In the weeks following the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon–that is, after the initial shock wore off–there was a widespread expectation that companies like Schlumberger Sema, which provides back-up operations and business continuity office space for financial companies, should be besieged with new business. After all, as of 9/11, only some 20% of financial institutions even had continuity plans in place.

But in fact the exact opposite was the case. "People decided after the bombing to take a breath. Those who were revising their plans when it happened stopped to re-examine them. Those with no plans decided to start thinking about it," recalls John Kersley, Schlumberger Sema's vice president for business continuity. "It's only this year"–specifically in the last couple of months–"that things have suddenly started to pick up. We've been looking at double-digit growth since then, and our firm has had to double its capacity."

Willis Group Holdings, a global insurance broker, reports the same phenomenon. "Now, we're starting to get a lot of calls," says Dan Prince, a spokesman for Willis. "Remember, security planning has to start out within the company, with a team developing a strategy. It's only after a company has done that that they turn to an outside consultant."

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