The increasing use of Web interfaces to manage horizontal and vertical applications shows that financial institutions plan to standardize and simplify access to their applications and increase interoperability among different systems. This is confirmed by the increasing use of XML, which promises to solve many of the problems faced by banks. Banking has the highest XML penetration, while the insurance industry lags behind. Brokers and securities firms are expected to offer the best opportunities to IT vendors in future due to the high number of XML investment plans over the next two years. Limited demonstration of strong ROI and the lack of executive management support and project funding are the main factors holding back Web services adoption. The financial industry still has to gain a better understanding of the real benefits of Web services before getting involved in large projects. IT players planning to target the financial services industry with cutting-edge technologies should take note of this.