The financial services industry has been good to AT&T Solutions.

AT&T Corp.'s network outsourcing business is growing at a 50% annual rate, its wireless division is up 46% so far this year, and "business from financial services is not insignificant," Richard R. Roscitt, AT&T's new president of business services, said last week during the Bank Administration Institute's Retail Delivery '99 conference.

Mr. Roscitt called financial companies "big devourers of technology," a fact reflected in AT&T Solutions' blue-chip client list.

He mentioned Citigroup Inc., where AT&T consolidated 11 disparate data networks in four regions into one global frame relay system revolving around Internet protocol, or IP, technology. It also standardized Citi's technology infrastructure. The banking company's aim, said Mr. Roscitt, was to reduce operating costs by $250 million and improve network service quality.

At Merrill Lynch & Co., AT&T assisted in a move toward more network efficiency in a project that was completed six months ago. Merrill wanted its private-line data infrastructure to be replaced by frame relay before it introduced Internet trading for full-service customers. It also wished to offer data and voice networks and manage systems for its network of retail branches.

AT&T tripled Merrill's network capabilities and increased its real-time services through voice, video, and data technology. The Trusted Global Advisor Network has transformed brokers into full-scale financial advisers by giving them instant access to financial market data for clients. The system also offers integrated financial planning with a range of portfolio management tools.

Bank One Corp. turned to AT&T to make its networks IP-based. It also asked AT&T to design, deploy, and maintain interactive voice-response applications. This way, Bank One expected to increase cross-selling by 15% and improve customer service at its retail bank call centers.

"Everyone is trying to figure out how to get into networking," said Mr. Roscitt. "The new economy is becoming network-centric, and IP is the universal language by which we communicate." Satellite, wireless, cable, local area networks, and wide area networks "are all huge efforts to ensure there's connectivity," he said. Within companies people are trying to become more efficient, and those in different time zones can "co-locate using virtual time and space."

Four of the 10 largest U.S. banking companies have outsourced to AT&T Solutions. Others maintain their networks in-house, said Mr. Roscitt, who was president and chief executive officer of AT&T Solutions until his promotion last week to run business services, a division that brings in $25 billion of AT&T's $53 billion of annual revenue.

"What we do fits what they want," he said. Many financial-company customers have merger-related issues or "wish to be transformed to Internet space," Mr. Roscitt said in an interview.

"We spend our time and energy helping companies globalize, merge, and become more efficient," he said. "We've gotten a lot better at it than the average bank or brokerage."

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