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These are the hottest fintech startups and companies in the world

Sat, 07/11/2020 - 8:00pm

It's a fascinating time for fintech.

What was once a disruptive force in the financial world has become standard practice for many industry leaders. 

Fintech industry funding has already reached new highs globally in 2018, with overall funding hitting $32.6 billion at the end of Q3.

Some new regions, including South America and Africa, are emerging on the scene.

And some fintech companies, including a number of insurtechs, have dipped into new markets to escape heightened competition.

Now that fintech has become mainstream, the next focus is on the rising stars in the industry. To that end, Business Insider Intelligence has put together a list of 10 Up and Coming Fintechs for 2019.


Total raised:   £1.9 million ($2.5 million)

What it does: Coconut is a UK-based current account and accounting platform for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

Why it's hot in 2019: Next week, Coconut will launch its first subscription service, dubbed Grow, which will bundle unlimited invoicing and end of year tax reports, for £5 ($6.51) a month. This will make it a very attractive option for SMBs, that conventionally don't have a lot of time on their hands to handle their accounting.


Total raised: $282 million

What it does: Brex is a US-based corporate credit card provider, which initially focused on serving startups.

Why it's hot in 2019: The startup gained unicorn status in 2018, only months after it launched its first product. Now, after receiving debt financing worth $100 million, Brex wants to target larger enterprises with its topic — opening it up to a whole new set of customers and helping bring the company to the next level.

Want to get the full list?

There's plenty more to learn about the future of fintech, payments, and the financial services industry. Business Insider Intelligence has outlined the road ahead in a FREE report, 10 Up and Coming Fintechs for 2019

>> Download the report now

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THE PAYMENTS ECOSYSTEM: The biggest shifts and trends driving short- and long-term growth and shaping the future of the industry

Sat, 07/11/2020 - 1:57pm

The power dynamics in the payments industry are changing as businesses and consumers shift dollars from cash and checks to digital payment methods. Cards dominate the in-store retail channel, but mobile wallets like Apple Pay are seeing a rapid uptick in usage.

At the same time, e-commerce will chip away at brick-and-mortar retail as smartphones attract a rising share of digital shopping. Digital peer-to-peer (P2P) apps are supplanting cash in the day-to-day lives of users across generations as they become more appealing and useful than ever.

And change is trickling down into bigger industries long-dominated by cash and check, like remittances and business-to-business payments.

In response, providers are scrambling for market share. Skyrocketing consolidation that creates mega-giants is forcing providers to diversify in search of new volume.

New entrants, especially from big tech, are threatening the leads of giants. And as payments become increasingly effortless, new types of fraud are threatening data security and privacy. While demand for richer payments offerings is creating opportunities across the space, it's also leaving the industry in search of ways to adapt to change that is putting trillions in volume and billions in revenue up for grabs.

In this report, Business Insider Intelligence examines the payments ecosystem today, its growth drivers, and where the industry is headed. It begins by tracing the path of an in-store card payment from processing to settlement across the key stakeholders. That process is central to understanding payments, and has changed slowly in the face of disruption.

The report also forecasts growth and defines drivers for key digital payment types through 2024. Finally, it highlights three trends that are changing payments, looking at how disparate factors, such as new market entrants and surging fraud, are sparking change across the ecosystem.

The companies mentioned in this report are: ACI Worldwide, Adyen, Amazon, American Express, Apple, Bank of America, Braintree, Bento for Business, Capital One, Citi, Diebold Nixdorf, Discover, Earthport, Elavon, EVO, Facebook, First Data, Fiserv, FIS, Global Payments, Goldman Sachs, Google, Green Dot, Honda, Ingenico, Intuit, JPMorgan Chase, Kabbage, Macy's, Mastercard, MICROS, MoneyGram, NatWest, NICE, NCR, Oracle, Paymentus, PayPal, Rambus, Remitly, Ria, Samsung, SiriusXM, SF Systems, Square, Stripe, Synchrony Financial, The Clearing House, Target, Tipalti, Toast, Transfast, TSYS, Venmo, Verifone, Vocalink, Visa, Walmart, Wells Fargo, WePay, Western Union, Xoom, Zelle

Here are some of the key takeaways from this report:

  • In-store payment methods are still on the rise in the US, comprising 89% of retail volume this year. Credit and debit cards continue to lead the segment, as cash and check usage slowly ticks downward. But surging contactless penetration is set to bring mobile in-store payments to prominence for the first time in the years ahead.
  • Surging e-commerce will eat away at in-store payments' share of overall retail. PCs will continue to lead the way, but smartphones will inch closer to being the top channel for purchasing, in turn driving growth. At the same time, new payment tools, like voice assistants, wearables, and even cars will begin to give consumers even easier ways to pay.
  • The digitization of payments isn't just contained to retail, though, with mobile P2P payments, digital remittances, and digital business payments continuing to blossom as change spreads through the ecosystem.

In full, the report:

  • Traces the path of an in-store card payment from processing to settlement across key stakeholders.
  • Discusses emerging alternatives to card payments.
  • Examines the shifting role of key categories of providers as the ecosystem digitizes and matures.
  • Forecasts growth in key categories, including in-store payments, e-commerce, mobile P2P payments, remittances, and B2B payments.
  • Identifies three trends set to shape payments in 2020 and evaluates what changes the ecosystem is set to undergo.

Interested in getting the full report? Here's how to get access:

  1. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now
  2. Sign up for Payments & Commerce Pro, Business Insider Intelligence's expert product suite keeping you up-to-date on the people, technologies, trends, and companies shaping the future of consumerism, delivered to your inbox 6x a week. >> Get Started
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  4. Current subscribers can read the report here.

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30 Big Tech Predictions for 2020

Sat, 07/11/2020 - 12:03pm

Digital transformation has just begun.

Not a single industry is safe from the unstoppable wave of digitization that is sweeping through finance, retail, healthcare, and more.

In 2020, we expect to see even more transformative developments that will change our businesses, careers, and lives.

To help you stay ahead of the curve, Business Insider Intelligence has put together a list of 30 Big Tech Predictions for 2020 across Banking, Connectivity & Tech, Digital Media, Payments & Commerce, Fintech, and Digital Health.

This exclusive report can be yours for FREE today.

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KKR is looking to make a big push into life insurance with a $4.4 billion acquisition. Here's why private-equity giants keep elbowing in on the $30 trillion insurance industry.

Sat, 07/11/2020 - 11:21am

  • Private-equity firms are starting to look a bit more like insurance investor Berkshire Hathaway.
  • KKR this week announced plans to acquire Global Atlantic Financial Group, paying $4.4 billion in a deal that, subject to regulatory approval, would place the insurance giant on KKR's own balance sheet. 
  • It marks the next phase of PE's move into the $30 trillion global insurance industry, as PE shops expand their relationships with insurers, taking them from limited partners to managing their entire businesses. 
  • Private-equity firms have been drawn to the permanent capital insurance giants bring to the table.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Private-equity firms are starting to look a bit more like Berkshire Hathaway as they tack on insurance arms to their expanding lists of assets.

That was the observation of Columbia Business School professor Donna Hitscherich, who attributed the push into insurance to the PE industry's explosive growth since the 1980s, when their bread and butter was buying companies outshined by corporate conglomerates that weren't getting much attention, and fixing them up before selling them off.

Now, they're getting into far less sexy financial products that deliver a consistent stream of fees, albeit at a lower rate of return — like insurance.

"We are quickly getting into private equity for the masses," said Hitscherich, who pointed to recent guidance by the Department of Labor that allowed certain defined-contribution retirement plans such as 401(k)s to access private equity. 

"The more assets you have under management, it's harder to create returns," she explained. "I wouldn't say they are victims of their own success, but they just keep getting bigger and bigger."

The latest push could be seen this week when KKR announced that it would buy Global Atlantic Financial Group, which sells and manages life insurance and retirement products. The $4.4 billion deal will give KKR around 60% economic ownership, and boost its assets under management in insurance to $97 billion from $26 billion. 

The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, would position KKR next to investment behemoths Apollo Global Management, Blackstone, and The Carlyle Group, all of whom continue to turn around companies like the old days, but are now diversifying their portfolio with fixed annuities and long-term life insurance products.

"It helps sustain their management fee growth at a double-digit rate," said KBW analyst Robert Lee of the Global Atlantic deal.

"To the extent that they are managing all of the assets of the insurance company, they have pretty good growth."

Read more: Uber-rich investors hungry for growth have turned their sights on the private market. Here's how wealth firms like Citi and UBS are transforming their businesses to meet those client demands.

The lure of permanent capital for private equity

KKR's expanding assets — and stable management fees that come with it — are perhaps the most attractive features of buying an insurance company with no short-term intent to sell it.

Another draw, analysts said, was the permanent capital that would now be locked up with KKR, allowing it to invest on behalf of Global Atlantic without having to continuously raise money from outside investors.

Its growing pie of permanent capital — which the deal will bring from 9% to 33% of KKR's overall assets under management— means the firm can focus more on expanding Global Atlantic's business through acquisitions and increased sales of existing products, rather than fundraising, people familiar with the deal said. 

Already, Global Atlantic more than doubled its assets between 2014 and 2019, as the aging population in the United States kept buying annuities and life insurance plans.

Now, KKR co-president Scott Nuttall said in a Wednesday call announcing the deal that he would supercharge its growth.

"We believe we can help GA grow even faster going forward," Nuttall said Wednesday, "through helping generate even better investment returns, and using our network to access capital to fund more organic and inorganic growth." 

Why private equity has been pushing into life insurance 

The deal marks the next phase of PE's toehold in the $30 trillion global insurance industry, a stake that has grown larger since 2009 when Apollo partnered with former American Insurance Group executive James Belardi to start creating Athene Holdings.

Since then, Apollo has bought other insurance assets — notably, Aviva USA in 2013 — and increased its stake in Athene,  to 35% from 17%.

Others have taken note. 

Blackstone got in on the game in 2017 when it bought fixed annuities and life insurance business Fidelity & Guaranty Life, now known as FGL Holdings Inc, for $1.87 billion. After announcing a broader push into insurance last year, Blackstone sold the business to Fidelity National Financial for $2.7 billion.

The Carlyle Group  bought a 19.9% stake in DSA Reinsurance — a reinsurance company with life and annuity insurance, but also property and casualty — from AIG in 2018. It increased its stake in 2019, taking a majority stake in the company, rebranded as Fortitude Re. 

"We have relationships with many insurance companies, and several of them have capital tied up in products they sold years ago that are dragging down returns. We also have this great connectivity to world-class investors that might appreciate a new class of asset or risk to add to their portfolios," said Brian Schreiber, managing director and co-head of Carlyle Global Financial Services Partners.

"At Carlyle, what we do best is originate superior value assets, many illiquid and long dated, that match well with those long-dated insurance cash flows," he added.  

Some of the largest life insurers have increasingly put investment dollars into the hands of private-equity firms, PE experts say. 

Their businesses rely on collecting premiums from individuals, and then investing it wisely — enough to cover claims at the date of mortality events. So, as interest rates have remained low, insurers have looked to alternative assets to invest, which yield higher returns than plain vanilla corporate bonds. 

While insurers are often limited partners in PE funds, entering into an outright acquisition takes the relationship to another level, allowing the PE investor to manage all of the assets and scope out new opportunities for growth. And, of course, take a cut of its earnings. 

Read more: Goldman Sachs-backed fintech Even Financial just bought a life insurance startup. Here's why that bet could pay off as policy applications soar.

KKR's acquisition puts Global Atlantic on the books

But there are downside possibilities as well. 

In KKR's purchase of Global Atlantic, observers noted that the PE shop was buying the majority of the insurance business and placing it on its books — a change in approach from how Apollo, for instance, has managed Athene as a minority stakeholder. 

Such a maneuver will mean taking on a bit more risk versus taking a minority stake and keeping it off its balance sheet, one analyst, Autonomous Research's Patrick Davitt, noted. Global Atlantic's earnings will now appear as a line item in KKR's balance sheet, he said. 

A line item, though, is a far cry from KKR becoming an insurance giant itself, others pointed out. 

That's a point that came through in the Q&A portion of KKR's deal announcement on Wednesday, when co-president Scott Nuttall characterized the transaction as more of a partnership than an acquisition.  

"We do not think about this as acquiring an insurance company, per se," he said.

"We think about this as acquiring the majority of an insurance company, where we can partner together, and we can help them increase their investment returns — which should, in turn, allow them to increase their growth."

So, as far as the Berkshire Hathaway references go?

"This is not KKR becoming an insurance company," Nuttall said. 

Read more: 

Disclosure: KKR is a large shareholder in Axel Springer, which owns Business Insider.

SEE ALSO: Private equity bet billions on live entertainment in 2019. Here's how the coronavirus has turned that investment thesis on its head.

SEE ALSO: Uber-rich investors hungry for growth have turned their sights on the private market. Here's how wealth firms like Citi and UBS are transforming their businesses to meet those client demands.

SEE ALSO: Private-equity hiring is getting upended. From senior execs jumping ship to new timelines for scouting junior talent, 6 recruiters lay out what to expect.

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The Death of Cash

Sat, 07/11/2020 - 10:00am

Both globally and in the US, the payments ecosystem is evolving.

Two related trends: the slow death of cash and the fast rise of digital payments, are transforming how consumers, businesses, governments, and even criminals move money.

Annual global non-cash transactions are expected to pass the 1 trillion milestone by 2024. This major transformation is being propelled by several factors, including increased usage of digital wallets, more small vendors adapting to accept credit cards, and the explosive growth of mobile commerce.

In The Death of Cash slide deck, Business Insider Intelligence projects what the payments ecosystem will look like through 2024 by examining the driving forces powering digital payment proliferation.

This exclusive report can be yours for FREE today.

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JPMorgan trader put on leave — lenders unload hotel loans — SoFi applies for bank charter

Sat, 07/11/2020 - 9:05am


Welcome to Wall Street Insider, where we take you behind the scenes of the finance team's biggest scoops and deep dives from the past week. 

If you aren't yet a subscriber to Wall Street Insider, you can sign up here.

With a travel-industry slump looking like it could stretch on for months or even years, lenders are beginning to sell debt tied to distressed hotel properties. It's a big change in posture for these firms, which had been wary to sell loans at discounts earlier on in the pandemic.

Dan Geiger mapped out this new trickle of deals, and explained why we could see a surge to billions of dollars in sales in the coming months as more lenders seek to cut ties with bad loans within the lodging sector.

Read the full story here: 

A growing group of lenders are looking to unload hundreds of millions of dollars of souring hotel loans. Teams hired to sell the portfolios say it's just the beginning of a surge in activity.

We also had a pair of scoopy trader stories on Friday. Here's a roundup in case you missed it:

Keep reading for a peek inside Goldman Sachs' first in-person board meeting since the pandemic began; a look at the executives who are driving Amex's digital strategy as e-commerce booms; and to learn why SoFi CEO Anthony Noto is so excited about the fintech applying for a national banking charter.

Have a great weekend, 


SoFi makes another go at starting its own bank

The personal-finance startup SoFi has filed an application for a national bank charter with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Dan DeFrancesco first reported. Approval would allow the fintech to lend money and accept deposits on its own. 

Anthony Noto, SoFi's CEO, highlighted three benefits of a national charter when announcing the application to employees in a company-wide email.

Read the full story here: 

SoFi just filed an application for a national banking charter, and CEO Anthony Noto told employees it's a critical strategic step for the $4.3 billion fintech Wells Fargo shakes up marketing 

Wells Fargo is shaking up marketing operations and plans to eliminate its centralized CMO role, Rebecca Ungarino reported. The moves underline the personnel and organizational changes CEO Charlie Scharf has ushered in at Wells Fargo, which he joined last fall after leading Bank of New York Mellon. 

Since a sales-practices scandal erupted in late 2016, the bank has gone through two CEOs before Scharf took over last year. In 2017, Wells Fargo unveiled a marketing campaign with the tagline "Building a Better Bank," and a year later released the tagline "Established 1852. Re-established 2018." 

Read the full story here:

Wells Fargo's longtime CMO will leave her role as part of a bigger marketing shakeup across the bank Goldman Sachs restarts in-person board meetings

As Dakin Campbell reports, Goldman Sachs has held its first in-person board meeting since the coronavirus pandemic began. About half of the company's board attended last week's meetings, including Chairman and CEO David Solomon. Other Goldman execs were also in attendance.

Several of the attendees chose not to wear masks inside the meeting room, Dakin learned. Others across Wall Street, including JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, and Citigroup, continue to hold meetings virtually.

Read the full story here: 

Inside Goldman Sachs' first in-person board meeting since the pandemic began Power players leading Amex's digital strategy

The adoption of digital payments has taken off amid the coronavirus pandemic, as consumers look to avoid cash. American Express, both a card network and credit issuer, is riding the digital wave with products like contactless cards, partnerships with players like Venmo, and QR codes to pay.

From fraud monitoring to credit decisioning to exploring new ways to pay, Shannen Balogh took a look at the power players leading Amex's digital push.

Read the full story here: 

Meet the 11 American Express execs tasked with helping the card giant keep pace with the e-commerce boom On the move

Bank of America continues to shake up its dealmaking team that focuses on M&A in the finance sector. After less than a year leading banking M&A at Credit Suisse, Jerry Wiant is packing up again to join the team at Bank of America, where he'll run coverage of banks and specialty finance in the Americas. 

One-click checkout startup Fast raised its $20 million Series A from investors including Index Ventures and fintech Stripe in May as it looks to take on Apple Pay to solve pain-points around password management and online checkout.

Join Business Insider reporter Shannen Balogh on Tuesday, July 14 at 1:30 p.m ET when she will speak with Domm Holland, Fast's co-founder and CEO, and Jan Hammer, general partner at Index Venture. They'll discuss how Holland came up with the idea for Fast, how to build a pitch deck, and what it takes to win over investors.

If you're a Business Insider subscriber, you can sign up here. PPP loans, revealed  Deals Private equity and investing Real estate Payments and fintech Pitch decks

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THE GLOBAL NEOBANKS REPORT: How 26 upstarts are winning customers and pivoting from hyper-growth to profitability in a $27 billion market

Sat, 07/11/2020 - 9:00am

Neobanks — digital-only banks with industry-leading capabilities that don't operate physical branches or rely on legacy back-ends — have exploded onto the global scene in recent years.

Increased consumer interest in neobanks is stimulating competition globally, creating an increasingly competitive landscape which has driven neobanks to roll out extravagant features, like overdraft protection and sign-up incentives. 

Beyond scaling rapidly by user count, neobanks are navigating the best route to profitability. Today, the average neobank loses $11 per user, per Accenture, and though neobanks' expenses are partially offset by not operating costly branch networks, they still need to find sustainable business models.

Some major strategies are beginning to coalesce: Most neobanks operate under a "freemium" model, in which they offer their product for free, but charge for additional features, while others offer multitier subscriptions with varying levels of premium accounts. Additionally, other players are targeting niche segments, like small businesses or gig economy workers, in their pursuit of profitability.

In The Global Neobanks report, Business Insider Intelligence explores how the neobank market has grown rapidly, and what's in store as the industry pivots from hyper-growth to sustainability. We discuss how 26 neobanks in key global markets are prioritizing scale versus profitability, identifying best practices to emulate and pitfalls to avoid.

The companies mentioned in the report include: ABN Amro, Adyen, Ant financial, ANZ, Aspiration, Banco Inter, Bank Leumi, Banco Sabadell, Banco Votorantim, Bnext, bunq, Chime, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Dave, Finleap, ING, Judo, Klar, Kuda, Mastercard, Monzo, Moven, MYbank, National Australia Bank, Neon, Nubank, N26, OakNorth, Open, Pepper, Penta, Revolut, Raising, Rabobank, Santander, Starling, Standard Chartered, Tandem, TD Bank, TransferWise, Tencent, Uala, Uber, Volt, Varo, WeBank, Westpac, Xinja, 86 400.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • With an estimated 39 million users globally, neobanks' valuations have skyrocketed thanks to their attractive value propositions which include personal finance management features, low rates, and superior user experiences.
  • But the same features that have helped neobanks catch on have pushed profitability further out of reach. Neobanks have been forced to roll out flashy features to stand out to users, and marketing these features has driven up expenses. 
  • There's no universal path to profitability for neobanks — but a few major categories are emerging. Freemium pricing strategies, multitiered subscriptions, and targeting niche demographics are three strategies neobanks are employing in pursuit of profit.  
  • Individual neobank landscapes vary by market, but their inherent advantages are allowing neobanks to emerge in markets globally. Regional factors have made certain markets particularly ripe, such as fintech-friendly regulations, negative consumer perceptions of incumbents, and gaps in banking services for underbanked populations. 

In full, the report:

  • Sizes the neobank market by value, number of users, and number of accounts to 2024.
  • Explores the factors that will propel the neobank market to new heights over the next five years, and the challenge of reaching profitability underpinning this growth.
  • Highlights key players in various global markets — including Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East and Africa — that are representative of the general neobank landscape and that have excelled in global footprint, features, users, or total funding raised. 
  • Spotlights some of the smaller players that represent the emerging opportunity in a given market.
  • Discusses how different neobanks in key global markets are prioritizing scale versus profitability, identifying best practices to emulate and pitfalls to avoid. 

Interested in getting the full report? Here's how to get access:

  1. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now
  2. Sign up for Banking Pro, Business Insider Intelligence's expert product suite tailored for today's (and tomorrow's) decision-makers in the financial services industry, delivered to your inbox 6x a week. >> Get Started
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  4. Current subscribers can read the report here.

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A top Silicon Valley VC thinks a massive shift to remote work could kill the commute —and launch the beginning of a boom in productivity

Sat, 07/11/2020 - 8:40am

  • Mayfield managing director Navin Chaddha told Business Insider that the months of sheltering in place in California's Bay Area have been some of the most productive of his professional career.
  • He credits the change to ditching his lengthy morning commute and time spent shuttling between Mayfield's office and various meetings in San Francisco.
  • He said he has started taking socially distant hikes and walks with founders and firm partners in Silicon Valley's South Bay as a safe way to build and maintain relationships.
  • The extra time has helped Chaddha focus on "out of the box" goals, and he said he has done more writing and webinar broadcasts in the last few months than any other time in his career.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

The commute in and around California's Bay Area is particularly nightmarish. The handful of highways are gridlocked with Teslas and corporate shuttles beginning around 6 a.m. and, with the exception of a short reprieve around noon, stay that way until long after the sun goes down. 

But when the counties that make up the Bay Area issued shelter-in-place orders in early March, the highways became eerily quiet. Commuters were staying home and clocking in from the home office, and the massive corporate campuses in Silicon Valley became ghost towns.

And the longer workplaces remain closed in favor of remote options, the harder it will be for the masses to resign themselves to hours-long daily commutes.

That's what Mayfield managing director Navin Chaddha thinks, at least. As a prominent venture capitalist living in Silicon Valley, Chaddha has the ability to manage his own schedule and access to reliable transportation even while working remotely. But after months of working from home, without a daily commute or time spent traveling between meetings, he realized that there were more productive ways to spend his time.

"I'm feeling more productive and I'm able to think more out of the box," Chaddha told Business Insider. "There's no more driving to the office or to board meetings, and suddenly you get back half your day that you can use to read and think."

Study after study has shown the negative effects of long commutes on workers' mental and physical health, but now many professionals with shorter drives are starting to see how much even a short commute could drain them. For Chaddha, that time is now spent with his family, with whom he is sheltering, and in front of the grill. It's the balance he needs to avoid Zoom fatigue, a relatively new phenomenon used to describe the mental effects of back-to-back video conference meetings.

"Business-building is a marathon, not a sprint," Chaddha said.

The marathon has continued, Chaddha explained, even as other firms scaled back funding activity in hopes they could wait out any underlying uncertainty. Since his firm's physical office closed on March 6, Mayfield raised its latest fund, saw multiple exits from portfolio companies, and continued to source new deals from a large network of investors and entrepreneurs. He has started writing more often, he said, and has been channeling some of his creative energy into webinar broadcasts for Silicon Valley insiders. He told Business Insider that he has likely done more writing and broadcasting than any other time in his career over the last several months.

"What I'm getting that I wasn't getting before was the time to think and read," Chaddha said. "The driving and interruptions in a physical setting that happen, you get back four or five hours a day, and the efficiency goes up."

Chaddha has had to get creative to keep the firm running smoothly, at times hosting socially distant executive meetings in large outdoor spaces with limited internet access or taking founders on hikes around the nearby parks in the South Bay Area, like the West Valley College campus or the Los Gatos Trail, when he feels the conversation topics are especially sensitive.

"You can do a lot of the stuff you would do, I would say it's almost better than face-to-face because everyone is relaxed," Chaddha said. "You can learn so much more about a person when you are walking or hiking in an hour than in three hours over dinner."

SEE ALSO: Startups need to beware of these 'toxic' deal terms when negotiating with VCs for fundraising

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A day-trader on Reddit claimed they made a 3,500% gain, and turned $35,000 into $1.25 million during the pandemic

Sat, 07/11/2020 - 8:28am

  • A Reddit user on a popular subreddit forum "WallStreetBets" claimed they turned an initial investment of $35,000 from their retirement savings into more than $1 million.
  • The user — who goes by "mori226" — said their winning bets were made through a journey totaling 350 trades.
  • The trader declared that their biggest winning bets were on electric-vehicle maker Nikola, Amazon, Disney, and Apple.
  • Markets Insider has not independently verified the Redditor's claims about their market wins.
  • However, the user posted numerous screenshots of what appeared to be their trading account, which seem to show the gains.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A Reddit user on the site's "WallStreetBets" forum claimed they turned $35,000 into $1.25 million during the throes of the pandemic.

"I cracked the 7-figure mark, and then some," the trader said in a post published on Wednesday.

Going by the username mori226, the anonymous trader claimed to have had an "insane wild ride" through 350 trades beginning from March onwards.

Markets Insider has not independently verified the Redditor's claims about their market wins, but they posted numerous screenshots that appeared to show proof of their success, including a chart of their gains and a complete history of all the trades made in the period.

If the portfolio did increase from $35,000 to $1.25 million in that period, it would represent a gain of about 3,471%.

Read more: Wall Street is being shaken to its core by a legion of Gen Z day traders. From a casual hobbyist to a 20-year-old running a 14,000-person platform, meet the new generation of retail investors.

The trader held that their journey started with $35,000 in retirement savings that were saved up from a previous job, and he withdrew $50,000 sometime along the way.

They were more than happy to detail their self-proclaimed success story for other users on the subreddit forum.

Mori226 recommended holding 50% cash reserves as a minimum at all times and going into out-of-the-money (OTM) positions of about 10-15%. An OTM position is an option with a price that the underlying security is yet to reach, which is why it has no intrinsic value.

The biggest lesson they learnt was to "not beat yourself up" over bad trades and mistakes, letting the winners ride, and focusing on what's left in the account to climb back up.

Another one of their practices includes never closing a position within the first hour of market opening, but closing it in the last hour instead. 

Read more: UBS lays out how a 2nd-wave coronavirus lockdown could lead to a devastating situation for stocks — one Wall Street has been warning about for months

The trader warned against putting more than 25% in any single position and not to follow irrationality.

"Losses don't kill options traders, calculating your alternate universe net worth on your woulda-coulda-shouldas do," they wrote, and added that emotions are the key to discipline.

Their biggest winners were led by making huge profits on electronic vehicle truck-maker Nikola Corp, Amazon, Disney, and Apple, he said.

Nikola, an alternative-fuel company, is already worth $23 billion despite zero sales or revenue. It eventually wants to go after both Tesla and the freight market.

Read more: Buy these 15 stocks that are shielded from COVID-19 fallout and primed to beat the market even as virus cases spike, Evercore says

SEE ALSO: The world's richest people are getting more and more annoyed at how much it costs them to look after their money

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These 4 economic signals suggest the COVID-19 recovery is losing steam as cases spike

Sat, 07/11/2020 - 8:25am

  • High-frequency economic data shows that in the last few weeks, the initially swift V-shaped recovery may be slowing down. 
  • Last week, the June jobs report showed that the US economy added a record 4.8 million jobs, the second month of gains in the recovery from the pandemic recession. 
  • But the report showed only the first few weeks of June and thus didn't reflect the response to new surging coronavirus cases in the US, which have peaked and forced some states to pull back or pause reopening plans. 
  • While the Trump administration insists that the US won't shutdown its economy to deal with the spike in COVID-19 cases, consumer and business activity could be impacted by anxiety over the virus.
  • Here are four charts that suggest that economic activity is leveling off or declining as coronavirus cases spike. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

New high-frequency data suggest that the swift, V-shaped recovery from the pandemic recession seen in early economic indicators may be losing steam as new coronavirus cases surge in the US. 

Up until the last few weeks, there were positive signs of a quick recovery underway in the US. Economic indicators such as retail sales notched record jumps, and a number of high-frequency data in mid-June showed consumer activity heading in the right direction. 

Last week, the June nonfarm payrolls report from the government showed a second month of record job creation since April, with US employers adding 4.8 million payrolls. The unemployment rate also ticked down again to 11.1%. 

But while positive, the report captured only the first few weeks of June, and thus didn't reflect any labor market reaction to a new surge in coronavirus cases that's now threatening to derail the economic recovery. 

On Thursday, the US reported 63,200 new COVID-19 cases, setting another daily record and pushing the country's total above 3 million. In addition, states such as Florida, Texas, and California reported record deaths due to the virus. 

"There are a couple of things that we are seeing and some of them are troubling and might suggest that the trajectory of this recovery is going to be a bit bumpier than it might otherwise," Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Raphael Bostic told the Financial Times in a Tuesday interview.

Read more: UBS lays out how a 2nd-wave coronavirus lockdown could lead to a devastating situation for stocks — one Wall Street has been warning about for months

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Loretta Mester echoed the message in an interview with CNBC, saying, "We saw a reopening in May and activity starting to come back pretty well. Over the past week or so, there's been some leveling off, and I think it's probably due to the increase in cases not only in Ohio but across the country."

It's unlikely that the US will shut down, as many states did in mid-March to contain the spread of the virus. This week, President Donald Trump's top economic adviser Larry Kudlow said a second shutdown would be "a big mistake."

But that doesn't mean that the virus isn't going to damage the economy. "There's more evidence that what is really affecting economic activity throughout the United States in particular is not necessarily mitigation policies, it's anxiety over the virus itself," Ernie Tedeschi, an economist at Evercore ISI, told Business Insider.

Because of how swiftly the coronavirus pandemic is moving in the US and impacting areas such as consumer activity and the labor market, economists and industry watchers have turned to high-frequency indicators that can give them an idea of what's happening in the economy more rapidly than government reports that come out once a month. 

Read more: The top-ranked stock-picker in small companies has returned 13 times more than his peers this year. He breaks down the 5 little-known stocks he's using to bet on the 5G and work-from-home revolutions.

"Our playbook in the past would rely on monthly data to keep us informed," Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union, told Business Insider. "Now I look at everything." 

To be sure, no one data point is a "silver bullet," said Tedeschi. While it's good to have many brand new metrics during the pandemic, "we also need to be cautious because we haven't road tested them before. We haven't kicked the tires on them in another recession," he said.  

Here are four high-frequency indicators that show signs that the V-shaped economic recovery is losing steam. 

1. People have stopped moving around as much as new coronavirus cases have spiked. 

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas has a Mobility and Engagement Index that uses geolocation data to track how much people are social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic. While the index is still trending up from its April low, in the last week that growth has slowed, and even ticked down in some states. 

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2. Restaurant reservation bookings have declined, especially in states with surging COVID-19 cases.

Data from OpenTable showed that people were venturing back out to restaurants a few weeks ago as the economy reopened. But in the last few weeks, reservation bookings on the platform have slipped, especially in states that have rolled back reopening plans, such as Texas, Florida, and Georgia. 

OpenTable tracks seated diners from online, phone, and walk-in reservations in cities where it is present. The above data reflects only restaurants that have chosen to reopen in each given market. 

Read more: Ed Hyman was named Wall Street's best economist 39 times and called the tech bubble. He outlines 3 market drivers that are aligning for investors looking to capitalize on coronavirus chaos.

3. There aren't as many employees returning to work as last month.

Homebase, a time scheduling and tracking software used mostly by small businesses, saw the number of hours worked plateau in the last week of June, which is likely to continue, according to data from the company. 

The pace of improvement of businesses reopening and workers coming back in June slowed from a month earlier, according to Homebase's monthly report. In May, the number of employees working improved 37%, while in June, gains were only 6%.

In addition, Homebase is seeing declines in growth in states with higher COVID-19 cases, such Arizona, Florida, and Texas.

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4. States with high COVID-19 cases have seen a decline in the number of shifts worked. 

In the past week, 26 US states saw double-digit decreases in shifts worked, according to data from Kronos, another time-management service provider with roughly 30,000 clients across the country. In 11 of those states, the number of coronavirus cases exceeded 100 per 100,000 residents in the same timeframe, according to Kronos. 

The states that have reversed reopening plans have seen dips in workers punching in as well. Workers clocking in declined nearly 9% in Arizona, 9.2% in California, 14.6% in Michigan, and 9.4% in Texas.  

Some of the dip could be because of the holiday weekend early in July, according to Kronos.

"While the July 4 holiday expectedly impacted the US workforce over the past week, rising COVID-19 cases, particularly across the Midwest and Southeast, present a new challenge for businesses trying to reopen and stay open," said Dave Gilbertson, vice president of strategy and operations at Kronos.

"Real-time workforce data over the coming month should reveal if the US is reaching a nationwide economic plateau as shift recovery and net-new hirings continue to slow," he added. 

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We got an exclusive inside look at Fidelity's innovation lab where the $8 trillion investment giant is prototyping VR systems for meeting financial advisors and explaining quantum computing

Sat, 07/11/2020 - 8:00am

  • Virtual reality has struggled to breakthrough to mass adoption even among consumers, but companies are actively looking for ways to use it both internally and to better connect to customers. 
  • Fidelity's Center for Applied Technology, for instance, researches out how emerging tech like VR can be used to improve business as far out as five years. 
  • The financial giant's innovation hub is experimenting with VR to educate employees on quantum computing and create a virtual meeting space for customers to chat with advisors, among other things. 
  • "In virtual reality, you've got this interactive blank canvas that wraps 360 degrees around you," vice president Adam Schouela told Business Insider. "It's a phenomenal visual experience and interactive experience."
  • Sign up here to receive updates on all things Innovation Inc.

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS — Virtual reality may finally be hitting its stride. 

Prior to the coronavirus, the nascent technology struggled to breakthrough to mass-adoption. And top companies, while experimenting with it, were nowhere near deploying it enterprise-wide.

But now, as the pandemic rages on and more Americans are regulated to their homes, industry leaders are hopeful that consumers and businesses will flock to VR

It has the ability to transport individuals to actual locations around the world — creating a potential market for "virtual tourism" — as well as simulated environments that can be used to train employees. Goldman Sachs Chief Technology Officer Lahtiranta even previously expressed interest in developing a VR-based trading floor

Much of the sector has been dominated by the gaming industry. Some tech giants, like Facebook, are also gradually expanding their VR-based services. But now, more industries are trying to employ the tech.

Fidelity — the Boston-based investment firm that manages nearly $8 trillion in assets — is piloting a new VR-based system that the company is hoping can eventually help both novice and experienced traders better manage their portfolios.

It's just one of a slew of innovations in development in the Fidelity Center for Applied Technology, or FCAT, the hub tasked with looking three-to-five years out and determining what tech will make the biggest difference for the firm and its customers. 

And the projects in the works show the early promise of using VR and other emerging tech as a key mechanism for interacting more closely with both consumers and employees.   

"In virtual reality, you've got this interactive blank canvas that wraps 360 degrees around you," FCAT Vice President Adam Schouela told Business Insider. "It's a phenomenal visual experience and interactive experience."

Fidelity originally demoed its virtual reality tech at the popular Consumer Electronics show in January 2019, but the projects took on a new resonance amid the coronavirus as in-person interactions dwindle. 

Fidelity created a virtual meeting space to allow headset-donning investors to talk to real-life financial advisors. Those in the virtual room can ask a voice-activated personal assistant to do things, like pull up stock information on a particular company or list when a specific organization is having its quarterly earnings call.

While the technology is still a prototype, the company envisions a future where the system could be linked to a customer's personal account information that the assistant could access. 

It's all part of an effort to make emerging tech like VR "relatable enough" to those who don't use it everyday, according to Schouela. "And that's how we start experimenting with — and starting — proofs of concepts."  

Business Insider got an exclusive tour of the FCAT center to see what other innovations were in development — including a program that virtually shrinks users down to roughly the size of an electron to explain quantum computing. 

Coronavirus as a catalyst for VR

While Schouela's team had been steadily working on the VR meeting room prior to the pandemic, it has taken on greater importance as more companies pivot to a remote-first environment and more consumers opt for digital experiences over the real-world

"Who knows how long this — the current situation — is going to be," Schouela said. "These types of environments are becoming more and more and more important."

There's no timeline for releasing the VR-based meeting room as an official product, but Schouela is hoping to open it up soon so that people can begin to play around with the system, though it's still figuring out the best way to do that. Its measured approach speaks to both the nascent-stage of the tech and the need to convince consumers and employees to actually use it. 

While VR headsets make the experience more immersive, they are not required to experience the virtual room. When Business Insider demoed the tech, for example, we did not use a headset — instead opting to view the room through a laptop screen. 

"You can literally use it from any one of these different types of devices, all to that same platform," said Schouela. 

Since March, the FCAT group has been working remote. But that hasn't been a problem, given that team-members were already spread out in locations around the globe. Before COVID hit, the team even built a Rube Goldberg machine that progressed from Ireland, to Boston, to North Carolina — all powered by internet-enabled sensors that would automatically trigger the system to start in the next location.

The group regularly uses Amazon Sumerian — an online VR development tool created by the e-commerce giant — to increase remote collaboration among developers. 

'Honey, I Shrunk the Fidelity Employee'

Another project that FCAT is working on is an educational, VR-based program to explain quantum computing to employees. 

"Everybody in the firm has to be able to understand this so that they can see where this technology has the potential to displace what we're doing," said Schouela. "It's not for show. We're doing it because we want to be able to better the end-customer experience." 

The virtual reality system makes the user feel like they've shrunk down to the size of a molecule and, after some initial education, takes them on a journey through a quantum computer. Hand-held remotes allow users to interact with different aspects of the simulation. Along the way, key aspects of quantum computing are described in generally accessible terms. 

"Not many people get to stand right next to a quantum computer," he added. "This is one of those examples where you're getting access to something that you otherwise would never be able to have access to."

SEE ALSO: How top medical device manufacturer Boston Scientific is preparing for the telemedicine wave that its digital health chief estimates could turn 80% of all physician appointments virtual

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Financial Services: 6 Key Attributes to Attract Gen Z

Sat, 07/11/2020 - 6:00am

Now the largest generation worldwide, Gen Z accounts for nearly 68 million people in the US alone. As Gen Zers age, financial services providers will be increasingly pressed to shift focus to the burgeoning demographic.

As digital natives, Gen Zers are more receptive to influence from friends and family than traditional advertising. For marketers, strategists, and developers, understanding Gen Z's unique needs — and creating and marketing products accordingly — will be critical to reaping their value.

In Financial Services: 6 Key Attributes to Attract Gen Z, Business Insider Intelligence provides a six-point framework that highlights core traits of the demographic, which banks and payments firms can use to attract, engage, and retain Gen Zers.

This exclusive report can be yours for FREE today.

As an added bonus, you'll receive a free preview of our Banking Pro Briefing.

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Meet Roger Stone: One of Trump's most loyal supporters whose 40-month prison sentence was just commuted

Fri, 07/10/2020 - 8:13pm

Editors note: This article was first published in March 2017. It has been updated in light of Roger Stone being found guilty of obstructing the Russia investigation. 

  • President Donald Trump officially commuted the prison sentence of Roger Stone on Friday, July 10.
  • A federal judge sentenced Stone, a longtime ally of President Donald Trump, to 40 months in prison after a jury convicted Stone of making false statements, witness tampering, and obstruction in November. 
  • Federal prosecutors said Stone attempted to undermine the investigation in order to protect Trump. Stone was found guilty of all seven charges brought against him. 
  • In January 2019, Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted him with one count of obstruction, five counts of false statements, and one count of witness tampering. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

It took nearly 20 years for Roger Stone to realize his dream.

Since the 1980s, the self-described "dirty trickster" who's been in and around Republican politics for half a century, had made it something of a mission to make Donald Trump president.

Despite parting ways with the Trump campaign in August 2015 — Trump says he fired Stone for hogging the media spotlight; Stone says he quit because Trump attacked Megyn Kelly — Stone has remained one of Trump's most loyal true believers.

Now, Stone's decades of loyalty have fully paid off. On Friday, July 10, Trump officially commuted Stone's federal prison sentence, which was set to begin on July 14. 

In January 2019, Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted Stone with one count of obstruction, five counts of false statements, and one count of witness tampering. Stone denied the charges, and pleaded not guilty.

On November 15, 2019, a jury convicted Stone in federal court on all counts against him, including obstructing the congressional investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Three months later on February 20, a federal judge sentenced Stone to 40 months in prison and ordered him to pay a $20,000 fine, serve four years of probation after his sentence, and complete 250 hours of community service. 

Initially, federal prosecutors recommended a seven to nine-year sentence for Stone in February 2020, which Trump immediately criticized on Twitter as "a horrible and very unfair situation," adding, "the real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!

Then in an unprecedented development, the Department of Justice leadership overruled their prosecutors' sentencing recommendation, releasing a separate memo saying it "could be considered excessive and unwarranted" and that the DOJ will "[defer] to the Court" about how long Stone should be sentenced.

The sudden reversal of the DOJ's recommendation shocked veteran prosecutors, and led to all four Assistant US Attorneys assigned to the prosecution withdrawing from the case en masse, casting serious doubt over the DOJ's independence. 

In his statement announcing the commutation of Stone's sentence, the White House claimed that Stone was "a victim of the Russia hoax that the left and its allies in media perpetuated for years in an attempt to undermine the Trump presidency" and said he would put "at serious medical risk in prison."  

Stone was put in the crosshairs of the FBI over communications with a Russian hacker and his alleged communications with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as the FBI look for connections between Trump's campaign and Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Mueller's January indictment of Stone repeatedly referred to Stone's contact with "Organization 1," which had "posted documents stolen by others" from the US government and citizens.

The filing said it "released tens of thousands of documents stolen from" people including the Democratic National Committee and the personal email account of Clinton campaign chairman, John Podesta.

"Organization 1" is widely believed to be WikiLeaks.

The filing also said Stone deliberately obstructed investigations by the FBI, House Intelligence Committee, and Senate Intelligence Committee into Russian interference in the election.

Stone has repeatedly said he has nothing to do with Russia, but messages he has sent to the hacker accused of a cyberattack on the DNC, as well as Stone's own provocative statements, continued to raise questions.

"It's rare that I'm accused of something that I'm not guilty of," Stone told the New Yorker in 2008.

Stone said in July it's "a possibility" that he could be indicted over his communications with Russian hacker Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks, which experts had warned could implicate him in a conspiracy to defraud the United States by interfering in the 2016 election. 

Stone and the Russians

On August 12, nearly a year after he left Trump's campaign and a few weeks after WikiLeaks, a radical-transparency group, published the first set of stolen emails from the DNC, Stone reached out through a private message to a Twitter user named "Guccifer 2.0."

Earlier that August, Stone had written on the alt-right website Breitbart, then controlled by Steve Bannon, that it was "a hacker who goes by the name of Guccifer 2.0" — and not the Russians — who hacked the DNC and fed the documents to WikiLeaks.

But experts quickly linked Guccifer 2.0 back to Russia and concluded that the so-called hacker was the product of a Russian disinformation campaign. When the special counsel's office indicted 12 Russian security officers for hacking the DNC and the Clinton campaign in July, they said the hacker was a front for Russian military intelligence. 

In his messages with Guccifer 2.0, Stone asked if the hacker could retweet his Breitbart column about the 2016 presidential election possibly being "rigged."

Guccifer 2.0 responded: "i'm pleased to say that u r great man. please tell me if i can help u anyhow. it would be a great pleasure to me."

Stone later told Business Insider that the interaction he had with the hacker was so "brief and banal" that he "had forgotten it."

"Not exactly 007 stuff even if Gruccifer [sic] 2.0 was working for the Russkies," Stone said. "Meaningless."

Stone's tweets in the days after his communications with Guccifer 2.0 have raised questions about whether he knew in advance that Podesta's emails would be imminently published by WikiLeaks.

On August 21, Stone sent a series of famously prescient tweets. "Trust me, it will soon the Podesta's time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary." On October 1 Stone tweeted: "Wednesday @HillaryClinton is done."

On October 3 he tweeted: "I have total confidence that @wikileaks and my hero Julian Assange will educate the American people soon #LockHerUp."

Four days later, WikiLeaks published its first set of emails stolen from Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta.

In October, Stone said he had "back-channel communication with Assange," but has denied having any direct contact with WikiLeaks, saying that he had been getting his information from a mutual friend he shares with Assange, later revealed to be radio host Randy Credico, who has since been subpoenaed to testify in the Mueller probe. 

But in February, The Atlantic reported that Stone was in direct communication with WikiLeaks via Twitter in the days leading up to the election. 

Mike Pompeo, then the director of the CIA, described WikiLeaks as a "hostile, non-state intelligence service" last year.

"Since I was all over national TV, cable and print defending wikileaks and Assange against the claim that you are Russian agents and debunking the false charges of sexual assault as trumped up bs you may want to reexamine the strategy of attacking me- cordially R," Stone wrote to Wikileaks on October 13, 2016, according to The Atlantic. 

Wikileaks responded the same day, "We appreciate that. However, the false claims of association are being used by the democrats to undermine the impact of our publications. Don't go there if you don't want us to correct you." 

"Ha!" Stone wrote back on October 15. "The more you 'correct' me the more people think you're lying. Your operation leaks like a sieve. You need to figure out who your friends are."

On November 9, the morning after Trump won the presidential election, Wikileaks wrote to Stone, "Happy? We are now more free to communicate." 

It is unclear whether Stone and Wikileaks had any other private communications either before October 13 or after November 9, 2016.

Stone told the House Intelligence Committee in a prepared statement last September that his communications with Wikileaks were always conducted through Credico, an associate of Assange who tweeted a selfie outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where Assange lives, two days before WikiLeaks released a trove of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta's emails. The email dump came the same day as a damning Access Hollywood tape surfaced in which Trump discussed groping women without their consent.

"I have never said or written that I had any direct communication with Julian Assange and have always clarified in numerous interviews and speeches that my communication with WikiLeaks was through the aforementioned journalist," Stone told the committee.

Meanwhile, NBC News reported in October 2018 that Jerome Corsi, a right-wing conspiracy theorist and close friend of Stone who was subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury, knew in advance that Clinton campaign emails had been stolen and given to WikiLeaks. 

Stone told Business Insider in March 2017 that he "had no contacts or communications with the Russian State, Russian Intelligence or anyone fronting for them or acting as intermediaries for them," he said. "None. Nada. Zilch. I am not in touch with any Russians. don't have a Russian girlfriend, don't like Russian dressing and have stopped drinking Russian Vodka." 

The New York Times reported in October 2018 that Stone discussed the WikiLeaks document dumps with both Steve Bannon, then the chairman of the Trump campaign, and Matthew Boyle, who at the time was the Washington editor of the far-right website Breitbart, which was previously spearheaded by Bannon.

In an exchange on Oct. 3, 2016, Boyle reportedly asked Stone, "Assange — what's he got? Hope it's good," to which Stone replied, "It is." 

Boyle then reportedly pressed Bannon to contact Stone about the impending WikiLeaks dump, telling Bannon, "clearly he knows what Assange has." Just 4 days after that exchange on Oct. 7, WikiLeaks released the trove of John Podesta's emails. 

"Mere knowledge alone might not be enough to establish criminal responsibility," Cornell Law School Professor Jens David Ohlin told Business Insider about Stone's potential liability with regard to his contacts with WikiLeaks and Guccifer. 

"However, if Stone was not just aware of what WikiLeaks was doing but actually intended for it to happen, then he could be considered a member of the criminal conspiracy and just as guilty as its other members," he added.

Also in October 2018, Mother Jones reported that Stone had pushed the Trump administration to issue a pre-emptive presidential pardon to Assange, who has not been charged with a crime in the United States. 

Ohlin told Business Insider at the time that "if someone offered Assange a pardon in exchange for Assange releasing hacked emails to influence the election, this would constitute a criminal conspiracy. If Trump or those close to him were part of these discussions, they would all be part of the same criminal conspiracy."

And then emailed leaked which shows top Trump campaign officials and right-wing media allies said they were convinced Stone was closer to Wikileaks than he let on, and Mueller was reported to have several emails from 2016 between the GOP strategist Roger Stone and Corsi that showed Stone anticipated a WikiLeaks document dump at the height of the 2016 election.

The White House, for its part, has worked to distance itself from Stone. During a press conference on March 20, 2017, then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that Stone and Trump talk occasionally but that Stone's work for the campaign ended in August 2015.

"I don't know at all when the last time they even spoke was," Spicer said.

In December, Stone invoked his Fifth Amendment right and declined to provide documents requested of him by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

'Admit nothing, deny everything'

Stone was perhaps the first, and most influential, person to believe in Trump's political potential.

In 1988, Stone tried to persuade him to run for president. Trump decided against it, but 12 years later he launched a presidential exploratory committee, which Stone chaired.

Since the 1980s, Stone and Trump have fostered a close professional and political relationship. Stone has been characterized as Trump's longest-serving adviser.

Stone and Trump share remarkably similar worldviews and approaches to politics. Like Trump, Stone has a penchant for making bold, unsubstantiated claims, promoting conspiracy theories, and being unafraid of controversy. He told The New Yorker in 2008 that "The only thing worse in politics than being wrong is being boring."

Stone encouraged Trump's infamous "birther" conspiracy, which claimed that President Obama wasn't born in the US, and promoted unsubstantiated theories that Bill Clinton was a serial rapist and fathered a son.

Trump has apparently adopted many of Stone's ideas and methods. Stone told The New Yorker in 2008 that "Politics is not about uniting people. It's about dividing people. And getting your fifty-one per cent." One of his cardinal rules was "Attack, attack, attack—never defend" and "Admit nothing, deny everything, launch counterattack."

"It takes a certain kind of consultant who could work for a candidate like Donald Trump and it takes a certain kind of candidate to hire a consultant like Roger Stone," says Chris Barron, a Washington-based political consultant who has worked with Stone in the past, told the National Review in 2015.

In the 2017 Netflix documentary "Get Me Roger Stone," Trump says of Stone: "He loves the game, he has fun with it, and he's very good at it."

Both Stone and Trump are preoccupied with the news media, and they rail against it as being biased, but also court publicity. Stone is known for being easily accessible, and he seems to relish providing reporters with provocative sound bites. As Stone told The New York Times in 2015 of his life philosophy, "Never miss the opportunity to have sex or be on television, as Gore Vidal said."

The media has, in turn, portrayed Stone as everything from a "state-of-the-art sleazeball" to a dangerous conspirator. But Stone relishes these descriptions — the more unflattering the better.

"I revel in your hatred, because if I weren't effective you wouldn't hate me," Stone says in "Get Me Roger Stone."

Stone, who has been a Republican operative for almost 50 years, has long treated politics and campaigning as a battle to be won at any cost. As a junior in high school and vice president of the student government, he forced the president out and succeeded him.

''I built alliances and put all my serious challengers on my ticket," Stone told The New York Times in 1999. "Then I recruited the most unpopular guy in the school to run against me. You think that's mean? No, it's smart.''

Notably, Stone has remained an unapologetic Nixon supporter to this day. After working for Nixon's campaign in the 1970s, he maintained a close relationship with the president and regularly dined with him at his home in the years following the president's resignation. Stone has a tattoo of Nixon's face across his back and a large photograph of the former president over his bed.

Among many, Stone is better known for his eccentricities than his political work.

Throughout his career, Stone has cultivated what he calls his "extraordinary wardrobe," which includes a taste for seersucker suits and top hats, a style that The New Yorker has said makes Stone look "like a Prohibition-era mobster."

"If life is a stage, then you should always be in costume," Stone told The Times.

'He always tries taking credit for things he never did'

Stone and Trump have had a rocky relationship. In 2008, Trump called Stone a "stone-cold loser," telling The New Yorker that "he always tries taking credit for things he never did."

In August 2015, Stone parted ways with Trump's campaign. While Trump announced that he had fired Stone, accusing him of attempting "to use the campaign for his own personal publicity," Stone said that he resigned, making public a letter he said he had sent to Trump arguing that the campaign was being derailed by "controversies involving personalities and provocative media fights."

Stone's departure came as Trump faced scrutiny surrounding his controversial comments about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.

Some conservatives believed Trump's campaign would suffer without Stone to guide it.

"It's hard to overstate just how close Trump and Stone have been over the years," the National Review wrote after Stone had left the campaign. "Trump without Stone is akin to George W. Bush without Karl Rove or Barack Obama without David Axelrod."

But even after Stone left the campaign, he remained a strong supporter, calling himself "the ultimate Trump loyalist." In January, Stone published a book, "The Making of the President 2016: How Donald Trump Orchestrated a Revolution," in which he says Trump was "put on Earth" to be president.

From Nixon to Bush

Stone was raised in Lewisboro, New York, in a white working-class family. He told The New Yorker that while growing up adjacent to New Canaan, a wealthy Connecticut suburb, he saw himself as "living in kind of a bridge between two cultures, the white working class and the white upper class."

Stone remains convinced that both groups of white Americans should be politically united against what he sees as an overreaching government.

After high school Stone moved to DC to attend George Washington University. He never graduated.

Stone made his debut in national politics at 19, when he sent campaign contributions in the name of a socialist organization to Richard Nixon's rival in the 1972 Republican presidential primary. He then sent a letter to The New Hampshire Union-Leader with the donation receipt, in an attempt to undermine Nixon's competitor.

In a 2008 New Yorker article, Stone told reporter Jeffrey Toobin that Nixon started the "exodus of working-class people from the Democratic Party" and realigned the Republican Party's platform to one founded on antielitism.

"We were the party of the workingman! We wanted lower taxes for everyone, across the board," Stone said. "The point that the Democrats missed was that the people who weren't rich wanted to be rich."

As Toobin wrote, "Stone represents the less discussed but still vigorous legacy of Richard Nixon."

In 1976, Stone joined Ronald Reagan's first, unsuccessful run for the Republican presidential nomination as national youth director. Four years later, Stone took on the role of political director of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, helping pave Reagan's path to the White House.

But Stone, ever the campaigner, didn't take a position in the Reagan administration and instead started a political consulting and lobbying firm, Black, Manafort, Stone & Atwater, along with Paul Manafort, who, decades later, would become Trump's 2016 presidential campaign chairman.

Stone's corporate clients included Trump businesses and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., on whose behalf Stone lobbied his former campaign colleagues in the administration, and more controversial characters, including dictators in Zaire and the Philippines, and rebels in Angola.

Stone and his firm were on the forefront of a new era of political operatives lobbying their former campaign colleagues, now in powerful positions in the administration, to serve their private-sector ends.

But Stone was drawn back into campaigning when George H.W. Bush ran for president in 1988, serving as a senior consultant to Bush. Stone continued jumping between the campaign trails — for Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Specter and Kansas Republican Bob Dole — until he was kicked off Dole's presidential campaign after Stone and his wife were caught soliciting "similar couples or exceptional muscular" men for group sex. (Stone denied the accusations at the time but later admitted they were accurate.)

After Stone left Black, Manafort, Stone & Atwater in the mid-1990s, he ran various campaigns, including a billionaire's bid for New York governor, and then moved down to Miami. In 2000, he was instrumental in orchestrating the so-called Brooks Brothers riot — a chaotic pro-Bush protest outside the Miami recount center — which helped shut down the Florida recount in the presidential election, securing George W. Bush's victory over Al Gore.

Natasha Bertrand contributed reporting.

SEE ALSO: Trump has reportedly commuted the prison sentence of the former Republican strategist Roger Stone

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How growing consumer demand for tech solutions is accelerating innovation in financial services

Fri, 07/10/2020 - 8:01pm

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JPMorgan's top Treasuries trader Rob Allen has been placed on leave amid a compliance review of his electronic messages

Fri, 07/10/2020 - 6:09pm

  • JPMorgan has placed Rob Allen, its top US Treasuries trader, on leave pending a review of his electronic messages, according to people familiar with the matter. 
  • Allen didn't return calls seeking comment and a message sent to the JPMorgan email address listed on his Bloomberg terminal profile bounced back. 
  • His leave comes roughly four months after the bank removed a handful of interest-rates traders from the trading floor and turned off their Bloomberg terminals while it investigated their behavior.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

JPMorgan has placed yet another fixed-income trader on leave. 

This week, the bank placed head of US Treasuries trading Rob Allen on leave, according to people familiar with the matter. Allen was removed from the trading floor while the bank reviews whether he engaged in conduct that breached company policy, according to one of the people.

Allen didn't return a call seeking comment and a message sent to a JPMorgan email address listed on his Bloomberg terminal bounced back. 

He joined JPMorgan in 2009 after spending the previous eight years at Bank of America, according to industry records. He began his Wall Street career in 1999 at Lehman Brothers. 

His leave comes roughly four months after the bank removed a handful of interest-rates traders — at least two in New York and one in London — from the trading floor and turned off their Bloomberg terminals while it investigated their behavior. Some of those traders were on Allen's team.

Read more: JPMorgan has pulled at least 3 bond traders off the trading floor as part of its 2nd investigation this year into chat messages

Sal Pallante and Rahmaan Streater, executive directors from the US interest-rate trading desk, were among those put on leave from their trading responsibilities, people familiar with the probe said that month. 

Allen's removal from the trading floor is linked to those of his interest rate colleagues, one of the people said. Industry sources, including people who have spoken with the traders put on leave in March, said their conduct in question took place on the Bloomberg terminal chat platform.

While Wall Street traders regularly conduct business over Instant Bloomberg, the terminal's chat feature, messages sent over other platforms are often prohibited. In January, the bank placed credit trader Edward Koo on leave during a review of whether he violated policies by chatting with colleagues on the Facebook-owned WhatsApp encrypted messaging platform.

A generation of Wall Street traders have been ensnared by conducting improper communications on chat platforms like Instant Bloomberg chat, and increasingly WhatsApp. Authorities investigating the foreign-exchange and Libor rigging scandals of the past decade, for example, routinely made a case by looking at transcripts of Bloomberg chat messages. Their legal proceedings abound with colorful language pulled from the communications. 

Read more: 

SEE ALSO: JPMorgan has pulled at least 3 bond traders off the trading floor as part of its 2nd investigation this year into chat messages

SEE ALSO: Bank of America has poached a top junk-bond trader from Deutsche Bank, leveling up in one of 2020's red-hot trading markets

SEE ALSO: JPMorgan volatility traders raked in $700 million through June — 3 times what they brought in for all of 2019. Here's how they outpaced Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley on the hottest trade of the year.

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Elon Musk is now officially richer than Warren Buffett after Tesla's stock hits an all-time high (TSLA, BRKA)

Fri, 07/10/2020 - 6:03pm

Elon Musk's wealth officially surpassed that of Warren Buffett on Friday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, fueled by Tesla's skyrocketing stock price and a hefty donation by the Oracle of Omaha.

Musk, the CEO of Tesla and the electric-car maker's biggest shareholder, saw his riches surge more than $6 billion on Friday alone to $70.5 billion as the company's market value capped off a week of fresh highs. The stock is up 259% in 2020 compared with the benchmark S&P 500 index's 1% gain.

Musk is now No. 7 on the list, up from No. 12.

Buffett, the most famous investor and a multibillionaire, saw his fortune decline this week after giving away $2.9 billion worth of Berkshire Hathaway shares to charity. Since 2006, Bloomberg reported, he's gifted more than $37 billion worth of shares.

Billionaire wealth is anything but straightforward

Musk takes zero salary from Tesla, while Buffett has famously taken $100,000 annually for decades. For both men, their riches are largely tacked to the daily ups and downs of equities markets.

Musk, in particular, has made headlines for his massive — and massively complicated — pay structure that allows him to buy $1.8 billion tranches of highly discounted Tesla stock as the company hits specific performance targets, like profitability goals and market-capitalization benchmarks. He hit the first of those goals earlier this year

He's also said Tesla stock is likely overvalued, but that hasn't stopped investors from pushing the price high enough to make it the most valuable car company, despite producing only a small fraction of what traditional automakers churn out.

Then there's the question of what to do with such wealth.

"It doesn't make a lot of sense in most cases if you've basically organized a company," Musk told Joe Rogan on his podcast in May. "How does this wealth arise? If you organize people in a better way to produce products and services that are better than existed before, and you have some ownership in that company, then that essentially gives you the right to allocate more capital."

That's where Buffett comes into his theory.

"There's a conflation of consumption and capital allocation," Musk said. "So when you take Warren Buffett, for example — and to be totally frank, I'm not his biggest fan — he does a lot of capital allocation. He reads a lot of annual reports of companies, all the account, and it's pretty boring honestly. What he's trying to figure out is, 'Does Coke or Pepsi deserve more capital?'"

The two billionaires couldn't be more different in communication, either.

"He's a remarkable guy," Buffett, who has tweeted only nine times, said of Musk in 2019 as the Tesla CEO sparred with US securities regulators. "I just don't see the necessity to communicate."

SEE ALSO: Elon Musk has officially hit the first milestone of his $55 billion compensation package

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Why are Apple Pay, Starbucks' app, and Samsung Pay so much more successful than other wallet providers?

Fri, 07/10/2020 - 6:00pm

This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

In the US, the in-store mobile wallet space is becoming increasingly crowded. Most customers have an option provided by their smartphone vendor, like Apple, Android, or Samsung Pay. But those are often supplemented by a myriad of options from other players, ranging from tech firms like PayPal, to banks and card issuers, to major retailers and restaurants.

With that proliferation of options, one would expect to see a surge in adoption. But that’s not the case — though Business Insider Intelligence projects that US in-store mobile payments volume will quintuple in the next five years, usage is consistently lagging below expectations, with estimates for 2019 falling far below what we expected just two years ago. 

As such, despite promising factors driving gains, including the normalization of NFC technology and improved incentive programs to encourage adoption and engagement, it’s important for wallet providers and groups trying to break into the space to address the problems still holding mobile wallets back. These issues include customer satisfaction with current payment methods, limited repeat purchasing, and consumer confusion stemming from fragmentation. But several wallets, like Apple Pay, Starbucks’ app, and Samsung Pay, are outperforming their peers, and by delving into why, firms can begin to develop best practices and see better results.

A new report from Business Insider Intelligence addresses how in-store mobile payments volume will grow through 2021, why that’s below past expectations, and what successful cases can teach other players in the space. It also issues actionable recommendations that various providers can take to improve their performance and better compete.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • US in-store mobile payments will advance steadily at a 40% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to hit $128 billion in 2021. That’s suppressed by major headwinds, though — this is the second year running that Business Insider Intelligence has halved its projected growth rate.
  • To power ahead, US wallets should look at pockets of success. Banks, merchants, and tech providers could each benefit from implementing strategies that have worked for early leaders, including eliminating fragmentation, improving the purchase journey, and building repeat purchasing.
  • Building multiple layers of value is key to getting ahead. Adding value to the user experience and making wallets as simple and frictionless as possible are critical to encouraging adoption and keeping consumers engaged. 

In full, the report:

  • Sizes the US in-store mobile payments market and examines growth drivers.
  • Analyzes headwinds that have suppressed adoption.
  • Identifies three strategic changes providers can make to improve their results.
  • Evaluates pockets of success in the market.
  • Provides actionable insights that providers can implement to improve results.
Subscribe to an All-Access membership to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to: This report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports Access to all future reports and daily newsletters Forecasts of new and emerging technologies in your industry And more! Learn More

Purchase & download the full report from our research store


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The CEO of an Apollo-backed energy company may face charges for pulling a gun on a Mexican American couple that took a wrong turn near his Colorado home

Fri, 07/10/2020 - 4:47pm

  • A senior executive at a Colorado company backed by Apollo Global Management may face charges over pulling a gun on a Mexican American couple that took a wrong turn onto his property. 
  • Paul Favret, the CEO of Resource Energy, may be charged with two counts of menacing and two counts of false imprisonment, according to an arrest warrant issued for Favret that was seen by Business Insider. 
  • "After being made aware of this last week, Resource Energy Partners placed Mr. Favret on administrative leave and retained outside counsel to conduct a thorough review of the incident," a company spokesman said.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A senior Colorado energy executive may face charges for pulling a gun on a Mexican American couple that took a wrong turn onto his property. 

Paul Favret, the CEO of Denver-based oil and gas driller Resource Energy, is suspected of committing felony menacing after he pulled a 9mm pistol on a couple from Florida. The couple mistakenly turned into his driveway while looking for a wedding rehearsal, according to an arrest warrant police issued for Favret that was seen by Business Insider. 

"As a minority, I felt in danger," Chris Ochoa, one member of the couple, said in a statement to police. 

Favret may face charges of two counts of menacing and two counts of false imprisonment, according to the warrant. The menacing charge is meant to be used when a person "knowingly places or attempts to place another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury," and it becomes a felony when it involves "the use of a deadly weapon," according to Colorado statute 18-3-206 of the criminal code. 

Favret has been placed on leave, according to a Resource Energy spokesman.

"After being made aware of this last week, Resource Energy Partners placed Mr. Favret on administrative leave and retained outside counsel to conduct a thorough review of the incident," the company said.

While the couple initially decided against pressing charges, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office patrolman who responded to the incident told Favret, according to the police report, that his actions "constituted felony menacing" which meant he "could very easily be arrested had the victims not chosen to press charges." The couple later changed their minds. 

New York-based private equity giant Apollo Global Management and other partners invested $154 million into Resource Energy in 2015 and the private equity firm holds at least one seat on the board of the company that buys up wells and tries to make them more efficient, according to PitchBook.  

Favret, when reached on his cellphone, said he had reached out to the couple to apologize for his actions. "It's a big mess here and a very unfortunate, unbelievable set of circumstances that occurred," he said. His lawyer did not return a call for comment. A spokesperson for Apollo declined to comment.

Business Insider pieced this story together with interviews with the couple, a Facebook post on Ochoa's page, the arrest warrant and the initial police report. 

The incident took place on June 12, under a blue sky, less than three weeks after George Floyd's death sparked widespread protests and hard questions about whether Black Americans and other minorities can expect the same protections afforded to white Americans. 

Ochoa and his girlfriend, Alyssa Eres, were driving to a friends' wedding rehearsal in Elk Ridge Estates, an upscale 540-acre housing development in Sedalia, Colorado with "rolling hills," "beautiful vistas of the Colorado Front Range" and "abundant wildlife," according to the website for Elk Ridge Estates Homeowners Association. Favre serves as president of the association, according to the arrest warrant.  

Ochoa was going to be a groomsman to a friend from college, and the couple had just flown into town from the Miami area.

Following their iPhone maps program to the address they thought was the wedding site, they arrived at Favret's home, according to the warrant. The home, a sprawling 7,200-square foot residence with eight bathrooms, sits near the apex of one of the development's two similarly named cul-de-sacs, off the development's main road. It last sold for $1.38 million in 2010, according to real-estate website Zillow. 

As the couple pulled their rented red Dodge Durango into Favret's driveway to get a closer look, they quickly realized they had the wrong address. There were few cars in the driveway for an event they expected to draw a crowd. So they quickly backed out, did a U-turn, and called Ochoa's friend for better directions. At least two other cars made the same mistake, Ochoa said in his Facebook post. 

Ochoa, 26, was born in Mexico and moved with his family to Colorado when he was five. He moved to the Miami area sometime last year. Eres, 25, was born in New Mexico. Both identify as Mexican American, they told Business Insider in a joint interview this week. 

Shortly after their U-turn, and now back on the main road after correcting their mistake, the couple's car was stopped by Favret, who had followed them in his red truck and now blocked their way with his vehicle.

He jumped out of the cab and ran around to Ochoa's open driver's side window, and pointed a 9mm pistol at him, according to the police report and warrant.

Standing near Ochoa's open window, Favret shouted "I'm going to blow your heads off! I want to! Don't expect to trespass and expect to not be shot and get your heads blown off," according to the version of events Ochoa told the police. 

The couple was in shock, they said this week. 

"Honestly, my first reaction was that this man had the wrong car," Eres said. "I was so confused as to why this was happening. Completely confused and terrified as to why he had a gun."

Favret's version of events differs slightly, and he changed his story once the police confronted him with photos Eres had taken from the passenger side of their car.

The energy executive told police that his son woke him up and told him people were trespassing on his property. He went out to confront them and saw their car pulling away. He got into his truck to follow and when he noticed their out-of-state plates, he called 911. He blocked their way so they couldn't proceed.  

Favret initially told police that he his gun remained in his truck throughout the altercation. When the officer showed Favret photos that Eres had taken of him waving the gun around outside, Favret said he didn't remember it because he was taking "potent pain killers for shoulder surgery," according to the officer's notes, and couldn't remember the chain of events. 

The photo Eres took "was clearly Paul Favret," according to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office detective investigating the case, who said in the arrest warrant that he had already reviewed Favret's state drivers license photo. "Paul was holding what appeared to be a two-toned semi-automatic handgun in his right hand." 

At the time, Favret stated that he didn't know if the gun was loaded and "claimed that he was not a gun person," according to the warrant.  

Eventually, the friend getting married came to vouch for the couple. It was then that Favret got back into his truck and drove home. Before he left, he turned toward the couple and thrust his middle finger in their direction, the friend told the investigating detective later. 

The couple initially decided not to press charges because the owner of the home where the wedding was being held didn't want the incident to affect her relationship with the neighbors, according to police body camera footage detailed in the warrant. She told Ochoa that if he pressed charges, she would cancel the next day's event.

"That would make it very hard for us," the homeowner Kelli McKeehan told Ochoa, according to police body camera footage. "I'm about to call off the wedding for tomorrow," she says, adding "it's going to be hard for us to live here if you move this forward." 

After Ochoa's June 28 Facebook post received attention, the couple realized they still had rights under Colorado law. And Ochoa pressed the Douglas County Sheriff's Office to reopen the case. 

"Getting justice with Paul would make us feel at least a little bit more at ease since he will understand that what he did is unacceptable behavior, regardless of anything else," Ochoa said. "You can't just pull a gun on someone and walk away and pretend like that doesn't affect people's lives."

The next day was the wedding. The couple, still shaken, didn't attend. 

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The S&P 500 will fall 8% by the end of 2020, according to Bank of America's equity chief

Fri, 07/10/2020 - 4:14pm

  • Bank of America's head of equity research predicts the S&P 500 index will fall to 2,900 by the end of the year, an 8% decline from current levels, MarketWatch said.
  • "I wouldn't paint myself as a bear, but the risks between here and year-end are completely to the downside," Savita Subramanaian said in a webinar conducted by the bank.
  • She pointed out that a Joe Biden victory in November could reverse market-friendly tax policies.
  • For investors favoring stocks that benefit from the coronavirus, she recommended leaning towards consumer staples, industrials, technology, and financials instead.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Some analysts have encouraged being bullish on stocks since mid-March.

Their reasons range from a relaxation in lockdown restrictions, zero cash rates, low bond yields, and a rapid healing of credit markets.

But Bank of America's head of equity research, Savita Subramanian, takes a contrarian view, according to a report by MarketWatch, that cited a webinar conducted by the bank this week.

Her interpretation is that the S&P 500 index will fall to 2,900 points, an 8% decline from current levels. On Thursday, the index closed at 3,152.05.

"I wouldn't paint myself as a bear, but the risks between here and year-end are completely to the downside," Subramanaian said.

She did point out that stocks have rarely been this attractive compared to bonds, but that may not last.

In reference to spiking coronavirus cases after President Trump's push for states to reopen the economy, she said: "We've had a reopening frenzy, and now we're seeing payback."

Read More: The most accurate analyst covering e-commerce says these 7 stocks will be among the biggest winners of the shift to online shopping

Consumer spending will undergo a radical change for millennials who have already been witness to the effects of the financial crisis, the Great Recession, and the current pandemic, she said.

They may adopt a "recession- or even depression-like" spending inclination.

Over the last 20 years, globalization, falling interest rates, and tax cuts created a robust environment for international investors who participated in the stock market boom. 

But that trend now seems to be waning, and Subramanian is "really worried" that never-before-seen monetary stimulus towards the Covid-19 outbreak has fast-forwarded stock market growth levels.  

She said that a Joe Biden victory in November could reverse market-friendly tax policies. Trump has said that if Biden wins the presidential election, stocks and 401ks would "disintegrate and disappear."

Subramanian thinks investors are ignorant of reality and that the "market isn't pricing in an all-clear on the economy."

While investors have been favoring stocks that benefit from the coronavirus, she thinks investors should lean towards consumer staples, industrials, technology, and financials.

Read More: Ed Hyman was named Wall Street's best economist 39 times and called the tech bubble. He outlines 3 market drivers that are aligning for investors looking to capitalize on coronavirus chaos.

SEE ALSO: A day-trader on Reddit claimed they made a 3,500% gain, and turned $35,000 into $1.25 million during the pandemic

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TRANSFORMING USER EXPERIENCE IN BANKING: Here are the strategies winning financial institutions are using to deliver a superior user experience

Fri, 07/10/2020 - 4:02pm

As digital channels become a more critical part of the overall banking journey, banks' design teams need to strategize on how best to create user experiences (UX) that resonate with their customers.

A strong UX enables banks to deliver a simple, intuitive, and frictionless digital banking experience.  A superior UX can also help banks improve customer satisfaction and bring in new customers.

Offering a wide range of in-demand mobile banking features, for example, can satisfy existing customers and drive bank selection among new ones — but only if these features are designed and implemented well: JD Power found that customer satisfaction was negatively impacted across both online and mobile channels by the flood of complex and hard to understand features that are common in banking apps today, per an analysis from its 2019 customer satisfaction ratings. 

The risk of not delivering a solid UX strategy is high — slower-moving banks face the threat of fintechs and big tech firms that boast a great UX as their main competitive advantage. Fintechs' excellently designed apps are pleasing to the eye and simple to navigate.

Meanwhile, leading cross-industry players like Amazon and Google have long raised the bar for digital experiences within their core services — and as they venture into finance, they join fintechs in threatening legacy FIs' established market positions. Large financial institutions (FIs) are already focusing on UX design as they reshape their organizations by enhancing their digital channels, and smaller ones can learn best practices from these early movers to inform their own UX strategies.

In Transforming User Experience In Banking, Business Insider Intelligence looks at winning UX design strategies employed by leading banks to reveal how other FIs can best capture the UX opportunity. We conducted exclusive interviews with nine major FIs to examine their UX teams in detail, offer insight into their approach to designing UX, and illustrate winning strategies for delivering a superior UX.

Their strategies highlight the need to create multidisciplinary teams that place customers' needs and desires at the center of design initiatives, as well as the importance of utilizing a UX design methodology to deliver successful propositions in a timely manner.

The banks interviewed in the report are: Bank of America, BBVA USA, Capital One, DBS Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JP Morgan, Lloyds Banking Group, and U.S. Bank.

Here are a few key takeaways from the report:

  • FIs should put customers at the center of their design initiatives by involving them in all stages of the process to ensure maximum uptake of their UX initiatives. 
  • They should use an established UX design methodology — like Design Thinking or Double Diamond — to zero in on the best solutions to users' problems. 
  • FIs should create multidisciplinary design teams with a broad range of talent and expertise to develop meaningful experiences more efficiently. UX design teams should in turn collaborate with other teams and senior leaders to identify solutions that account for user demands, banks' business needs, and what is technologically feasible.
  • Although the majority of customer interactions are happening digitally, FIs shouldn't neglect physical channels when designing UX, as the customer experience often still involves these channels.
  • FIs need to find the right tools to measure the success of their UX initiatives to better link UX to business outcomes. 

In full, the report:

  • Identifies the UX oppportunity and provides an overview of popular UX design methodologies that can by deployed by banks.
  • Utilizes exclusive interviews with nine leading banks to show how different FIs structure UX teams, approach UX design processes, and measure UX to link it to business outcomes. 
  • Helps banks identify strengths and weaknesses in their own UX strategies by providing insights on winning strategies for designing a superior UX. 

Interested in getting the full report? Here's how to get access:

  1. Business Insider Intelligence analyzes the banks industry and provides in-depth analyst reports, proprietary forecasts, customizable charts, and more. >> Check if your company has BII Enterprise membership access to the full report 
  2. Sign up for the Banking Briefing, Business Insider Intelligence's expert email newsletter tailored for today's (and tomorrow's) decision-makers in the financial services industry, delivered to your inbox 6x a week. >> Get Started
  3. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now

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