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I drove the $40,000 Kia Niro EV and found it's a solid electric SUV for people who want something more traditional than a Tesla

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 4:14pm
The 2023 Kia Niro EV.
  • I tested the 2023 Kia Niro EV, a $39,550 electric SUV. 
  • The Niro EV brings bold, futuristic looks, 253 miles of range, and some cool features. 
  • But it isn't as exciting as some other electric options on the market. 

Lots of new electric cars are hailed as impossibly quick and cutting edge "Tesla-killers" that will revolutionize the way you drive. 

The 2023 Kia Niro EV is none of those things. And that's perfectly fine. 

The new Niro, which just got a big redesign for its second generation, isn't flashy, fast, or all that fun. It isn't packed with acres of touchscreens or gimmicky features. But it gets the job done and is a solid choice for anyone who wants a regular SUV that just so happens to run on electricity. 

The 2023 Kia Niro EV.

Before we dive into the details, know that the Niro EV Wave that Kia lent me came out to $46,495 before fees and included features like a power sunroof, head-up display, and ventilated seats. The base Wind model costs $39,550 and offers the same range and performance as its pricier twin.

What stands out: Executes all the basics nicely 

Kia and its Hyundai sister brand have been crushing it design-wise lately, and the new Niro is no exception. It's bold, unique, and features a contrasting boomerang-shaped body panel that adds a little extra flair. It's stylish inside, too. It gets a quirky, two-spoke steering wheel and dual 10.3-inch screens on a single swoopy panel. 

The Niro EV also delivers all the smoothness and quietude you'd expect from a car that swaps a rumbly gas engine and transmission for silent electric motors. And it offers a solid EPA range of 253 miles

The 2023 Kia Niro EV.

Its regenerative braking system predictably slows the vehicle down when you let off the throttle, creating energy that's fed back to its battery pack. (That's something some much higher-end manufacturers haven't perfected.) It comes with a generous array of standard safety tech, including blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping. 

Plus, Kia has spiced the Niro up with a few more exciting touches. A touchscreen strip below the main display houses both the climate and media controls, and you toggle between them by tapping a little icon that looks like the Uno reverse card. The leftmost knob, for example, can adjust the volume or temperature. 

The 2023 Kia Niro EV's dual-function touch panel.

A head-up display on my tester projected important driving info onto the windshield. And when I activated the optional Highway Driving Assist 2 feature (which conveniently follows lane lines and adjusts speed to keep up with traffic), the head-up display showed cool graphics of nearby vehicles on the road that the Kia was sensing and reacting to. The new Niro EV can act like a mobile generator thanks to some included household outlets, but that's not a standard feature.

What falls short: Missing some of the excitement of other EVs

Still, the Niro EV — particularly in entry-level form — is more of an appliance for getting from A to B than a state-of-the-art piece of tech to show off to friends. 

The 2023 Kia Niro EV.

It lacks the sort of instant, perky acceleration most electric cars offer. And it can't charge all that quickly either, taking 43 minutes to go from 10% to 80% on a fast charger. Kia says its more advanced EV6 can do the same in just 18 minutes. 

Since it shares a platform with hybrid siblings, it doesn't have the same clever packaging and spacious feel as a Tesla or EV6. When you build an electric car from scratch (rather than repurposing the basic structure of a gas model) you can take full advantage of the more compact components and greatly expand interior space. 

The 2023 Kia Niro EV.

Unlike in a Polestar 2 or Ford Mustang Mach-E, you won't find a spacious front trunk or a large iPad-like touchscreen. For some buyers, that might all be perfectly OK. 

Still, it's worth noting that more exciting vehicles — like the Polestar 2, Mustang Mach-E, Tesla Model 3, and Hyundai Ioniq 5 — retail for only slightly more. And some similarly capable models can be had for much less. The Chevrolet Bolt EUV, another compact electric SUV, offers 247 miles of range and starts at just $27,800. Since the Niro EV isn't made in North America, buying one won't get you a federal tax credit

The 2023 Kia Niro EV.Our impressions

The Niro EV is a good all-around electric SUV, but some rivals are more competitive on price and pizzazz. 

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The SVB crisis has opened up a window to buy 'great banks at a severe discount' after a panic-induced sell-off, CFRA says

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 4:12pm
Regional bank stocks have suffered after SVB's implosion. 
  • The recent bank chaos has opened the door to buying solid bank stocks at a discount, CFRA said. 
  • East West Bancorp and Citizens Financial made its list of stocks investors should look at. 
  • Regional banks with strong deposit balances and have high percentages of insured deposits are solid bets. 

Investors should look at buying the dip in shares of some resilient regional banks after they were crushed following the abrupt failures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, CFRA said this week. 

Regional banks that maintain strong deposit balances and have high percentages of insured deposits are key characteristics of lenders whose shares should be under consideration by investors, with East West Bancorp and Regions Financial among them, the investment firm said in a research note published Tuesday. 

"[We] see an enhanced opportunity to pick up several resilient regional banks that have fallen 15%-25% over the last three weeks," wrote equity analyst Alexander Yokum after this month's collapse of tech startups lender SVB and crypto-friendly Signature Bank.

The banks after facing separate and crippling stressors were seized by regulators to stave off a broader run on deposits at small and mid-sized banks. 

The S&P 500 Regional Banks sub-index underperformed the S&P 500 by a "stunning" 35% since March 6, Yokum said. "However, we view some banks as well positioned in the current environment and see this as an opportunity to pick up great banks at a severe discount." 

Stable and insured deposits

Regional banks with stable deposit balances should outperform, he said. Even though SVB and Signature Bank collapsed suddenly, signs of trouble had been brewing for months.

Signature Bank had a 19% drop in deposits in the final three quarters of 2022 as crypto prices sank. Silicon Valley Bank's deposits fell 13% during that same period as the bank's primary venture capital customers struggled with rising interest rates. 

But East West Bancorp led the way in deposit momentum during that same timeframe as its deposits grew 2%, said Yokum, who has a "strong buy" rating on the lender. 

"Additionally, unlike most other regional banks, EWBC had the courage to give a deposit update following the collapse of SIVB, stating that year-to-date (YTD) consumer deposits were up 3% and commercial deposits were relatively stable," said Yokum. East West Bancorp shares have declined about 14% during 2023.

Other banks with recent deposit momentum include Citizens Financial Group, Synovus Financial and Webster Financial, with each ending last year with deposits at or near all-time highs. 

"Going forward, we view any bank with under 20% of insured deposits (like SBNY at 10%) as particularly vulnerable," said Yokum. 

Banks with high levels of insured deposits are also now well-positioned. Yokum called Regions Financial is a leader in insured deposits, with an outsized 63% of its deposits insured. "The bank has a strong retail presence, and its Consumer Bank segment makes up more than 50% of its revenue." 

Yokum has "buy" ratings on Citizens Financial Group,  Fifth Third Bancorp, Regions Financial, Synovus Financial and Webster Financial.

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AI 'prompt engineer' jobs can pay up to $335,000 a year and don't always require a background in tech

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 4:10pm
The rise of generative AI tools like ChatGPT is creating a hot market for "prompt engineers" who test and improve chatbot answers.
  • The rise in generative AI tools like ChatGPT has created a hot market for "prompt engineers."
  • "Prompt engineers" train AI chatbots to improve their responses.
  • The gigs pay up to $335,000 a year and don't always require a tech degree.

Tech is known for high-paying jobs — and for one new hot job in the industry, you don't even need a degree in STEM.

The rise of generative AI tools like ChatGPT is creating the need for "prompt engineers" — people who write questions and prose for AI chatbots to test and improve their answers. Some of these roles have salaries as high as $335,000 and don't require degrees in tech.

AI safety and research company Anthropic currently has an open role for a "prompt engineer and librarian" with a salary range between $175,000 and $335,000, as first reported by Bloomberg.

The job involves building "a library of high quality prompts or prompt chains to accomplish a variety of tasks, with an easy guide to help users search for the one that meets their needs," and building "a set of tutorials and interactive tools that teach the art of prompt engineering to our customers."

Someone with "a high level" of familiarity with large language models, or LLMs, and who has basic programming skills would make a good fit, per the posting, but Anthropic says it wants people to apply "even if you do not believe you meet every single qualification."

Sam Altman, the CEO of ChatGPT developer OpenAI, has spoken about the need for prompt engineers. In February, he tweeted that "writing a really great prompt for a chatbot persona is an amazingly high-leverage skill."

Anna Bernstein, a prompt engineer at, was a freelance writer and historical research assistant before she started working with AI tools.

"I love the 'mad scientist' part of the job where I'm able to come up with a dumb idea for a prompt and see it actually work," Bernstein told Insider. "As a poet, the role also feeds into my obsessive nature with approaching language. It's a really strange intersection of my literary background and analytical thinking."

The market for prompt engineers is growing. Prompt marketplace PromptBase, which launched last June, allows people to hire prompt engineers or sell their prompts. And a spokesperson at LinkedIn told Insider there are currently 708 results for "prompt engineer" jobs in the US, but that the role is still niche.

Despite the opportunities in prompt engineering for people without tech backgrounds, most high-paying roles do require people with more experience and higher levels of education in tech-focused areas, recruiters told Bloomberg.

"Salaries start at £40,000, but we've got candidates on our database looking for £200,000 to £300,000 a year," Mark Standen, who works at recruitment agency Hays in the UK and Ireland, told Bloomberg. "Expert prompt engineers can name their price." 

While the market for prompt engineers is growing quickly, some are warning that it might not necessarily be the hottest role in the long run.

"I have a strong suspicion that 'prompt engineering' is not going to be a big deal in the long-term & prompt engineer is not the job of the future," Ethan Mollick, a professor at the Wharton School, tweeted in February.

While being able to interact with generative AI tools through prompts "is of high value," Adrian Weller, a director of research in machine learning at the University of Cambridge, told Bloomberg, "I wouldn't be so sure that it will continue for a long time. Don't dwell too much on the current state of prompt engineering. It's starting to evolve quite quickly."

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US stocks climb as investors shake off bank concerns ahead of new economic data

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 4:08pm
  • US stocks surged on Wednesday as fears of systemic risk in the US banking system receded.
  • The tech sector led stocks higher as interest rates remained relatively subdued.
  • Investors are awaiting a new set of economic data with jobless claims on Thursday and PCE on Friday.

US stocks surged on Wednesday as investors got more comfortable with the idea that the US banking system is not on the brink of a crisis following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.

Technology stocks led the market higher, with the Nasdaq 100 soaring almost 2% as interest rates remained relatively subdued compared to levels seen just a few weeks ago. 

Interest rates have dropped to levels not seen in months, with the 2-year US Treasury yield hovering around 4% and the 10-year yield at about 3.6%. That's a far cry from the levels seen earlier this month, with the 2-year above 5% and the 10-year above 4%. 

Investors will be focused on fresh economic data for the rest of the week. Jobless claims on Thursday will give investors a sense of how strong the job market is, while personal consumption expenditures data on Friday will help investors understand how much inflationary pressure remains in the economy.

Here's where US indexes stood at the 4:00 p.m. ET close on Wednesday:

Here's what else happened today:

In commodities, bonds and crypto:

  • West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell 0.28% to $72.92 per barrel. Brent crude, oil's international benchmark, dropped 0.48% to $78.27.
  • Gold fell 0.54% to $1,962.80 per ounce.
  • The yield on the 10-year Treasury was flat at 3.57%.
  • Bitcoin jumped 3.85% to $28,433, while ether jumped 1.75% to $1,810. 
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Tesla has seen $200 billion added to its market cap in 2023, marking the strongest start to the year in its history

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 3:59pm
  • Tesla has gained over $200 billion in market value during in the first three months of the year. 
  • The EV company's stock enjoyed its best weekly performance in history in January. 
  • Tesla's strong quarter started on a rally in the tech sector and the company's cost-saving efforts.

Tesla stock is having its best start of the year in its history, gaining over $200 billion in market value during the first three months of 2023.

Shares of the electric vehicle maker are up 78% year-to-date. Tesla's market value has increased from $388 billion at the end of 2022 to $601 billion, according to Nasdaq data on Wednesday. Shares of the company were up 2.5% to about $194 as the market headed into the close of Wednesday's session. 

Tesla's strong quarter started on a broad rally in the technology sector as investors hoped high inflation was in the rearview and the Federal Reserve would soon pump the brakes on raising interest rates.

On top of that, CEO Elon Musk also told investors during the company's fourth-quarter earnings call in January that customer demand for Tesla vehicles was exceeding production. That week, the stock saw its best performance in a decade.

The massive start to the year comes after Tesla shares performed miserably in 2022, when the EV maker wiped out $700 billion in its market cap as investors pulled away from bets on high growth names. Investors, too, were put off by Musk's Twitter takeover saga, which even long-time bulls said was creating a distraction for the company. 

Analysts are still bullish even after a dizzying rise in Tesla stock so far this year. Wedbush this week forecasted the company's stock will rally 13% through 2023 on a surge in deliveries after price cuts on its Model 3 and Model Y in China.

"We believe Tesla has been aggressive and strategic about its Model Y/3 price actions which have paid major dividends so far this quarter around gaining market and mind share from domestic players," Wedbush analysts said in a note Wednesday. "The macro remains uncertain and a recession could likely be on the doorstep, however Tesla is now positioned well with its price points with demand outstripping supply so far in 2023." 

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ChatGPT could revolutionize portfolio management but is more of a 'copilot' than a 'prophet' for investors, study says

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 3:57pm
Bill Ready warns AI bots like ChatGPT could pose issues.
  • ChatGPT can be a helpful assistant in the investment process, a study has found.
  • This means AI could be used as a "copilot" for investors, researchers in South Korea said.
  • However, ChatGPT is not a market predictor and should not be used like a "prophet."

OpenAI's ChatGPT can serve as an effective assistant in portfolio management, a South Korean academic paper published this month has determined.

While the chatbot can't optimize portfolios the way a human can, it could be a convenient option for investors who lack knowledge or expertise in asset management, according to Seoul National University's Hyungjin Ko and Jaewook Lee.

In addition, even professional portfolio managers could use ChatGPT to boost their productivity, they added.

"ChatGPT is not a 'prophet' of the financial industry but rather an 'assistant' or 'co-pilot' to investors and portfolio managers," the researchers wrote. "When used appropriately within a set framework, ChatGPT has the potential to revolutionize asset allocation practices."

The study tested ChatGPT's financial prowess by having it create a portfolio out of a collection of 40 assets — including large-cap US stocks, cryptocurrencies, commodities, currencies, and bonds.

The test was run 10,000 times, during which the AI's work was pitted against randomly selected portfolios. The researchers found that ChatGPT outperformed the random portfolios and created sufficiently diversified ones.

"ChatGPT can identify abstract relationships between assets, particularly in terms of their dissimilarity with respect to the asset class," the researchers wrote.

But the researchers made sure not to characterize ChatGPT as a market predictor, and other users have pointed out instances where it provides wrong answers.

Its knowledge base also ends at 2021, meaning it hasn't accounted for the wild market swings in 2022, which saw the bear market, the Fed's aggressive tightening, and Russia's war on Ukraine, among other things. 

The study concluded by saying, "it is important to note that the role of human experts in portfolio management remains crucial, as they must work in tandem with theoretical frameworks and investment theory to ensure proficiency and reliability in verifying accurate information from LLM."

Still, ChatGPT acquired around 100 million users within two months of its inception in November. And enthusiasm for AI technology has also shown up in markets, as certain companies focused on the growing sector are seeing equity gains.

For instance, Nvidia — which creates much of the hardware used for AI development — has surged 84% this year.

By 2025, the AI hardware and service market is forecast to hit $90 billion, according to UBS Global Wealth Management.

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Hungarian government official argues Sweden isn't nice enough to his country to get approval to join NATO

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 3:51pm
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban looks on ahead of a meeting of the North Atlantic Council during the NATO summit at the Ifema congress center in Madrid, on June 30, 2022.
  • Hungary is one of two countries yet to approve Sweden's bid to join NATO. 
  • A government spokesperson published a blog Wednesday detailing why there's still a delay.
  • The official claimed Sweden undermines the two countries' relationship and has a "hostile" attitude.

Sweden's pending admission to the NATO alliance is being held up by Hungary until a number of "grievances" are addressed, a government spokesperson said this week. Among them are complaints that Swedish officials routinely "bash" Budapest in the diplomatic space. 

Zoltán Kovács, Hungary's secretary of state for international communication and relations, published a blog on Wednesday that details three reasons why he says the country's parliament is "right" to delay signing off on Sweden's bid to join the military alliance. 

Sweden — alongside neighboring Finland — requested to join NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine over a year ago, but it still needs Hungary's approval to do so. The central European country approved Finland's bid this week, but Sweden's is still being delayed. 

"With Finland's admission into NATO now secure, Sweden must face the music regarding its daunting attitude and former derogatory comments toward Hungary," Kovács wrote. "In the case of Sweden, there is an ample amount of grievances that need to be addressed before the country's admission is ratified."

Kovács described several issues that Hungary takes with Sweden, including accusations that Sweden regularly "undermines" the relationship between the two countries through a "declared and open hostile attitude."

"Swedish representatives have been repeatedly keen to bash Hungary through diplomatic means, using their political influence to harm Hungarian interests," Kovács said. He cited instances where Swedish politicians in recent years have been critical of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's government, which has undergone democratic backsliding.  

Orbán has taken a hardline stance on Hungary's judicial system, academic institutions, press, and immigration, leading European Union lawmakers to vote last year to revoke the country's status as a democracy, instead calling it "a hybrid regime of electoral autocracy."

Sweden's foreign affairs ministry did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. 

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson addresses a joint press conference with the NATO Secretary General in Stockholm on March 7, 2023, following a meeting with all Swedish party leaders who are in favor of a Swedish NATO membership.

Kovács wrote that another reason for the hold up on Sweden's NATO bid is Stockholm's "crumbling throne of moral superiority" and a "lack of care and respect." He said relations between the two countries have deteriorated in recent years, which makes it harder for them to mend ties now. 

"Adding Ankara's woes and grievances to the mix does not leave much room to maneuver, at least not until the Swedes start changing their tune and help these lingering wounds heal," Kovács said in reference to Turkey, which has joined Hungary is delaying Sweden's bid to join NATO. 

Sweden and Finland — both of which have historically been militarily nonaligned — applied to join NATO in May 2022 and were invited to join the military alliance the following month. But parliaments in each of the 30 member countries need to approve a new member's bid since NATO requires unanimous consent to expand. 

These two Nordic countries would give NATO a meaningful boost to its military capabilities as the alliance faces an ongoing threat from Russia. 

Both Turkey and Hungary previously signaled that they would hold out on signing off on Sweden's request to join the NATO alliance, with the former accusing Stockholm of supporting militant groups that it considers to be terrorists. A former Hungarian ambassador to NATO and the US previously told Insider that he believes Hungary's timeline in approving Sweden's bid will follow in the footsteps of Turkey's ratification.

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The solar system was hit with a gamma-ray burst so bright, it blinded scientists' equipment in space

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 3:45pm
Gamma-ray bursts are the most powerful explosions in the universe.
  • Our solar system was hit by a gamma-ray burst so bright, it blinded space equipment and telescopes. 
  • The gamma-ray, dubbed the "brightest of all time," hit our solar system last fall.
  • Scientists said it was approximately 70 times brighter than any other gamma-ray explosion.

Shine bright like a... gamma-ray? 

A gamma-ray burst that recently hit our solar system was so bright, it temporarily blinded gamma-ray instruments in space, according to a NASA release.

Scientists say the gamma-ray burst (GRB), the most powerful type of explosion in the universe, was 70 times brighter than any previously recorded event. 

They dubbed it "the BOAT," or "brightest of all time." 

What is a gamma-ray burst?

A GRB is basically a black hole's first breath into existence. And it's a spectacular one.

When a supermassive star nears the end of its life — when it's no longer generating enough fuel in its core to support its sheer mass — it collapses under its own weight, forming a black hole.  

Two things happen during this process: First, the collapse generates an explosion called a supernova. Second, the resulting black hole is born into a massive cloud of residual gas and dust, where it proceeds to quickly gobble it all up. 

Residual gas and dust surrounding a black hole leads to powerful jets, called gamma-ray bursts.

What comes next has been observed many times but is still a scientific mystery as to why it happens: the black hole burps out two powerful jets of high-energy gamma radiation traveling at near the speed of light, in opposite directions.

These cosmic belches only last for a few seconds but are so bright, that astronomers have documented about 12,000 GRBs. And it's one of these jets that struck our solar system last fall.

The brightest GRB of all timeThe Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 revealed the infrared afterglow (circled) of the BOAT GRB and its host galaxy, seen nearly edge-on as a sliver of light extending to the burst's upper right.

The burst, classified as GRB 221009A, was recorded on October 9, 2022. Because it blinded space instruments, they couldn't accurately record it, so scientists weren't sure how bright the burst was when it first reached our planet.

For the last several months, scientists worldwide — including in the US, China, and Russia — have culminated data from other instruments to measure and re-measure the GRB's brightness, determining it was 70 times brighter than any other GRB event in recorded history. 

The amount of gamma radiation from GRB 221009A is significantly greater than any other GRB on record.Researchers also examined the likelihood of an event like this happening again and reported that this sort of thing only occurs once every 10,000 years.

"GRB 221009A was likely the brightest burst at X-ray and gamma-ray energies to occur since human civilization began," said Eric Burns, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, NASA reported. 

Oddly enough, the jets themselves weren't the most powerful on record. What made the GRB so bright was the fact that the jets were narrow and aimed directly at Earth. So, we got a full-on view of it — sort of like a deer in headlights.

The GRB jets were extremely narrow and aimed directly at Earth.

Other GRBs aren't aimed directly at Earth, so we don't detect as much of their radiation and they appear dimmer.

The researchers recently announced their findings at the American Astronomical Society's High Energy Astrophysics Division and published the results in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

But astronomers aren't done. They're hopeful that this GRB could help solve the mystery of why black holes burp out GRBs in the first place. One theory is already in place that the jets were powered by a magnetic field that the black hole amplified as it began to spin. (Yes, black holes can spin.)

Additional observations through the James Webb Space Telescope and Hubble Space Telescope are planned over the next few months. 

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Experts from Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo share insights on how digital transformation in finance protects and enhances client experiences

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 3:36pm
Left: Bianca Chan, senior finance reporter at Insider; Center: Peter Akwaboah head of innovation and chief operating officer of technology at Morgan Stanley, Right: Reetika Grewal, head of digital transformation for CB and CIB at Wells Fargo
  • Experts shed light on what digital transformation in finance means for banks and people.
  • Industry leaders say digitizing finance prioritizes the interests of large and small clients.
  • The conversation was part of Insider's event "Finance Meets Its Future," which took place on Thursday, March 23, 2023.
  • Click here to watch a recording of the full event.

According to Insider Intelligence banks and other financial institutions are pouring funding into digital transformation technologies and initiatives. Banks are keeping up with the demand for technological innovation by making their services available at the tap of a button on a smartphone.

In the session "Demystifying digital transformation in finance," part of the "Finance Meets Its Future" event presented by Amberdata, experts discuss digital transformation in finance on wall street. 

Customer convenience is at the forefront of digital transformation discussions. 

Reetika Grewal, head of digital transformation for CB and CIB at Wells Fargo said that that client concerns are at the center of digital transformation. "We just recently launched, at the end of last year, a brand new portal experience for our clients in the corporate and investment bank as well as the commercial bank called Wells Fargo Vantage," Grewal said. 

Peter Akwaboah head of innovation and chief operating officer of technology at Morgan Stanley echoes these sentiments. "We spend a lot of time around looking at our own internal processes and making sure that we continue to digitize those and make that as effective as we can, relative to how we support the customer," Akwaboah said. "The customer comes to the front end. We have to make sure that the back end is also as efficient as possible as well."

Digital transformation poses key challenges

When asked about the challenges of driving digital transformation in banks, Akwaboah said the industry is contending with multiple competing agendas. "The more you digitize, the more you also see the scale of our safeness and soundness becoming more important," he said. "So the investment in the cyber becomes something that we have to compete. So we're growing our business, we're having to make sure that we're doing it in such a way that continues to be regulatory compliant, as well as making sure that it becomes very safe as well." 

Grewal agreed and added that digital transformations should be given a holistic approach. "Data is a really, really big component of any digital transformation and making sure that we've got that thought through as well from that people process systems lens as well," she said

Banking's biggest changes

Both experts agree that the most important change is the overarching cultural shift that comes from digitizing banking. "What we focus our attention on is really making sure that there is a culture of change, culture of innovation," Akwaboah said, "And because things change in a dynamic way and you have to be nimble and agile to be able to reflect to those change in the modern environment". 

Grewal said, "One of the most important things we did when we're starting on this transformation journey was making sure that everybody from a cultural perspective had that deep passion for our clients."

Key Takeaway: Clients come first in digitial transformation

Both experts agreed that the goal for big banks that are digitizing should be ensuring platforms are user-friendly and that clients are the key focus. Akwaboah pointed out that the CEO and CFO at Morgan Stanley strategize for the client by taking a hard look at the company's strategic intention and aligning on where they're heading at least once a year. "That is an important part of everybody being behind the strategy and how we're servicing our customers," Akwaboah said.

Grewal maintained that listening to clients is a key factor in Wells Fargo's strategy. "The embedded finance space is a way that you really try to bring more of what we offer to the tools and the systems that our clients are using," Grewal concluded.  

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Manhattan DA lawyers feared Stormy Daniels case against Trump was too weak to bring without other criminal charges, report says

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 3:23pm
Donald Trump.
  • Manhattan DA lawyers worried about indicting Trump over "hush money" payments to Stormy Daniels.
  • Three lawyers thought the case wouldn't work as standalone charges, according to the Daily Beast.
  • The expected charges have numerous weaknesses, experts say.

Three attorneys who worked on the Manhattan district attorney's criminal investigation into Donald Trump believed the anticipated indictment against the former president over hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels was too weak to bring as a standalone case, according to the Daily Beast.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is expected to ask grand jurors to charge Trump with falsifying business records over payments made to Michael Cohen, his former fixer, who in turn paid Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet ahead of the 2016 presidential election about an affair she said she had with Trump.  

In order to convict Trump on felony charges, prosecutors would need to prove Trump intended to commit or wanted to conceal a separate crime through the payments.

That's a significant hurdle that poses several challenges. Prosecutors could argue that Trump tried to conceal violations of federal campaign finance laws — something Cohen pleaded guilty to in 2018. But a judge might believe the Manhattan district attorney's office is overreaching by enforcing federal law. If the case gets to a jury, jurors may wonder why federal prosecutors didn't bring charges against Trump, or they might not believe Cohen's testimony.

"The Stormy case was the easiest, the most straightforward, but had the risk of being nothing more than a misdemeanor," one source told the Daily Beast.

According to the lawyers who worked on the matter, the "hush money" charges were meant to be part of a broader business fraud case against Trump.

The investigation into Trump began in 2017 under Bragg's predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr., triggered by Cohen's congressional testimony about the payments to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

It grew to encompass the finances of the Trump Organization. Prosecutors ultimately brought tax fraud charges against the company and executive Allen Weisselberg — and won in court — but didn't charge Trump with the scheme.

Bragg's resistance to charging Trump with financial crimes frustrated former top prosecutor Mark Pomerantz and led him to quit in early 2022. (Bragg's office has maintained that the evidence collected by Pomerantz wasn't strong enough to bring a winnable case.) Since then, the investigation has moved back to the hush-money payments.

A representative for the Manhattan district attorney's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Experts say the case is far from a slam-dunk

Mark Bederow, a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor for the Manhattan district attorney's office, said a case against Trump solely on the hush-money payments was "likely to fail."

The relatively low stakes and convoluted nature of the anticipated charges could give "reasonable doubt" to jurors hearing the case, according to Bederow.

"They have to demonstrate that his intent was to defraud and also that his intent was also to cover up another crime," Bederow told Insider.

Stormy Daniels.

There are a number of possible reasons why Trump might want to hide the payments to Daniels aside from covering up a campaign finance violation, Bederow said.

"What if he did that to protect his own reputation, to protect his wife from humiliation, or some personal reason?" Bederow said. "That's not an intent to defraud."

Trump has already laid the groundwork for this defense, calling the payments to Daniels part of an "extortion plot" in a video posted to social media on Monday. Trump has maintained that he's done nothing wrong and has derided Bragg's investigation as illegitimate. Joe Tacopina, an attorney for Trump, has said he expects any potential charges against his client to "eventually get tossed aside."

Another hurdle, according to former prosecutors, is that the case rests largely on the testimony of Cohen, who pleaded guilty to charges that he lied to Congress about Trump's business plans. Cohen has since sought to change his image as someone who's come clean about Trump, but jurors might view him as someone with an axe to grind.

"The more the case relies on documents instead of the testimony of Michael Cohen, the stronger it will be," Barbara McQuade, the former US attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, previously told Insider's Sonam Sheth.

Bederow had more blunt terms about relying on Cohen's testimony in light of his previous guilty plea.

"That's a disaster as a prosecutor," he said. "You wouldn't rely on Michael Cohen to tell you the time of day unless you corroborated it with a clock. That's how awful a witness he is."

Read the original article on Business Insider

The future of ESG is expanding. Here’s how 2 experts define ESG investing and why it matters

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 3:21pm
Left: Rebecca Ungarino senior finance reporter at Insider, Center: Nikita Singhal Co-Head of Sustainable Investment and ESG, Lazard Asset Management; Right: Aniket Shah Global Head of ESG and Sustainable Finance, Jefferies Group LLC
  • Experts share how ESG investors can understand and grow with emerging opportunities.
  • Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) investing is adapting to consumer behavior.
  • The conversation was part of Insider's event "Finance Meets Its Future," which took place on Thursday, March 23, 2023.
  • Click here to watch a recording of the full event.

ESG gives investors an opportunity to invest in companies with initiatives, missions, and goals that align with their values. However, ESG investing has recently come under review for greenwashing or other hidden tradeoffs. Leaders in the field are working to better define and understand what ESG investing is and the good it can do for companies and beyond.  

Aniket Shah, global head of ESG and sustainable finance at Jefferies Group LLC, explained that at the moment, "We're trying to figure out what the climate topic's all about, and there's more energy, enthusiasm, excitement and questions around it than ever before." 

"Investors that we speak to get it, climate change and how policy makers are reacting to climate, how business leaders are reacting to climate, how technology is reacting to climate, is impacting asset prices," Shah said during Insider's virtual event, presented by Amberdata, "Finance Meets Its Future," which took place on Thursday, March 23rd.

During the session "Navigating ESG Investing Challenges" Rebecca Ungarino, senior finance reporter, spoke with Shah and Nikita Singhal, coHead of sustainable investment and ESG at Lazard Asset Management. 

While expressing values through investing is not a new practice, Singhal deems that there needs to be a "healthy detangling" of what constitutes ESG versus virtue-based investing.

Singhal said, "I define ESG as discovering and pricing, environmental, social governance risks and opportunities. And in that iteration, therefore, it is still very nascent. It's not something that has been around for decades."

Singhal touches on how ESG is not one-size-fits-all solution for companies. The issues, values, and environments vary from sector to sector. 

She said, "The financial materiality of ESG is very contextual. And what I would argue today is to be able to do that well, you can't approach it in that monolithic way where you have 10 ESG metrics that you look across an entire portfolio, and call certain companies good or bad."

Shah expresses how the variation and newness of ESG are what makes it exciting. The one component that he believes is cross-cutting is the 'G' for governance. 

Shah said, "The G of ESG, which oftentimes gets forgotten, is a cross-cutting topic because it's ultimately a question of, how are decisions made, and who controls a company?" He maintains that governance is the cross-cutting topic that any good CEO, investment banker, or investor would think through. 

The things investors should know about are changing and shifting based on consumer tastes and preferences. Singhal explained that consumers are, "voting with their wallets in terms of things that they care about." 

She continued, "From what their packaging should be like, that may not impact the valuation of a Coca-Cola or a large CPG company, but it certainly, we are starting to see it impact the valuations of packaging companies down the supply chain." 

When it comes to what Shah and Singhal are most excited about in the evolving ESG space Shah is motivated by carbon removal programs. Shah said, "There are technological breakthroughs happening every day in direct air capture and nature-based solutions and so on, that are coming to life because of technology and policy."

Singhal concluded that she is looking forward to broadly flushing out what ESG is and gaining clarity. She said, "It's not there trying to prove that we can save the world. And it's not something that's projecting an individual's personal values or biases. It's just making us disciplined investors."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Kevin McCarthy shared a map of China that includes Taiwan

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 3:19pm
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and a tweet from his official account showing Taiwan in a map of China.
  • Kevin McCarthy shared a map of China that included Taiwan in a tweet criticizing China.
  • The Chinese Communist Party is very sensitive to its claims about Taiwan in Western media.
  • As a result, Beijing has long sought for Taiwan to be shown as part of China — which McCarthy did.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday inadvertently handed the Chinese Communist Party a minor propaganda victory by sharing a map of China that includes Taiwan.

"To have an electrified economy, you have to mine for critical minerals. But right now, we are dependent on China," McCarthy wrote in a tweet posted on his official account in promotion of HR 1, the GOP's sweeping energy bill.

The Chinese Communist Party is extremely sensitive to any language or depiction that undermines its claims to Taiwan. Beijing has long claimed that Taiwan is a breakaway province and there are increasing fears that China will invade the island as a way to forcefully assert its claim.

The US has followed a One China policy that does not formally support Taiwan's independence and acknowledges the existence of a sole Chinese government. The US also supports Taiwan's defense and maintains a de facto embassy on the island. Many Republicans have pushed for a more aggressive armament of Taiwan in the face of Beijing's growing pressure.

McCarthy had pledged to visit Taiwan following then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's historic trip. China lashed out at the US for Pelosi's trip and has warned against McCarthy's travels. The Financial Times reported earlier this month that McCarthy would instead meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in California at Tsai's insistence.

China's protectiveness over its claims surrounding Taiwan has led to major brands apologizing for fear of losing access to the Chinese market. Gap, Dior, and multiple airlines have apologized for various perceived slights in recent years, as CNN previously documented. Tom Cruise's iconic bomber jacket in "Top Gun" was briefly altered to remove Taiwan's official flag. The flag was later restored following a public outcry.

Representatives for McCarthy did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. As of publication, the tweet remains accessible. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Silicon Valley Bank stock just reopened for trading and it's seeing some wild swings after plunging to as low as a penny

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 3:19pm
A trader reacts as he works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 18, 2020.
  • After being halted for more than two weeks, shares of Silicon Valley Bank reopened for trading.
  • The stock fell to as low as a penny on Tuesday, and has since rallied more than 9,000% to nearly a dollar.
  • Silicon Valley Bank trades under the ticker symbol "SIVBQ" and is in the process of being acquired.

Silicon Valley Bank stock has reopened for trading after being halted for nearly three weeks, and the stock is swinging wildly.

The collapsed bank's stock was halted for trading on March 9 after it failed to raise $2.1 billion and ease concerns about its deposit base. One day later, the bank failed and was taken over by the FDIC.

The stock was halted at $106.04 per share. On Tuesday, trading reopened at $0.53 a share, representing a decline of 99.5% from its prior price. 

Once the stock was reopened, traders flooded the name with wild swings in both directions. On Tuesday, shares of Silicon Valley Bank — which currently trade under the ticker symbol "SIVBQ" — fell to as low as a penny. Since then, they have surged more than 12,000% to a high of $1.21 per share on Wednesday.

It's unclear why traders are piling into the stock on Wednesday aside from speculation to eke out some gains before the stock is ultimately delisted.

The delisting should happen after First Citizens Bank completes its purchase of Silicon Valley Bank. First Citizens will purchase $72 billion worth of assets from the bank for a discounted price of just $16.5 billion. First Citizen's will also take on about $56 billion of deposits from the failed bank. 

To be clear, there is no equity value in Silicon Valley Bank despite its stock trading in an extremely volatile range. The former parent company of Silicon Valley Bank, SVB Financial, filed for bankruptcy, essentially wiping out all equity holders and sparking big losses for its bond holders.

But that won't stop traders from speculating in a volatile stock, trying to make a profit. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Experts from Amberdata, Custodia Bank, and United States for Kraken discuss the role digital assets are going to play in the future of finance

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 3:19pm
Left: Laila Maida, Investing Correspondent at Insider; Center: Shawn Douglass CEO and Cofounder of Amberdata, Right: Caitlin Long, Founder and CEO of Custodia Bank
  • Today's financial system is growing, transforming, and increasingly focused on the adoption of digital assets.
  • Experts discuss their views on the future of finance in crypto, blockchain, and NFTs.
  • The conversation was part of Insider's event "Finance Meets Its Future," which took place on Thursday, March 23, 2023.
  • Click here to watch a recording of the full event.

The past decade has seen a cultural shift and adaptation to digital assets including cryptocurrency, nonfungible tokens (NFTs), and blockchain. From influencer and celebrity promotion to adoption at top auction houses these digital assets are setting a cultural standard and financial institutional shift. 

Shawn Douglas, cofounder and CEO of Amberdata, said that, "Digital assets are the "financialization of the internet," citing blockchain to safeguard real-world assets and, in digital rights management (like NFTs) as examples. 

"Or just making today's fairly opaque exclusive markets radically transparent and global and accessible to all. That's what I think the mission of digital assets is undertaking, and it's a massive transformation," Douglas said during Insider's virtual event, presented by Amberdata, "Finance Meets Its Future," which took place on Thursday, March 23rd.

During the session, Laila Maidan, investing correspondent for markets at Insider, spoke with Douglas and other financial experts about how cryptocurrency, digital payment platforms, and sustainable investing matter for digital transformation. 

CEO of Custodia Bank, Caitlin Long, believes the role of digital assets exists in the payments world. 

"You can right now download, say the Lightning Network code and move any fiat currency in the world using Lightning as an intermediary currency," Long said. "Nobody needs permission to run that code. And so the world's going to change pretty radically as adoption rates start to increase."

This permissionless system is a form of decentralized finance or "de-fi." Guy Hirsch, managing director for Kraken in the US, said he believes de-fi is the future of finance. 

"We would have to work really diligently with state actors, with regulators to still allow this innovation to flourish, not to be afraid of it, but embrace it because it will better society,"  Hirsch said.

There are, of course, challenges to adopting digital assets including concerns about centralized banks and government agencies. Long said, "The US is on such a different cycle with the rest of the world, and those who are onshore in the US tend to be very American-centric. But we need to recognize this technology knows no borders, and that's one of the powerful features of it."

Throughout the conversation,  Hirsch remained focused on the potential digital assets have to enable greater freedom globally. "If you are a creator in Africa and you suddenly realize that you can create digital art and gain access to the global economy and earn a living by selling your art in a way that wasn't accessible before and earn royalties as your art is being sold and sold again, that is amazing because you no longer need to migrate."

The experts agreed that digital asset adoption is imminent. Long said, "This is inevitable and eight billion people can download the code and run it. There is no stopping that. And most of those eight billion people have phones and the engineers are just making it easier and easier for users to interface." 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Tapping into the future of finance: 3 experts discuss the ways frictionless payments will revolutionize digital banking within the decade

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 3:16pm
Left: Carter Johnson, senior finance reporter at Insider, Center: Jackie Reses, chair and CEO of Lead Bank, Right: Sarit Amir, innovation and emerging tech for payments lead at JPMorgan
  • Technological advancements in banking mean that now people and institutions can pay for goods and services frictionless.
  • Experts share their insights into how frictionless payments are changing the way people engage with online banking.
  • The conversation was part of Insider's event "Finance Meets Its Future," which took place on Thursday, March 23, 2023.
  • Click here to watch a recording of the full event.

The world is constantly inundated with technological innovation. Frictionless payment systems, a type of new payment technology, are an outcome of technological innovation in finance. Applepay, Googlepay, and Paypal allow people to unlock their purchasing power with the simple tap of a device, avoiding the added steps of physical authentication. 

"I think friction is important when it comes to payments, especially when it can actually stop fraud. When I'm sending money out, I always want that friction from a second-factor authentication," Soups Ranjan, co-founder and CEO of Sardine, said during Insider's virtual event, presented by Amberdata, "Finance Meets Its Future," which took place on Thursday, March 23rd.

Carter Johnson, senior finance reporter at Insider, spoke with Douglas and other financial experts about frictionless payment systems. 

Jackie Reses, chair and CEO of Lead Bank agreed, "In many cases, friction can be a benefit. And if I think about what it does, friction really limits you from having a real time transaction going through." Reses acknowledges the complexities with friction in banking and payment methods today, but hopes that in the next decade this friction will be resolved. 

Sarit Amir, innovation and emerging tech for payments lead at JPMorgan agreed, "We want to prevent fraud, but we also live in a day of instant gratification and on-demand, so we want to make sure that we can address real time payments because there's just consumer expectation around that."

As banks continue to digitize their platforms crises like the collapse of Silicon Valley bank and the sale of Credit Suisse breed apprehension and fear among business investors. Amir said, "SVB clearly created a platform to help entrepreneurs and startups, and, if you think about it, from the idea itself all the way to scaling a company, that was a unique value proposition, and I'm sure that's very difficult for a lot of entrepreneurs and startups".

Reses said, "Once someone starts to scale, they need to pay far more attention to who that partner is, how successful they are in working with regulators, what kind of quality clients do they have." Reses maintained that prioritizing the highest level of integrity mitigates the risk factors and fraud in banking. 

Rajan agreed that building loyalty and trust in banking technology and frictionless payment systems requires due diligence. He said, "One thing I'm really bullish on is that in the near future, we will have much better technologies, which is going to align all the different participants in this ecosystem."

The future of finance is digital

The experts agree that in the next decade, digital wallets and frictionless payments will be the banking rule, not the exception. 

Reses said, "I think it means that where we started with money being digital-only amplifies, and money movement around the world, such that borderless commerce can take place, for both supplies and people, where friction is far reduced from what it is today."

While she sees the importance of digital-only money, Amir predicts that in a decade the digital wallet will be in more of the B2B space. She said, "When you're thinking about B2B and the digital wallets and real-time payments, you have to incorporate the nuances of cross-border and that makes it even more challenging."

Rajan noted that each person is going have a unique way of engaging with frictionless payment systems. 

He said, "With faster payment methods, you get faster ways of losing money or faster fraud." Rajan concluded, "We need to now start thinking about protecting users' money, which is really in their phones, in a digital wallet, from very different ways."

Read the original article on Business Insider

I'm a manager at Google who also goes to culinary school at night. Here's my daily routine and how I manage both.

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 2:59pm
Harrison Hill is a New York-based Google strategic partnerships development manager and culinary student.
  • Harrison Hill, a strategic partnerships development manager at Google shared his daily routine.
  • In 2022, Hill enrolled in culinary school and Google paid a portion of his school fee.
  • Hill said he's energized by both his tech career and cooking journey.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Harrison Hill, a strategic partnerships development manager at Google and culinary student, based in New York City, about his daily work routine. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

After returning to the office in August 2022, I decided to apply to the Institute for Culinary Education (ICE) to foster my passion for food while keeping the job I love at Google.Hill works during the day and attends culinary school at night.I feel fortunate that Google supports employees pursuing interests beyond the workplace. In my case, Google even contributed funding for cooking school.Hill has cooking class three days a week.I start my day around 7 a.m. with a whole milk iced latte from Solid State, my favorite coffee shop on the Upper West Side.Hill grabbing a drink from Solid State.Then I return home and have Greek yogurt for breakfast. I check my calendar to assess the day ahead and answer urgent emails.Hill responds to a few urgent emails early in the morning.My home office includes a stainless steel prep counter that doubles as a standing desk. I recently got into TikTok, so I have a ring light to shoot cooking videos as well.Hill has a food and workstation just outside his kitchen.The bottom shelf of my prep counter houses my cooking essentials: KitchenAid mixer, Vitamix, spice grinder, Cuisinart, and an Anova chamber vacuum sealer for sous vide cooking.Hill perfects his culinary skills at home with proper cooking tools.In the mornings, I speak to clients in Poland, before heading to the gym. In the evenings I chat with clients in LA.Hill connects with clients located in later time zones, earlier in the day.At 7:30 a.m., I head to a nearby gym to workout with my trainer, Julia Derek. Early workouts can be tough, but I try to exercise at least twice a week — on days when I work from home.Google offers a hybrid remote and in-person work schedule.After working out, I head home to shower and pack up my chef's whites (uniform). Then I go to the office.Hill checking his fridge before leaving for work.I've worked full-time at Google for four years and I'm currently a strategic partnerships development manager, which is basically relationship management. I use my commute to check my inbox and read up on industry news.Hill checks his phone during his commute to work.The Google office in Hudson Square — a neighborhood on the West Side of Manhattan between TriBeCa, Greenwich Village, and Soho — is just a 25-minute subway ride from my apartment.New York City houses Google's second largest office.

Source: Google

After arriving to the office around 9:15 a.m., I greet coworkers and drop off my bag and cooking-school gear at my desk.Hill's work desk.Next, I like to seek out a quiet spot to get started on my work. I like to tackle the day's most difficult tasks first. In my role, I work primarily on programmatic integrations.Hill working in a small Google meeting room.My job focuses on Google's authorized buyers, which allows advertisers and agencies — using a demand-side platform — to buy ad space on apps and websites through automated real-time auctions.Hill can take client calls from this Google phone room.By 10:30 a.m., I join a colleague for a much needed matcha break. My coworker Megan catches me up on her vacation and we talk deal strategies for the coming quarter.Hill meets with his coworker in a Google cafe.A typical day at the office includes a combination of bi-weekly client calls and one-on-ones with solutions architects. By mid-day I pause to refuel in one of Google's cafés.Solutions architects implement technical solutions for Google clients.After lunch, I head back to my desk to log feature requests in real time as I get feedback from customers for a quarterly business review.Google offers employees free food, beverages, and snacks.I like to stay engaged by moving around the office. One of my favorite spots is this roof deck. I love that I can be outside during the day, weather permitting.Google's Hudson office has a roof area.Sometimes if I need a pick-me-up, I'll grab a Snickers from the micro-kitchen.Google's micro-kitchen has a variety of snacks.My workday usually ends around 5:30 p.m. I check my inbox and answer urgent emails in the evenings, especially from clients.After work, Hill heads to his culinary class.I hop on the subway and take a stroll through the Oculus on my way to Brookfield Place for cooking school. The Google office is 11 minutes from the Oculus.The Oculus is a transportation hub located at the World Trade Center.Class starts promptly at 7 p.m. Each day, Chef Jason Hawk teaches us how to tackle a new fundamental cooking skill.Hill poses for a photo with his instructor.A dream of mine is to meet Chef Thomas Keller and dine at The French Laundry.Keller is a renowned American chef who owns many bakeries and restaurants across the US.

Source: Thomas Keller

Today we're learning how to butcher veal as part of our unit on protein fabrication. Chef Jason shows us how to take the loin and belly off the bones (we'll save these to make stock).During each class, Hill learns or perfects a new cooking skill.I make sure to document the process to upload to TikTok after class. I post daily about what I learn in cooking school.Hill's TikTok handle is @cookingwithharrison.Culinary school, like my work at Google, is all about teamwork. It also gives me a chance to exercise muscles I don't use at the office, like working directly with my hands.Hill prepares a dish with his classmates.After class, I swap my clogs and chef whites back for my work clothes. I was surprised to learn that chefs don't wear their whites to commute, as doing so would pose a sanitation risk.Class runs for four hours and ends at 11 p.m.As I head uptown for a hot shower and bed, I edit footage from class to upload to TikTok.Hill works on his TikTok page during his commute home.Manhattan street noise makes recording voice overs tricky, so I usually wait to record them once home.One of Hill's early TikTok videos.After posting my daily video, I head straight to bed. On the three days a week when I have cooking school, I don't fall asleep until midnight or 1 a.m.Hill headed to bed.But in spite of my jam-packed schedule, I've never felt more energized both by my career and cooking school.After Hill's classes end on August 1, he looks forward to continuing his growth at Google.Read the original article on Business Insider

Before his gun-filled Christmas message, Rep. Andy Ogles posted a photo of a toddler holding a gun

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 2:59pm
Rep. Andy Ogles posted this photo on Instagram in 2016.
  • After a mass shooting in his district, critics found Rep. Andy Ogles' gun-filled Christmas picture.
  • Another photo from 2016 has emerged from his Instagram account, showing a toddler holding a gun.
  • "Weapons training #2ndamendment," he wrote in a post made in July 2016 on Instagram. 

Years before he shared a gun-filled family Christmas message on Facebook, Andy Ogles posted a photo of a toddler holding a large firearm.

"Weapons training," he wrote in July 2016 on Instagram. "#2ndamendment"

Ogles, elected to Congress six years later, now represents the Tennessee congressional district where three 9-year-olds and three staff members were killed Monday at The Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville.

Twitter users responded to his message of "thoughts and prayers" for the victims' families by resharing the photo he posted on Facebook of his family holding weapons by a Christmas tree in 2021.

Since then, Katherine Abughazeleh of the progressive research organization Media Matters for America dug up the additional photo of the toddler from his Instagram account in 2016.

Rep. Andy Ogles' 2021 Christmas card and Ogles.Rep. Andy Ogles defended his Christmas message in a brief interview with Sky News after the image was widely criticized by gun control advocates after the shooting.

"Why would I regret taking a family photo with my family and exercising my Constitutional rights?" Ogles responded to the reporter.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Gen Z job seekers are rattling older managers by asking about work-life balance in the first interview

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 2:54pm
Hiring managers are reckoning with Gen Z's push for work-life balance.
  • Many Gen Z job seekers are asking about work-life balance during interviews.
  • Hiring managers are beginning to reckon with new workplace expectations.
  • Career experts shared their thoughts on the emerging trend and how older generations are reacting.

Today's workforce is not like anything we've ever seen. Sure, it's multigenerational, but it's also all over the place — from offices to living rooms to beaches in Mallorca

Expectations around work-life balance have changed significantly in the past three years, forcing everyone to square these new ideas with the day-to-day necessities of getting our jobs done.

For managers from older generations who are now hiring workers, the questions from would-be employees about protecting their time away from work can be frustrating. 

Each generation has entered the labor market when different forces were coloring their experience: Gen X started the job hunt after the 1987 stock-market crash. Many millennials waded into their employment searches as the dot-com bubble burst or during the Great Recession more than a decade ago. Gen Zers entered the workforce amid the fallout from COVID-19, which forced many of them to work from home.

The difficulty of the pandemic, in part, encouraged some members of Gen Z to prioritize life just as much as work, and to be clear about those expectations with potential employers. 

There wasn't a big focus on work-life balance when many of today's managers started working more than a decade ago. In fact, the more hours you put in, the cooler you seemed. But now that that's changing, some managers are confused or even annoyed, and some younger workers are expecting more.

As two Insider colleagues — a Gen Zer and an older millennial — we decided to explore the work-life-balance question from the beginning of the job process: the interview. It's often thought of as a make-or-break moment, so we wanted to know the answer to two questions: Why do candidates believe it's necessary to ask about work-life balance before they start in a job? And does this question hurt their chances of landing the job? 

The answers are nuanced: It depends on the industry (finance, law, and startups don't welcome the question), the experience of the managers, and the job posting. 

Gen Zers need to know the industry before asking about work-life balance

Some industries invite questions of work-life balance, according to Gen Zers and hiring managers who spoke with Insider. Others, like investment banking, still require extensive hours in the office or on the computer.

As Gen Zers enter the workforce, they need to educate themselves on the expectations of their industries before inquiring about balance, hiring managers suggested.

"If you were to directly ask, 'Can you describe the work-life balance for analysts at your firm?' I think your application would be denied," Steven Sibley, a clinical assistant professor of finance at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, said of investment-banking candidates.

He added that interviewers were "trying to get a sense of a candidate's work ethic" by asking questions like, "Are they the type of person who wants to go work 80 hours, 90 hours a week and learn as much as they possibly can in two years? Or are they the type who just wants to make as much money as possible for as little work as possible?" 

From his experience, the work-life-balance question instantly puts an applicant in that latter box.

David Jacobowitz is the founder of a snack startup, Nebula Snacks. He's looking for his first hire and said someone looking for work-life balance wasn't the right fit. 

"When I'm interviewing and looking for a candidate to take on, the expectation is that this is not a typical 9-to-5," Jacobowitz said, adding that startups might require long hours during a launch or travel to meet with teams in factories or with retailers.

While he's seen many promising Gen Z candidates for the role, many of them have raised questions about tending to their lives outside work, he said.

Hiring managers and companies need to prepare for this question 

It's important that interviewers and interviewees know what to expect when these questions arise, Sheila Williams, the managing director of talent acquisition at Deloitte, said.

"We're seeing a greater shift to candidates wanting to align their personal values, goals, purpose with the organization," Williams said, adding that "work-life balance or work-life integration is one of those key areas that often does come up" in the interview — and often it's Gen Zers fearlessly asking the question early in the process.

Williams credits the pandemic with reminding many workers that life continues outside a 9-to-5. While these emerging expectations do include paid time off and ending the day at 5 p.m., what many job seekers are looking for is flexibility, she said. Even in an industry like consulting or tax services, that's possible.

"It shows up in how you staff your teams, how you allow people to manage commitments outside of work, during the workday, how you support mental health or family's mental health," Williams added. 

Williams explains this breadth to interviewers so they can best relay the workplace experience to job seekers, she said. To prevent anyone at the company from being put off by the question, Williams and her team educate Deloitte employees on how to navigate the conversations. 

"We do train our interviewers to make sure they're equipped to understand the types of questions they're going to receive," she said. "And we really stress, 'Here's what you share about Deloitte, but also be open about your own personal experiences.'"

Should we all get over it? 

Mary Cooney, the founder of the professional-development platform Generation IQ, said it's time to move on from this stigma of work-life balance.

She said companies needed to start making this part of their spiel to encourage workers to take the offer.

"I am, frankly, pretty shocked that Gen Zs even have to ask this question," she said. "The whole concept should be in place by now."

Cooney said the movement for work-life balance, while it was never explicitly discussed, was started by Gen Xers — people born from the mid-1960s to about '80 — who wanted to spend more time with family and therefore decided they wouldn't work too late in the evenings or on weekends.

Today, even in industries like banking, which seem fixed on workweeks that are multiples of 40 hours, changes are being made to abide by new worker preferences.

"It's interesting because some banks seem to be adapting to Gen Z's preference for work from home and flexible hours," Sibley of the Kelley School of Business said.

Sibley said that some banks, like Goldman Sachs, had the "Saturday rule," where junior bankers aren't allowed to work between 9 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Sunday.

It's not common, though — Wall Street is known for being ultrademanding and unforgiving.

But now Gen Zers are openly asking the questions, Cooney said. And those questions are bringing change. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Nokia will launch 4G internet on the moon later this year to help expand lunar exploration

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 2:52pm
Nokia is debuting 4G on the moon.
  • Nokia plans to put a 4G/LTE network on the moon later this year, CNBC reported. 
  • The network will help potential lunar explorations, including plans to look for ice on the moon. 
  • The network will be sent to space in a SpaceX rocket. 

Apple and Samsung have effectively cornered the cell phone market in recent years, but one competitor is looking to expand its network to a new cosmic market — the moon. 

Nokia is set to launch 4G internet on the moon later this year, CNBC reported, part of the company's ongoing relationship with NASA. According to the company, it aims to help NASA establish "sustainable exploration on the moon" with connectivity that supports HD video, robotics, applications, and a host of other capabilities.

The Finnish telecommunication company intends to launch the network on a SpaceX rocket later this year, CNBC reported.

NASA selected Nokia to build the moon's inaugural cellular network in 2020, tasking it with "deploying the first LTE/4G communications system in space and helping pave the way towards sustainable human presence on the lunar surface," per the announcement

"The network will provide critical communication capabilities for many different data transmission applications, including vital command and control functions, remote control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation and streaming of high definition video," according to the company

According to CNBC, a major part of Nokia's plans to establish a network on the moon involve finding lunar ice, a crucial piece of moon exploration, which could be used for water, fuel, or even as an oxygen source.

Nokia's plan to introduce 4G to the moon includes an antenna-equipped base station on the moon and a solar-powered rover. The rover will communicate with the base station, creating an LTE connection, according to CNBC. 

"It became evident to us that, for any sustained human presence on the Moon and Mars in the future, connectivity and communications are critical," Thierry E. Klein, head of the Interprise and Industrial Automation Research Lab at Nokia Bell Labs, said on the company's website


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Starbuck's ex-CEO started his congressional testimony with an emotional story about his father. It was used against him.

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 2:50pm
Howard Schultz invoked his father's own struggle with being fired over a workplace injury before Congress on Wednesday. U.S. Sen. Ed Markey used the story to counter the former Starbucks CEO.
  • Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told Congress about his father's work injury Wednesday.
  • Schultz said the story was instructive as he built Starbucks and added benefits for its workers.
  • But Sen. Ed Markey used the anecdote to argue that Starbucks should respect unionizing workers.

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz opened his testimony before Congress on Wednesday by talking about his father — a decision that one Senator later seized upon.

When Schultz was a child, his father slipped on ice and broke his foot while working as a driver, he said. Afterward, Schultz's father was dismissed from his job — a setback that affected the whole family.

That experience informed Schultz's approach to business, including reinvesting some of Starbucks' profits in benefits for its employees, he said. Schultz relayed the story during a hearing to discuss Starbucks's treatment of unionizing workers before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

"We've done all these things because, not because of the union, because of the compassion, the empathy, and in many ways, my own story of understanding what happened to my father in trying to build the kind of company that my father never got a chance to work for," Schultz said.

But later in the hearing, Sen. Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, invoked that story to explain Starbucks' current struggle with workers trying to unionize and bargain for contracts.

Markey told the story of his own father, whom he said lost a finger in an accident at work. "The boss said, 'See you next week, John, back on the job,'" Markey said. "That was before unions."

"That is how your workers now feel," Markey said. "They don't want their families to have to pay the price for their children the way your father had to pay a price for his children."

"They're just looking to be someone who can protect themselves in the way your father could not," he added.

Schultz responded: "You don't understand, sir. My father was a World War II veteran, fought for this country in the South Pacific." He also pointed to benefits that Starbucks offers all of its employees, including healthcare and college tuition reimbursement. 

The exchange was one of the more impassioned ones during the roughly two-hour hearing. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont and chair of the committee, persuaded Schultz to testify after threatening to subpoena him.

Schultz repeatedly said that Starbucks had not broken any laws despite an administrative judge in New York ruling this month that it had done so dozens of times at stores around Buffalo, New York, the New York Times reported.

The judge laid out remedies for the violations, including reinstating workers whom the company had fired and ordering Schultz to read or be present for the reading of a statement guaranteeing that the company would not break the law again.

Starbucks told the Times that the remedies are "inappropriate."

Asked directly about the ruling, Schultz said the issues raised were "allegations" and that Starbucks plans to "defend ourselves." He also said that he would not read the notice as required by the judge.

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