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Eliminate the Panhandle exemption to the state building code.

Devote more money to mitigation and take other steps backed by the Property Insurance Reform Coalition.

Eliminate the state's cap on the affordable housing trust fund so that more money is spent to develop affordable housing statewide.

Put the regulation of consumer debt cancellation insurance under the state banking division, rather than insurance officials.

On the Money

Look for the next influx of international banks to Miami to come from Asia, says Simon Amich, president of the Florida International Bankers Association and American Express Bank International in Miami. Trade patterns have partly shifted from north-south to east-west, but Miami remains Latin America's banking capital and thus the place to locate for Asian banks working on Latin American trade. "We anticipate there will be a rush of Far East banks," Amich says.

A study last year found that Florida's international banks were losing market share to other banking centers.

Compliance staff costs increased 160% from 2002 to 2005 thanks to increased U.S. regulation, and international banking employment in Florida fell 35% from 2000 to 2005, according to a study for the international bankers association by the Washington Economics Group's J. Antonio "Tony" Villamil and Robert David Cruz.

Meanwhile, savings banks from Spain (cajas) and Portugal are moving into the Florida market.

In domestic banking, a fast-growing, major state is about all bankers need to know to assess their prospects for 2007 in Florida. "Good, good, good things," foresees Benjamin C. Bishop Jr., chairman of investment banker Allen C. Ewing & Co. in Jacksonville.

Much better capitalized than 15 years ago, the state's banks should weather the real estate downturn, says Miami banking analyst Ken Thomas. But he sees real estate slowing banking later in the year. "We're on the downside of the cycle," he says.

Banking Colonies

Florida ranks fourth among "banking colonies" -- states in which out-of-state institutions hold more than 50% of bank deposits.

It's also the largest major state among banking colonies.
"That's not going to change," says Miami banking analyst Ken Thomas.

Person to Watch

Margaret Callihan
SunTrust Bank Southwest Florida

Callihan, 51, is the first woman to direct a Florida region for SunTrust.
She oversees 72 offices in the growing region.