To shrink its staff, America's Community Bankers is scheduled today to begin offering voluntary buyouts. The national trade group for thrifts has shrunk nearly 13%, to 83 employees, since last summer.

"I need to get the numbers down," said Diane M. Casey, who became ACB president and chief executive officer on Jan. 1. "ACB is solvent. We have solid reserves," but the group recorded a loss of $100,000 last year on revenues of about $17 million.

"We want to make sure going forward we are breaking even," she said. "It has been profitable in the past, but we are also dealing in the reality of a consolidation in the industry. We want to make sure that we are at the right size to address the needs of our members."

Ms. Casey declined to say how many of employees ACB expects, or wants, to take the offer, which will be in effect for 45 days.

The move is part of a strategic plan ACB adopted a year ago but shelved when her predecessor, Paul A. Schosberg, announced his retirement and the group's merger with the American Bankers Association collapsed.

Feeding speculation that the ABA is after ACB's members, Paul Katz, ACB's former membership recruiter and liaison to state trade groups, has crossed enemy lines to take a similar position with the ABA.

Acknowledging a tug-of-war over membership, Ms. Casey downplayed Mr. Katz's departure as part of the normal game of musical chairs for employees among the trade groups here. Danielle French, who had worked with Mr. Katz, is his successor.


Last week's massive winter storm brought the capital to a near halt.No one better depicted the frustration caused by the snowy conditions than Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers, who on Thursday was nearly an hour late to a speech before the Coalition of Community Development Financial Institutions. Icy roads and a busted water main had the Treasury chief stuck in traffic nearly 90 minutes for a mere three-and-a-half-mile car ride.

"I am glad to be here," Mr. Summers said. "Believe me, I am glad to be here."

In Washington, a bad personal experience by a lawmaker or Cabinet official could prompt policy changes. "I am going to propose a new CDFI lending window to support snowplowing and salting in the District [of Columbia]," Mr. Summers joked.


Fidelity Investments has snapped up lobbyist James F. Febeo Jr. from the Consumer Bankers Association. Starting Feb. 7, he will serve as a congressional lobbyist on retirement savings, electronic commerce, privacy, and other issues for the mutual fund, and he will report to Doug Fisher, the vice president for government relations.


> The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has promoted Brian L. Peters to senior vice president of its bank supervision group. Mr. Peters, who has been a vice president in the supervision group since January 1998, will oversee financial examinations.

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