Relocating the Capital

Willie Sutton's famous line remains true in the most basic sense: access is everything.

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Why a special issue about banking? It’s tempting to use Willie Sutton’s old line about why he robbed banks: because that’s where the money is. But that’s not exactly true anymore.

In the past 10 years, and particularly since the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, the investment-banking and commercial-banking business models have blended. Today, a bank is as likely to be a company’s connection to capital as it is its source.

To be sure, the new breed of universal banks is still lending plenty of money. But therein lies a challenge for Corporate America: with fewer — and larger — banks to choose from, the dynamics of everything from borrowing to buying treasury services has changed. That can be good news for prized corporate customers, or a headache for those lacking the right credit profile or book of business.

The complexity of this new banking environment was what suggested to us the need for a special issue. Although we frequently highlight individual banking topics in CFO, we felt that only an issue devoted exclusively to banking could adequately address the myriad developments reshaping the industry and, we hope, help you understand how they affect your own access to capital.

Because Willie Sutton’s line remains true in the most basic sense: access is everything.

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