Asset managers were executing plays in the stadium in 1996 while bankers were suiting up in the locker room, or so a report by Ernst & Young LLP metaphorically suggests.

E&Y's 1997 special report, "Managing the Value Network," finds that banks out-spent asset managers in every area of discretionary technology spending except customer sales and relationship service, where they trailed by 31 to 41 percent. This suggests that banks are still building their platforms, while their competitors are building their cash flow.

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