The year is 2001. One of your sales representatives, analyzing a customer's total financial profile, notes that this customer has a revolving balance of $15,000 on a credit card, carrying a 21 percent interest rate. The rep e-mails the customer immediately, suggesting a switch to a home equity loan for a lower interest rate and tax savings and then suggests investment in a mutual fund-manufactured by a competitor.

Sound outrageous? It ought to; bankers have traditionally shuddered at the thought of selling customers on their own lower fee products-let alone those of competing providers. But market dynamics suggest that banks will have to do a far better job of managing customer relationships, positioning themselves as financial advisors rather than proprietary product providers. Continued industry-wide consolidation, coupled with the Internet, will spur both greater consumer awareness and product and service innovation leading to the next phase in banking: something Forrester Research refers to as Open Finance.

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