Banking executives have their hands firmly wrapped around their wallets when it comes to IT purchases. To hear Cristobal Conde tell it, the office door's pretty tough to pry open as well.

"Since the crisis began, I have only met with a couple of vendors myself, only the ones that I thought could transform the company," said the SunGard Data Systems chief executive. "Our clients are doing the same thing. They only have time for two or three vendors. The kinds of protections that used to exist are gone. [Firms] are really thinking this is a life-and-death struggle on how to differentiate themselves."

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