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Don't Blame All Banks

September 15, 1985

It is clear that Herman Stein is concerned about the current state of the financial services industry ("Likes Fuddy-Duddy Banks," Letters, Aug. 25) and, indeed there is justification for concern. But to criticize all banks for the sins of a well-publicized few is wrong.

Sure, many bankers misjudged the effects of deregulation and made mistakes in marketing products they were not prepared to deliver, but many more bankers have done an excellent job of entering new markets with innovative products and services. (I know because I am an independent consultant to the financial services industry.)

Stein has evidently elected to avoid such institutions because he neither wants nor needs the specialized services they offer. Well, that's fine, but he shouldn't criticize those of us who look for legitimate creativity and innovation in the services we seek in our bank.

The quote from the book, "Can You Trust Your Bank?" is well taken. Every consumer should know as much as possible about where he puts his money. The selection of a bank should be made with the same care and attention as the selection of a family physician. I would add only this: Whatever your banking needs, choose an institution that is, first and foremost, safe and sound. Obtain a copy of the annual and quarterly financial reports and read it!

It says a lot about the kind of shape the bank is in. If you don't know how to interpret what it says, seek help. Next, be sure the products and services meet your needs, and shop the pricing. After all, you shop the prices for loans when you need to borrow, don't you? Nobody forces you to bank with an institution that assesses charges that you may think are more than you wish to pay. And lastly, meet your banker: Get to know him or her and be sure he or she knows you. If you can't accomplish this, you're probably in the wrong bank.

ROBERT MASLAC

El Toro

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