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Financial Services: 6 Key Attributes to Attract Gen Z

Mon, 12/02/2019 - 1:02am

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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FREE SLIDE DECK: The Future of Fintech

Sun, 12/01/2019 - 1:00pm

Digital disruption is affecting every aspect of the fintech industry. Over the past five years, fintech has established itself as a fundamental part of the global financial services ecosystem.

Fintech startups have raised, and continue to raise, billions of dollars annually. At the same time, incumbent financial institutions are getting in on the act, and using fintech to remain competitive in a rapidly evolving financial services landscape. So what's next?

Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has the answer in our brand new exclusive slide deck The Future of Fintech. In this deck, we explore what's next for fintech, how it will reach new heights, and the developments that will help it get there.

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5 reasons why retirement is a perfect time to use points and miles to travel

Sun, 12/01/2019 - 12:56pm

When you consider how most major credit card issuers market their cards these days, it's easy to believe their prime market includes millennials, Gen Xers, and 50- and 60-somethings who are still working. After all, many credit card commercials feature young, seemingly high-income professionals in airport lounges or young families charging their groceries to a rewards credit card to earn cash back. It's easy to believe card issuers are targeting people young enough to spend a lot on their cards — and maybe even those who are likely to rack up long-term debt.

But, you don't have to be in your working years to get approved for a rewards credit card, nor do you have to be cash-strapped to benefit from one. In fact, there are a ton of reasons rewards credit cards are actually ideal for baby boomers and retirees who have already walked away from work.

If you're older and wondering if a rewards credit card could help you travel more or earn free stuff, the answer is probably yes. Here are some of the reasons you should consider a rewards credit card for your everyday spending — along with some of our top picks for earning both cash back and travel rewards.

Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which will far outweigh the value of any points or miles. It's important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back. 

Retirees have lower levels of credit card debt

If you actually hope to benefit from the rewards you earn with a credit card, you have to avoid credit card debt. It's not difficult to see why this matters so much when you consider the fact that the average credit card APR is over 17% at the same time the average rewards card gives you 1-3% back at most.

But statistics show that older people have lower credit card debt levels in general. A 2019 study from ValuePenguin showed that millennials and individuals over the age of 74 tend to have the lowest credit card debt on average, and that they're more likely to not even have a credit card at all. Individuals ages 65 to 74 also had much lower credit card debt levels than those ages 35 to 64.

If you're a retiree who doesn't have any debt, you could easily use a credit card to earn cash back or travel rewards. The key to making the most out of card options available today is using them for purchases you can afford to pay off and paying your bill in full every month.

Some of the best cash-back credit cards don't even have an annual fee. Some examples include:

  • Chase Freedom: When you sign up for the Chase Freedom, you'll earn $150 in bonus cash when you spend $500 on your card within three months. You'll also earn 5% back on up to $1,500 spent in categories that rotate each quarter (when you activate the bonus) plus 1% back on all other purchases. There is no annual fee, and you can redeem rewards for statement credits, gift cards, travel, experiences, and more.
  • Citi® Double Cash Card: The Citi Double Cash, which also comes with no annual fee, lets you earn 2% back for each dollar you spend — 1% back when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay it off. You can redeem your rewards for statement credits but you can also exchange them for Citi ThankYou points that free up some redemption options like gift cards and merchandise.

Read more: The best cash-back credit cards

Retirees have time to travel

If you've always wished you could travel but couldn't make it work in the thick of your career, the best time to follow your dreams could be now. Plenty of studies show that Americans are often scared to use their vacation days because they're afraid they'll be replaced, and it's a proven fact that companies in the United States offer less time off in general than in many other countries around the world.

But when you're retired, the world is your oyster — provided you can find the funds to get away. Travel credit cards can help since they offer points and miles you can use to score free flights, hotel stays, and more. Some of the best travel credit cards for retirees include:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: The Chase Sapphire Preferred gives new cardholders 60,000 points, worth $750 in travel, when they spend $4,000 within three months from account opening plus 2x points on travel and dining and 1 point per dollar on other purchases. There's a $95 annual fee, and you can redeem Ultimate Rewards points for travel through the Chase portal, transfer them to airlines and hotels, or redeem for cash back, gift cards, merchandise, and more.
  • Capital One Venture Rewards: The Capital One Venture is an extremely easy travel credit card to use and understand. This card lets you earn 2 miles per dollar on everything you buy (plus 10x miles on paid hotels booked via, and you can also earn 50,000 miles when you spend $3,000 on your card within three months of account opening. On the redemption side of the equation, you can cash in miles for any type of travel at a rate of 1 cent per point, but you can also transfer to a handful of airline partners.
Retirees can take advantage of last-minute travel deals

Travel can be considerably cheaper when you're able to take advantage of last-minute travel deals, and that's especially true if you're flexible on where you go. You could search for last-minute cruises, play around with Google Flights to find the least expensive flight options for where you want to go, or sign up for airfare alerts that let you know when a sale comes up from your home airport.

Websites like The Flight Deal and Secret Flying also let you find out about short-term and last-minute travel deals all over the globe, and most of these deals are last-minute or only available for select dates.

Read more: 2 things to do today if you want to retire in 10 years, according to a man who retired at 52

Retirees can avoid peak travel times

Anyone who has worked in an office with other people knows how difficult it can be to get vacation approved when the kids are out of school or during winter, spring, and summer breaks. But when you're a retiree, you can theoretically travel any time you want.

Being able to book off-peak travel can definitely help you enjoy your favorite destinations with much lighter crowds, and prices can be considerably lower, too. Frequent flyer programs and hotel programs also tend to have more availability outside peak travel dates as well, which makes it easier to cash in your points and miles.

They have good credit

Most of the top rewards and travel credit cards require consumers to have good credit, which typically entails having a FICO score of 740 or above. While this can be a difficult bar to reach for some age groups, those in the older age brackets don't seem to have a problem.

In fact, a recent study from Experian showed that consumers ages 60 and older had the highest average credit score of all age groups, at 749. The next-highest average credit score (706) went to consumers ages 50 to 59, and scores were all downhill from there.

If you're a retiree with great credit, you have yet another edge that could make rewards work for you. But you will never benefit from a rewards credit card if you don't sign up for one.

Read more: The best credit card welcome offers available now

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NOW WATCH: People are still debating the pink or grey sneaker, 2 years after it went viral. Here's the real color explained.

The Amex Platinum card offers up to $100 in annual credits at Saks Fifth Avenue, and you can 'stack' other discounts to save more on your holiday shopping

Sun, 12/01/2019 - 12:46pm

In addition to offering up to $200 in Uber credits each year and up to $200 in airline incidental fee credits, the Amex Platinum card includes an annual statement credit for up to $100 for Saks Fifth Avenue purchases.

The credit is broken into two parts, with up to $50 available every six months. Especially with the holidays around the corner, this benefit can help you save while shopping for gifts — you could even be able to "stack" it with other discounts or bonus points offered through Saks or Amex Offers.

Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which will far outweigh the value of any points or miles. It's important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back.

How the Amex Platinum's Saks credit works

Cardmembers will have to enroll at their Platinum Card Benefits Portal in order to receive the benefit. A $50 credit will be available when cardmembers shop at Saks, in-store or online, from January through June, and another benefit will be available from July through December.

The credit will be automatically applied when an eligible transaction posts on your statement. There is no minimum purchase amount, but you do have to pay for your Saks purchase with the Amex Platinum in order to receive the statement credit. Luckily, the card offers one of the best purchase protection policies to cover you against loss or damage, so it's a strong option to use, usually when you're buying higher-end merchandise.

How to maximize the annual Saks credit

Although items at Saks can be expensive, there are plenty of lower-priced items available, both during sales and otherwise. The credit may be able to cover an entire purchase, getting you a free pair of sneakers, or a shirt.

Saks runs seasonal promotions that can score you discounts when you hit different spending tiers, and you can stack the Amex Platinum's Saks credit with these offers to save even more.

For example, as of publish time, the department store was offering $50 off a $200 purchase, all the way up to $750 off a $3,000 purchase, when you use the code GIVE19SF. If you were to pay the Amex Platinum for a $200 purchase, you could get up to $50 from the Saks statement credit, plus $50 off through the Saks promotion, for a total savings of $100. 

Don't forget to check your Amex Offers as well to see if you can "triple-dip." While the Amex Offers for Saks are generally for bonus points rather than money back on eligible purchases, this is a great way to maximize your purchase by getting even more rewards for your spending. And if no Saks discounts or Amex Offers are available when you're trying to use your Amex Platinum Saks credit, at the very least you can earn bonus points or miles by going through an online shopping portal to make your purchase.

For a deeper look at this card's benefits, you can read our complete Amex Platinum review, which demonstrates how you can get more than $2,000 in value from the card in the first year.

Click here to learn more about the Amex Platinum card.

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NOW WATCH: A 45-year-long study discovered trends in successful hyper-intelligent children

Who has the best cheap car insurance in Missouri?

Sun, 12/01/2019 - 12:30pm

  • Missouri residents pay much less than the national average for car insurance, but that doesn't mean that you can't save when shopping around.  
  • Drivers in Missouri can find the best coverage from USAA, AAA and Farmers with good credit, and AAA and American Family for drivers with poor credit. 
  • Read more personal finance coverage.
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Car insurance isn't all that expensive in Missouri — in fact, premiums average $791 per year, well below the US national average of $935 per year according to the Insurance Information Institute. Even though it's affordable, there's still one big way to save: shopping around

Car insurance companies price your premium based on a variety of factors. Everything from your age, years of driving experience, and even your marital status can affect your insurance premium. One of the biggest factors is your credit score. That said, it's important to get quotes from many different insurance companies and compare them to get the best deal for you before deciding. 

If you're looking to save on car insurance in Missouri, here are a few companies that offer competitive rates in this state to help start the search. 

Who has the best cheap car insurance in Indiana? 

Consumer Reports compiled pricing formulas from every insurance company in all 50 states. According to its data, credit scores play a big role in the cost of car insurance coverage. Here are the three most affordable car insurance companies in Missouri, along with the average cost of coverage for a single adult driver. 

Drivers with good credit, or FICO scores between 670 and 739, will see the best coverage costs from these three companies, on average: 

  • USAA car insurance: $802 per year
  • AAA car insurance: $910 per year
  • Farmers car insurance: $1,009 per year

Drivers with excellent FICO scores above 800 will pay the least for coverage, on average.

  • USAA car insurance: $580 per year
  • AAA car insurance: $683 per year
  • Farmers car insurance: $840 per year

Drivers with poor credit, or credit scores below 539, will pay the most for coverage, on average. 

  • AAA car insurance: $1,466 per year 
  • American Family car insurance: $1,850 per year
  • State Farm car insurance: $2,068 per year
Who gets the best cheap car insurance in Missouri? 

As the numbers show above, drivers with the best credit score will see the best price on car insurance. Raising your credit score could be one way to save. But, insurance companies price your premium based on several different factors, and it might pay to compare your coverage.  

If you're willing to shop around you could save some money by comparing the quotes offered to you. Get four or five quotes, and look at the different coverage types and limits. You'll also want to look at the deductible, or the amount that you'll be responsible for out-of-pocket if you get into an accident. 

Once you've found the policy with the most coverage and the lowest deductibles and premium, you've found the best policy for you. 

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Behind the scenes with Shepard Smith — the Fox News star who just announced his resignation from the network

'Frozen II' earned a record-breaking $123.7 million over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend (DIS)

Sun, 12/01/2019 - 11:36am

  • "Frozen II" won the domestic box office for a second-straight weekend.
  • The Disney movie brought in an estimated $85.2 million over the weekend and $123.7 million over the five-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend. 
  • Both are record-breaking figures.
  • Read more stories like this on Business Insider. 

Coming off a record-breaking opening weekend, Disney's "Frozen II" isn't through owning the box office (and breaking records).

The animated movie brought in an estimated $85.2 million over the weekend, that tops the record $74.1 million "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" brought in over Thanksgiving weekend in 2013. "Frozen II" also took in $123.7 million over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend. That's another record-breaker for the holiday, knocking off the $110 million five-day gross "Catching Fire" brought in.

"Frozen II" has now earned $288 million domestically and $739 million worldwide.

The movie also crushed the three-day ($67.3 million) and five-day ($93.5 million) earnings for the opening weekend of first "Frozen," which debuted over Thanksgiving in 2013.

Coming in a strong second place is Lionsgate's "Knives Out." The star-studded movie has already made back its $40 million budget thanks to its five-day take of $41.7 million and a $70 million worldwide cume.

Box office highlights:
  • Disney also had a strong outing from its Fox release, "Ford v Ferrari." The race car drama brought in $19 million this weekend. It has a total worldwide cume of $143.3 million worldwide.
  • Universal/Makeready's "Queen & Slim" had an impressive opening with a five-day take of $15.8 million. That put the movie above its industry projections.


SEE ALSO: How the "Missing Link" team created one of the most ambitious stop-motion animation scenes ever, which took 100 weeks to pull off

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Behind the scenes with Shepard Smith — the Fox News star who just announced his resignation from the network

Here's the $1.8 million investment portfolio of a baby boomer couple who wants to retire in the next 5 years

Sun, 12/01/2019 - 11:30am

  • Morningstar's director of personal finance, Christine Benz, recently overhauled the investment portfolio of a baby boomer couple who is hoping to retire in the next five years.
  • Allen, 63, and Bridget, 62, earn around $245,000 a year working as a computer engineer and scientist, respectively.
  • Their retirement accounts are worth about $1.8 million; they each have a traditional IRA, Roth IRA, and 401(k)
  • Benz said their biggest task for getting on track for retirement is creating a balanced asset allocation, which requires investing their large amount of cash holdings to put their money to work.
  • Read more personal finance coverage.

It's crucial to check up on your investment portfolio leading up to retirement.

Married couple Allen, 63, and Bridget, 62, are hoping to retire within the next five years. As part of Morningstar's Portfolio Makeover Week, Christine Benz, director of personal finance at Morningstar, reviewed their investments to assess whether they're on the right track.

Allen and Bridget started saving early, but coming from a family of hard-working immigrants, slowing down in retirement won't be easy, they told Morningstar. Bridget plans to leave her job as a scientist by the time she's 65, while Allen would like to continue working as a computer engineer until age 67. They currently earn around $245,000 a year. 

After recently selling their home to downsize, the couple is renting an apartment. They plan to use the proceeds from the sale to buy a new home soon and are holding that money in a taxable account. Their retirement accounts are their largest asset, totaling abut $1.8 million spread across 401(k)s and traditional and Roth IRAs. 

Allen and Bridget expect to spend about $120,000 a year in retirement, or much less if they're able to buy a new home outright and eliminate a mortgage payment. If they each start collecting Social Security at their full retirement age, they can bring in about $64,000 in benefits annually. They'll then need to pull roughly $63,000 from their investment portfolio, after factoring in taxes, to make up the difference.

Here's what their investment portfolio looked like before Benz's makeover, shared with permission from Morningstar:

Benz said Allen and Bridget's main focus should be creating a balanced asset allocation that allows them to withdraw 3.5% of their portfolio each year in retirement to meet their spending needs. Part of that requires investing their large amount of cash holdings to put their money to work, she said.

With their goals in mind, Benz suggested the following changes to their portfolio:

  • To ensure they have enough cash to buy a new home outright, liquidate two smaller stock investments held in taxable accounts. Keep that cash, along with their emergency fund, in a taxable account with the former home sale proceeds.
  •  Invest the cash balance in each of their Roth IRAs in Vanguard's total stock market index fund.
  • Streamline Allen's traditional IRA, the household's largest retirement account. Remove more aggressive fixed-income funds and add in high-quality short- and intermediate-term bond funds.
  • Streamline the holdings in Bridget's 401(k) to just three, including a stock index fund and an international growth fund, to lower costs and get exposure to more high-quality funds.

Here's what their investment portfolio looked like after Benz's makeover, shared with permission from Morningstar:

While these changes to Allen and Bridget's portfolio are essential to getting their nest egg in shape for retirement, Benz noted that it may be too risky to shift their investments all at once. 

"My bias would be to not try to time the changes perfectly but rather dollar-cost average into a more fully invested position over the next few years, after they've determined how much they'll need for their new home," she said. "Dollar-cost averaging guarantees that their timing in putting the money to work won't be exactly correct, but nor will it be exactly wrong."

Benz also suggested the couple look into long-term care insurance. If they decide not to buy a policy, she recommends separating those costs out from their other annual spending estimations and preparing for them accordingly.

Join the conversation about this story »

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The best books of 2019 on how we can rethink today's capitalism and improve the economy

Sun, 12/01/2019 - 8:22am

  • There has been a growing movement among both corporate leaders and politicians for improving capitalism as it's been practiced in America the past several decades, for the sake of reducing inequality, sparking economic growth, and ensuring sustainable future.
  • We've selected our favorite books of the year exploring various elements of this discussion.
  • This article is part of Business Insider's ongoing series on Better Capitalism.
  • Visit BI Prime for more stories.

When the Business Roundtable, the lobbying group of about 200 CEOs of America's largest companies, released a statement denouncing shareholder primacy and instead focusing on a "stakeholder approach" to running their businesses, it could be easy to write it as just another press release.

And while the statement was vague enough to lack teeth, that doesn't mean it was pointless. Instead, it was a high-profile acknowledgement of a growing movement against a way of doing business in the United States that has reigned for over 40 years.

Business Insider has been covering that movement for the past couple years with our Better Capitalism series, exploring elements of it like wealth and income inequality, sustainability, and the role of a corporation in society. As the discussion around these topics grows more impassioned, and includes more corporate leaders and politicians, there has been a constant flow of great books about them.

We've collected our favorites of the year.

SEE ALSO: 10 overlooked books that tell you all you need to know about the American economy

'Good Economics for Hard Times' by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo

Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo are a husband-and-wife duo of MIT economists who shared the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences this year with Harvard's Michael Kremer. They received the honor for the way they revolutionized the fight against extreme poverty, through an approach based not on economic philosophy, but on evidence gathered through randomized control trials.

With their new book, they're taking their economists' lenses to the largest problems in the world today, from immigration to climate change. It can seem like a strange leap, but as with their main body of work, they approach each question guided by data, and directed toward benefiting the most marginalized members of society.

Find it here »

'Transaction Man' by Nicholas Lemann

The shift in the conversation Americans are having about capitalism has direct ties to the financial crisis and the ensuing populist movements, but its roots are in the American economy's rise to dominance following World War II.

Nicholas Lemann, a New Yorker staff writer and professor and dean emeritus at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, takes a look at how the US economy got to where it is right now. [Full disclosure, I attended the school of journalism when Lemann was the dean.]

He explores how the theories of shareholder primacy and trickle-down economics led to, as the subtitle of the book suggests, "the rise of the deal and the decline of the American Dream." And it's not simply theoretical. Lemann makes his narrative resonate through the stories of both those who have thrived and those who have suffered through the past several decades in America.

Find it here »

'The Triumph of Injustice' by Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman

Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman are University of California, Berkeley economists whose work has not only been influential in the study of inequality, but has provided the foundation for Sen. Elizabeth Warren's tax policy proposals for the 2020 presidential election.

Their book both gives a history of taxation in the US and offers proposals on how to invert the way those in the middle class pay a higher percentage of their income than the country's wealthiest do.

Find it here »

'On Fire' by Naomi Klein

This book from the reporter and activist Naomi Klein is not a policy proposal on a Green New Deal, but rather an argument that nothing less than a fundamental rethinking of climate policy will suffice.

To do this, Klein writes, it will be necessary to get rid of the neoliberal economics of the past four decades, and the way companies approach nature as an unlimited asset toward growth.

Find it here »

'Goliath' by Matt Stoller

"Goliath" is a history of corporate consolidation in America and the accompanying government resistance to or support of it. Stoller, a fellow at the anti-monopoly Open Markets Institute in Washington, DC, argues that we are in an era where concentrated corporate power once again reigns.

His book gives urgency to the renewed antitrust movement on both the left and right of the past few years, saying that if the path we are on continues, democracy's power will be weakened to dangerous levels.

Find it here »

'People, Power, and Profits' by Joseph E. Stiglitz

Nobel laureate Joe Stiglitz has long been one of the most outspoken voices for combatting rampant wealth and income inequality in America. In a time when Americans are turning toward socialism or doubling down on neoliberal approaches, Stiglitz's latest book is a call for a reformed, "progressive capitalism."

In many ways, Stiglitz's "People, Power, and Profits" is a consolidation of many of the books on this list, arguing that the best way to fight inequality and improve our economy is by rejecting market fundamentalism, breaking up market concentration, regulating Big Tech, rethinking trade, and empowering labor.

Find it here »

'Invisible Women' by Caroline Criado Perez

When discussing gender equality in the workplace, we often focus on becoming aware of unconscious bias that make us judge men and women differently, and on policies that can lead to women rising to leadership positions. What we need to spend more time looking at, argues feminist activist Caroline Criado Perez, is how so much of the world is designed specifically for men.

Criado Perez collects a wealth of research on how the data behind everything from smartphone design to public policy is collected to an overwhelming degree from male participants, to the detriment of women.

Find it here »

'The Big Nine' by Amy Webb

"Artificial intelligence" is a ubiquitous but often misunderstood buzzword when we discuss the future of business.

New York University professor Amy Webb is here to help. She breaks down how "The Big Nine" developers of AI are shaping our futures, but that nothing they create has inevitable ramifications.

She uses data and history to show what's actually happening in the world of AI, dispelling both excessive fear and optimism, and proposes ways that countries and corporations will have to work together to create regulations and expectations around increasingly powerful technology.

Find it here »

'Ghost Work' by Mary L. Gray and Siddharth Suri

Considering how the increasingly rapid change of technology is leading to advancements in AI and automation that will affect the future of work is important, but as anthropologist Mary L. Gray and computer scientist Siddharth Suri explore in their book, we must also be aware of the invisible labor force underlying Big Tech.

Gray and Suri take a look at the lives of workers who do jobs like flag explicit content on social media and proofread websites, helping AI learn before it can work on its own. They point out how these types of jobs lack labor protections, but can still be modified to become points of opportunity, not exploitation.

Find it here »

'The Code of Capital' by Katharina Pistor

The discussion around the rise of inequality to historic levels in the US often includes the financialization of the economy and the reign of neoliberal ideas, but according to Katharina Pistor, professor and director of the Columbia Law School's Center on Global Legal Transformation, we don't spend enough time considering the legal aspect of capitalism.

Pistor explores how lawyers "code" capital through contracts, property rights, and trust, corporate, and bankruptcy law, and have exponentially grown the wealth gap in America over decades.

Find it here »

'The Enlightened Capitalists' by James O'Toole

O'Toole, the founding director of the University of Southern California's Neely Center for Ethical Leadership and Decision-Making, chronicles the ways business leaders tried to align their profits with social good, sometimes with poor results.

Using case studies of entrepreneurs behind brands like J.C. Penney and Levi Strauss & Co., O'Toole examines what works and what doesn't when it comes to building sustainable, socially conscious companies.

Find it here »

Wall Street's poaching war, Amazon's biggest test yet, and an end to the DNA testing fad

Sun, 12/01/2019 - 8:20am


This will be the last email you'll be getting from me for a little while, as I'll be taking eight weeks of parental leave. In my absence, some of our talented editors will be taking over the Sunday email, so you can look forward to hearing more from them in the coming months.

Here's what I've been paying attention to this past week:

Yes, there have been lots of layoffs in the financial services industry again in 2019. But for particular pockets, 2019 was a year of frenetic hiring on Wall Street.

Amazon's biggest test yet

Amazon is set to spend more than $3 billion this year on its burgeoning transportation network of planes, ocean freighters, vans, trucks, and more, Rachel Premack reported this week. The next 20-something days represent a huge test for that network.

Rachel writes: 

There are just 26 days between Black Friday and Christmas Day this year — six days fewer than last year and the shortest holiday shopping season we've seen since 2013.

That doesn't mean customers will be buying less, according to the National Retail Foundation. But it does mean that the pressure is on for online retailers to fulfill orders. And e-commerce analysts are hunkering down to see if Amazon will be able to deliver, avoiding another customer service fiasco.

In related news, nearly all of America's 1.8 million truck drivers are paid on a per-mile basis, but Amazon is breaking with the norm, according to internal documents seen by Rachel.

According to the docs, Amazon pays truck drivers per day, rather than per mile, through three job categories. Rachel reported that the tactic could be a brilliant maneuver that may give the e-commerce giant an advantage.

The DNA testing fad is over

As Lydia Ramsey reported, for years, the hot gift at the holiday season has been DNA test kits. Not anymore. 

From Lydia's story:

Consumers aren't flocking to send their spit into genetic testing companies in as high numbers as the industry expected. 

"The market's been down and we don't see that coming back next year," Vijay Kumar, an analyst at Evercore ISI said.

She talked to the CEOs of Ancestry and 23andMe about how they're fighting back.

That's it from me. Before I go, I want to say thank you for reading! Have a great finish to 2019, and I'll be back in your inbox in 2020.

— Matt

Finance and Investing

Ualá, a fast-growing personal-finance app in Argentina, just closed a $150 million fundraising led by Tencent and SoftBank's Latin America innovation fund

Argentina's hottest startup just got some serious backing from two of Asia's biggest investors. 

We asked 4 VC investors what they look for in a fintech founder: they want someone who's 'gritty' and has 'transgressive' ideas, but can also take advice

There's a lot of cash out there for fintechs, but startup founders and venture capital backers are playing in a crowded market. We asked four VC investors focused on fintechs what they're looking for in a founder and a pitch.

Tech, Media, Telecoms

Microsoft is building a new team of technical trainers to grow its Azure cloud business and compete with Amazon Web Services

Microsoft is building a new team capable of training users at any technical level about its Azure cloud-computing business, casting a wider net for potential customers.

Industry insiders say buzzy millennial media company TheSkimm has been looking for an investor or buyer as user growth slows

The buzzy media darling TheSkimm has been looking for an investor or buyer as media companies consolidate around it, people familiar with the talks told Business Insider.

Healthcare, Retail, Transportation

Mars CEO reveals how millennials' growing tendency to treat pets like children is transforming the $35 billion company's business

The pet-care industry is booming, especially among Gen Z and millennials who increasingly see their pets as more than just animals.

Check out the pitch deck the e-commerce company VTEX used to get a $140 million funding round led by SoftBank

Two Brazilian entrepreneurs spent years shunning external funding as they grew their business before deciding to take on SoftBank cash in a bid to take the company to the next level.

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NOW WATCH: WeWork went from a $47 billion valuation to a failed IPO. Here's how the company makes money.

Fred Wilson, one of the world's most successful venture capitalists, reveals the top trends in startups right now, and why he's investing in an industry that's imploding

Sun, 12/01/2019 - 8:00am

  • Fred Wilson is cofounder and partner at Union Square Ventures, a legendary startup investment firm. He was an early investor in platforms such as Twitter, Tumblr, Zynga, and Etsy.
  • In a rare and wide-ranging interview with Business Insider, Wilson discussed his new investment in video media startup The Recount, as well as other opportunities he sees.
  • Wilson also explained why he likes direct listings as an alternative to traditional IPOs, and what long-term effects companies like Uber and WeWork could have on the tech sector.
  • Wilson argued that despite the debacles of some prominent Softbank portfolio companies, VCs won't suddenly start pushing startups toward profitability.
  • Get more BI Prime articles, here.

Fred Wilson has a knack for nailing startup trends.

The legendary venture capitalist was one of the first to jump on the rise of social media, and he wrote early checks to companies like Tumblr, Twitter, Etsy, and Zynga.

There are some trends Wilson is excited about now that seem contrarian (and in the venture world, being a contrarian is a point of pride).

In a rare and wide-ranging interview with Business Insider, Wilson outlined a few of them:

  • Wilson, who recently invested $5 million in John Heilemann and John Battelle's media startup, The Recount, thinks it's a good time to invest in media companies. Lots of media companies, meanwhile, are consolidating and downsizing.
  • He thinks upstarts and digital companies will find success going back to more traditional models — Amazon launching physical stores, Netflix going into movie theaters, and digital media companies buying print arms.
  • He doesn't think WeWork and Uber's highly-publicized problems will make investors any more likely to push startups in their portfolios toward profitability. There's still plenty of cash to go around for people with big (profitless) visions.
  • He's a fan of direct listings — a newish alternative to a traditional IPO that other venture capitalists like Bill Gurley have been crowing about, too.

The following interview with Wilson has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Lucia Moses: You just invested in video news startup The Recount. What do you look for generally in media companies as investments?

Fred Wilson: We look for companies that are not too dependent on a single distribution model. We do believe — although we're not convinced — that short is good, and things should be designed to be consumed on phones.

Audio would be interesting to look at on phones as Apple's airpods are becoming more powerful. We think about, what kinds of things will people want to do with airpods and their phones related to media, healthcare, education, etc? That is an important trend that's investable.

LM: What did VCs get wrong about media?

FW: You don't have to optimize to Facebook. That is one mistake the venture capitalists made. They also bulked up in their cost structures. It's not clear you can make media into a $500 million or $1 billion revenue business. So I think it's important to stay lean. Keep costs low. Create lots of content without creating a huge infrastructure.

The Athletic is probably the exception that proves the rule. Sports is different. People are absolutely crazy about what happens with their hometown teams. But I'm not sure it's replicable to other verticals.

LM: Venture capital has had a big role in creating media companies in the past several years, with mixed success. What went wrong and what role do you see VC in general playing in media? 

FW: Venture comes and goes. There are times people are very conservative. Venture has had a love-hate relationship with media. There are a lot of great examples that have sold. They've struggled in recent years. It doesn't mean they'll be out of business in a year. People got too excited about the potential and valued them at prices that didn't make sense at the time.

The other thing is digital media companies buying print, like Vox Media buying New York magazine. I think that's very intriguing. The other thing that's interesting is Netflix getting into the box office theater business. It doesn't seem crazy. Amazon opening stores. That feels like a real trend. 

LM: What else in media excites you?

FW: I think audio is going to become an increasingly big deal. What The New York Times has done with The Daily is really incredible. For a lot of people, that's the only New York Times content they consume. They're building a very loyal audience. It makes sense that it would lead to big media companies investing even more in audio. 

LM: What's your view on the streaming wars?

FW: I think some of these new entrants are going to be successful, but I don't think it's going to come at the expense of early pioneers like Netflix. The market is a lot bigger than anybody thinks and there will be a dozen big streaming businesses. People are getting rid of their cable and buying internet services. It opens up spending power that'll get invested in entertainment.

LM: The idea of direct listings has gotten a lot of chatter, with Slack going public this way. What do you think of them as an alternative to IPOs? 

FW: The stock exchange was going to allow direct listings that included a capital raise. Until now, the only way to do it was list the shares, so the only companies that could do it were companies that don't need the money.

The thing that's great about direct listings is usually there's a lot of price discovery, where companies like Slack let their shares get pretty liquid in the private markets so people have a good idea of what price they have to list at. That's better than a public offering, where there's all this drama.

I do like direct listings, and it's a sign of innovations happening in the public capital market.

LM: How about some of the recent troubled startups like Uber and WeWork? Do their struggles change how you think about investments?

FW: If you look at the companies that were performing well, they tended to be software companies. The companies that weren't performing well really weren't software companies.

Uber is a software company, but so much of what happens when you take a ride isn't software. Peloton is a software company but also an exercise company. We didn't invest in Uber or WeWork. One could argue those were mistakes. We have been more comfortable with companies that are mostly software companies.

Maybe it was validation that our preference for software companies was good over the years. 

LM: Yet some companies convinced everyone they were software companies when they clearly weren't.

FW: The idea of technology as a disrupter is a very compelling narrative. Maybe that's all you need to think about to understand why so many people get excited about these companies.

LM: Do you see there being more pressure by VCs for startups to get profitable faster after disasters like WeWork?

FW: I don't think there's going to be a material change in incentives to get to profitability quicker. There's still a tremendous amount of capital to fund losses.

And entrepreneurs with big visions who need investment to fund them are still going to find it.

SEE ALSO: Joe Marchese has been saying for years that advertising is broken. Now he's creating a new holding company, Attention Capital, to fix it.

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A Wall Street expert who called the stock market's late-2018 meltdown warns another plunge could arrive in December — and shares his investing advice for 2020

Sun, 12/01/2019 - 6:02am

  • The stock market risks a correction in December if progress on a trade deal fails to materialize, according to Barry Bannister, the head of institutional equity strategy at Stifel. 
  • In a recent client note, he explained why he thinks much of the progress on a so-called Phase 1 deal has already been priced in.
  • Last November, Bannister forewarned investors about the sell-off that hit the market a month later.  
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories

Nearly all the closely followed chief equity strategists on Wall Street who have released their 2020 forecasts expect stocks to continue rallying.

But not everyone sees a smooth ride on the way to higher prices, including Barry Bannister, the head of institutional equity strategy at Stifel. In a recent client note and TV interview, he said he sees risk of a late-2019 correction, which is technically defined as a drawdown of 10% or more in the S&P 500.  

Bannister issued a similar warning about a year ago. His concern was that the Federal Reserve had raised interest rates too quickly and beyond a point that could accommodate a continued rally in stocks. 

The market eventually succumbed, and the S&P 500 bottomed on Christmas Eve about 18% from the high it had reached in September.   

This time around, Bannister's concern has little to do with the Fed. In fact, he says the Fed is supporting the market this year by injecting liquidity into the financial system through its repurchase agreements. And, the central bank has cut interest rates three times this year, rolling back all but one of the hikes it implemented in 2018. 

Bannister's worry into year-end is progress on trade. 

"The Fed has done its part," Bannister said in an interview on Bloomberg TV. "But what we really need to see now is a trade deal. Any backtracking on trade? Negative." 

Bannister is far from the only strategist who sees the yearlong trade war between China and the US as a stumbling block for equities. But after a 26% rally in the S&P 500 year-to-date, he says investors may have already priced in much of the progress on the so-called Phase 1 deal.

He specifically flagged his model, which shows that the S&P 500 has run above the level implied by a rebound in US manufacturing, as measured by the purchasing managers' index. 

The mismatch his model is showing is illustrated in the chart on the left: 

Additionally, the yield curve, or gap between short- and long-term US Treasury yields, has already flashed its reliable recession signal. It's an indication to Bannister that both the US and China need a trade deal in order to avert an economic downturn that would hurt stocks. 

If indeed the market has already priced in much of the trade progress, any news of deceleration could set it back, even as details about how core issues would be resolved remain scarce.

Despite Bannister's call for a potential market correction in December, he remains bullish on the stock market into 2020. He sees a 5% return for the S&P 500 in 2020, but twice that — or 10% — for a pair trade that bets on cyclical industries and bets against defensive industries. 

His examples of the former include energy, industrials, materials, and technology, while real estate, utilities, telecoms and staples make up the latter category.

SEE ALSO: 'We see a springtime recession': A Wall Street firm that is counting down to the next crisis says its trigger will be unlike any in recent history

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NOW WATCH: A big-money investor in juggernauts like Facebook and Netflix breaks down the '3rd wave' firms that are leading the next round of tech disruption

Everyone loves the Amex Platinum card, but I'm convinced the Business Platinum is better for 4 reasons

Sat, 11/30/2019 - 12:22pm

The American Express Platinum card and the Business Platinum card have a lot of things in common:

Despite these similarities — and its higher annual fee — I find the Business Platinum card much more compelling, and for me, it's a card that I'm happy to keep year after year. Here's why I think the Business Platinum card is a better choice.

Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which will far outweigh the value of any points or miles. It's important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back.

Read more: Amex Platinum vs. Business Platinum card comparison

1. 35% Pay with points rebate for flights

The Business Platinum earns you a 35% rebate when you pay for flights with your Membership Rewards points for first-class or business-class flights on any airline, or flights in any class on your designated with American Express.

This is the main feature that makes this card a game changer for me. Both the Platinum card and Business Platinum card offer Pay with Points, which allows you to redeem your Membership Rewards points for travel-related expenses with Amex Travel at a rate of 1 cent per point. Normally, that's not a good deal – Membership Rewards points can easily be worth twice that when transferred to airline partners, especially for international premium cabin redemptions. With the Business Platinum, though, if you redeem points for flights in business or first class on any airline — or economy on the same airline you select for the annual travel credit — you're eligible for a 35% rebate on the points you spend, up to 500,000 rebated points per year.

When you redeem your points for travel this way, you're getting around 1.54 cents in value per point. On top of that, the tickets you purchase are just like tickets booked with cash, meaning you can earn frequent flyer miles and elite-qualifying miles with the airline of your choice, and you can book any available ticket – there's no inventory restrictions or blackout dates.

In some cases, you can even use Amex's exclusive International Airline Program to get even further discounts. This is my favorite way to redeem Membership Rewards points — often I'm able to take advantage of sales to book discounted business class tickets for fewer miles than I'd have to spend on an award ticket.

2. Annual credits toward Dell are more valuable to me than Saks Fifth Avenue and Uber credits

To help offset the annual fee, the Platinum card offers up to $100 annually in Saks Fifth Avenue credits (two $50 credits, one for each half of the year) and up to $200 annually in Uber credits ($15 per month January to November and a $20 bonus for $35 total in December). The Business Platinum card, on the other hand, offers up to $200 in Dell credits ($100 for each half of the year).

For me, the credits on the personal Platinum card aren't all that useful. Saks isn't somewhere I would otherwise shop, so it feels like I'm going out of my way to buy things just to use the credits. And the way the Uber credits are broken up makes it easy to lose value — each month's credit expires at the end of that month — especially since they only work in the United States, and I often find that I'm not in the US enough to take advantage of them.

The Dell credit, on the other hand, is pretty easy to use. Even if you don't have a Dell laptop, Dell offers accessories like chargers, cables, and battery packs that can be used with all sorts of devices. And I often also find Amex Offers for additional discounts or extra Membership Rewards points on purchases, allowing me to further stretch the value of this credit.

3. It's a business card, so it doesn't have the same impact on your credit report

Although your credit report will show an inquiry from American Express when you apply for the Business Platinum card, once the account is open it doesn't appear on your personal credit report. That's useful if you need to make large purchases with the card, since you don't have to worry about a statement with a large balance dragging down your credit score.

4. It doesn't count towards the Chase 5/24 rule

Because business credit cards don't show up on your personal credit report, they also don't count towards the Chase 5/24 rule, or similar restrictions from other credit issuers like Bank of America. So unlike with the Platinum card, you can safely open a Business Platinum card without impacting your ability to open other accounts.

Bottom line

The Business Platinum card offers many of the same valuable perks as the personal Platinum card, but for just $45 more per year you can unlock exclusive perks like a 35% rebate on points redeemed directly for airfare.

For small business owners who travel frequently, an annual $200 Dell credit is likely more useful than $100 at Saks Fifth Avenue and $200 in US-only Uber credits with restrictive expiration dates. And as a business card, it won't impact your credit report or ability to apply for other credit cards the same way a personal account would.

Last chance: You can earn up to 100,000 Amex points when you apply for the Business Platinum card by December 4 and meet the following spending requirements. You'll earn 50,000 points after spending $10,000, and an additional 50,000 points after spending $15,000 on qualifying purchases, all within the first three months from account opening.

Click here to learn more about the Amex Business Platinum card.

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A college professor who retired at 59 says shedding the 'golden handcuffs' of debt years earlier made it a seamless transition

Sat, 11/30/2019 - 10:55am

  • James R. retired from a career as a college professor at age 59 and a half with no debt. For him, being debt-free has always been a lifestyle. 
  • On a business trip with colleagues when he was about 50, he realized just how rare it is to be debt-free, and how hard retirement can be with debt in the picture. 
  • Business Insider is looking for retirement stories to feature in our Real Retirement series. If you're in or nearing retirement and want to share, email
  • Read more personal finance coverage. 

Retiree James R., who asked that his last name not be used to protect his privacy, considers debt to be the "golden handcuffs" that lock you into an expensive life — and compromise your retirement.

That's why he eliminated all of his debt before he retired five years ago, at age 59.

"I was on a business trip about eight or nine years before I retired," the college professor told Business Insider. "We were talking about money, just the way people do. I just casually mentioned that we have no debt, our expenditures are low. I told them, 'There are no golden handcuffs on me, I can retire whenever I want.'"

"All the people around me, their eyes bugged out," he continued. "I think it never occurred to them that it was possible to have life without golden handcuffs, and without debt."

Being debt-free was a 'normal' part of his lifestyle

Not being chained to a mortgage, car payment, or credit card payment made his retirement easy, he said. Even at 50, he already felt prepared.

"We were already debt-free, that was normal for us," James said. He and his wife, also a university faculty member, have never rented a home. They've bought several properties throughout the years — including duplexes, condos, and even once a four-bedroom house — throughout the midwest and Texas. The two paid off their last mortgage 25 years ago, and haven't had a mortgage on their home since. "We decided to do that so that our monthly expenses would be less," he said, adding that due to the equity they'd built in homes over the years, they were able to pay off their most recent home in about a year. 

James, who retired from a career as a professor at various universities in the midwest and Texas, now works part-time in retirement, teaching college classes online.

Buying little and saving a lot has always been a part of his lifestyle — it's always been intuitive to him to save rather than spend, and live a simple life. "A minimalist attitude really does help one have the right habits they're going to need when they get to retirement," he said. 

Transitioning into retirement "didn't require any major adjustments because my normal life accommodated this change without difficulty," James said. "When the clock ticked down to 59 and a half, I was 10 years in at work. That was enough to get an additional monthly check from the organization I worked for," he continued. "That was the logical time to go."

Debt makes it hard to retire — and hard to save

For those in their 50s today and approaching retirement, it's all-too-common to be juggling debt, and lagging behind in retirement savings as a result. Based on a study conducted by Insider and Morning Consult, Business Insider's Tanza Loudenback reports that Gen Xers, defined as ages 38 to 53, are burdened with the most credit card debt and 70% are still paying on mortgages, the most of any generation. Given these issues, it's no surprise that Gen X is lagging behind in retirement savings — half don't even have a retirement account, Loudenback reports.  

Data from credit reporting company Experian shows that Gen Xers carry more debt than any other generation, and the average Gen Xer with debt is facing about $139,000 worth of debt. And, data from Charles Schwab shows that 42% of Gen X is more concerned with paying off debt than saving for retirement.

Many of the retirees who have spoken with Business Insider about their retirement experience report that paying off debt was helpful. David Fisher, 65, told Business Insider that paying off his mortgage and other outstanding debts was a big goal of his. Others like Joe and Karen Stermitz decided to get rid of their mortgage all together by selling their home, and opted for a life on the road.

However they choose to do it, all these retirees have something in common: They want to be debt-free. 

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6 tips for a painless return flight home after the holidays

Sat, 11/30/2019 - 10:45am

SEE ALSO: Airlines are joining in on Black Friday and Cyber Monday with major flight sales — here's how you can save

1. When leaving for your trip, choose a suitcase with some extra room.

Somehow, you always end up returning home from your trip with more stuff than you brought, whether it's the sweater you forgot at your parents' house last time, Black Friday purchases, gifts, or just the mysterious extra bulk that seems to appear out of nowhere.

Instead of tightly packing everything you need for your trip into the smallest bag you can, bring a slightly bigger bag with some extra space for that return flight (the exception is if you're flying an airline that strictly enforces bag size).

2. Don't worry about folding dirty clothes.

If your clothes are headed into the wash when you get home, you don't have to worry about folding them for the flight back. But to save room in your suitcase, you don't just want to throw them in haphazardly, either.

Try rolling clothes, instead. Or, if your suitcase has a laundry bag like the above pictured suitcase, put dirty clothes in there, and then just squeeze the laundry bag into your luggage.

3. Use packing cubes.

I almost always use packing cubes when I pack. It helps me fit more in bags and stay organized.

Plus, when I'm coming home, I can use the cubes to keep anything I didn't end up wearing separate from my dirty laundry.

You can see Business Insider reporters' favorite packing cubes here.

4. Get to the airport early.

Airports and highways in the days after the holidays can be even busier than in the days leading up to them.

For Thanksgiving 2019, the Sunday after Thanksgiving is expected to see more travelers than the Wednesday before the holiday, which is usually thought of as the busiest day.

Make sure to get to the airport early so you have enough time to deal with traffic, and get checked in and through security.

If it doesn't end up taking too long, find somewhere in the airport to get a cup of coffee or a drink. You may even be able to use an airline lounge, depending on what type of ticket you have or what perks you get from your credit card.

5. Think ahead when taking leftovers on a flight.

Bringing leftovers home is always a nice post-holiday treat, but keep in mind that some foods are considered a liquid, and therefore can't be taken through security in a carry-on bag.

If you're bringing things like gravy, cranberry sauce, wine, jam, or preserves home from the holidays, pack them securely in a leak-proof container, and put them in your checked bag. "Foods that can be spilled, spread, sprayed, pumped or poured should be packed in a checked bag," the TSA says.

Most solid foods like pies, cakes, stuffing mix, casseroles, turkey, and potatoes, are good to go in your carry-on.

6. Plan ahead with pets.

If you're flying to Thanksgiving and planning to bring your pet, make sure to plan ahead.

Each airline has different policies about pets, but in all cases, you'll need to call ahead to make sure that either an in-cabin pet is added to your reservation, or that you can arrange for your bigger furry friend to travel in a safe crate in the cargo hold.

Even if your pet is considered an emotional-support animal, or ESA, many airlines require you to call ahead to register the animal.

Even if you made it to your holiday destination without calling ahead or encountering any problems, that may not be the case coming back. Airlines also tend to limit the number of pets and ESAs brought on board because of safety considerations, so it's definitely worth calling ahead.

The exception is trained and certified service or therapy animals, including seeing-eye dogs, PTSD-support animals, and service animals that are trained to help with a variety of other situations or conditions.

PayPal puts a move to the public cloud on its wishlist; the must-know banking hires and exits of 2019

Sat, 11/30/2019 - 9:52am



Hello, readers.

Happy Thanksgiving! With Black Friday behind us and Cyber Monday still to come, many may be focused on how the make-or-break shopping days are shaping up for retailers. But here on the finance team, we're taking a look at the payments and card companies that underpin all that spending. 

Turns out, PayPal is already planning for the 2020 shopping rush. As Dan DeFrancesco reports, the payments giant is working to move a portion of its services — including parts of transactions — into the public cloud for the first time. PayPal's CTO told us he's aiming to get 25% of traffic onto the Google Cloud Platform by late next year. 

We've already written plenty about how financial firms (even some notable holdouts) are slowly but surely embracing the public cloud. PayPal's tech chief Sri Shivananda explained why, for ecommerce payments in particular, it makes sense. "When you run something on-prem, you build capacity for the peak of the peak, and you are holding on to that capacity. You paid for it, and you continue to depreciate it every day," he told us. Read all the details on PayPal's plans to cut costs with a cloud move. 

American Express may conjure up images of corporate cards and airport lounge perks, but for 10 years the card network and issuer has also pumped up its own post-Thanksgiving promotion for small businesses. Banks have beefed up rewards on their own cards, which has been upping pressure on AmEx to get in front of more people in more places. (Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that AmEx has been paying some small businesses hefty bonuses to accept its cards — and swipe fees.)

Shannen Balogh attended an AmEx small business event in New York, and wrote about how the company is betting on a sweet spot that blends digital and brick-and-mortar shopping. What that looked like in practice was biometric doughnut recommendations and augmented-reality wine bottles. A package delivery robot was twirling around, too, making for a mesmerizing GIF — words can't really do it all justice, so check out the full story here.

We've been to a number of these kinds of splashy tech showcases from card companies (and seen Mastercard's shrimp-tracking blockchain first-hand.) But the efforts do underline what's become a popular view on the future of paymentsVC investors have told us they see opportunities pairing tech with payments to create a shopping experience (and collect and analyze more customer data) as opposed to simply moving money around. 

We also had some must-reads this week on Wall Street people moves that are worth revisiting. 

As Casey Sullivan reports, Goldman Sachs has assembled a team of senior bankers devoted exclusively to building relationships with middle-market private equity firms. It's a first for the investment banking giant — read here for details on key hires. Casey also wrote about how private equity giants like Blackstone have been expanding their rosters by bringing on more operating partners to squeeze returns out of portfolio companies. Read more here about that changing power dynamic. 

And Alex Morrell rounded up the biggest investment banking people moves of 2019: see the full list of 40 here. Turmoil at Deutsche Bank was a major factor driving those moves across Wall Street, with competitors scooping up at least 15 of its MDs in the US so far this year. So to do that trend justice, he's also assembled a breakout of must-know Deutsche Bank dealmaker departures. 

Keep reading to see how we unpacked a Charles Schwab-TD Ameritrade tie-up and explained what exactly a family office is and isn't. Plus — a roundup of the latest fintech and proptech news. 

Enjoy the weekend!


Fintech and proptech funding and people moves 

Charles Schwab's $26 billion deal for TD Ameritrade is an aggressive play for size that was set in motion before brokers started slashing commissions

Charles Schwab ended days of speculation on Monday by announcing plans to buy its smaller rival TD Ameritrade in an all-stock deal valued at about $26 billion.

That sets the stage for a megamerger that would remake the US discount brokerage landscape, and it comes after rapid-fire moves to slash commissions rocked the industry and fueled chatter that consolidation and cost-cutting would follow.

The San Francisco-based Charles Schwab and the Omaha, Nebraska-based TD Ameritrade, the two largest publicly traded US discount brokerages and registered investment adviser custodians, would together oversee some $5 trillion in assets. 

Deal talks were underway before the two discount brokerages announced they would eliminate online trading commissions for US stocks and exchange-traded funds in October, a source familiar with the matter said, and scaling up amid the industry's fee pressure was a main driver.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE Family offices are gaining visibility, but remain tricky to define. Here's how an HSBC private bank exec explains the term to ultra-rich clients.

When it comes to overseeing the wealthiest families' complicated financial lives, executives toss around the phrase "if you've met one family office, you've met one family office." In other words, no two family offices are the same, because no two families are the same.

Pinpointing the precise size of the single- and multi-family office universe is difficult given the secrecy with which many of them operate. Business Insider has previously reported that family offices, historically an opaque corner of the wealth universe, are seeing slightly more light than in the past. That's thanks in part to the desire to partake in more direct deals (the practice of investing directly in a company rather than through a vehicle like a fund.)

Carly Doshi, the head of philanthropy and family office governance at HSBC's private bank for the Americas, recently spoke with Business Insider about how she explains the term to ultra-rich families, and what deploying a family office actually looks like in practice. 

READ THE FULL STORY HERE Developers have zero incentive to fix the affordable-housing crisis. Here's what one real estate exec thinks could change that.

Americans are spending 37% of their income on housing expenses, seven percent higher than the standard measure of housing affordability.Housing affordability is plummetinginventory is declining, and the high cost of labor and construction makes building new middle-income housing financially untenable for developers. 

These factors have led to a squeeze in middle-class housing, one that's led venture capitalists to invest in construction tech that drives the cost of development down, and activists to push for rent control measures across the country. 

At Nuveen's Real Estate Roundtable 2020 event last week, James Martha, managing director and head of housing sector in the Americas, highlighted middle-income rentals as a sector of concern. Simply put, there isn't enough affordable housing, and developers aren't incentivized to build more affordably-priced stock. 



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NOW WATCH: Behind the scenes with Shepard Smith — the Fox News star who just announced his resignation from the network

In-house venture funds at Amazon and Google are leading the charge into the voice-first revolution and pouring millions of dollars into startups

Sat, 11/30/2019 - 9:00am

Amazon and Google have pioneered the shift to consumer-facing voice technology through smart devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home, but the tech giants are also putting their weight behind some of the most promising startups helping advance the next wave of personal computing.

Through corporate venture funds, Amazon and Google have poured millions of dollars into young startups based on voice technology. Amazon's Alexa Fund, named for its smart assistant Alexa, has invested in more than 70 companies itself, and has expanded to include an accelerator and university-focused program.

"At the time, Amazon didn't have a venture fund and this seemed like a good way to bring a focused effort to accomplish a few things at once," Alexa Fund director Paul Bernard told Business Insider. "We could support companies that are pushing what's possible in voice and Alexa, and also create a vehicle that allowed us to work with the venture community in a way our corporate partnership just didn't allow us to do."

As voice computing continues to gain traction, Alexa Fund is positioned to lead the way in dollars invested and range of companies among its portfolio, Bernard said. As director of the Alexa Fund, Bernard oversees Amazon's investment in companies like Drivetime, a car-based interactive audio entertainment startup, and Bamboo Learning, an educational startup that works exclusively with Alexa. 

As with other corporate venture funds, Alexa Fund has the benefit of a sole backer in Amazon. Unlike traditional venture firms that have multiple investors and a necessarily varied portfolio of investments, corporate venture firms are able to invest in companies that take longer to provide a return. So it's no surprise that corporate funds are driving investment activity in voice computing startups, Bernard said.

"No one has a singular view of how to represent the interest of startups and how to make them successful," Bernard said.

Google, meanwhile, launched the Google Assistant Investments program in May 2018. The fund has backed 14 early-stage companies so far, including developer testing startup Pulse Labs, insurance chatbot Claimbot, and wardrobe suggestion tool StyleHacks. 

According to a CNBC report, the Assistant Investment program is separate from Alphabet's in-house venture funds, GV and Capital G. There's no cap on the overall amount of money that the Assistant Investment team can put to work to fund startups, according to the report, and the goals of the investments are strategic rather than to maximize returns.

Alexa or Google Assistant? A dilemma for startups funded by tech giants

For voice startups, one tricky aspect of working with these corporate backers is the impact on choosing which voice assistant and associated devices to build on. Not every corporate fund maintains that portfolio companies must exclusively build or develop on internal technology, but it is an incentive for both founders and investors evaluating a deal.

For some voice startups, like Drivetime, the best option is to play both sides of the field. The company is backed by Amazon and Google, helping it optimize its product for two crucial car-based platforms, Echo Auto and Android Auto.

"Amazon had to open up the Skills Store. They envisioned the Skill Store before they even had a hardware product," Niko Vuori, CEO and cofounder of Alexa Fund portfolio company Drivetime, told Business Insider. "In order to make voice valuable over time, you need that developer community. The platform owners and tech giants needed to make their software and their ecosystem available to developers."

Vuori pointed to Apple's Siri as proof of what happens when a tech giant doesn't open up its underlying technology to the developer community. Amazon Alexa and Google Voice Assistant have both reached more customers through an array of devices, while Apple's Siri remains confined to what Vuori called "Apple's walled garden."

But while tech giants duke it out over the biggest deal of the day, traditional venture capital has been noticeably absent from the industry. Bernard said that makes sense, since Amazon and Google have a vested interest in seeing the tech succeed. Traditional venture capital firms will catch on, just as they did with mobile-first technology at the beginning of the decade.

"It's not atypical for new ecosystems to require some pump priming by the corporate incumbents that are building the products," Bernard said. "And then you get FOMO that comes with time and progress, and you're starting to see that now in the traditional VC world. It's not an unnatural sequence that we are starting to see. When the numbers are as big as they are around the number of people using voice devices, the venture community cannot afford to not be involved and not have points of view."

SEE ALSO: 7 startups hit a valuation of $1 billion or more in 2010. By 2019, 4 of them have gone out of business or seen their valuations crumble.

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Warren Buffett drinks 5 cans of Coke a day — here's why he switched from Pepsi after nearly 50 years

Sat, 11/30/2019 - 6:30am

  • Warren Buffett famously consumes five cans of Coke a day.
  • However, Berkshire Hathaway's billionaire boss drank Pepsi for nearly 50 years, and only switched sodas because an old neighbor intervened.
  • Don Keough, a coffee salesman who lived across the street from Buffett in Omaha and turned down a chance to invest with him, eventually became Coca-Cola's president and operating chief.
  • After learning that Buffett drank Pepsi-Cola Cherry, Keough sent him samples of the upcoming Cherry Coke, spurring Buffett to switch brands and pronounce Cherry Coke as the official drink of Berkshire Hathaway's annual shareholder meeting.
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Warren Buffett famously consumes five cans of Coke a day. However, he drank Pepsi for nearly 50 years, and only switched sodas because an old neighbor intervened, Glen Arnold wrote in "The Deals of Warren Buffett Volume 2: The Making of a Billionaire."

"I'm one quarter Coca-Cola," the 89-year-old investor told Fortune in 2015, explaining the drink accounts for 25% of his daily calorie intake.

Buffett's money has followed his mouth. His Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate owns about 10% of Coca-Cola, a stake worth around $22 billion.

The so-called Oracle of Omaha especially likes Cherry Coke. He agreed to have a cartoon of himself slapped on cans of the drink when it launched in China in 2017, and declined to charge a fee, he told Yahoo Finance.

However, Buffett isn't a lifetime loyalist. His son Howard used to call him "Pepsi Warren" because of his affinity for the rival soda, one of Howard's childhood friends told CNBC.

Buffett switched to Coke because of Don Keough, a coffee salesman who lived across the street from him in Omaha, Arnold wrote. In 1960, Buffett dropped by Keough's house to inform him that he was starting a partnership, adding, "If you give me $10,000 I might be able to do something with it."

Keough was skeptical of Buffett, given his neighbor lacked a conventional job and found time to entertain his kids during the day. 

"I didn't have it, but I could've borrowed it from my father. But can you imagine giving $10,000 to a guy who doesn't get up and go to work in the morning?" Keough said in a TV interview with former Disney CEO Michael Eisner.

Keough missed a trick. A $10,000 investment with Buffett could have been worth $93 million by 2018, Arnold estimated.

Keough's company was ultimately bought by Coca-Cola in 1964, and he rose through the ranks to become the group's president and chief operating officer in 1981. Four years later, he read in a magazine that Buffett was a fan of Pepsi-Cola Cherry. He swiftly wrote to his former neighbor, offering to send him some samples of the still-in-development Cherry Coke, which he described as "nectar of the gods." 

The samples hit the mark. In 1986, Buffett warned his shareholders to expect a change at Berkshire Hathaway's yearly gathering.

"After 48 years of allegiance to another soft drink, your Chairman, in an unprecedented display of behavioral flexibility, has converted to the new Cherry Coke. Henceforth, it will be the Official Drink of the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting."

Keough isn't only responsible for Buffett's favorite soda. His leadership of Coca-Cola — combined with the stock-market crash in October 1987, and the company's resilient growth and strong fundamentals — led to Buffett buying $1.3 billion worth of its stock between 1988 and 1994, Arnold wrote.

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A renowned market bear says stock valuations remind him the Great Depression and tech bubble — and warns of an ominous 'Hindenburg' tipping point

Sat, 11/30/2019 - 6:05am

  • John Hussman — the outspoken investor and former professor who's been predicting a stock collapse — thinks the market is in the midst of a "phase transition" which could soon approach a critical tipping point.
  • He says that current conditions could culminate in "severe market losses" to the tune of 50% to 65% over the totality of this market cycle. 
  • Hussman thinks investors should "carefully consider their risk exposures" going forward.
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It's safe to say that John Hussman, president of Hussman Investment Trust, isn't today's most optimistic stock market proponent. After all, he's been fervently warning of a 50% to 65% decrease in valuations over the course of the cycle's completion for quite some time now.

But today Hussman is seeing a confluence of variables that's providing him with even more reason to get out of dodge. Something that's akin to a "phase transition" approaching a crucial tipping point. 

"Investors should be fully aware of the present combination of extreme hyper-valuation, unfavorable market internals, and daily action that is characteristic of a 'phase transition,' specifically, internal dispersion followed by a leadership reversal," he penned in a recent client note.

"Given valuations that rival both 2000 and 1929, my impression is that relying on further speculation is playing with fire."

That's a stark warning. In 1929, the stock market was edging towards a precipice that would lop off about 90% of its value and encompass the Great Depression. In 2000, the internet bubble was just about to burst and crush the Nasdaq by almost 80% — and he thinks markets are similarly positioned today.

Still, it's important to note that Hussman's intent isn't to make a "market call" or provide a prognostication on "what's going to happen." It's simply to demonstrate how this confluence of variables has behaved in prior market cycles. However, he does note that now wouldn't be a bad time for investors to "carefully consider their risk exposures" going forward.

Why prospective returns are the lowest since 1929

Let's take a closer look at his reasoning.

Right now, one of Hussman's favorite measures of valuations is flashing red. 

The chart below shows his proprietary estimated 12-year annual total return for a conventional portfolio (60% stocks, 30% bonds, 10% cash — blue line) compared against the actual subsequent 12-year returns for that portfolio (red line).

"Our estimate of prospective returns for passive investors is now lower than any week in history other than the August 26, 1929 market peak," he said. "The journey from extreme valuations to even historically run-of-the-mill valuations can easily involve periods of 10-15 years where stocks underperform T-bills, with severe interim losses along the way."

After 10-plus years of a bull market, Hussman's proprietary model is projecting stock market returns that are just barely positive over the next 12 years.  

With that in mind, he provides a more granular look at valuations to bolster his thesis. 

The chart below depicts the median price-revenue ratio of S&P 500 issues, divided into 10 deciles that range from the highest 10% to the lowest 10%. As one would imagine, each of these deciles has distinct attributes as valuations vary across industries/sectors. Each decile is compared against its own history.

"What's notable at present is that only the top valuation decile is less extreme than the 2000 bubble, and only by about 20%," he said. "That's not saying much, given that the top decile in 2000 was also unique in losing about 80% of its value in 2000-2002 versus roughly 50% for the other deciles."

Against that valuation backdrop, Hussman notes the variables that are leading him to believe the market is currently undergoing a "phase transition." Remember, it's the confluence of valuations, internals, dispersion, and leadership changes which are responsible for the outlook.

1) Waning involvement: Less than 56% of stocks are trading above their 200-day moving averages.

2) The "Hindenburg" indicator flashing red: This includes the S&P 500 trading higher from 10 weeks earlier, new highs less than twice new lows, a negative measure of stock advances vs. declines, and two days with new highs and lows greater than 2.5% of issues.

3) An overbought environment: Relative strength index (RSI) confirming this notion with a reading above 65 in the last 10 trading sessions.

4) Changing leadership: New lows greater than 90% of new highs, where average new lows was previously below average new highs in the last 10 trading sessions.

The chart below depicts this confluence of factors throughout history. A red bar denotes periods within 10 trading days of a record high in which the aggregate of these variables have been observed. Yellow bars identify 2.9% single-day declines or more in the S&P 500 index within 12 trading days of a signal.

Clearly, Hussman's analysis isn't without merit. Steep market losses are not abnormal when the confluence of these factors turns negative, however, they're not guaranteed either. 

"Here and now, however, we observe features characteristic of a 'phase transition,' with the potential for severe market losses – not just a steep initial plunge including single-day losses on the order of 3% or more, but much more extended losses, which we continue to estimate on the order of 50-65% over the completion of this cycle," he concluded. 

Hussman's track record

For the uninitiated, Hussman has repeatedly made headlines by predicting a stock-market decline exceeding 60%and forecasting a full decade of negative equity returns. And as the stock market has continued to grind mostly higher, he's persisted with his calls, undeterred.

But before you dismiss Hussman as a wonky perma-bear, consider his track record, which he broke down in his latest blog post. Here are the arguments he lays out:

Predicted in March 2000 that tech stocks would plunge 83%, then the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 index lost an "improbably precise" 83% during a period from 2000 to 2002

  • Predicted in 2000 that the S&P 500 would likely see negative total returns over the following decade, which it did
  • Predicted in April 2007 that the S&P 500 could lose 40%, then it lost 55% in the subsequent collapse from 2007 to 2009

In the end, the more evidence Hussman unearths around the stock market's unsustainable conditions, the more worried investors should get. Sure, there may still be returns to be realized in this market cycle, but at what point does the mounting risk of a crash become too unbearable?

That's a question investors will have to answer themselves — and one that Hussman will clearly keep exploring in the interim.

SEE ALSO: The cofounders of Instagram break down what they look for in an investment — and explain how Ray Dalio has been an 'enormous influence'

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The best affordable car insurance companies for 2020

Fri, 11/29/2019 - 4:42pm
Here are the best cheap car insurance companies for 2020:
  • Best overall car insurance: GEICO
  • Runner-up: Erie Insurance
  • Best car insurance for military families: USAA
  • Best car insurance for drivers with bad credit: GEICO
  • Best car insurance for a driver with a DUI on their record: State Farm
  • Best car insurance for teens and young drivers: Erie 
  • Best car insurance for seniors: Nationwide
  • Best car insurance for a driver with one accident on their record: Erie
  • Best car insurance for full coverage: Erie
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Choosing the best car insurance can be overwhelming: There are so many options, and there are a lot of different average prices out there. So, what's the best car insurance for everyone? 

There's no short answer, because everyone's costs for coverage with every company is different. Insurance costs can be influenced by your age, gender, credit score, driving history, and much more. And there are hundreds of insurance companies out there — in some states, there are as many as 250 companies offering insurance, according to NAIC data. Because there are so many companies and so many variables, know that without getting a direct quote, a pick on this list might not necessarily give you the best price. 

This list should be used as a starting point to explore a wide variety of your options. To get the best price on car insurance coverage, you'll need to shop around. Get quotes and compare them, and then you'll be able to find the insurance company that's the best price for you. That said, here are our top picks for cheap car insurance in 2019.

Best car insurance for affordable coverage overall: GEICO 
  • Based on the average pricing data from ValuePenguin and, GEICO tends to offer some of the most affordable coverage in the US available nationally.
  • Offers great service when you need it, ranking highly for customer satisfaction from JD Power and Associates' 2019 Auto Claims Satisfaction survey.
  • Average cost of coverage for a typical adult driver : $1,009 per year 

If you're looking for the lowest price, GEICO might be the company to turn to. This insurance company is relatively friendly to drivers with poor credit scores, and often offers low premiums.

It tends to offer good service as well, earning a 879 out of 1,000 from JD Power and Associates' 2019 Auto Claims Satisfaction survey, earning it a spot in the survey's top three, tying with Erie for consumer satisfaction.  

GEICO generally offers great service and great rates, so it's a good place to start when shopping around and comparing quotes. 

Runner up: Erie Insurance
  • Only available in some midwest and northeast states, this insurance company has a reputation for low prices and good service. 
  • Average cost of coverage for a typical adult driver: $894 per year.

While it's not available everywhere in the US, Erie Insurance is a solid choice for a variety of scenarios, and offers fairly affordable rates. Erie Insurance is offered in Washington DC, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. According to The Zebra, the average adult with a good credit score would pay about $894 per year to maintain coverage with Erie. 

This insurance company won three categories on this list: best car insurance for teen drivers, best car insurance for a driver with one accident, and best car insurance for a driver wanting full coverage. It also earned the third spot in customer satisfaction in JD Power and Associates' 2019 Auto Claims Satisfaction survey, tying with GEICO. If you live in one of the states it covers, Erie could offer competitive premiums and great customer service. 

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  • Only available to military members and their families. 
  • Premiums for typical driver: $910 per year

USAA car insurance is only available to military members and their families, and offers great claims experiences and low premiums. Active and former military members are eligible, as well as many family members, including spouses and children. 

USAA offers some of the most competitive premiums in the car insurance space, and is the most affordable option for car insurance in many states. It has a competitive average premium for the typical adult driver with a very good credit score. In fact, USAA beat out other insurers for drivers who have an accident on their driving record and for those wanting to get more coverage, but didn't win spots on our list in these categories due to limited availability, as it's only an option available to military-affiliated families. If you're eligible for coverage through USAA, this company is worth looking into. 

Best auto insurance for drivers with bad credit: GEICO
  • If you have a poor credit score (below 579 according to FICO), you might want to look into GEICO car insurance. 
  • Average premium for the typical driver with bad credit: $2,448 

Drivers with bad credit scores (below 579 according to FICO) are likely to pay the most for car insurance coverage. Many car insurance companies factor credit scores into the amount you'll pay for coverage, and it can drive up prices significantly. However, three states — California, Massachusetts, and Hawaii — have banned the use of credit scores in insurance pricing.  

In states where it is allowed, however, GEICO comes up frequently in Business Insider's state-by-state car insurance breakdowns. A ValuePenguin study confirms this, coming out at $2,448 per year for a typical driver with poor credit, $924 less than the national average of $3,372 for drivers with poor credit. 

Best car insurance rates for drivers with a DUI: State Farm
  • With a DUI on your record, your car insurance costs could jump as much as 80%, according to data. State Farm's coverage, however, is predicted to increase only 38% after a DUI.
  • State Farm average cost of coverage with a DUI on your record: $1,633 per year

With a DUI on your driving record, you'll pay more for car insurance coverage. Data from shows that the average premium increases by an average of 80%. State Farm offers the best affordable coverage after a DUI, with the average increase at about 38% after a DUI incident. 

Other insurance companies raise their rates for a driver even more after a DUI incident, with Nationwide hiking its rates for a driver with a DUI by 125%. If there's a DUI on your driving record, know that it will raise your car insurance rates significantly. Getting your car insurance from State Farm could help minimize the damage. 

Best car insurance company for teen drivers: Erie Insurance
  • Available in 12 Midwestern and northeastern states, Erie Insurance company offers some of the best average rates for a teen driver. 
  • Average car insurance rate for a teen driver: $2,411 per year

According to data from ValuePenguin, the cost for covering 17-year-old male driver is estimated at $2,411 per year, while other larger companies like State Farm, Nationwide, and GEICO all estimated $4,000 or more for coverage. For drivers in the west and on the west coast, Grange Insurance Association offers coverage under $4,000 per year for a teen driver. 

Erie Insurance is offered in Washington DC, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. 

When insuring a teen driver, it might be a good idea to check with smaller insurance companies like Eerie — a study from ValuePenguin shows that none of the top five large insurance companies offered the best rates for teen drivers. 

Best car insurance for senior drivers: Nationwide
  • Average cost of coverage for a single adult over age 60: $1,042 per year

Car insurance coverage for seniors is most affordable through Nationwide, which covers seniors for about $1,042 per year according to data from The Zebra. Eligible seniors could pay even less for their coverage from USAA, though Nationwide took the top spot due to its universal availability.

Best car insurance for a driver with an accident on their record: Erie Insurance
  • Erie Insurance is offered in 12 US states.
  • Average price for coverage with one at-fault accident on your record: $1,924 

With an accident on your driving history, you'll likely pay more for coverage. In this scenario, ValuePenguin looked at data on auto insurance pricing after one accident was added to a driving record. In the data, Erie Insurance offered the best price for coverage. 

Note that Erie Insurance is offered in Washington DC, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. 

Best car insurance company for full coverage: Erie Insurance
  • For full coverage, expect to pay a bit more. However, you could be covered in more situations, including comprehensive coverage, which could cover your car in an event like a natural disaster. 
  • Erie Insurance is offered in 12 US states.
  • The best price for full coverage car insurance comes from Erie car insurance, costing $1,521 per year on average.

The more coverage types and higher limits your policy has, the more your policy will cover. And, that could come in handy if you need it — comprehensive coverage could help you fix your vehicle if it's damaged in something other than a car accident, like a disaster or theft. A minimum policy won't cover these things, so you could have to pay for these damages out of pocket if it happens to you. 

However, the more coverage you have, the more it will cost. In data from ValuePenguin, Erie offered the lowest prices for a full coverage insurance policy, which includes coverage limits above state minimum requirements, as well as a comprehensive and collision policy and personal injury protection where necessary.

Note that Erie Insurance is offered in Washington DC, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. 

/* Business Insider / Auto Insurance Content Pages */ var MediaAlphaExchange = {    "data": {       "zip": "auto"    },    "placement_id": "RxLRBKtcQejwbKRhebUT0f87Cp5b7w",    "sub_1": "best-cheap-car-insurance",    "type": "ad_unit",    "ua_class": "auto",    "version": 17 }; Frequently asked questions How did we come up with the best car insurance companies for 2019?

There are a lot of auto insurance companies out there, but we narrowed our focus to the largest insurers, or those who wrote the most direct premiums in 2017 according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Business Insider compiled data on these large insurance companies — including State Farm, GEICO, Progressive, Allstate, USAA, Farmers, Nationwide, American Family, and Erie — and compiled data on rates as reported by ValuePenguin, NerdWallet, The Zebra, and The data was then organized to fit five common coverage scenarios, including coverage for a young driver, a driver with poor credit, a driver with an accident on their driving record, a driver with a DUI, and someone seeking out extra coverage. This data was then compared to find the best insurer for each situation. 

To choose the best overall coverage, Business Insider collected overall average premium data, and compared the companies to find which was available nationwide, and which was the best priced. Data was also collected on customer satisfaction from JD Power and Associates

How can I find the best car insurance rates for me? 

Everyone's car insurance rates will vary, as there are many factors that can go into pricing a premium. Every car insurance company will evaluate you on different factors and weigh those factors differently. The best way to find which car insurance company will help you save is to get quotes from several different insurance companies and compare them. 

To find the best one for you out of the quotes you've obtained, compare the coverage types, limits, and deductible, or the amount you'll pay out of pocket if you're involved in an accident. The policy with the lowest price for coverage, the most coverage types and limits, and the lowest deductible is the best one for you. 

Who offers the cheapest auto insurance? 

According to Business Insider's research, GEICO is offering the best cheap car insurance in 2019, with Erie Insurance as a close second in places where it's available (see above for details). However, the car insurance company that's cheapest for one person may not be for another. Before deciding on insurance policies, you'll want to get four or five quotes from different insurance companies, just to make sure that you're getting the best price for you. 

What is the best-rated car insurance company? 

Let's face it: Car insurance isn't cheap. You want a car insurance company that gives both great coverage and good service. According to JD Power and Associates data on customer satisfaction, USAA and NJM Insurance Company take the top spots, though their coverage isn't available to everyone. Amica Mutual ranked first for service, Country Financial ranked second, and GEICO and Erie tied for third place. This ranking was based on responses from about 11,000 auto insurance customers who settled a claim between early 2018 and mid 2019. 

Is Progressive or GEICO better? 

There's a lot of buzz around these two options, but in Business Insider's calculations, GEICO comes out on top. Ranked highly for both value and customer service, GEICO tends to stand out. It won out in several of the scenarios above. While you're shopping, it might be worth getting quotes from both and seeing which one stands out. 

What's the best car insurance option for students? 

According to Business Insider's research, Erie Insurance generally looked to be the best insurance for young adults and new drivers (in states where it's available). 

One of the best ways to save on car insurance for a teen or young adult driver is to join a family policy. On a family car insurance policy, your premiums will be about 20% lower than having a separate plan, according to reporting by The Balance. If joining a family plan is an option, it might be the best for a teen driver. 

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Berlin's incredibly delayed new airport is finally scheduled to open — in late 2020

Fri, 11/29/2019 - 3:54pm

Berlin's incredibly delayed new airport is finally scheduled to open.

Berlin Brandenburg, or BER, will have its first flight will be October 31, 2020. That's nine years later than originally planned. The originally planned 2012 opening date (yes, 2012 — as in seven years ago) was called off after fire safety issues were discovered. 

The new opening date was announced by the BER operator, Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg, on Friday in Berlin.

The airport, on which construction began in 2006, has, as the AP reported, "defied all clichés of German efficiency." Construction slowdowns, technical issues, and safety concerns have led to a series of delays opening the new airport.

Berlin has faced a critical need for a new, larger airport virtually since the city's reunification following the fall of the Berlin Wall, but especially in the 2000s as increasing numbers of business travelers and tourists have flocked to the city.

The city's two Cold War-era airports, Tegel and Schoenefeld, have struggled to handle the increasing passenger capacity. The government plans to close Tegel once BER begins flight operations.

SEE ALSO: I flew Delta's reviled 767 business class seat from Europe to New York. Here's what it was actually like.

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