New England's big banks have been copying each other for years. They lost money together during the banking crisis five years ago, and now they're making similar cost-cutting moves. On Sept. 19, Shawmut National eliminated the jobs of Vice-Chairman Allen W. Sanborn and two other top executives, citing the need to increase efficiency at the top. Last October, Bank of Boston Chairman Ira Stepanian axed three of his top lieutenants, saying he needed greater efficiency at the top. Stepanian followed his cuts with layoffs: Now, Shawmut Chairman Joel Alvord plans to cut 600 jobs. But Alvord is different in at least one respect: Stepanian got rid of his bank's helicopter. Alvord has kept Shawmut's corporate plane.

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