For at least 20 years, banks have been trying to stem the tide of disintermediation: consumers and businesses bypassing them in favor of nonbanks ready to provide a wide variety of financial products and services. Unfortunately, too many bankers are trying to solve the problem through re-intermediation, which is going back to the wrong future.

SUPERMARKET THEORY. With this 1970s approach, a banker might reason: "If stockbrokers and mutual fund companies are competing with us for deposits, then we must react by establishing our own mutual funds and by acquiring brokerages." Following this typical re-intermediation path, the new bank-as-conglomerate hopes to reclaim its role of provider-in-the- middle by offering a wider variety of products and services.

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