BOSTON – It was abundantly clear that the number of job losses that occur as a result of bank mergers have been of greatest concern in the New England area. At a Dec. 14 House Financial Services Committee Hearing held here, 11 legislators, bank officials and community development and housing representatives offered their take on how the New England area, Massachusetts in particular, has been impacted by a series of bank mergers including the most recent Bank of America/Fleet merger. While BofA said it will add 1,100 jobs in its wealth investment management division in Boston and in other departments in Rhode Island, testified Anne Finucane, president, Northeast Bank of America Corp., banks should still be required to disclose the projected job losses for one, three and five year periods so that the public can prepare for a merger's impact, said Rep. John Quinn, Massachusetts House Chairman, Joint Committee on Banks & Banking. Finucane also pointed that BofA is the number one SBA lender in the nation with 12,758 SBA loans totaling $451.1 million. Steven Antonakes, who oversees state-chartered banks and credit unions as commissioner of banks for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, was also concerned about the growing number of large banks that are weeding out community banks for market share. Meanwhile, credit unions have appeared to reap the benefits of the mergers. A number of them have reported an uptick in account openings from former bank customers frustrated by the rise in fees and soured customer service claims as a result of the mergers. [email protected]

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