Wall Street than by making regular purchases of their own companies' shares at open market prices, big investors say. In other words, paying what other investors do for shares-not the discounted prices that come from incentive awards. "It's about investing your own capital, not just participating in stock options," said Charles Moore, president of the Bank Funds Group, Chicago. He offered the observation during a recent American Banker conference in Chicago for chief financial officers. Equity portfolio managers were asked what they expect from a banking company and its top managers. Mr. Moore emphasized there is "a direct correlation" between investor returns and corporate managers who have a heavy personal stake in their company. He also said he looks for management and directors who are very "profit orientated, able to react to new ideas, and who understand where they stand in the local and global markets." Executives "must communicate effectively" with current investors and take steps to connect with potential buyers of the company's stock, said Robert L. Desmond, research director at Heartland Advisors, Milwaukee. "I would encourage you to keep an open mind about meeting with prospective investors." Citing their biggest bugaboo, the portfolio managers discussed such assets as loans that are shaded by a lack of information. "If we could wave a magic wand we would look for more disclosure about loan portfolios," Mr. Desmond said. "You can't give us enough information," said Joseph Stieven, director of financial institutions research at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. He added that per-share earnings are the No. 1 benchmark to attract investors. The strength of the comments seemed jarring to some bankers. Others said felt they were already headed in the right direction.

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