American Bankers Association's annual convention at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix next October may be its last.

ABA president R. Scott Jones said the group will decide within the next three months whether to hold a convention in 2000 and beyond. "On the table is not having it any more," said Mr. Jones, who is also chairman of Goodhue County National Bank, Red Wing, Minn.

Attendance at the annual convention has been declining for more than 15 years, but it's still a money-maker for the group, Mr. Jones said. "We are gathering information from our members and crunching the numbers," he said.

The annual convention is the victim of ABA's success in sponsoring more specific events, such as conferences devoted to community banking, agriculture lending, credit card, and trust services. The ABA has responded by cutting convention costs, shortening the event by a day, and moving it to resort locations. Still, the convention in Orlando last month drew only 1,200 participants, less than 10% of the attendance during the confab's heydays.

Speaking of the ABA, its 1997-98 president, William T. McConnell, plans to retire Jan. 1 as chief executive officer of Park National Corp., a $2.3 billion holding company in Newark, Ohio. Mr. McConnell, only the third CEO in Park National's 70-year history, will continue as chairman.

"I've really been way too concentrated," said Mr. McConnell, 65. "Everything I think about is banking. I'd like to be a little more well- rounded."

Three members of the House Banking Committee are telling acting Comptroller of the Currency Julie L. Williams to proceed cautiously on consumer privacy protections.

Reps. Bill McCollum, R-Fla., Doug Bereuter, R-Neb., and Richard H. Baker, R-La., wrote Ms. Williams after she announced in an October speech that the agency was preparing best practices guidance for banks and that stricter regulations could follow.

Ms. Williams has made the issue of privacy-how banks safeguard the information they collect from consumers-one of her priorities.

But the lawmakers warned that OCC guidelines may clash with the Fair Credit Reporting Act reforms of 1996. "Our basic intent with those amendments was to permit financial institutions to fully share information among their affiliates with only minimal limitations," the three congressmen wrote.

Part of the OCC guidance will address how clearly banks reveal to their customers that they may "opt out" of information sharing. Such disclosure is mandated by the credit reporting act.

"Your office may be considering issuing guidelines in this area that may place new or increased burdens on financial institutions in a holding company structure that were never considered as part of the legislative process," the letter stated. "We would strongly urge you to move slowly in this area."

Douglas L. Miller is expected to be nominated as a member of the Federal Housing Finance Board when Congress returns in January.

Mr. Clinton nominated Mr. Miller on Oct. 21, but lawmakers adjourned for the year before considering his qualifications. Mr. Miller was hired Nov. 9 as counselor to Finance Board Chairman Bruce A. Morrison. From 1991 to 1996, he was chief of staff to then-Sen. Larry Pressler, R-S.D. Mr. Miller is also a former professor of political science at Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D.

The five-member Finance Board has two vacancies.

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