Bankers can blame the lousy third quarter on a decline in fee income, but fixing the problem may not be so easy.

Low revenue from trading and mortgages was among the chief reasons that third-quarter results fell short of expectations, especially for the largest banks. Fee income sagged an average of 2% from the second quarter, according to a Keefe, Bruyette & Woods note based on data from the 128 banks that had reported through Friday.

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