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Gary Gensler Confirmed As SEC Chair—Former Goldman Banker And Crypto Professor

Forbes | Jonathan Ponciano | Apr 14, 2021

SEC securities exchange commission - Gary Gensler Confirmed As SEC Chair—Former Goldman Banker And Crypto Professor

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed President Joe Biden's nomination of Gary Gensler, a former Goldman Sachs banker and a forceful commodities regulator under former President Barack Obama, to head up the Securities and Exchange Commission, setting the stage for widespread reform as the agency takes on unprecedented stock-market volatility and booming institutional adoption in the nascent cryptocurrency space.

Key Facts

The Senate confirmed Gensler's appointment Wednesday afternoon in a vote of 53 to 45, placing the 63-year-old academic and former investment banker atop the agency charged with maintaining fair, orderly and efficient markets.

Gensler, who's promised to increase transparency and reduce risk in the market, succeeds former SEC Chair Jay Clayton, an attorney tapped by former President Donald Trump to undo financial regulations that "stifled investment in American companies."

The confirmation comes more than a month after the Senate Banking Committee voted 14 to 10 to advance Gensler's nomination for two terms ending on June 5, 2026.

See:  Will Gary Gensler at SEC be Good for Crypto?

The Senate only voted to confirm Gensler for the remainder of the term expiring June 5, so it will need to hold another vote for his second term.

Viewed as a leading reformer after the 2008 financial crisis, Gensler opened his nomination hearing in March by touting his five-year stint as chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and cautioning that "when we fail to root out wrongdoing, or to adapt to new technologies, or to really understand novel financial instruments, things can go very wrong."

What To Watch For

Crypto regulation under Gensler. In an interview with Forbes last month, SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce acknowledged Gensler will have a "very busy agenda—much of which will have nothing to do with crypto," but she said he's likely to be "sympathetic to the call for regulatory clarity" in the space.

See:  Hester Peirce on personal liberty, crypto regs and retail investor particiation

The SEC has long delayed issuing firm regulation targeting digital currencies given its purview over securities (and not currencies), but Gensler—a professor focused on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology at the MIT Sloan School of Management—will be overseeing the agency as it takes on a slew of bitcoin exchange-traded fund applications and as it investigates Ripple, the firm behind one of the world's largest cryptocurrencies, for the alleged sale of unregistered securities.

 

“When it comes to enforcement, Mr. Gensler has shown he has the guts to take on bad actors, no matter how big, no matter how powerful they are, and he will hold them accountable,” Senate Banking Chair Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said Tuesday.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Gary Gensler Confirmed As SEC Chair—Former Goldman Banker And Crypto Professor The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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Nova Credit Launches Dating App to Help Newcomers and Locals Find Love

Nova Credit blog | Apr 1, 2021

Nova credit - Nova Credit Launches Dating App to Help Newcomers and Locals Find LoveSAN FRANCISCO, Calif., Apr. 1, 2020 - Nova Credit, a global credit bureau enabling immigrants access to credit, has launched a new direct-to-consumer dating service. The app, named “Score!”, matches any U.S. immigrant with a local American, based on analysis of their credit scores and other behavioral insights. It is available on both iOS and Android, and has an early user rating of 4.1 stars. See Score! in action.

Recent data released from the Advanced Population Research Institute of Louisville’s Foreign-born Overseas Observations: Longitudinal Study shows that non-U.S. born residents are not only remaining longer in the U.S. (from an average of 6 years in 2000 to 11 years in 2020), but also more likely to marry a local (from 4% in the 1980s to a peak of 12% last year). Nova Credit Head of Product Melanie Aliperti offered, “as we’ve run deeper user research, we’ve found that the quest for love is becoming a more significant theme and requested feature - particularly as newcomers seek deeper cultural integration and mingling.”

The feedback from early beta users has been promising. Priyanka from India described her experience, “Bumble, Raya, Tinder -- I’ve been on them all. But with Score!, I found an app that felt right for me. I shared stories of my Indian heritage and favourite Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, rather than trying to just fit in with American cultural references of Tiger King. And in meeting [now-partner, name removed for confidentiality], I’ve found an American who values my international perspective.”

See:  The Dark Side of Fintech Borrowing

Nova Credit’s analytic capabilities in finance remain at the forefront of the application’s design, leveraging the latest trends in behavioral economics and machine learning. Users are prompted to upload their credit score, whether domestic or international, and the algorithm extrapolates their romantic preferences and partnership viability. Nova Credit CEO Misha Esipov expounds:

“The financial industry has known for decades that credit insights are the strongest predictors of personality and ultimately compatibility. We have the richest data insights of any industry as well as some of the best data science talent. With this launch, we are proud to expand the remit of our industry and the impact on our consumers”.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Nova Credit Launches Dating App to Help Newcomers and Locals Find Love The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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Lobbying: it’s high time startups up their game

Sifted | Nicolas Colin | Apr 14, 2021

Startups and lobbying - Lobbying: it’s high time startups up their game

The Greensill debacle shows that startups have a lot to learn when it comes to winning friends and influencing people.

Startups are getting stuck into some highly-regulated industries — and they need to start taking those regulations seriously. Long gone are the days when founders could “move fast and break things”, to echo Mark Zuckerberg’s famous words. Now startups are handling people’s money; they’re responsible for children’s education; and some of them are even taking our lives in their (healthtech) hands.

But staying on the right side of regulation is not easy. Most rules were designed a long time ago, well before the internet came about and made it possible to solve old problems with new solutions. Many things that are now possible don’t exactly fit in the old regulatory boxes that we inherit from the past — whether it’s rules that relate to taxi medallions or the 1835 Highways Act that effectively prohibits anyone in the UK from riding an electric scooter on the road. For some startups to take off while strictly complying with existing regulations in sectors such as transportation, financial services or healthcare, the sequence would have to be: first, change the regulations, and second, grow the business.

See:  The U.S. Only Pretends to Have Free Markets

In practice, however, many founders are so obsessed with moving forward that they are often oblivious to the fact that legacy regulations effectively stand in the way. Investors might be more clearsighted about the regulatory context, but they often assume that regulators go with the flow and upgrade their framework as it becomes obvious that new approaches are possible.

What needs to happen

First, founders need to embrace a less naive view of regulations and regulators. Too often, they don’t realise that many government officials are not that sensitive to the promises of technological progress. Rather, their focus is on maintaining order, creating jobs, appeasing various constituencies with conflicting interests — and, yes, winning the next election.

Second, investors need to realise it’s up to them to do the heavy lifting. In the US, the most prominent VC firms have seen enough regulatory issues in their portfolios to decide that they need to have their founders’ backs. They do it by investing in thought leadership and engaging with prominent regulators, as Andreessen Horowitz has been doing for years through their media operation.

See:  BC tech orgs lobby federal, provincial governments for scale-up funding

Finally, government officials themselves need to wake up and remember that adapting regulations is a powerful lever from an industrial policy perspective. This one, by the way, is especially true in Europe. China has the sheer size of its domestic market. The US has the unrivalled power of a financial system able to funnel vast amounts of money into the startup world. What Europe has, in comparison, is powerful governments able to pull the regulatory lever as they see fit. Too often, they do so to protect legacy corporations by maintaining backward-looking regulations. Instead, they should seek to lower barriers to entry and make room for the new business models that technology now makes possible.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Lobbying: it’s high time startups up their game The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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Coinbase is the talk of Wall Street on Wednesday: ‘Watershed moment’ in crypto

MarketWatch | Mark DeCambre | Apr 14, 2021

Coinbase direct listing - Coinbase is the talk of Wall Street on Wednesday:  ‘Watershed moment’ in crypto

Coinbase is the talk of Wall Street on Wednesday, as the largest crypto platform in the U.S. gears up for its public debut on a traditional exchange, arriving via a direct listing rather than a more traditional initial public offering.

The arrival on the public markets of Coinbase COIN, 34.38% is a big moment in the world of cryptocurrencies. The company was created just over a decade ago with the genesis of bitcoin BTCUSD, -2.43% and today stands at what many in the industry have described as a tipping point.

There are few ways to secure direct ownership of crypto currencies, outside of buying them directly, a service that Coinbase provides for a fee, and which investors appear willing to pay for.

Coinbase, whose users primarily deal in bitcoin and ethereum, reported last week that its revenue soared 847% in the first quarter to $1.8 billion, and that it now has 56 million verified users.

See:  ETF investors say Coinbase listing will cause explosion in crypto investing

Leeor Shimron, an analyst at FundStrat Global Advisors, described the Coinbase listing as seminal. “Coinbase’s direct listing is a watershed moment for the crypto industry.”

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said the listing is a reflection of cryptocurrencies’ having arrived at the mainstream. “Coinbase is a foundational piece of the crypto ecosystem and is a barometer for the growing mainstream adoption of bitcoin and crypto for the coming years in our opinion,” he wrote in a research note Tuesday.

Some caution that the implied valuation for Coinbase as a crypto exchange has gotten too lofty, compared with traditional stock exchanges like Nasdaq Inc. NDAQ, -0.35%, where Coinbase will directly list, and Intercontinental Exchange ICE, -0.35%,  the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange.

In a direct listing, a company floats its shares on a stock exchange but without hiring banks to underwrite the transaction as in an IPO.

David Trainer, CEO of the investment research firm New Constructs, said the crypto platform’s value is ridiculously high. “Even though Coinbase’s revenue surged over the past 12 months, the company has little to no chance of meeting the future profit expectations that are baked into its ridiculously high expected valuation of $100 billion,” he said.

“Coinbase’s expected valuation of $100 billion implies that its revenue will be 1.5 [times] the combined 2020 revenues of two of the most established exchanges in the marketplace,” namely, NYSE parent ICE and Nasdaq.

Trainer said that, based on his calculation, Coinbase’s valuation should be closer to $18.9 billion — an 81% decrease from the $100 billion expected valuation.

See:  The Under-Appreciated Significance of Coinbase Going Public

‘Not for the faint of heart’

MoffettNathanson analyst Lisa Ellis explained to MarketWatch why the offering is, as she described it, “not for the faint of heart,” even as she initiated coverage of the exchange at a buy with a price target of $600, before the stock has seen its first trade on the Nasdaq.

“I’m super super bullish on Coinbase … because you get the sense that they are a market leader in the space and crypto-agnostic,” she said.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Coinbase is the talk of Wall Street on Wednesday:  ‘Watershed moment’ in crypto The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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CoinPayments Set to Remain Leading Crypto Payment Processor Finds D-Core Survey

Yahoo Finance | Release | April 13, 2021

crypto payment processor research - CoinPayments Set to Remain Leading Crypto Payment Processor Finds D-Core Survey

D-CORE Research (CNW Group/CoinPayments)

LONDON, April 13, 2021 /CNW/ - Emerging technology research company D-Core released its latest analysis reviewing the future of the cryptocurrency landscape, calling for CoinPayments to remain the leading crypto payments processor in 2026.

D-Core's report surveyed 161 experts, asking them: "Which crypto payment processor will definitely be operating in five years time?" Of those surveyed, 37% picked CoinPayments, giving it the top spot. The other crypto payment processors included in the report were Bitpay (29%), BTCpay (19%), SpicePay (13%), CoinGate (1%), among others.

"It is great to be recognized as a top crypto payment processor among experts in the industry," noted Jason Butcher, CEO of CoinPayments. "Since 2013, our aim has always been to fuel crypto adoption and the most effective way to give digital assets their rightful place as mediums of exchange is by enabling businesses and consumers to use them for everyday purchases."

See:  Jason Butcher, CEO Coinpayments speak at the 7th Fintech & Financing conference: FFCON21 Breaking Barriers May 11-13

The report's timely release comes as notable companies like Paypal and Tesla announce that they will be facilitating crypto payments for customers. Crypto adoption is steadily on the rise as more businesses come to understand the benefits that come with accepting crypto payments.

"D-Core's focus is on providing unique information and insights into emerging technology companies and projects in blockchain, decentralized finance, and payments," noted D-Core founder Kevin Mudd. "As more people look for information on crypto and payments, we aim to help to uncover tomorrow's disruptors in the space to help institutional investors, family offices, hedge funds, and main street investors make wiser investment decisions."

About CoinPayments
CoinPayments is the easiest, fastest and most secure way for merchants worldwide to transact in cryptocurrencies. It is the first and largest cryptocurrency payment processor with more than US $10 billion in total transactions to date, while supporting more than 2,000 coins, and is the preferred crypto payment solution for merchants and Ecommerce platform providers worldwide. Founded in 2013, CoinPayments is dedicated to providing clients with fast, secure and user-friendly crypto payment APIs, shopping cart plugins, digital wallets, and a host of other solutions supporting cryptocurrency payment applications. Learn more at: https://www.coinpayments.net/.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - CoinPayments Set to Remain Leading Crypto Payment Processor Finds D-Core Survey The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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Debating Element AI’s legacy

Montreal in Tech | Joseph Czikk  | Apr 2, 2021

element AI reception - Debating Element AI’s legacy

Sam Presti made a risky bet in the summer of 2018. The general manager of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder traded for star player Paul George.

There was just one problem.

George had one year left on his contract before he was free to sign with whomever he wanted, and he made it clear he wanted to return home to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers. Presti made a bet on an asset that would probably skip town in a year’s time. In doing so, he risked his job in Oklahoma City, a small market team that doesn’t often lure high-end free agent players.

See:  4 Ways the Startup Landscape Will Shift in 2021

“Scared money don’t make none,” Presti famously remarked at the press conference, referencing a lyric from Midnight, by A Tribe Called Quest.

Presti’s big bet paid off. George liked it so much in the midwest that he spurned the Lakers and signed on for another year with the Thunder, shocking many.

Montreal’s next tech unicorn?

Like Presti’s gamble, risk-taking is sometimes necessary in life. And for so long it felt like Canadian tech markets like Montreal couldn’t stacked up to Silicon Valley and New York because of a lack of risk.

We’ve heard the same refrain over and over again: Canadian markets lack the big bet behaviour to compete with our American neighbours.

But in the October of 2016, the beginnings of what would become one of Montreal’s biggest bets to date began to take shape. A new incubation-style “AI startup factory” launched in an attempt to retain the city’s AI talent and provide a spark for young companies.

The company was named Element AI.

Four years later as we examine the wreckage, the question remains that has polarized Montreal’s tech community. Was Element AI positive or negative for Montreal’s tech sector?

Hype and fanfare

Element AI burst onto the Canadian tech scene four years ago amid hype and fanfare, promising to deliver AI-powered operational improvements to a range of industries and anchor a thriving domestic AI sector, wrote the Globe and Mail at the time.

“The company became the self-appointed representative of Canada’s AI sector, lobbying politicians and officials and landing numerous photo ops with them, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.”

But the mega-funded Montreal-based AI research company sold to the Silicon Valley cloud computing giant ServiceNow just before Christmas, 2020. The bargain-bin price tag was US $230 million, and adjustments and expenses could bring the final price down to US$195 million. This was far below Element AI’s reported value at between $750 million and $880 million when it last raised money ($200 million at the time) in September 2019.

See:  Forget Unicorns. Zebras are (more sustainable) and the future!

Debate abounded following the sale. How could investors pump so much public and private money into Element AI only to see this ending? How could it get to a point where actual earnings dramatically trailed overhead?

I spoke to several Montreal-based AI startup founders about this story. Some see it as a disappointing tale of a community desperately trying to build its own flagship version of tech success.

They’re frustrated that smaller AI startups in Montreal were ignored by local public and private capital firms. They say investors were too enamoured with Element AI, leaving little capital or facetime for smaller companies desperately competing for a slice of funding.

Others say the city is better off after the tale of Element AI, and that investors are now being chastised for taking the swing-for-the-fences gamble that many had long pushed for.

Dr. Jason Behrmann questions why the “grow fast at all costs using VC funds” model remains the most popular

“When you take $200, $300 million and you put it into one business, the reality is that there are probably 50 smaller AI shops that didn’t get $3, $4, $5 million in seed funding,” said Bouchard.

“I haven’t seen anyone from the government explaining how they’ll reuse that money and we haven’t seen any VCs do any sort of a mea culpa. These guys are just not talking about the deal,” said the source. “I think we’re long overdue for an answer.”

“Element AI tried to raise significant money and do it the Silicon Valley way, which happens 10 times a month in the Bay area. We tried it here and it didn’t work out. But we need to take risks, right?” said Maclean.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Debating Element AI’s legacy The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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Banks Are Offering Five-Figure Raises and Time Off To Make Young Bankers Happier

Forbes | Jack Kelly | Apr 9, 2021

Banks and covid stress - Banks Are Offering Five-Figure Raises and Time Off To Make Young Bankers Happier

A little bad publicity goes a long way. In late March, the legendary investment bank, Goldman Sachs, was accused by a group of young bankers of making them work 100 hours a week.

The Wall Street analysts claimed that they were forced to endure a punishing schedule that left them exhausted and unable to have a social life. To ameliorate the situation, Goldman decided to offer them Saturdays off and said they’d find additional help to alleviate the workload. One day off doesn’t seem like much, but in the hustle culture on Wall Street, it's a start.

Investment banking is a highly competitive field. Now that Goldman set the precedent, other banks are one-upping each other by giving lavish salary increases, bonuses, days off and Peloton bikes to Gen-Z bankers.

Bank of America Corp., one of the nation’s largest banks, said it will enhance the salaries of its junior investment bankers starting May 1, according to Reuters. The salary increases are being awarded to show its recognition. While many sectors have been hit hard by the effects of Covid-19, financial firms have done well. Trading throughout 2020 and the first quarter of 2021was robust and underwritings of IPOs and Spacs were blazingly hot. This created the need for bankers to put in long, grueling hours to keep up with business demands.

The junior-level BofA bankers will receive an extra $10,000. More senior personnel, such as vice presidents, are slated to receive a $25,000 raise.

See:  Has fintech made banking better?

Additionally, Barclays, the U.K.-based bank with a large presence in the United States, is changing its policies in an effort to protect the mental health of young investment bankers. The British bank is allowing bankers to curtail their working hours. Associates won’t have to work from 9 p.m. Friday to 9 a.m. Sunday—except when it's necessary. The investment professionals will be advised to actually take their two five-day vacations a year to decompress from the stress.

Newly appointed Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser informed her 210,000 employees that she is banning internal video calls on Fridays. The move is part of a larger program to set boundaries and help her people have a healthier work-life balance.

Two top Canadian-based banks, Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto-Dominion Bank, have given an extra day off to bankers to help them deal with any stress, anxiety or burnout issues.

International Swiss-based bank Credit Suisse informed investment bankers that they will receive $20,000 bonuses. This would be for entry and mid-level bankers.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Banks Are Offering Five-Figure Raises and Time Off To Make Young Bankers Happier The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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