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'BEST BANKERS' COMBINE TO COUNTER CONSUMER CONCERNS

 'BEST BANKERS' COMBINE TO COUNTER CONSUMER CONCERNS
 WASHINGTON, March 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Representatives of more than


25 high performance, financially healthy U.S. banks will launch a national campaign to counter what organizers call the banking industry's "unfairly negative image."
 The bankers, operating as "America's Best Banks" (ABB), charge that, although "excessive publicity centered on a few bad apple bankers" has weakened public faith in the industry, a majority of financial institutions are healthy, profitable and playing a vital role in the U.S. economic recovery.
 The decision to undertake the campaign was made at a conference in Washington today. Some three dozen bankers representing institutions with total assets of $50 billion and ranging from small- town banks with assets in the $250 million range to multi-billion dollar regional institutions traveled from all regions of the mainland United States and Guam to discuss public and regulatory perceptions of the industry.
 Among the founding ABB institutions are Amcore Financial, Inc., of Rockford, Ill.; Third Federal Savings of Cleveland; The First National Bank of Strasburg, Va.; Cragin Financial Corp. of Chicago; JSB Financial, Inc., of Lynbrook, N.Y.; Security Bank of Milwaukee; First Savings Bank of Perth Amboy, N.J.; and First Federal Savings & Loan of Lakewood, Ohio.
 Some 2,200 depository institutions nationwide meet the rating requirements necessary to earn the "best bank" label. Other eligible institutions are expected to join in the campaign during the next several weeks.
 While addressing consumer concerns about U.S. banks, ABB will work with industry trade groups to create regulatory and legislative environments which recognize and nurture healthy depository institutions. ABB plans to address such regulatory issues as deposit insurance premium rates, agency assessments, examination fees, application processing and dividend payments.
 "Over-regulation of healthy banks," an ABB spokesman charged, "amounts to strangling the goose that lays the golden deposit insurance premium egg."
 Premiums paid by healthy, profitable institutions, ABB says, are the "pillars" of the Federal Deposit Insurance System. Such premiums help prevent taxpayer exposure when financial institutions fail.
 ABB bankers support proposals similar to those introduced by Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairman William Taylor and Thrift Supervision Director Timothy Ryan.
 -0- 3/3/92
 /CONTACT: Jared Cameron of The Hannaford Company, 202-638-4600, for America's Best Banks/ CO: America's Best Banks ST: District of Columbia IN: FIN SU:


DC -- DC028 -- 4703 03/03/92 17:34 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 3, 1992
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