'Not Your Friend'

"When it comes to decade-long revenue growth for banks, the trend is not your friend," Mayo said. "Basic traditional banking is likely to remain weak. It's a slower-growing economy, and banks can't or shouldn't try to overcome headwind by reaching for inappropriate risky growth."

Gross domestic product in the U.S. is projected to grow by 2.7% this year, 2.4% next year and 3% in 2012, according to median estimates of 65 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

To find growth, banks including JPMorgan are looking to expand their reach overseas, where GDP growth rates are about twice those of the U.S. The bank announced in February plans to double its 4% share of the Asian market over the next few years and has expanded its global commodities-trading unit through a $1.7 billion purchase of parts of RBS Sempra Commodities LLP earlier this year.

Brokerage Strategy

Citigroup, which already derives more than two-thirds of its revenue outside the U.S., is "well-aligned with the growth trends we see globally," CEO Vikram Pandit, 53, told analysts Oct. 18.

Morgan Stanley is looking for growth from its brokerage unit after buying a controlling stake in a joint venture with Citigroup's Smith Barney, more than doubling its brokerage ranks to about 18,000. Bank of America is also relying on its brokerage unit, Merrill Lynch, to sell investment services to existing bank customers, both in the U.S. and overseas.

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf told analysts Oct. 20 that his bank is making up for lost revenue growth by offering customers service across multiple platforms -- where they shop, at ATMs, online, via telephone and mobile banking.

Generating growth will be about "taking share away from other banks," said Whalen of Institutional Risk Analytics. "At best the global economy will be a zero-sum game."

Loan Growth