Stephan A. James has been promoted to managing partner of Andersen Consulting's worldwide financial services practice.

The financial services unit, whose revenues jumped 28%, to $1.9 billion, in 1997, is Andersen's second-fastest-growing practice. It employs 13,000 who cater to 700 financial institution clients.

Mr. James, 51, was managing partner of Andersen's Americas financial services practice for four years. In his new role, he has responsibility for banking, insurance, and health services.

He said he plans to address several issues of importance to financial institutions globally.

"There is a concern by senior managers that they're not using information technology in an effective manner to execute business strategy," Mr. James said. "They need to execute quickly, and so our discussions look into outsourcing, IT transactions, and long-range technology strategy planning."

Managers also "need to deal with the changing nature of the business to serve customers with better product sets," he said. "Traditional training techniques are not adequate for the global marketplace."

A third concern involves mergers and acquisitions. "We're not talking about premerger or post-merger analysis," Mr. James said. "We're talking about taking new entities and making them effective and gaining competitive advantage."

This year, Chicago-based Andersen moved to strengthen its presence in financial services with technology vendor partnerships. For example, it signed agreements with enterprise resource planning vendors SAP AG of Walldorf, Germany, and PeopleSoft Inc. of Pleasanton, Calif.

"We have views on how financial services companies should be run in the next century," Mr. James said. "We define the problems and use a piece of software to implement solutions more quickly."

Some of the firm's higher-profile clients include the London Stock Exchange, where Andersen said it helped reduce operating costs 40% by redesigning work processes and technology; and J.P. Morgan & Co., where Andersen manages applications development and maintenance as part of the Pinnacle outsourcing alliance.

The financial practice's fastest-growing region is Europe, followed by the United States.

"My view is we'll see a surge in demand for management and technology consulting services in Europe because companies need to align" due to the European Monetary Union, said Mr. James.

"Many companies have a lot of activity in multiple countries, and they need firms to serve them in a uniform, consistent manner. Our measure of success is in how well we've done that."

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