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State of the Financial Services Industry | 2009

2008 was an annus horribilis for financial services. The crisis that started with the credit downturn in late 2007 was amplified and spread via a dramatic reduction of liquidity, causing a series of bank failures and unprecedented government intervention, particularly in the fourth quarter of the year. The outlook for 2009 is similarly bleak, with industry profitability and asset quality challenged by a global macroeconomic slowdown and erosion of investor and consumer confidence.

What happened in 2008 and the resulting changes to financial services was akin to a punctuated equilibrium, a rare evolutionary state caused by a catastrophic event (e.g. a meteor, or in this case, concurrent crises in credit, liquidity and capital), and accompanied by the selective extinction of many participants and the rapid evolution of the survivors in a new eco-system. As it emerges in 2009, the new financial services eco-system will be governed both by new evolutionary forces set in motion during the crisis, and by the more traditional macroeconomic cycle factors that have affected it in the past.

Our 12th annual report attempts to provide broad cross-financial services perspectives as well as tactical and strategic insights for survivors.

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© 2009 Oliver Wyman