Today more than ever, financial services (FS) firms are operating in a dynamic, highly complex business environment. Globalization, new products and services, and advances in technology ­ the Internet, knowledge management/data warehouse systems, portals and wireless communications such as personal digital assistants, mobile phones, and others ­ are just a few of the "drivers" that are changing the competitive landscape. As a result, the FS industry continues to experience:

In response to these dynamics, we have observed two key macroeconomic trends that are becoming prevalent throughout the FS industry. The first trend is that firms are moving away from mergers, consolidation and scale strategies. Instead, these companies are focusing on the expansion of products and services, most notably within the capital markets, investment banking and retail investment areas. The second trend is firms are suddenly viewing information as both an important corporate asset and a competitive weapon.

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