The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray. On my flight to the recent IASA conference in San Antonio, a passenger asked me how I determine what the focus of our cover stories and our cover photo should be. Ideally, I told her, we select a person for the cover who best represents the primary themes of the article, which are determined over the course of researching and reporting.There were several photo options we considered for this month's cover on financial services convergence. From the beginning, Senior Editor Steve Dwyer insisted that First Union best represented financial institutions that were aggressively marketing banking and insurance services. Although I believe that First Union certainly is a leader in implementing this strategy, I pushed Steve to get Bank of America and Farmers Insurance Group to discuss their plans and agree to a cover photo shoot.

They both declined to speak to us for the article. Although the two organizations issued a joint news release in March announcing their strategic alliance, and had agreed at that time to discuss details of the strategy with American Banker, another Thomson Financial publication. Even so, B of A and Farmers didn't want to discuss any aspect of the program for this article.

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