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PRESENTING: The 31 buzziest logistics startups that VCs are watching in 2020

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 4:34pm  |  Clusterstock

Supply-chain tech attracted a whopping $19.3 billion across 534 deals in 2018, according to Pitchbook. That's way up from previous years; in 2010, venture capitalists invested less than $1 billion total in just 85 deals.  

In the early months of 2020, Business Insider is looking at which startups in logistics will see significant investment this year. We asked six of the industry's leading venture capitalists which startups they believe are going to capitalize big time in 2020.

We asked them to highlight the coolest startups in their profile, as well as ones they didn't invest in but are forecasting big things for. The investors were also asked to highlight companies just getting their first seed funding or Series A bucks, as well as bigger names. 

Our exclusive BI Prime roundup features the 31 companies they recommended and all of the information you need to know about them.

Subscribe now to read our feature: 31 hot logistics startups that are set to soar in 2020, according to VCs

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Credit Karma Tax vs H&R Block: Here's how the tax filing services compare on price, ease of use, and refunds

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 4:32pm  |  Clusterstock


Many people don't realize it's completely free to file your federal tax return with the IRS if you go the pen-and-paper route.

When you pay a company like TurboTax or H&R Block, you're covering the preparation fees. And it's usually worth paying for the extra help, since most of us aren't fluent in tax law.

But if your situation is simple enough, you shouldn't have to spend a dime. H&R Block and TurboTax both offer free versions and Credit Karma Tax is completely free. But they're not all created equal.

I've used H&R Block for the past few years and had a positive experience. This year, however, I knew I wouldn't qualify for free filing, so I tried out Credit Karma Tax to see if it was worth jumping ship.

Here's how they stack up.

Credit Karma Tax vs. H&R Block: pricing

Credit Karma Tax is completely free for both federal returns and state returns and supports most tax situations; you just need a Credit Karma account to start. What it doesn't cover, however, could be a deal breaker for some people, including disallowing returns for people who earned income in a state they don't reside in and part-year state returns.

H&R Block is a part of the IRS Free File program, allowing taxpayers with an adjusted gross income (AGI) under $69,000 to prepare and file their returns for free, regardless of the additional forms and schedules needed.

If you earned more than the Free File limit in 2019, you can still get free return prep through H&R Block. This version supports W-2 income, interest income, dividend income, retirement distributions, the student loan interest deduction, and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

If you want to itemize deductions, have a Health Savings Account (HSA), own a home, or earn self-employed income, you'll need to upgrade to one of H&R Block's paid products.

  • Deluxe Online: $50 (currently on sale for $30). Everything the free version includes, plus the mortgage interest deduction and Health Savings Accounts (Form 1099-SA), and you can itemize.
  • Premium Online: $70 (currently on sale for $50). Supports everything in the Deluxe version, plus rental property income and freelance/contractor income below $5,000. You can also import mileage and other expenses from common tracking apps.
  • Self-Employed Online: $105 (currently on sale for $80). This is the highest-tier online package offered by H&R Block. It's ideal for self-employed people, including small business owners, partners, and contractors who earned more than $5,000.

Winner: Credit Karma Tax

Credit Karma Tax vs. H&R Block: ease of use The W-2 upload option saves a ton of time on data entry

Businesses are required to mail your tax forms to you by late January, so you should have everything you need to file by now, including your W-2 or 1099, and any bank statements reporting dividend or interest earnings. If you're enrolled in electronic statements for your payroll provider or bank, the tax documents should be available in your online account for download.

If you have digital forms, H&R Block makes it really easy to input the data on your income form to save time. You can either upload the PDF file or import it directly from your payroll provider. Either option takes just a few seconds. I usually double-check all the numbers to make sure everything is correct and I have yet to find an error.

Credit Karma Tax also advertises W-2 upload capabilities, but the tool didn't work for me. I tried it at least three times before giving up and entering everything manually.

And though it's more of a quirk than a deal breaker, Credit Karma Tax asked me to choose from a list of occupations at the beginning of my return but didn't provide an option that even closely matched my actual job — a journalist. No "reporter," no "writer" ... not even "media." I wound up selecting "communication."

The instructions were clearer on H&R Block

On Credit Karma Tax, I had trouble figuring out where to enter my California State Disability taxes because some of the instructions were contradictory. I emailed Credit Karma's support team for help and still hadn't heard back after a few days.

Other than that, Credit Karma offered helpful instructions along the way, but I ultimately preferred H&R Block's easy-to-understand explainers. H&R Block made it perfectly clear in layman's terms what I would see on my W-2 and what I would need to enter, and where, on its form.

In my opinion, H&R Block excels at step-by-step guidance, which makes it a great choice for first-time filers or anyone who wants to be fully informed on their tax situation. If you're confused at any point and want further explanation for any form, you can search for more answers in a side-bar without leaving the page you're on. I used this tool liberally and found every answer I was looking for.

Winner: H&R Block

Credit Karma Tax vs. H&R Block: refunds

Even though I set out to get my smallest refund ever this year by matching my withholdings to my tax liability, I still want to make sure I'm getting back every dollar I'm owed.

Credit Karma Tax and H&R Block calculated the same federal refund for me, but the state tax refunds looked quite different. Credit Karma Tax calculated a state refund that was about $200 less than H&R Block. Maybe it had something to do with the previous issue regarding state disability taxes, but Credit Karma Tax never flagged an error in my data entry.

Considering my refund amounts, even with the fee I would be paying H&R Block for the Deluxe Online package — a total of $67 for my federal and state returns — I'd still wind up with more money in my pocket than if I went with Credit Karma Tax's free service.

Winner: H&R Block

Credit Karma Tax vs. H&R Block: Which is better for free filing?

If you're unsure whether you'll get more bang for your buck with H&R Block or Credit Karma, I recommend running your taxes through both services to see which results in a larger refund. If your situation is like mine, it's probably worth paying the fee.

Learn more about Credit Karma Tax » Learn more about H&R Block »

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A famous hedge fund bought Tesla stock before it doubled this year. It potentially raked in over $1.5 billion from the bet.

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 4:08pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Renaissance Technologies might have made over $1.5 billion in two months after buying Tesla stock last quarter.
  • The hedge fund raised its stake to 3.9 million shares, worth about $1.6 billion at the end of December.
  • Those shares would be worth almost $3.2 billion now after Tesla's stock rally this year.
  • If Renaissance bought Tesla at $250 in October and sold at the $97o peak, it could have netted almost $3 billion.
  • Watch Tesla trade live.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Renaissance Technologies may have netted over $1.5 billion in two months, as it bought a load of Tesla stock before it doubled in value this year.

The quantitative hedge fund, founded by the Cold War codebreaker and math professor Jim Simons, bought 3.3 million shares of Elon Musk's electric-car startup last quarter, recent Securities and Exchange Commission filings show. The purchases boosted its total holding to about 3.9 million shares — a 2.1% stake — at the end of December, according to Bloomberg data.

Renaissance's Tesla shares were worth about $1.6 billion then, based on Tesla's $418 stock price. Given that Tesla's shares now change hands at $850, the fund's stake would be worth about $3.3 billion now.

A $1.7 billion return would be remarkable enough, but Simons may have raked in closer to $3 billion if he bought Tesla shares at the $250 mark in early October and sold at their $970 peak earlier this month. At those price points, Renaissance's stake would have surged to almost $3.8 billion from less than $1 billion.

Tesla stock skyrocketed after the automaker posted strong earnings, quickly opened its Shanghai factory, and announced a production target of 500,000 vehicles this year. The rally has boosted Tesla's market capitalization to over $150 billion, surpassing the combined market caps of Ford, GM, and Chrysler, the "Big Three" US automakers.

The stunning stock rally has burned short-sellers and spurred investors, industry veterans, and even politicians to warn that it won't last.

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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

JPMorgan boosted its Tesla stake by 600% last quarter, potentially scoring it a $1 billion return

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 3:59pm  |  Clusterstock

  • JPMorgan Chase potentially made over $1 billion from Tesla in under two months.
  • The bank's investment arm boosted its stake by 600% last quarter to around 2.5 million shares.
  • Those shares have roughly doubled in value to $2.1 billion thanks to Tesla's stock rally.
  • JPMorgan may have netted more than $2 billion if it bought and sold at the right time.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

JPMorgan Chase may have made over $1 billion from Tesla in less than two months. It boosted its stake in Elon Musk's electric-car startup by about 600% last quarter, before its stock price roughly doubled this year.

The banking titan's investment arm added 2.2 million Tesla shares in the final three months of 2019, ending the year with more than 2.5 million shares or a 1.4% stake, according to SEC filings and Bloomberg data. Those shares were worth about $1.1 billion then, based on Tesla's stock price of $418 on December 31. They're now worth about $2.1 billion, as Tesla shares currently trade at $850.

JPMorgan may have raked in more than $1 billion. If it snapped up the Tesla shares when they traded at $250 in early October, then sold them at their $970 peak earlier this month, its investment would have surged in value from under $650 million to nearly $2.5 billion — a return of close to $2 billion.

Other investors have probably cashed in on Tesla's rocketing stock too. Renaissance Technologies increased its holding by more than 400% last quarter, making it Tesla's seventh-biggest shareholder with a 2.1% stake. The hedge fund potentially netted more than $1.5 billion from the move.

Tesla's astounding stock rise has lifted its market capitalization to north of $150 billion, surpassing the combined market caps of automotive titans GM, Ford and Chrysler. However, critics ranging from investors and industry veterans to politicians argue the rally isn't based on anything substantive, and warn it will run out of steam.

Join the conversation about this story »

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

Here's why one Wall Street firm says coronavirus will be much more difficult for China to overcome than SARS

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 3:56pm  |  Clusterstock

  • China may have a rocky recovery from coronavirus, according to Nomura analyst Richard Koo.
  • Key parts of the economy that supported recovery after SARS, such as a growing labor force and corporate investment, may be lacking today, he said.
  • Visit Business Insider's home page for more stories.

Much of Wall Street expects China's economy to bounce back from coronavirus with few long-term consequences, just as it did with SARS in 2003. That's misguided, according to Nomura analyst Richard Koo.

There are key differences between the Chinese economy now versus when SARS hit, Koo wrote in a Monday note. He said those hindrances will make recovering from coronavirus, the fast-spreading illness that has led Chinese cities to lock down and businesses to temporarily shut their doors, a bigger challenge. 

Koo's note comes as economies and markets across the globe are scrambling to understand what coronavirus will mean for the Chinese economy. Many on Wall Street predict that the effects of the outbreak on the economy will be limited to the near-term, though parts of China's economy, such as its banking sector, were uniquely vulnerable to downturn before the outbreak. 

"I think it is quite possible that the economy's growth rate for the full year will be substantially lower," Koo said.

For one, business investment may be down in the middle-term, Koo said. China was teetering on the brink of the "middle income trap," defined as a period in which a middle-income country's growth stalls, before the outbreak, he said, adding that trade tensions had pushed labor costs up. 

It will also take more time than expected for people to return to work, Koo wrote — adding that the working-age population has been shrinking since 2012, which could undermine productivity. 

"All of these key trends were moving in the opposite direction," during SARS, Koo wrote, adding that then, "the Chinese economy had a great deal of positive momentum. In that sense, I do not think we should expect the kind of rapid recovery seen after that virus outbreak subsided." 

Join the conversation about this story »

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

The ultra-wealthy are dropping up to $50,000 on gold credit cards decked out with precious gems. Here's a look at how they're designed.

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 3:52pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Rosan Diamond, a payment-card manufacturer, handcrafts credit cards made with gold, diamonds, and other precious gems.
  • Designs range from pandas outlined in gold to reproductions of ancient frescoes bedazzled with hundreds of diamonds. 
  • The cards function on VISA Infinite and VISA Signature platforms, cost between $18,000 and $50,000, and never expire.
  • Rosan Diamond sells its bespoke cards through concierge services like Insignia, a luxury lifestyle management company for millionaires and billionaires, as well as directly to individual clients.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

$50,000 can buy you a lot of things — including a fancy jewel-encrusted credit card with which to buy even more things.

Since 2012, Rosan Diamond has designed bespoke credit cards for the 1% made with gold, diamonds, pearls, and other precious stones. The cards cost as much as $50,000, so they're definitely not the kind you want to lose. In 2017, CNBC's "Secret Lives of the Super Rich" called Rosan Diamond's art collection "the most over-the-top credit cards ever made."

Business Insider spoke with Ruslan Aybazov, Rosan Diamond's business development director, to learn more about how these cards work and the details behind the company's dazzling designs.

SEE ALSO: A day in the life of a personal assistant to the ultra-wealthy, who spends her time tracking down the perfect Cartier watch for a client's wife and planning out a surprise ski trip to the 'Aspen of Japan'

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Rosan Diamond is a payment-card manufacturer that merges luxury jewelry and technology, with offices in Russia and Switzerland.

Founded in 2000, Rosan Diamond started out by selling gold, gem-encrusted cards as art. Over time, the company developed integration with payment technologies and in 2012 received certification from VISA to begin selling its cards on VISA Infinite and VISA Signature platforms.

Today, Rosan Diamond's clients include both concierge services, including UK-based luxury lifestyle management company Insignia, and directly to individual clients.

To date, Rosan Diamond has sold around 450 art collection cards.

The majority of Rosan Diamond's direct clients are businessmen from Eastern Europe, CIS, Malta, Switzerland and Latin America, Rosan Diamond's business development director Ruslan Aybazov told Business Insider.

According to Bloomberg, Insignia — one of Rosan Diamond's concierge partners, which is launching a new credit card service for members in 2020 — has 800 clients around the world. Approximately 50 are from the US, one quarter of whom are billionaires.

Each card takes between six to nine weeks to craft, once it has been designed.

Design development takes anywhere from three weeks to three months, Aybazov said. That includes both premade designs and custom designs for clients.

Designs range from botanical scenes to reproductions of historical palaces to more whimsical and modern designs like pandas and planets. Each card is unique — while some are developed as a series, each iteration features different materials or color schemes. 

Premade art collection card prices currently range from $18,000 to $34,000. Custom designs, on average, cost more than premade designs. The most expensive custom designed art collection card sold for $50,000, Aybazov told Business Insider.

Cards incorporate "chip and pin" technology and can be used anywhere VISA is accepted with the exception of ATMs.

For ATM and online use, a client's bank will issue a plastic companion card with a credit card number and CVV.

If a client does not have an account with a Rosan Diamond partner bank, a Rosan Diamond and VISA representative will contact the client's bank to talk through an arrangement.

Once completed, a card is shipped to a client's bank in a luxury wooden box.

Rosan Diamond offers chip replacement and polishing free of charge, Aybazov told Business Insider. On its website, Rosan Diamond touts the cards' heirloom worthiness, suggesting that they can be passed down through generations.

Here are some of Rosan Diamond's most bespoke Art Collection cards:


Design details: Two pandas in a tree

Made with: Gold, 612 diamonds, 6 rubies, 12 pink sapphires, 4 green diamonds, jasper, jadeite, malachite, violane, seashell, mother of pearl

Availability: For sale

Source: Rosan Diamond

'Tsuba Dragon'

Design details: Two Japanese dragons

Made with: Gold, 72 champagne diamonds, 231 cognac diamonds, mother of pearl, jasper

Availability: Sold

Source: Rosan Diamond


Design details: A female golfer going through the motions of a golf swing

Made with: Gold, 183 diamonds, mother of pearl

Availability: Sold

Source: Rosan Diamond

'The Kiss'

Design details: Inspired by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt's "The Kiss"

Made with: Gold, flint, jasper, nephrite, jadeite, rhodonite, malachite, charoite, tiger's eye, mother of pearl, sodalite

Availability: For sale

Source: Rosan Diamond

'Parade of Planets'

Design details: Planets congregating along the same side of the sun in a "parade"

Made with: Gold, 190 diamonds, jasper, turquoise, lazurite, rhodonite, charoite, carnelian, mother of pearl

Availability: For sale

Source: Rosan Diamond

'Butterfly in the Orchids'

Design details: A butterfly in flight among orchids

Made with: Gold, 133 diamonds, 86 black diamonds, 4 blue sapphires, 48 pink sapphires, 68 rubies, jadeite, pearl, coral, nephrite, mother of pearl, rhodonite

Availability: Sold

Source: Rosan Diamond

'Frescoes of Knossos'

Design details: The card reproduces two frescoes (one on the front; one on the back) from the ancient Palace of Knossos on the island of Crete, which dates back to 1900 BC.

Made with: Gold, 413 diamonds, 245 blue sapphires, dumortierit, jasper, lazurite, mother of pearl

Availability: Sold 

Source: Rosan Diamond


Design details: Warriors and a winged sphinx from paintings in the Palace of the Persian king Darius I at Susa in modern-day Iran

Made with: Gold, diamonds, jasper, turquoise, jadeite, lazurite, violane, azurite, mother of pearl

Availability: Sold

Source: Rosan Diamond


Design details: A braided hammock and marijuana leaf

Made with: Gold, 56 diamonds, jasper, jadeite, lazurite, mother of pearl

Availability: Sold 

Source: Rosan Diamond

6 life insurance mistakes you don't want to make

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 3:21pm  |  Clusterstock


Life insurance is a complex topic, and not fully understanding it can end up causing your loved ones a lot of headaches when the time comes to use it — if you have it at all.

Learning about life insurance can help ensure you have the coverage you need. We spoke with life insurance experts and asked them the biggest mistakes they see people make over and over again to help you figure out what to avoid.

Here's what they said.

Not having life insurance at all

Life insurance is there to provide a financial benefit for your loved ones after you're gone. Having no life insurance can leave your family in serious financial trouble. Yet, only 57% of Americans have a life insurance policy.

Phil Murphy, VP of insurance at Ethos, said that many people, especially millennials, overestimate the costs of life insurance. However, many policies for those in good health cost barely more than a Netflix subscription.

Only breadwinners need life insurance

Most people think only the person who provides the primary source of income should worry about life insurance. 

The reality is different, Murphy said. 

"If you aren't the breadwinner or are a stay-at-home parent, you may think you don't need life insurance. However, a stay-at-home parent obviously provides a huge value, and if a household were to lose this person, they'd need to pay for all these expenses."

Murphy cited childcare and housekeeping as expenses that would need to be covered, either by paying for assistance or having the surviving spouse step in, which could cut down on their income. Dependent life insurance can cover the cost of the contributions a stay-at-home spouse makes.

Not having enough life insurance

Beyond having no life insurance at all, the experts who spoke to Business Insider said not having enough coverage was another huge mistake many people make. 

What experts advise is figuring out what coverage you need before you start shopping. 

If you only want to cover funeral expenses, understand that the median cost of a burial today is approximately $8,000 and can range up to $15,000. For a policy that will replace your income to help provide for your family, you will need much more coverage.

"When you're a kid, $10,000 seems like a lot of money. It's not. It's not even enough to live comfortably for a year now, much less to provide for a family upon your death," Chane Steiner, CEO of Crediful, said.

Relying only on employer-provided life insurance

Many employers offer life insurance as part of a benefits package. But, before you think you're set with just that coverage, not so fast, experts warn. 

"It's extremely easy to sign up for employer-provided life insurance, but it often doesn't actually provide enough coverage," Murphy said. "Employer-issued life insurance policies typically amount to a year's worth of salary, oftentimes less."

Steiner agreed, telling Business Insider, "Where people make mistakes is making this their only option. Group life insurance likely doesn't provide a significant amount of payout, and if it does, you're paying for it. And if you swap jobs? You're in trouble."

Waiting too long to buy

Buying life insurance is not something you want to put off. Yet because it's something that people think is far off in the future, they wait too long to get it.

That can end up dramatically increasing costs. The reality is your best chance of getting an affordable rate on your coverage is when you're young and in good health. 

"Policy premiums are going to go up if you develop health conditions or when you get older. Some won't even insure you depending on the condition. If you haven't developed anything troublesome yet, it's a good time to get insurance. Immediately," Steiner said.

Forgetting to update your beneficiaries

When you get a life insurance policy, you name the beneficiaries, i.e. the people who will get the money after you die. But this is one area where you don't want to set it and forget it because that could have serious consequences.

It's a good idea to make a plan to revisit your policy consistently and update your beneficiary accordingly. That conventional wisdom is especially true after significant life changes, including marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child. The beneficiary listed on your life insurance supersedes whatever is written in your will, so be sure to update this as needed.

Let Policygenius help you get the life insurance coverage you need »

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Here are the top stocks Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway bought and sold at the end of 2019

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 3:17pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Berkshire Hathaway, which is led by famed value investor Warren Buffett, released on Friday SEC filings showing which company stocks it bought, sold, and held in the fourth quarter of 2019.
  • At the end of the year, the Berkshire Hathaway portfolio was worth roughly $248 billion, up from about $234 billion at the end of the third quarter in 2019. 
  • Buffett wrote in a 2018 letter to shareholders that he expected Berkshire Hathaway would increase holdings in company stocks in 2019. 
  • Here are the top stocks he bought or sold in the fourth quarter as of December 31, 2019.
  • Read more on Business Insider.

Famed billionaire investor and "Oracle of Omaha" Warren Buffett's company just rebalanced the portfolio of stocks it's holding. 

Berkshire Hathaway, which Buffett runs, on Friday released Securities and Exchange Commission filings showing what it bought and sold in the fourth quarter of 2019. 

In the quarter, Berkshire Hathaway made some strategic moves that grew the portfolio to nearly $248 billion, up from about $234 billion at the end of the third-quarter of 2019. The 89-year-old value investor wrote in his 2018 letter to shareholders that he expected Berkshire Hathaway to buy more company stocks through 2019. 

"In recent years, the sensible course for us to follow has been clear: Many stocks have offered far more for our money than we could obtain by purchasing businesses in their entirety," Buffett wrote. 

Most notably, Berkshire Hathaway sold about 1.5% of its Apple shares in the fourth quarter, which amounted to about $800 million. While the amount of money seems like a lot, it's a very small portion of Berkshire Hathaway's investment and total portfolio, meaning the change was likely a rebalancing move. 

The company also made some new purchases in the quarter using Buffett's investment guidelines of "calculating whether a portion of an attractive business is worth more than its market price."

Berkshire Hathaway added new positions in Kroger and Biogen, which sent shares of both companies up in early trading Tuesday. The company also increased investments in a number of stocks it previously held, while reducing its position in others. 

Even though Berkshire Hathaway has increased its stock holdings in the last year, Buffett would prefer to use the record $128 billion cash pile to purchase a company instead of stock. But, the market has proved unfavorable for a Buffett-worthy acquisition as of late — his last major purchase was in 2016.

"Prices are sky-high for businesses possessing decent long-term prospects," Buffett wrote in his 2018 shareholder letter. "We continue, nevertheless, to hope for an elephant-sized acquisition." 

Here are the top stocks that Berkshire Hathaway bought and sold as of December 31, according to SEC filings and GuruFocus data.

Bought: Kroger

Ticker: KR

Status in portfolio: New purchase

Total shares: 18,940,079


Source: SEC filings, GuruFocus data

Bought: Biogen

Ticker: BIIB

Status in portfolio: New purchase 

Total shares: 648,447


Source: SEC filings, GuruFocus data

Bought: Occidental Petroleum

Ticker: OXY

Status in portfolio: Added to existing position 

Total shares: 18,933,054

Change in position: +154%


Source: SEC filings, GuruFocus data

Bought: Suncor Energy

Ticker: SU

Status in portfolio: Added to existing position 

Total shares: 15,019,031 

Change in position: +40%


Source: SEC filings, GuruFocus data

Bought: RH

Ticker: RH

Status in portfolio: Added to existing position 

Total shares: 1,708,348

Change in position: +41%


Source: SEC filings, GuruFocus data

Bought: General Motors

Ticker: GM

Status in portfolio: Added to existing position 

Total shares: 75 million

Change in position: +4% 


Source: SEC filings, GuruFocus data

Sold: Wells Fargo

Ticker: WFC

Status in portfolio: Reduced existing position 

Total shares: 323,212,918 

Change in position: -15%  


Source: SEC filings, GuruFocus data

Sold: Goldman Sachs

Ticker: GS

Status in portfolio: Reduced existing position 

Total shares: 12,004,751

Change in position: -35% 


Source: SEC filings, GuruFocus data

Sold: The Travelers Companies

Ticker: TRV

Status in portfolio: Reduced existing position 

Total shares:  312,379

Change in position: -95%


Source: SEC filings, GuruFocus data

Sold: Apple

Ticker: AAPL

Status in portfolio: Reduced existing position 

Total shares: 245,155,566  

Change in position: -1.5% 


Source: SEC filings, GuruFocus data

Sold: Phillips 66

Ticker: PSX

Status in portfolio: Reduced existing position 

Total shares: 227,436  

Change in position: -96%   


Source: SEC filings, GuruFocus data

I drove a $41,000 Subaru Outback to see if the ultimate SUV alternative is still the king of suburban wagons — here's the verdict

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 3:17pm  |  Clusterstock

  • I tested a $40,705 Subaru Outback Touring XT, nicely equipped and sporting a snappy 2.4-liter, turbocharged, 260-horsepower engine and a surprisingly capable continuously variable transmission.
  • Subaru has been steadily perfecting its mighty wagon since the mid-1990s.
  • The sixth generation is the best yet.
  • I was delighted by the Outback's versatility and comfort — but also thrilled by how much fun it was to drive.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

While the Subaru Outback might seem like a default option for families who just aren't ready (or willing) to buy an SUV, the bestselling wagon in the US brings a bit more to table than it initially lets on.

For one thing, the redesigned Outback is quite fun to drive. But more on that later.

The Outback first hit the streets in the mid 1990s, and for most of its existence, has been seen as an anti-SUV, offering much of the practicality of that segment, but without the jacked-up ride height (although the Outback does ride on a slightly lifted suspension) and the negative impressions that SUVs can deliver.  

With crossover SUVs gobbling up market share, the Outback's viability is downright impressive. It doesn't just exist; it's popular in a segment that isn't in America. Subaru, after all, sold more than 180,000 Outbacks in the US last year. 

Effectively, the wagon market in America is a Subaru Outback market — hence the importance of getting the sixth generation of the vehicle right.

The Outback has always been one of my personal favorites, so I was delighted when Subaru flipped me the keys to a 2020 Touring XT version, which I spent a week piloting through its natural habitat: the suburbs of New Jersey.

Here's how it went:

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My 2020 Subaru Outback Touring XT was $40,705, well-optioned, and handsomely attired in a "Magnetite Gray Metallic" paint job. (The cheapest Outback available is about $27,000.)

Wagons are, of course, the perfect sets of wheels: They combine sedan performance and comfort with SUV versatility. They are, therefore, deeply unpopular in the SUV-mad United States.

The Outback is an exception — the exception, in fact. It seems that anybody who doesn't want an SUV buys Subie's now-legendary wagon.

I wouldn't say the Subaru Outback is a great-looking ride. It never has been. I can think of several other wagons that are notably more attractive. But appearances don't mean much in Outback country.

The fascia is where the action is for the Outback. The LED headlights offer the only properly sleek design cue on the entire car, and the grille provides a moderate sense of purposefulness thanks to that bold chrome bar that supports to the Subaru badge.

The integrated spoiler on the hatch adds a sporty aspect, but it does nothing for the roofline, thanks to those relatively hulking roof rails.

The Outback badging is suitably low-key ...

... and echoed at the wagon's rear.

My tester featured Subaru's highly regarded symmetrical all-wheel-drive system, considered one of the best available on a mass-market vehicle.

Viewed directly, the wagon's hatch is rather fetching, but I think the taillights are a bit overdone. On balance, the new Outback isn't much of a visual update on the fifth-generation model.

Cargo volume is where the Outback shines, as it always has. Raise the hatch, and you'll find 32.5 cubic feet of capacity. I could get two weeks' worth of groceries in there, and load up enough gear for a week on the road.

The Outback, version 6.0, has gained a few cubes of cargo space and also expanded its total footprint.

I know, I know — it doesn't look like much. But the 2020 Outback Touring XT's 2.4-liter, four-cylinder, turbocharged boxer engine is a wonderful mill. It makes 260 horsepower with 277 foot-pounds of torque, channeling the oomph through ...

... a shockingly capable continuously variable transmission. This is the best CVT I've ever driven; it does an amazing impression of an eight-speed transmission (and offers that as a fallback in manual mode).

The interior of my tester featured a rather appealing black-and-baseball-glove-brown color scheme (Nappa leather!). The front seats were exceptionally comfy — and also hearted and cooled. The steering wheel was heated as well, all of which are good things in the wintry Northeast.

The rear seats are a bench design and could handle three passengers, although I never had more than two. Legroom is respectable.

As far as the standards of 2020 go, the moonroof is a subdued affair — I'm used to vast portal to the heavens on luxury rides — but it does provide a welcome dose of natural light.

It's hard to complain about the Outback's interior. it looks great — and more importantly, once it gets roughed up a little from everyday use, it should still look fine.

The instrument cluster and multifunction, leather-wrapped steering wheel are nothing new, but ...

... Subaru has brought a quite large, 11.6-inch touchscreen and its Starlink infotainment system to the party.

It's undeniably impressive. Carmakers such as Ram and Volvo have embraced the Tesla-inspired big screen, moving much of what was formerly controlled with buttons and knobs to the tablet-esque realm.

I appreciated this when using the effective GPS navigation system, but ...

... managing climate controls on cold days while wearing gloves was, to be frank, a real downer.

Overall, user friendliness suffers with the Starlink setup, but the system handles all of its duties as it should. Bluetooth and device pairing are effortless, there are USB and AUX ports for connectivity and charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available, the Subie had a wifi hotspot, and my tester came with a trial subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio. 

The 2020 Outback has a few driver-assistance features worth mentioning. The advanced adaptive cruise control provides steering assist and lane-departure control, as well as a driver-alertness monitoring system.

So what's the verdict?

The Outback is back and better than ever. Without hesitation — in fact, with enthusiasm — I can recommend this fantastic wagon and argue that it's the best SUV-alternative on the market. 

As far as versatility goes, the Outback is second to none. There are snazzier wagons around — the Jaguar Sportbrake leaps to mind — but the Outback combines all of its well-known virtues into a refreshed package that truly ought to make suburban SUV aspirants at last briefly question their choices.

The shocker for me, however, was in how much fun the Touring XT trim, with its punchy 2.4-liter turbo mill, was to drive. The CVT transmission was easily the best I've ever sampled — I'm no foe of CVTs, but I generally admit that they degrade the driver experience in favor of improving fuel economy. Not so with the Outback, which I slung into corners with abandon, savoring the torque-vectoring thrills of that AWD setup and enjoying the firmed-up platform that this wagon now sits on (it's a new global architecture for Subaru). 

The 0-to-60-mph sprint is achieved in around six seconds, which is commendable for a vehicle designed to haul around soccer gear and take the dogs to the vet. The Outback put a smile on my face and kept it there — I didn't even get to sample the car's off-road skills, for which it has a solid reputation. 

The driver-assistance technology pointed toward a more autonomous future for Subie, but to be perfectly honest, I didn't test those features all that much. I was having too much fun doing the driving myself. In the end, I'd say that the systems are about as good as what I've previous experienced on cars at this price point.

And about that price! For $40,000, you're getting a whole lot of vehicle in the Outback Touring XT. Subaru has a magnificent track record for reliability, longevity, and safety, so one could plausibly buy this thing and essentially forget about the family's mobility needs for a decade, possibly two, maybe three.

True, thanks to the robust AWD system and the engine, Subies aren't known for delivering the best fuel economy. But I worked my way through only about half a tank in a week of driving, and the combined city-highway mpg number for me came out just north of 20, so it wasn't too bad.

For what it's worth, the Outback Touring XT is also rated to tow 3,500 pounds, which is more than adequate to hitch up a trailer, should that be required. Your college freshman should be grateful, as should family members who like to go camping on the weekends.

I currently own a Toyota Prius and RAV4 hybrid, but obviously as a suburbanite with three kids, I'm smack in the middle of the Outback demographic. It's vitally important for Subaru to keep this vehicle relevant to my needs, and to the needs of others like me.

And with the sixth generation of its ever-popular wagon, Subaru has done just that.


The coronavirus outbreak is dangerously close to shrinking global growth this quarter, UBS warns

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 3:02pm  |  Clusterstock

  • The coronavirus outbreak's effect on the world economy is driving growth near negative levels in the first quarter of 2020, UBS economists wrote on Tuesday.
  • The hit to China's economy accounts for most of the bank's updated forecast, with disruptions in Thailand, Singapore, and Hong Kong also weighing on global expansion.
  • UBS's guidance doesn't take supply-chain slowdowns into account, and Apple recently warned that a hit to iPhone production would drive quarterly revenue below its initial estimate.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The fallout from the coronavirus outbreak is already showing up in companies' guidance and market reactions. Now UBS economists expect the epidemic to drag global growth near negative levels in the first quarter.

Before the outbreak, the bank's "global now-cast" metric showed growth surging throughout Asia. But its latest reading projected a global growth increase of just 0.5% during the first three months of the year, down from the 3.5% level expected earlier in the quarter.

The virus' hit to China's economy accounts for most of UBS's lowered guidance, with disruptions in Hong Kong, Thailand, and Singapore also dragging the metric lower. Any growth level below zero reflects a contraction in the global economy, and consecutive quarters of contraction mark a global recession.

UBS's global growth forecast doesn't take supply-chain slowdowns into account, said a team led by Arend Kapteyn. Apple is among the latest firms to update their guidance on the virus' hit to manufacturing. The iPhone maker said on Tuesday that revenue for the quarter ending in March would fall below its initial estimate, citing a temporary hit to global phone supply. Apple shares fell as much as 3.2% on the news.

Read more: A Wall Street firm lists its 5 best hedges for an unusual coronavirus-driven market crash — and shares what to do if it's successfully contained

UBS said it expected central banks to stay in a "wait-and-see mode," holding off on any stimulus as economic data reflecting the outbreak's fallout trickles in. The Federal Reserve is likely to hold its benchmark interest rate steady until inflation rises to its 2% goal. The European Central Bank "is largely on autopilot" while it focuses on a strategy review, the team wrote. Even Japan's central bank is expected to stay patient even though the nation saw a virus-related death on February 8, UBS said.

Though the bank's latest guidance reflects an ominous outlook for the world economy, containment of the virus would drive a sharp recovery. Delayed consumption and investment, along with economic stimulus, "should lead growth to snap back sharply ... similar to what one would see after a natural disaster," the team wrote on Tuesday. The net effect on annual growth is a less worrisome 0.2-percentage-point reduction, they added.

The death toll in the outbreak reached 1,875 people on Tuesday, with more than 73,000 people infected. Most of the infections are in China, though cases have been reported in at least 26 countries. Only five deaths have been reported outside mainland China, with single fatalities in Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Taiwan, and France.

Now read more markets coverage from Markets Insider and Business Insider:

HSBC tanks the most since 2017 after announcing a $7.2 billion overhaul charge

Apple sees $45 billion in market value wiped out after warning that the coronavirus will push revenue below forecasts

Salesforce was just named one of the best companies to work for in 2020. Here's how to nail the interviews and land a six-figure job at the software giant.

Join the conversation about this story »

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Bamboo ( @investbamboo ) wants to give young Nigerians access to a global portfolio...Local Investments Are Not Enough

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 4:34am  |  Timbuktu Chronicles
From Future Africa:The economic realities of Nigeria have made investors seek opportunities outside the country. Even Africa's richest man Aliko Dangote understands the need to diversify his portfolio away from Africa. In August 2017, he announced that Beginning in 2020, 60 per cent of his future investments will be outside Africa, so they can have a balance. Dangote Group will consider investments in Asia and Mexico but will focus mainly on the U.S. and Europe.

Nigerians want what Dangote has, and Yanmo Omoregbe and Richmond Bassey have a solution called Bamboo. Richmond has extensive experience in leading and managing technology projects for companies like Mastercard, Babybliss, L5 Labs and the office of the President of Nigeria while Yanmo, Director of Growth, brings experience working in the investment and public sector at African Infrastructure Investment Managers and the Nigerian ministry of power, works and housing. Together they bring a combined experience of 12 years in business and technology into founding Bamboo - an app that gives Nigerians unrestricted access to over 3,000 stocks listed on the Nigerian stock exchange and U.S. stock exchanges. Bamboo curates top stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and American depositary receipts (ADRs) in the United States...[more]

Honeyflow Africa ( @honeyflowafrica ) aims to revolutionize beekeeping

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 4:33am  |  Timbuktu Chronicles
CNN reports:
There is a particular sound a queen bee makes when she is preparing to summon her troops into a swarm and head out for new horizons.

That sound is ominous for a beekeeper, as it indicates the impending loss of much of their hive, and a blow to their business. Farmer Amaete Umanah thinks he has a solution for this, and many other beekeeping challenges.

The Nigerian-American entrepreneur, who describes himself as a "farmhacker" has developed a sophisticated monitoring system with his company Honeyflow Africa, founded with partner Joshua Agbomedarho, which he believes can revolutionize the Nigerian honey industry...[more]

Global Health Technologies: Time To Re-Think The ‘Trickle Down’ Model by @paimadhu

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 4:31am  |  Timbuktu Chronicles
Madhukar Pai writing in Forbes:
Technologies (e.g. vaccines, drugs, diagnostics) are critical for addressing global health needs. But the field of global health has a problem - an excessive reliance on the ‘trickle down’ model, where products and innovations are developed in the Global North, and after a decade or two, they slowly trickle down to the Global South, where the biggest needs are, and where technologies often have the greatest impact. This model is not surprising, since every aspect of global health is dominated by high-income countries. Nevertheless, the model needs a re-think...[more]

Klarna and Spotify backer Atomico just raised one of Europe's biggest ever VC funds of $820 million

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 2:00am  |  Clusterstock

  • Spotify and Klarna backer Atomico has raised one of Europe's biggest ever VC funds with a fresh $820 million to back local tech startups. 
  • Founded in 2006, the new fund sees a number of Atomico portfolio founders and early team members join the project as LPs.
  • "It's a very exciting time," Irina Haivas, partner at Atomico, told Business Insider in an interview. "We are a platform that wants to be more than capital by engaging with talent, founders and the ecosystem." 
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

European VC fund Atomico has closed a new $820 million fund to support European tech startups. 

The new raise is one of Europe's biggest ever standalone venture capital funds. 

Atomico also set the record for the largest venture capital raise for its fourth fund of $765 million in 2017.

Based in London, Atomico's fifth fund will focus exclusively on Europe. Founded in 2006 by Niklas Zennström, the founder of Skype, the new fund sees a number of Atomico portfolio founders and early team members such as Adyen, Spotify, and Klarna invest as limited partners.

"It's a very exciting time," Irina Haivas, partner at Atomico, told Business Insider in an interview. "We are a platform that wants to be more than capital by engaging with talent, founders and the ecosystem." 

Atomico's fifth fund has already made a series of investments including Infarm, HealX, Spacemaker, Kheiron Medical, Peakon, Scoutbee, Koru Kids, Automation Hero and AccuRx. The firm currently has $2.7 billion in assets under management. 

"This fund is an opportunity to double down on our core strategy in Series A but also looking at Series B and C to breakout," Haivas added. "The other element is finding these ambitious founders and build category winners, the entrepreneurs with the right tools are game changers to rewire the world."

Atomico didn't release the names of LPs in the new fund but noted that it contained global institutional investors, both existing and new, including pension funds, fund-of-funds, sovereign wealth funds, insurance companies, endowments, banks, family offices and government-backed entities, in a release. 

Notable Atomico exits include Finnish mobile gaming company Supercell and Jawbone. 

SEE ALSO: Check out the pitch deck this London-based startup used to raise $10 million to tackle mental health in the workplace

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Apple warns that the coronavirus is expected to hurt quarterly revenue due to store closures in China and impacted iPhone production

Mon, 02/17/2020 - 8:13pm  |  Clusterstock

  • In a Monday press release, Apple warned that it expected to take a revenue hit due to the novel coronavirus outbreak in China.
  • It offered two explanations: slowed production of iPhones due to the novel coronavirus, and the closure of Apple stores in China during the outbreak.
  • The epicenter of the virus is thought to be Wuhan, China. Thus far, the virus has infected more than 71,000, and killed more than 1,700. The majority of the cases are concentrated in China, but it has spread to more than 25 other countries.
  • Apple is not the only company to be impacted by the novel coronavirus: some in the auto industry have seen their supply chains interrupted, and other tech companies like Facebook have also been impacted.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Apple warned on Monday that it did not expect to hit its March revenue targets due to the novel coronavirus named COVID-19.

The virus, which is thought to have originated at a wet market in Wuhan, China, has killed more than 1,700 and infected more than 71,000.

The majority of the cases have been in China: more than 16 cities have been on lockdown, impacting nearly 50 million people, attractions and stores have been shuttered, and the Lunar New Year holiday was extended to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

In a Monday press release, Apple said, "we do not expect to meet the revenue guidance we provided for the March quarter due to two main factors." The first, Apple noted, was slowed iPhone production due to the virus, and the second was slowed Chinese demand.

"Our quarterly guidance issued on January 28, 2020 reflected the best information available at the time as well as our best estimates about the pace of return to work following the end of the extended Chinese New Year holiday on February 10," Apple said in its release. However, the company noted that the return to work has been slower than expected, impacting the supply of iPhones.

Additionally, 42 Apple stores in China had closed and only seven have reopened, The New York Times noted.

The company said that it will continue to monitor the situation, saying that the health and well-being of those impacted by the coronavirus was the company's primary focus.

While the announcement made by Apple was unusual, the company is not alone in being impacted by the coronavirus. China is the site of one quarter of the world's manufacturing, and the auto industry along with other tech companies like Facebook are dealing with disruptions to their supply chains.

Join the conversation about this story »

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Pier 1 braces for sale after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy (PIR)

Mon, 02/17/2020 - 3:26pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Pier 1, a home goods retailer based in Fort Worth, Texas, has filed for bankruptcy.
  • A press release from Business Wire said that the company is pursuing a "orderly sale process" by filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
  • Pier 1 CEO and CFO Robert Riesbeck said in a statement that the company is "pleased with the initial interest as we engage in discussions with potential buyers."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Home furnishings retailer Pier 1 has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

In a Business Wire press release published on Monday, the company announced that it is "pursuing a sale" by voluntarily filing for Chapter 11 in the eastern district of Virginia's bankruptcy court. The statement noted that Pier 1 "intends to conduct a court-supervised sale process and complete the sale through a Chapter 11 plan," with the deadline for "qualified binding bids" to be set around March 23, 2020.

Pier 1 didn't immediately respond to Business Insider's request for further comment. In its release, the company announced its intent to keep its stores and website "open and operating" throughout the bankruptcy, as well as continuing to "honor customer commitments," compensate employees, and pay vendors and suppliers.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based company announced its intent to close 450 stores in January, and Business Insider reported that Pier 1's social media team revealed it had deleted information about its soon-to-be-shuttered stores from its website. All Pier 1 stores in Canada will close, as well as two distribution centers.

In the statement published on Business Wire, Pier 1's CEO and CFO Robert Riesbeck said that the filing was predominantly "cost-reduction" and establishing "an appropriately sized and profitable store footprint."

"Today's actions are intended to provide Pier 1 with additional time and financial flexibility as we now work to unlock additional value for our stakeholders through a sale of the Company," Riesbeck said in the statement. "We are moving ahead in this process with the support of our lenders and are pleased with the initial interest as we engage in discussions with potential buyers."

SEE ALSO: More than 2,200 stores are closing in 2020 as the retail apocalypse drags on. Here's the full list.

DON'T MISS: Pier 1 said stores deleted from its website are shutting down. Here's the list of closing stores.

SEE ALSO: We compared Ross and the struggling Pier 1 Imports and saw why the messier store is actually better to shop for home goods

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NOW WATCH: How Sears went from retail icon to empty stores

Open Banking 101: How Financial Institutions Can Take Advantage of a Global Movement

Mon, 02/17/2020 - 2:03pm  |  Clusterstock

Open banking, which has been implemented in the U.K., involves sharing customers' financial information electronically and securely, but only under conditions that customers approve.

Open banking forces lenders to offer a digital "fire hose" of data that any third party can use to get standardised access — provided the startup is registered with the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the customer agrees to share their data.

This system has already taken root in the U.K., but it could soon spread to the rest of the world. That's why Business Insider Intelligence has put together a report called Open Banking 101: How Financial Institutions Can Take Advantage of a Global Movement to Collaborate with Partners and Developers.

The report offers a look inside how this spreading movement is forcing banks to change their business models. It also walks through one specific bank as an illustration of how open banking is transforming the way financial institutions do business.

You can receive a FREE download of this report simply by entering your email address!

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

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THE CHATBOTS IN INSURANCE PLAYBOOK: Case studies on how three insurers are using chatbots to boost customer acquisition, slash claims processing times, and increase staff productivity

Mon, 02/17/2020 - 1:32pm  |  Clusterstock

Incumbent insurers are using chatbots to transform from passively engaging customers to putting customer engagement at the forefront of their business models.

The insurance sector has been far behind other sectors of financial services when it comes to delivering on customer engagement — but today, insurers are tapping advances in chatbot technology to deliver frequent and individualized customer interactions. Advancements in automation, machine learning (ML), and natural language processing (NLP) have enabled conversational assistants to deliver customer engagement that's so on par with live agents that the bots can supplant staff entirely.

And within the insurance realm, chatbot tech has the potential to reshape everything from product recommendation to admin to claims processing.

In The Chatbots In Insurance Playbook, Business Insider Intelligence's proprietary transformation maturity scale allows firms to measure the maturity of their chatbot deployments, while case studies exploring the chatbot implementations of three insurance players at various stages of their transformation journeys aim to guide firms looking to advance along our maturity scale. Finally, a market forecast of the global chatbot opportunity in insurance highlights the significant cost-savings potential the tech can bring across the industry.

Here are a few key takeaways from the report:

  • Three case studies highlight chatbots' potential to improve customer satisfaction, slash man-hours needed for customer service tasks, and speed up transaction and processing times. 
  • Insurtech Lemonade wanted to use bot technology to supplant human customer service processes, but it needed to ensure this wouldn't create a subpar user experience or erode trust.
  • To do this, Lemonade created a chatbot solution that could hold conversations that mirror those with live agents, while speedily solving complex customer problems. 
  • Insurer Zurich UK worked with white-label chatbot provider Spixii to expand its initially limited digital capabilities to provide customers with an immediate way of declaring claims.
  • The insurer knew it had to meet customer demand for an "always-on" digital experience around claims, and while Zurich UK identified chatbots as a good solution, it needed to ensure the tech would provide a cohesive experience across online and offline channels. 
  • Future Generali India Life Insurance (FGILI) was overwhelmed by a continued hike in calls from existing clients and needed to find a better way to manage communications as it scales its business.
  • To achieve this, it deployed a chatbot solution, dubbed Robotics Enabled Virtual Assistant (REVA) — which includes both basic and complex capabilities — to maintain a strong customer experience while freeing up live employees to grow its business.

In full, the report:

  • Allows insurers to identify strengths and weaknesses in their chatbot deployments by measuring their capabilities across key categories using Business Insider Intelligence's Chatbots In Insurance Digital Maturity Model.
  • Utilizes three case studies to show how different insurance firms are using chatbots to transform business operations and customer engagement. 
  • Provides a market forecast of the global chatbot opportunity in insurance to highlight the significant cost-savings potential the tech can bring across the industry.

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

  1. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now
  2. Sign up for Fintech Pro, Business Insider Intelligence's expert product suite tailored for today's (and tomorrow's) decision-makers in the financial services industry, delivered to your inbox 6x a week. >> Get Started
  3. Check to see if you already have access to Business Insider Intelligence through your company, or inquire about access if you don't. >> Check If You Have Enterprise Access
  4. Current subscribers can read the report here.

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Future of Fintech: Funding's New Guard

Mon, 02/17/2020 - 1:00pm  |  Clusterstock

Over the last decade, fintech has established itself as a fundamental part of the world’s financial services ecosystem.

Today, fintech financing is surging across the globe, despite major banks remaining cautious about acquisitions.

Instead, three emerging trends are fueling the current fintech boom: new geographical fintech centers, more late-stage mega-rounds, and the rise of fintech-focused venture firms.

In the Future of Fintech: Funding’s New Guard slide deck, Business Insider Intelligence explores how these three key trends are driving a surge in funding.

This exclusive slide deck can be yours for FREE today.

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A life insurance medical exam can save you money. Here's what to expect from the test.

Mon, 02/17/2020 - 12:01pm  |  Clusterstock


The process of getting life insurance is fairly simple and straightforward. It starts with a detailed application answering questions about your health and lifestyle. But before most insurance companies will issue a new policy, they require you to go through a brief medical exam.

The life insurance medical exam is a quick and easy process. I had one about six years ago when signing up for my own life insurance, and it was a convenient and mostly painless process. 

If you are considering new life insurance, here's what you should know about the life insurance medical exam.

They go over your application and medical history

Most insurance companies will send a nurse to your home or work for the medical exam. There's no trip to a doctor's office or medical facility. My exam took less than an hour on a Sunday morning at my home.

When the nurse arrived, she went over just about every question I had already answered on my application for accuracy. That included questions about past hospitalizations, any ongoing medical conditions, and my family's medical history.

Even if you're tempted to tell a little fib, make sure you are fully honest and transparent when applying for any kind of insurance. Lying on an application is considered fraud. In addition to losing your policy, it's against the law. Insurance fraud can lead to fines and jail time, so tell the whole truth throughout.

Plan on giving blood and urine samples

The application is pretty thorough, but the insurer won't just take your word for every answer. To ensure their bases are covered, the nurse will generally take your vital signs as well as a blood and urine sample.

Vital signs like your pulse, blood pressure, height, and weight can help insurers predict your risk of heart disease. The blood test looks at things like cholesterol, blood sugar, and signs of drug use. The urine test looks for things like tobacco and drug use, and healthy kidney and liver function.

Life insurance companies are not out to catch you in a lie. They are just doing their due diligence to ensure they assign you to the right risk and rate category when offering you a new policy. Applications are rarely turned down. They just want to fully understand your risk of dying before the policy's end date.

Your medical exam can save you money

A small, growing group of insurers is willing to issue life insurance policies to healthy people without a medical exam. However, in many cases, the life insurance you'll find without a medical exam is called "guaranteed issue." As the name implies, they guarantee you will get a policy regardless of health and lifestyle.

Guaranteed issue policies take people with advanced cancer, heart disease, and dangerous living conditions. A medical exam proves you are healthier than the riskiest applicants and saves you money on your insurance. Don't think of a medical exam as something that drives up your cost. It proves you belong in a healthy rate category.

One or two health factors alone won't make life insurance much more expensive in many cases. You may still qualify for the best rates or a category for people just below the top.

Don't let a medical exam scare you away from life insurance

Life insurance medical exams are fast and easy. They come right to you at a convenient time and place to help you qualify for the best possible rates. Aside from a small pinch when they draw your blood sample, the entire process is painless.

The cost of life insurance tends to go up with age, so don't delay if you plan to sign up for life insurance in the future. Your best rates will probably come today. Procrastinating can be a very expensive mistake. If you have a family that depends on your income, it's a smart idea to sign up for life insurance today.

Lock in your lowest life insurance rate today with help from Policygenius »

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