Financial/Professional Services

Dec. 21, 2004

"You can no longer classify organizations along the traditional categories of bank, broker, mutual fund, and insurer," said Jill M. Considine, CEO of the U.S. Depository Trust & Clearing Corp., in a recent speech. While regulatory changes have opened some doors, technology advances are the real catalyst, allowing investors with a personal computer to access all the financial research and market analysis they could possibly use. So far, brokerage firms have been hit hardest by this revolution. Only five years ago, there were no online brokers. Today, they number in the hundreds, and the nation's largest online broker, Charles Schwab & Co., has 2.5 million active online accounts that reportedly conduct over $10 billion in securities transactions per week. Banks and financial service companies are falling into the Internet's crosshairs. While some are beginning to aggressively pursue opportunities, others are only beginning to contemplate what services they might provide electronically. "Firms that dip their toes slowly into the Internet waters are doomed because the 'Net crowns winners more quickly than the offline world," an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. commented in a recent report on how financial firms must reinvent themselves for 'Net-savvy customers. All this comes at a time when the global banking industry, exploiting the economies of scale, is undergoing a massive consolidation. Over the last 15 years, the number of smaller ($300 million and under) banks has dropped nearly 40%, while the number of $15 billion-plus banks has more than doubled. World Stock Markets Largest Executive Search Firms Largest Advertising Agencies Largest International Banks Largest International Law Firms Top 25 International Accounting Networks Top Securities Dealers Top 25 Property/Casualty Insurers

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