Are Bigger Banks Badder?

Their shareholders are happy, but many customers complain of high fees and declining personal service

A fiery ex-Marine and an avid mountain climber, Hugh McColl Jr. has scaled the Swiss Alps and Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro. But his loftiest goal is to lead NationsBank, the Charlotte, N.C., company he has run since 1983, to the summit of American banking. Through more than 50 acquisitions, McColl has turned NationsBank into the third largest U.S. lender (behind Chase Manhattan and Citicorp), with branches in 16 states and $316 billion in assets. And NationsBank stock, which has swelled to $65 billion in total value, makes the bank No. 1 in market capital. "In most of life's endeavors," declares McColl, 62,...

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