Outsourcing has held management's attention through the 1990s, longer than any other weight-loss regimen. The urge to contract-out, as tracked by an index from The Outsourcing Institute and Dun & Bradstreet, is now a $100-plus billion market in the United States alone-and growing at over 35 percent per year. While downsizing and reengineering quickly showed their limitations in improving corporate performance, outsourcing endures.

But cracks are showing in the cosmic egg that reflects outsourcing as a universe without boundaries. Momentum can mask the change in the environment, changes that should cause bank CEOs to rethink what is still a new way of life. Outsourcing, applied successfully in manufacturing sectors, is undergoing a severe test in the financial services sector.

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