Like a typical celebrity marriage, the union of banks and investment products followed a whirlwind courtship. Over the last few years, most banks have gone from no investments products program to managing mutual funds, selling annuitie and brokering individual securities. At the least, almost all banks of any size are selling other companies' mutual funds.
But unlike many high-profile Hollywood marriages, there's no imminent threat of banks and investment products getting a divorce. For the most part, the marriag has been smooth sailing, but the pair has survived some bumps in the road. Bank have overcome their own marketing ignorance to penetrate the market and gain billions in managed assets. They've addressed regulatory problems and come out fairly clean--so far. Brutal non-bank competition, which has killed many banks' credit card, auto loan and mortgage operations, has been held in check--and sometimes brought inside the bank itself in the form of third-party products.