Fintechs Are Zeroing in on Everything Big Banks Aren’t

My north star(s) for philosophy, management, and politics are Star Wars, The Sopranos, and Game of Thrones, respectively. The Iron Bank (GoT) is a metaphor for today’s financial institutions, if present-day banks didn’t need bailouts or to invent fake accounts to juice compensation. Regardless, it was well known throughout Braavos that The Iron Bank will have its due.

If you failed to repay, they’d fund your enemies. So today’s Iron Bankers are the venture capitalists funding (any) incumbents’ enemies. If this makes VCs sound interesting/cool, don’t trust your instincts.

Lately, I’ve spent a decent amount of time on the phone with my bank in an attempt to get a home equity line, as I want to load up on Dogecoin. (Note: kidding.) (Note: mostly.) If Opendoor and Zillow can use algorithms and Google Maps to get an offer on my house in 24 hours, why does it take my bank — which underwrote the original mortgage — so much longer?

How ripe a sector is for disruption is a function of several factors. One (relatively) easy proxy is the delta between price increases and inflation, and if the innovation in the sector justifies the delta. Think of the $200 cable bill, or a $5.6 million 60-second Super Bowl spot, as canaries in the ad-supported media coal mine.

Another, easier (and more fun) indicator of ripeness is the eighties test. Put yourself smack dab in the center of the store/product/service, close your eyes, spin around three times, open your eyes, and ask if you’d know within 5 seconds that you were not in 1985. Theaters, grocery stores, gas stations, dry cleaners, university classes, doctor’s offices, and banks still feel as if you could run into Ally Sheedy or The Bangles.

It’s hard to imagine an industry more ripe for disruption than the business of money.

Let’s start with this: 25% of U.S. households are either unbanked or underbanked. Half of the nation’s unbanked households say they don’t have enough money to meet the minimum balance requirements. 34% say bank fees are too high. And, if you’re trying to get a mortgage, you’d better hope the house isn’t cheap.

Inequity is a breeding ground for disruption, leaving underserved markets for insurgents to seize and launch an attack on incumbents from below. We have good reason to believe that’s happening in banking.

Insurgents

A herd of unicorns is at the stable door, looking to trample Wells Fargo and Chase. Fintech is responsible for roughly one in five (17%) of the world’s unicorns, more than any other sector. In addition, there are already several megalodons worth more than financial institutions that have spent generations building (mis)trust.

How did this happen? The fintechs are zeroing in on everything big banks aren’t.

Example #1: Innovation. Over the past five years, PayPal has issued 26x more patents than Goldman Sachs.

Example #2: Cost-cutting. “Neobanks” offer the basic services of a bank, with one less expensive and cumbersome feature: the branch. A traditional bank branch needs $50 million in deposits to generate an adequate return. Yet nearly half (48%) of branches in the U.S. are below that threshold. Neobanks don’t have that problem, and there are now at least 177 of them. Founders frame these offerings as more progressive, less corporate. Dave, a new banking app, offers a Founding Story on its website (illustrated with cartoon bears) about three friends “fed up” with their banking experience, often incurring $38 overdraft fees. Fed up no longer: Dave provides free overdraft protection and has 10 million customers.

Example #3: Less inequity. NYU Professor of Finance Sabrina Howell’s research found fintech lenders gave 18% of PPP loans to Black-owned businesses, while small to medium-sized banks provided just 2%. Among all loans to Black-owned firms, Professor Howell found 54% were from fintech startups. Racial discrimination is the most likely explanation, as lenders faced zero credit risk.

Example #4: Serving the underserved. Unequal access to banking is a global botheration. Almost a third of the world’s adults, 1.7 billion, are unbanked. In Argentina, Colombia, Nigeria, and other countries, more than 50% of adults are unbanked.

But innovation is already on the horizon: Take Argentine fintech Ualá, whose CEO Pierpaolo Barbieri I spoke with on the Pod last week. In just 4 years, more than 3 million people have opened an account with his company — about 9% of the country — and over 25% of 18 to 25-year-olds now have a tarjeta Ualá (online wallet). Ualá recently launched in Mexico, where, as of 2017, only 2.6% of the poorest 40% had a credit card. This is more than an economic issue — it’s a societal issue, as financial inclusion bolsters the middle class and forms a solid base for democracy.

Interest(ed)

Chase savings accounts are offering, no joke, 0.01% interest. Wells Fargo? The same, though if you keep your investment portfolio with Wells, they’ll double that rate to 0.02%. Meanwhile, neobanks including Ally and Chime offer 0.5% — 50 times the competition.

There is also blood in the water for fintech unicorns that have created a debit, vs. credit, generation: The buy-now-pay-later fintech Afterpay has more than 5 million U.S. customers — just two years after launching in the country. As of February, its competitor Affirm has 4.5 million customers.

Unicorns are also coming for payments. The megasaurus in this space is PayPal, which has built the first global payments platform outside the credit card model and is second only to Visa in payment volume and revenue. Square’s Cash app is capturing share, and Apple Cash is also a player, as it’s … Apple.

Square, Apple, and a host of other companies are taking the “partnership” approach, bolting new services onto the existing transaction infrastructure. Square’s little white box is a low-upfront-cost way for a small merchant to accept credit cards. It’s particularly interesting that Apple teamed up with Goldman Sachs instead of a traditional bank. Goldman is looking to get into the consumer space (see Marcus), and Apple is looking to get into the payments space — this alliance could be the unsullied fighting with air cover from dragons. It should make Wells and BofA anxious.

The Big Four credit card system operators (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express) are still the dominant payment players, and they have deep moats. Their brands are global, their networks robust. Visa can handle 76,000 transactions per second in 160 currencies, and as of this week it had settled $1 billion in cryptocurrency transactions.

Still, even the king of payments sees dead people. In 2020, Visa tried to buy Plaid for $5.3 billion. Plaid currently helps connect existing payments providers (i.e. banks) to finance software such as Quicken and Mint. But it plans to expand from that beachhead into offering a full-fledged payments system. Visa CEO Al Kelly initially described the deal as an “insurance policy” to neutralize a “threat to our important U.S. debit business.” In an encouraging sign that American antitrust authorities are stirring, the Department of Justice filed suit to block the merger, and Visa walked.

Beyond Banking

Fintech is also coming for investing with online trading apps (Robinhood, Webull, Public, and several of the neobanks) and through the crypto side door (Coinbase, Gemini, Binance). Insurance is under threat from companies like Lemonade (home), Ladder (life), and Root (auto).

In sum, fintech is likely as underhyped as space is overhyped. Why? The ROI on your professional efforts and investing are inversely proportional to how sexy the industry/investment is, and fintech is … boring. Except for the immense opportunity and value creation — for multiple stakeholders. “Half the world is unbanked, but we need to colonize Mars,” said no rational investor ever.

Re: investing in fintech: What has, and will always be, a good rap? The guy/gal who owns the bank.

Life is so rich,

By: Scott Galloway

Source: Fintechs Are Zeroing in on Everything Big Banks Aren’t | by Scott Galloway | Jul, 2021 | Marker

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Tips For Moms To Take Better Care of Their Money

Tips for moms to take better care of their money

Mother’s month is approaching and the best way to celebrate them is by empowering them and helping them become more independent and financially successful.

Within personal finance there is a “common core”, to call it somehow, a body of knowledge that we should all have, however what works for one does not necessarily work for another.

There are differences in the management of finances between men and women, between a woman without children and a mother, and between a married mother and a single mother.

Let’s take a look at the data first.

Women live 10 years longer than men, increasingly contribute more resources to households, have more breaks in their working life, due to motherhood, and the responsibility of raising their children without leaving them unprotected in the event of an accident or death premature. So there is an urgent need to have a short, medium and long term financial plan.

According to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), 7 out of 10 women over 15 years of age are mothers, of those mothers 4 out of 10 contribute financial resources to the operation of the home, and of those who provide financial resources, 97% He combines his work with the burden of household chores, in addition, according to CONAPO, there are 880 thousand single mothers in Mexico, of which 90% have children under 18 years of age.

So the data and therefore here are some tips to improve your finances.

1. Make a personal budget

The budget is a tool that will help you keep your expenses under control, detect unnecessary leaks, pay attention to priorities and do not forget important items such as savings. It includes all the expenses related to the children such as tuition, school supplies, food, entertainment, medical expenses and even gifts.

2. Do you want successful children?

Educate yourself financially! It is very important so that you can teach that to your children and they grow up with good financial habits, you will avoid future headaches and you will too. Remember that there is no better inheritance than education and good habits.

3. Save for your retirement

You don’t want to be dependent on your children in the future, right? It is important that you regularly allocate within your budget a savings amount for your retirement, feed your AFORE or pension plan. That will give you financial certainty when the time comes.

4. Don’t hide financial problems

Keeping these types of situations secret adds problems instead of solving them, damages family ties and can be counterproductive.

5. Safe, safe?

If the father dies and is the breadwinner of the family, it can cause an economic gap that the mother would have to face, so insure the father, and if you are a single mother, be sure! You do not want to leave your children financially unprotected.

And to close I leave you some ideas of financial gifts for mom.

  • A course in personal finance.
  • An investment account (show him how to use it if he doesn’t know).
  • A few ounces of silver (it will start to rise in price).
  • A Tablet with internet access and teach him how to use it if he does not know. Access to information is a great ally of economic well-being.

Iván Vázquez Islas

By: Iván Vázquez Islas

Source: Tips for moms to take better care of their money

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Being a mom is the best job I have, but let’s be real—sometimes, it’s really hard. So, this episode of The Rachel Cruze Show is all about making your life a little easier. Today, you’ll learn: • 7 ways to save money on your morning routine • Things no one tells you about being a mom • How to give yourself grace as you navigate this crazy thing called “life balance” Sponsors pay the producer of this show, The Lampo Group, LLC, advertising fees for mentioning their services or products during programming.
Advertising fees are not based upon or otherwise tied to any product sale or business transacted between any consumer or sponsor. The following sponsors have paid for the programming you are viewing: — Zander Insurance Resources (everything mentioned in this episode): Zander Insurance: http://bit.ly/2Pd6Nss The Contentment Journal: https://www.rachelcruze.com/store/pro… Ramsey Solutions YouTube Channels (Subscribe Now!) • The Dave Ramsey Show (Highlights): https://www.youtube.com/c/TheDaveRams… • The Dave Ramsey Show (Live): https://www.youtube.com/thedaveramsey… • The Rachel Cruze Show: https://www.youtube.com/user/RachelCr… • The Ken Coleman Show: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheKenColem… • Christy Wright: https://www.youtube.com/c/ChristyWrig… • Anthony ONeal: https://www.youtube.com/user/aonealmi… • EntreLeadership: https://www.youtube.com/c/entreleader..
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Here’s How You Can Use Decentralized Finance To Draw Passive Income Streams

Here's How You Can Use Decentralized Finance to Draw Passive Income Streams

With the European and global crypto markets going mainstream in 2021, the term DeFi — short for Decentralized Finance —  seems to have seeped into the consciousness of the masses, at least those looking to invest in this yet nascent space. In this regard, it bears mentioning that the DeFi ecosystem has grown from strength to strength over the last 12 odd months, with the amount of money coming into this space increasing from $1 billion to $40 billion since Q2, 2020.

From a conceptual and operational standpoint, one can see that DeFi projects are designed to function in the same way as their centralized finance (CeFi) counterparts. This is to say that they enable users to lend and borrow funds, speculate on the price movements of various assets, earn interest rates and so on, much like traditional bank accounts except without a bank intermediating the transactions, thus removing the associated cost overhead and delays. Transaction rules, on the other hand, are enforced by the software, leaving no room for human error or oversight.

The onset of DeFi has been beneficial to both the crypto maximalists as well as the traditional investors looking for yield. The reason is that the so-called stablecoins are as eligible to participate as the traditional crypto. Stablecoins are the cryptocurrencies pegged 1:1 to conventional currencies and are backed by the respective reserves. Some of the most widely used ones are USDT and USDC, both of which are pegged to USD and can be acquired from most cryptocurrency exchange providers. Accessing DeFi through these eliminates price risk stemming from the volatile nature of cryptocurrencies.

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Start trading Bitcoin and cryptocurrency here: http://bit.ly/2NI4xtF DeFi applications – https://defipulse.com/defi-list/ DeFi is becoming more and more popular as the main use case for cryptocurrencies. This video explains in detail what DeFi is and what you should know about before getting involved. 0:38 Bitcoin and Our Financial System 1:24 Our Centralized Financial System 1:59 What is DeFi? 2:22 DeFi Components 4:16 – DAI explained 5:51 – DEXs explained 6:33 – Decentralized money markets 8:06 Money Legos 8:56 DeFi Advantages and Risks 10:02 Conclusion For the complete text guide visit: https://bit.ly/2R35g6Z Join our 7-day Bitcoin crash course absolutely free: http://bit.ly/2pB4X5B Learn ANYTHING about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies on our YouTube channel: http://bit.ly/2BVbxeF Get the latest news and prices on your phone: iOS – https://apple.co/2yf02LJ Android – http://bit.ly/2NrMVw2

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The DeFi difference and how it can work to your advantage.

From the get-go, it is important to understand that before the advent of DeFi, crypto owners did not have access to any decentralized avenues for lending, farming, staking their assets. Centralized options were also few, far between and of questionable reliability. However, with this space continuing to grow, there are now a plethora of ways through which token holders can see their assets multiply.

The simplest and most convenient means of earning passive income through DeFi is by depositing one’s crypto into a platform that provides users with an APY (annual percentage yield). The core difference here is that while most banks provide users with interest rates ranging between 0.2 percent to 0.6 percent at max, DeFi returns can go as high as 15 percent.

Yield Farming.

As the name seems to quite clearly imply, the concept of “Yield Farming” entails the generation of a passive income stream via the use of a variety of different crypto assets. In its most basic sense, Yield farming can be compared with traditional finance offerings such as bank deposits, fixed-term deposits, and even government bonds wherein investors lock in their fiat assets with a financial institution, allowing for increased liquidity. This liquidity in turn generates growth for the institution, thus allowing for steady interests to be paid out to investors.

Similarly, yield farmers can make use of DeFi money markets, liquidity pools, etc to draw in steady returns for themselves. For example, an individual locks up 10,000 USDC (US dollar-pegged stablecoin) into a DeFi protocol, providing it with instant liquidity. In return for locking up these funds, the person is rewarded with fees generated by the underlying DeFi platform. These reward tokens can then once again be deposited in other liquidity pools, allowing users to constantly accrue a flow of income by continually switching between different protocols.

Popular platforms worth considering.

Uniswap: The name UniSwap has almost become synonymous with the term “passive income,” at least across the global crypto landscape. The protocol provides users with a tangible avenue through which they can earn returns on their assets by becoming liquidity providers (LPs).

In their most basic sense, LPs are those individuals that deposit an equal USD amount of two tokens, known as a pair, to a liquidity pool.  Whenever these tokens are moved — for example, borrowed by a third party —  the fee that is generated from such a transaction and is shared with the LP depending upon his/her stake in the pool.

UniSwap is perfect for those individuals who may be in possession of “idle crypto assets” and looking to invest their funds in a platform that is relatively risk-free and easy to make use of.

Aave: This is a platform to lend and borrow assets. You put assets in a pool — for example the USDC pool — and anyone who needs to get USDC can come and borrow some, by collateralizing the loan. Depending on demand they’ll pay roughly between 2 percent and 80 percent APR, while you’ll get between 0.5 percent and 75 percent APY for lending into the pool.

While providing to liquidity pools such as Uniswap involves some degree of risk (the “impermanent loss”) depending on the pair of assets you are dealing with, Aave is really the simplest product to understand: deposit 1 asset, get paid a certain interest percent in that asset.

The risks.

Though on paper, the concept surrounding yield farming looks extremely attractive, it is not free of its share of risks.

The very first risk — the thing which resulted in the most money lost in 2020 — is greed. “Rug pulls” and “exit scams” were the No. 1 risk in terms of money stolen last year. A good reminder to do your own research!

The second type of risk, tech risk, means that if there is a bug in the smart-contract you are using, you could lose all your money, and that’s why you want to make sure they have been independently audited. For the same reason, you are best advised to not “put all eggs in the same basket” and deposit across several protocols.

There have also been a lot of attacks associated with “price oracles.”  This is somewhere between a tech risk, a design risk and a financial risk. An “oracle” is the service through which a DeFi protocol obtains real-time price data. Those can potentially be manipulated or tampered with, especially since these instruments are totally automated and there is no way to audit or verify the accuracy of the data provided by these platforms. A lot of “attacks” in 2020 were executed through manipulating the price information of assets and getting a lot of tokens for cheaper than one ought to from a service.

Lastly it is no secret that the crypto market at large is the subject of daily price swings, causing the value of many assets to jump up and down wildly. In this regard, if the value of a cryptocurrency that is being farmed dips to extremely low levels, users could incur heavy losses compared to the currency they use to go shopping. Two hundred percent APY on something whose price is dropping by 300 percent a day isn’t going to make you rich any time soon. That’s a financial risk, and the conclusion is to choose your assets wisely.

Anton Altement

 

By: Anton Altement/ Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Source: Here’s How You Can Use Decentralized Finance to Draw Passive Income Streams

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6 Trends That Will Shape The Financial Services Industry In 2021

Financial services industry trends contactless payments data AI BeyondCorp

Financial services in 2020 was defined by a sudden acceleration in digitization and digital engagement—pushed by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Exchanges shut down their trading floors and moved to remote trading, mobile banking transactions spiked, personal trading apps saw record transaction volumes, and call center personnel kept customer support going by working from their living rooms.

While the financial services industry was able to weather the digital tsunami and continue its operations, it has become clear that the winds of change are not transient. Financial institutions are now thinking strategically about their technical setup and questioning whether the tools that they have previously relied on are the right ones to use going forward. Here are a few major themes we’ve identified as being likely to dominate financial industry conversations and technology roadmaps in 2021:

1. Modernizing dated core systems will be imperative

2020 was a year that put the financial infrastructure to the test and challenged existing architecture planning assumptions. Many of the core systems had not been architected to address the volume and pace of change that was suddenly required, and dated core systems struggled under the added weight.

Relief programs such as the Payment Protection Program (PPP) in the U.S. saw tremendous demand, but loan document processing, manual reviews, and approvals became bottlenecks. As the credit needs of small and medium businesses surged, lenders faced challenges updating their legacy underwriting and risk management systems to meet the demands. Batch-based, fragmented, and slow-moving information and data pipelines hindered the ability to gain real-time insights and rapid response to customer needs.

As financial services rallied to overcome what economists were calling “The Great Shutdown” or “The Coronavirus Recession,” the need for modern, agile, scalable, secure, resilient technology infrastructures became abundantly clear—and the new imperative in 2021.

Related: Lending DocAI fast tracks the home loan process

2. Banking goes beyond cash with digital engagement

The role of cash in society was in flux before 2020, with contactless payments already a way of life across Europe and Asia. Even in America, which has been resistant to move away from cash, 27% of U.S. businesses reported an increase in contactless payments by customers as a result of the pandemic, according to an April 2020 survey. That trend will continue in 2021, with 74% of global consumers saying they will use contactless payment methods even after the pandemic. Globally, the contactless payment market size is expected to grow from $10.3 billion in 2020 to $18 billion by 2025, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.7% during the forecast period.

This trend toward contactless finances extends to banking. In 2020, 44% of retail banking customers relied on mobile apps to conduct business. Both traditional players and financial tech firms introduced new finance apps or upgraded existing ones to offer new services and programs to match consumer needs, such as benefit tracking for government-sponsored food allowances or access to early wages. As downloads of mobile apps soared, transaction volumes skyrocketed.

In 2021, as a direct response to consumers’ growing reliance on mobile payment and banking solutions, the financial services industry will likely continue to invest in modern data and analytics tools, artificial intelligence capabilities, and digital platforms.

3. Insurance becomes personal

In 2020, faced with a major health crisis, economic distress, and an uncertain future, insurance companies redefined how they did business almost overnight to provide stability, comfort, and peace of mind for their customers. For example, auto insurance providers offered discounts or refunds given decreased levels of driving. Health insurance companies adjusted their premiums to reflect reductions in non-essential surgeries.

It has become clearer than ever that the most useful products are tailored to the specific needs of the customer, and that hyper-personalization will continue to define the customer journey in 2021. Auto insurance products are more valuable when they are based on miles driven. Home insurance products are more effective when they are integrated with connected homes, so that they can prevent or minimize damage from water leaks or fires.

Building this level of personalization for customers requires a technology infrastructure that enables real-time insights from vast amounts of streaming data from a variety of data sources. Data and analytics, powered by AI, will enable personalized, contextualized interactions across the entire insurance life cycle, from sales and underwriting, to claims management and support.

4. Institutional and wholesale trading moves off trading floors

Suddenly, trading was no longer confined to corporate trading floors. While a small handful of firms positioned their traders as “essential workers” and required them to work on site, the majority of firms allowed traders work from the safety of their homes. As trading floors and exchanges worldwide emptied, the prior assumptions that all trading will happen from physical offices—over corporate networks and enterprise-operated data centers—were suddenly rendered obsolete. Operational resilience plans that counted on falling back to a secondary disaster recovery site became useless when all corporate sites shut down.

In the new world, financial architectures will decouple financial activities from physical facilities through the use of technologies like zero-trust networks that enable location-independent secure access. Operational resilience plans will be updated to include globally and regionally resilient infrastructures like cloud.

Related: The adoption of zero trust is an imperative for security modernization. Learn more about BeyondCorp Enterprise, Google’s comprehensive zero trust product offering.

5. Work-from-home must work across financial services

Throughout 2020, widespread stay-at-home restrictions challenged businesses everywhere to keep employees engaged, productive, and connected. With the pandemic, as corporate offices became unavailable overnight, the entire financial services workforce—from traders to bankers to support personnel—relied on their at-home internet connections along with existing VPN and virtual desktop infrastructure solutions to do their work. While it got the job done, internet connectivity issues, bandwidth limitations, security concerns, interoperability problems, and limitations in collaboration capabilities plagued the day-to-day experience.

It will take a reimagined work environment—one that combines immersive digital and mobile experiences with flexible hardware—to support in-person and remote workers.

Work-from-anywhere solutions need to take a comprehensive look at seamlessly enabling a heterogeneous, globally distributed workforce, including traders who need high-speed connectivity, quantitative analysts who need vast amounts of compute capacity, retail branch workers who need responsive insights platforms to serve customers, and more.

It will take a reimagined work environment—one that combines immersive digital and mobile experiences with flexible hardware—to support in-person and remote workers. New ways of hybrid working and connecting with customers will also lean heavily on helpful, integrated tools centered on the cloud to level traditional boundaries in 2021.

6. Embedded innovation is the new status quo

While 2020 was bleak from many perspectives, one of the rare positives is that it helped prove that agility and innovation, done right, is a game changer. The speed at which the financial services industry transformed to help their customers through the pandemic is the speed at which they want to continue operating. And that requires a culture of innovation that is embedded into the corporate culture of an institution.

From financial services institutions to vendors, regulators, and supervisors, 2021 is likely to be a year of deliberate cultural transformation to find new ways of working together to create safer, cheaper, more inclusive, and more equitable financial markets.

This year at Google Cloud, we will continue working with our customers across financial services to help them prepare for the future, through our technology, tools and innovation partnerships.

Keep learning: Discover the steps any organization can take to quickly adapt and achieve positive results with tighter resources. Get Google’s Guide to Innovation.

Ulku Rowe

At the forefront of Google’s cloud and machine learning capabilities, Ulku enables the financial services industry to take advantage of Google’s technology to fuel their digital transformation. Before joining Google, Ulku was a Managing Director of Technology at J.P. Morgan Chase and Bank of America. Ulku holds an MS degree in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a BS degree in Computer Engineering. She also serves on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Fintech Advisory Group.

Source: 6 Trends That Will Shape The Financial Services Industry In 2021

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America’s Best And Worst Banks 2021

For America’s biggest banks, the past twelve months have been one of the biggest tests of their resilience in history. The Coronavirus pandemic all but shuttered the U.S. economy for months, spurring enormous shifts in business and consumer habits. Lenders big and small, from America’s four megabanks to small regional firms, have passed their test with flying colors.

Despite some of the sharpest drops in gross domestic product and employment ever witnessed, banks were able to serve their customers and remain profitable. In 2020, there were just four bank failures in the U.S., despite the extraordinary economic circumstances. Only about 5% of banks nationwide were unprofitable, according to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and about 53% of banks reported annual increases in profits in 2020. 

The pristine shape is thanks to effective emergency measures implemented by Washington that thawed corporate and mortgage credit markets, offered stimulus and small business aid to Main Street, and allowed for widespread forbearance. These factors helped firms play their role as the financial cog that lubricates the American economy.

Corporations used low rates to issue and refinance debt at record rates in 2020, creating a cash cushion. Homeowners did the same, taking advantage of near-record-low interest rates to purchase homes or cut their interest costs. Technology also played a big role as the banking industry undergoes a digital transformation. Consumers could handle their finances on mobile apps during quarantine, instead of at temporarily closed bank branches, and digital change is helping to bolster profitability.

Not only did the stellar performance help the economy through the pandemic, it has positioned the United States for an enormous economic boom as Americans are inoculated from Covid-19 and the economy reopens in full. Millennials are entering the housing market in droves, industries like software and technology are growing rapidly, and businesses will soon be on the offensive in areas like travel, entertainment and retail.

Click here to see the full list of America’s Best Banks.

There are more than 5,000 banks and savings institutions in the U.S., but assets are increasingly concentrated at the top. The 100 largest have $16.4 trillion in assets, representing over 80% of total U.S. bank assets. Asset quality and profitability vary wildly among those institutions. With that in mind, Forbes examined the financial data to gauge America’s Best and Worst Banks.

Born out of the financial crisis of the late 2000s, this is the twelfth year Forbes enlisted S&P Global Market Intelligence for data regarding the growth, credit quality and profitability of the 100 largest publicly-traded banks and thrifts by assets. The ten metrics used in the rankings are based on regulatory filings through September 30. The data is courtesy of S&P, but the rankings are done solely by Forbes.

Metrics include return on average tangible common equity, return on average assets, net interest margin, efficiency ratio and net charge-offs as a percentage of total loans. Forbes also factored in nonperforming assets as a percentage of assets, CET1 ratio, risk-based capital ratio and reserves as a percentage of nonperforming assets. The final component is operating revenue growth. We excluded banks where the top-level parent is based outside the U.S.

CVB Financial, the parent company of Citizens Business Bank, was the top-rated bank in America for a second consecutive year, The Ontario, California-based small business lender was in the top-20 across every metric Forbes tracked, and it shone brightest in its efficiency ratio (39.%), operating revenue growth (41.5%) and posted a negative net charge off ratio. The median bank on Forbes’ list, by contrast, had a 57% efficiency ratio, posted operating growth of just 5.4%, and experienced a charge off rate of 0.17% of average loans. CVB, founded in 1974 and with over $13 billion in assets and over 50 branches across the state of California, has been profitable for 174 consecutive quarters, though a long streak of rising profitability was temporarily broken.

Smaller banks, and those focused on commercial lending, continued to dominate the top levels of the Forbes Best Banks list. Just one bank inside the top-20 had more than $100 billion in assets.

Houston-based Prosperity Bancshares ranked at #2, rising six spots from our 2020 list, thanks to its surging growth. Operating revenue rose 54% in 2020, and the lender performed well in efficiency and capitalization. Rounding out the top-5 were Kalispell, Montana-based Glacier Bancorp, Colorado Springs-based Central Bancorp and Conway, Arkansas-based Home BancShares. Average assets in our Top-5 was just $20 billion.

In the top-10 were McKinney, Tx-based Independent Bank Group, #6, DeWitt, NY-based Community Bank System, #7, Bank of New York Mellon, #8, Santa Clara, CA-based SVB Financial Group, #9, and Wilmington, DE-based WSFS Financial. Bank of New York Mellon was one of our biggest risers, gaining 44 spots, and outperforming on loan quality.

For the first time ever, the Big Four of U.S. banking—JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo—saw their combined assets exceed $10 trillion, or more than half the U.S. total. None of these banks finished in our Top-50, generally falling due to below-average growth as they set aside massive provisions to deal with the pandemic and were hit by plunging interest rates. JPMorgan Chase ranked highest at #51, dropping eight spots. Citigroup gained 10 spots to place at #65. Bank of America and Wells Fargo both slid, placing at #74 and #98, respectively.

JPMorgan, led by CEO Jamie Dimon, ended 2020 on a high note, reporting a record $12 billion profit as it released reserves built up to handle Covid-19 related economic stress. Despite the extraordinary circumstances, the lender saw average loans and its capital position rise to end the year, and it reported a surge in bank deposits. During 2020, the bank raised over $2 trillion of credit and capital for its clients, spanning ordinary U.S. households to the biggest corporations on the planet.

“In general, the banks have so much capital, so much liquidity and so much capability,” Dimon recently told investors in a December conference, weeks before the bank reported record annual revenues. While Dimon remains concerned about the pandemic as vaccines are distributed, and sees a varied recovery for consumers and businesses, he added of the banking industry, “I think we’re coming out of this looking great.”

Wells Fargo continued to fall in Forbes’ rankings in the wake of a 2016 fake accounts scandal that has cost the bank billions of dollars and led to dramatic change atop the lender. Wells dropped twelve spots in 2019, placing #98, due to a pronounced slump in revenues as the Federal Reserve limits its asset growth.

Over the past 12-months, JPMorgan’s stock has fallen 0.4%, making it the best performer among big banks, which all saw their stocks drop and underperform the S&P 500 Index. Citigroup shares have shed 19%, while Banks of America dropped 7%. Once more, Wells Fargo was the big laggard, falling by a third in value over the past year.

Rounding out the top-100 was Texas Capital Bancshares, #99, and CIT Group, #100.

New York-based business lender CIT Group is in the process of acquiring family-controlled First Citizens Bancshares, which ranked #62. The merger that will create a new diversified consumer and business lender with over $100 billion in combined assets, and a large presence in booming Sun Belt markets like Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. The merger comes a year after the combination of SunTrust and BB&T, which created $499 billion in assets Truist Financial, #48, which created a dominant lender in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Send me a secure tip

Antoine Gara

Antoine Gara

I’m a staff writer and associate editor at Forbes, where I cover finance and investing. My beat includes hedge funds, private equity, fintech, mutual funds, mergers, and banks. I’m a graduate of Middlebury College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and I’ve worked at TheStreet and Businessweek. Before becoming a financial scribe, I was a member of the fateful 2008 analyst class at Lehman Brothers. Email thoughts and tips to agara@forbes.com. Follow me on Twitter at @antoinegara

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Clark Howard: Save More, Spend Less

Some of the biggest banks in the country were also ranked with some of the worst customer service in a recent survey. Clark tells you who ranks the worst, and which banks are the best.

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14 Tips To Meet Your Financial Goals In 2021

Who among us isn’t ready to bid good riddance to the year 2020? The pandemic has upended life across the globe and that includes creating financial chaos and stress for people of all walks of life. The good news is that 2021 is just around the corner. The bad news is that there will be pandemic fallout to deal with in the year ahead, and that could mean a continued rocky ride for your personal finances.

That doesn’t mean postponing or eliminating financial plans and goals altogether. And it doesn’t mean 2021 will be a bust. Instead, you’ll need to be more focused, savvy, and strategic about money goals in the coming year, which is why we asked financial experts across the country to weigh in and provide tips and insights about how to prosper financially in 2021 despite all the uncertainties that lie ahead.

Related: 19 Smart Ways to Get Through a Recession

Create a Rolling Budget

In times of uncertainty, it’s a good idea to create what’s known as a rolling budget, which is a budget that’s dynamic and changes throughout the year. This type of budget typically focuses on the near term, rather than the long term.

“You can’t always foresee every stumbling block in your financial future, so make sure to keep your budget bendable, not only judging the numbers you see at the moment but also make room for the surprises,” says Roy Ferman, founder and CEO of Seek Capital. “Keep a rolling budget and forecast that accounts for potential fluctuations — positive or negative.”

In other words, budget in a way that accounts for multiple real-world scenarios, says Ferman, creating a plan A, B, C, and possibly even D. “You want each plan fully mapped out as if it was plan A to keep you on top of any discrepancies. Allow yourself to come up with different variations, and allocate for those variations.”

Establish More Than One Stream of Income

Depending on how you define the data, anywhere from 20 million to 30 million people were unemployed or had their income affected by the pandemic, says Marco Sison, financial coach for Nomadic FIRE. To help protect yourself against the impacts of unemployment or reduced income, it’s a good idea to establish multiple streams of income.

“If one job or income stream is cut off, you still have other sources coming in to live off of,” says Sison. “Ideally, these income streams are passive: dividends, rental property, digital side businesses. If your hours get cut, or you lose your job, you can reduce your expenses and live off your side hustles without tapping your emergency fund.”

Budget for Saving

Warren Buffett has been quoted as saying “If you want to make saving a priority, take a look at how you budget. Do not save what is left after spending; instead spend what is left after saving.”

If you truly want to make saving a priority, particularly amid challenging economic times, you cannot plan to simply set aside what is left over, says Robert Johnson, a professor of finance, at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business. “You don’t successfully build wealth by simply taking what you have left after all your expenses,” says Johnson. “We accomplish what we prioritize. Prioritize savings and invest those savings. Saving should be a line item on your budget.”

Develop an Investment Policy Statement

Anyone who makes investments should create what’s called an investment policy statement (IPS) and follow it, says Johnson at Creighton University. “An IPS is a written document that clearly sets out an investor’s return objectives and risk tolerance over that investor’s relevant time horizon, along with applicable constraints such as liquidity needs and tax circumstances,” explains Johnson. “The whole point of an IPS is to guide you through changing market conditions. It should not be changed as a result of market fluctuations.”

Avoid Credit-Card Debt

Credit-card debt is a slippery slope in the best of times. And when the economy is uncertain, it’s best to avoid using credit cards as much as possible. “It’s never advised to spend money you don’t have via revolving lines of credit. And psychologically making purchases via most credit cards makes us a lot less frugal and undisciplined,” says Adem Selita, CEO and co-founder of The Debt Relief Company. “Considering that interest rates are near all-time lows, paying 20% or more on credit-card debt is a terrible financial decision to make.”

Clear Outstanding Debts

One more note about credit-card debt, if you’re able: Wipe out all existing debt. That will be the biggest favor you can do yourself in terms of meeting financial goals in 2021 and laying the groundwork for success (and beyond), says David Meltzer of East Insurance Group. “Chip off your debt bit by bit by paying off a small portion each month,” says Meltzer. “And do some belt-tightening on your spending for the time being. Take a look at your expenses and see which ones you can let go, and which ones you need to minimize, in order to help clear debt.”

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Streamline Your Budget

Study your cash flow, both your income and expenses and outline a realistic household budget, says Meltzer at East Insurance Group. “Your expenses should be exclusively necessities like house bills, groceries, food, mortgage, insurance, and savings,” says Meltzer. “There’s no room for gym memberships and Netflix subscriptions on a tight budget. Most importantly, keep track of your spending. At this point, each cent counts.”

Consider Living Below Your Means

While you’re busy outlining your month-to-month budget goals for 2021 and paring back your spending, you might consider establishing a plan to live well below your means.

“By spending less than you earn, you open up funds to put into a savings account for emergency situations, such as a pandemic, or the loss of a job,” says Mason Miranda, credit industry specialist for Credit Card Insider. “The more you save now, the more financially stable you’ll be later when a crisis hits. Depending on your goals and how much you can save, you could even avoid going into debt and pay for large purchases in cash.”

Prioritize Your Goals and Be Realistic

Prioritizing all of your financial goals allows you to put them into specific categories based on which goals you want to meet first, says George Birrell, CPA and founder of TaxHub. You’ll also want to set a realistic time frame for meeting those goals amid the uncertain economic landscape.

“Setting a realistic timeframe is very important,” says Birrell. “If you set a timeline for one year, but your expenses don’t allow for meeting that timeline or you don’t have the capacity to put in extra work to earn more, you’re not going to reach that goal. Look at it objectively and realistically.”

Set Milestones Toward Larger Goals

Think of a milestone as a smaller goal that helps you get to your larger goal, says entrepreneur Thierry Tremblay, CEO founder of the online database software company Kohezion.

“They are like guideposts on the trail — smaller tasks that you can do to help you stay in line with your overall goal,” says Tremblay. If you fail at various points along the way when pursuing financial goals, think of it as an opportunity to gain valuable insights about things that work and don’t work, says Tremblay. “When you move on to the next goal you’re trying to accomplish, you have an advantage because of the things you’ve learned from your failure,” adds Tremblay.

Start With What You Have

Financial advisers often recommended setting aside three to six months’ worth of income in an emergency fund, which can seem overwhelming if you’re living paycheck to paycheck as many are right now, says Emma Healey, family finance and budgeting expert and founder at Mum’s Money. Rather than giving up on establishing an emergency savings altogether in 2021, simply start smaller.

“Start with what you have. Even if you can only spare $5 a week, stashing it aside to help pad out your budget when times are tough,” says Healey. “It is a decision you’ll never regret. Add more as you can, but the most important thing is to start.”

Automate Your Savings, Debt, and Bill Payments

It’s hard to spend money if you’ve already sent it somewhere else, says Chelsie Moore, CFA and director, wealth management and financial planning for Country Financial. Create automatic debt payments, bill payments and automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account.

“A little bit adds up over time,” says Moore. “Automatic payments may help you avoid late payment penalties, which are a waste of money, and automatic savings can add up without effort or feelings of sacrifice.”

Meeting your financial goals in the best of times can often be challenging. But when the world is topsy-turvy it can be even more perplexing trying to figure out how to accomplish your goals once you’ve defined them. A personal finance professional can help you navigate the uncertainty and plot a path to success.

“Seek the advice and guidance of a financial professional who has the expertise to assist you,” says Tracey Bissett, CFA and president of Bissett Financial Fitness. “The best way to find one is to seek recommendations from someone you trust and then interview potential advisors to find the best fit. You should feel comfortable talking to the professional and asking them questions.”

Be Kind to Yourself

It’s important to remember as you embark upon 2021, and any year for that matter, that financial fitness is a lifelong journey. “Take small, imperfect actions daily to increase your financial knowledge and movement towards your goals. If you make a misstep, be kind to yourself and get back on track,” says Bissett.

By: Mia Taylor

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THE BROKEN WALLET

I don’t believe in resolutions, but I do believe in goals. Ready to make 2021 a good year financially? If you need a little “goal” inspiration, here’s a look at 21 money goals for 2021 that can empower your finances. Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE, LIKE AND COMMENT: https://www.youtube.com/thebrokenwallet Start investing with Acorns today! Get $5 when you use my invite link: https://acorns.com/invite/JDCS44 Open a CIT Bank Savings Builder Account and Grow Your Money Faster Use my referral link to get started: https://fxo.co/9yAC Looking for an automated investment service? Open a Wealthfront investment account and get $5,000 managed for free for life. Use my referral link: https://invest.wealthfront.com/broken… Would you rather pick your own investments? If so, join Robinhood and start investing today! Use my referral link and get one free share of stock: https://join.robinhood.com/valench9 LET’S CONNECT: » Blog: https://the-broken-wallet.com » Twitter: https://twitter.com/thebrokenwallet » Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_brokenw… START YOUR OWN BLOG: REGISTER YOUR DOMAIN, CHOOSE A WORDPRESS THEME AND GET HOSTING WITH A FEW CLICKS *Bluehost (self-hosting): http://www.bluehost.com/track/thebrokenwallet FILMING GEAR: *Sony A6400 with 18-135mm Lens: https://amzn.to/38eBa6A *RODE VideoMic Pro+ w/Rycote Studio Boom Kit: https://amzn.to/2XvqyxC *Studio Lights: Neewer 2 Piece Bi-color 660 LED Video Light and Stand Kit: https://amzn.to/3alFbYi *FlexiSpot VICI Electric Quick-Install Height Adjustable Desk EC9 Series: Get $15 OFF – https://bit.ly/3jv18Z5 TAGS #frugallivingtips#moneygoals#moneygoalsfor2021

Decentralized Finance Is on The Rise What You Need To Know in 2021

Few had heard much about decentralized finance (DeFi) in its early days in late 2017 and late 2019, beyond murmurs about Bitcoin and a mysterious new digital technology called blockchain

But a pandemic can change everything. 

Since May of this year, the total value locked (TVL)—the amount of any currency locked into tokens, the vehicle of holding and moving assets on blockchain, in smart contracts on a blockchain ecosystem—in decentralized finance projects rose a whopping 2,000 percent, according to DeFi Pulse. Many investors would be hard-pressed to find such an astronomical rise of any assets or expansion of any financial ecosystem, but DeFi app developers seemed to find success. So what’s the rage, and why does it matter going into the new year? 

What is DeFi?

DeFi, many fintech leaders argue, is the world’s answer to the 2008 financial crisis. Thanks to poor decision making and a lack of proper financial regulation, legacy financial institutions brought the world’s economy to its knees in the most major financial crisis since the Great Depression. The knee-jerk reaction was to create an ecosystem dependent on every link in the chain, rather than centralized authorities—hence the term “decentralized finance.”

The concept of blockchain, a decentralized ledger, was designed to ensure financial transactions would be transparent. Moreover, transaction approval would come from network individuals incentivized to approve them by solving complex mathematical equations or by network consensus voting. 

Later, the idea of operating a decentralized financial system on a decentralized ledger, independent of legacy institutions, grew into a thriving, albeit relatively small, ecosystem. Now, users can find financial services on the distributed ledger for loans, insurance, margin trading, exchanges, and yield farming (yielding rewards from staking digital assets on a network to help facilitate network liquidity).

But there is still a way to go. Not enough consumers are comfortable with DeFi quite yet, because platform accessibility and blockchain tribalism remain a problem. Nevertheless, now the world is experiencing another economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, and DeFi is finally getting its day in the sun.

Related: Getting Drawn Into DeFi? Here Are Three Major Considerations

E-wallets are leveling up

For companies and individuals already active in the space, navigating the ecosystem remains impeded by technical limitations. In order to access certain markets and execute transactions on the blockchain—whether it’s borrowing or lending, staking assets in liquidity pools, or trading on an exchange—users need to own an e-wallet that’s properly connected to the ecosystem. 

E-wallets are the backbone of transactions on blockchain. Just as the digital assets they help transact and store, these wallets are secure, transparent, and easily accessible to users. At least, that’s the idea behind them, though there are various degrees of security and transparency. For DeFi to attract more users, the wallets must be compatible with multiple blockchains running financial dApps (decentralized apps that operate on a blockchain system). One of the first wallets, created by Ethereum and called “MyEtherWallet” (MEW), lacked a user-friendly interface and was challenging to grasp for people outside the hardcore crypto crowd.

Since then, a number of blockchain developers have created alternative e-wallet solutions. Most recently, Spielworks, a blockchain gaming startup, reached an agreement with Equilibrium and DeFiBox to integrate its e-wallet “Wombat,” which is currently available on the Telos and EOS blockchain mainnet (a blockchain network that is fully developed, deployed, and operational).

The Wombat wallet provides users with access to several DeFi platforms that offer token exchanges, yield farming, borrowing, and lending. Wombat recently also integrated with Bitfinex’s new EOS exchange, Eosfinex, as well as 8 other DeFi networks. Rather impressively, the wallet also offers free and fast account creation, automatic key backup, and free blockchain resources. 

Related: Cryptocurrency Innovators Need to Simplify User Experience

Developments in blockchain wallets, such as Wombat’s, will be pivotal in the next few years in the growth of DeFi applications and the movement of users toward decentralized finance and away from traditional finance. While wallets are important, so are the underlying mechanisms to piece the entire ecosystem together, because one a DeFi ecosystem is not enough if confined to just one blockchain mainnet.

Piecing it all together

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” President Lincoln’s famous quote referred to the Civil War that ravaged the United States at the time, but his historically renowned words can apply very well to the blockchain community today. 

For DeFi to reach its maximum potential, as a decentralized ecosystem that doesn’t answer to a central authority, blockchain platforms must stand united and interoperate. Could anyone imagine if payment transfers between regular banks were not possible? How could an economy function? This is the sort of technical problem plaguing the DeFi world: Each blockchain platform has its own benefits, but each remains largely separated from the others in its own silo. The root of the problem is attitude, the other part is technical limitations.

Related: 15 Crazy and Surprising Ways People Are Using Blockchain

Ethereum and EOS are primary examples of this sort of rivalry, both of which have their own technical benefits for dApp developers. If the two ecosystems could be connected to one another, EOS-based and Ethereum-based developers alike, for example, could benefit from each other’s platform’s strengths. Users could also benefit, via financial opportunities without having to sacrifice shifting their base from one blockchain to another.

This is precisely what LiquidApps’s latest development—its DAPP Network bridging—has solved. LiquidApps’s technology provides the technical mechanisms to connect separate blockchain mainnets and recently provided its tools to EOS-based developers to successfully deploy a bridge between EOS and Ethereum.

This was shortly followed by decentralized social media app Yup’s deployment that demonstrated the possibility of moving tokens easily between different once-separate blockchain mainnets. It still remains to be seen how long it will take before blockchain platforms themselves integrate built-in cross-chain technologies, but LiquidApps is starting the next crucial step to DeFi development.

Whether it’s cross-chain technology or the e-wallets that grant access to dApps, tech developments and attitudes in the DeFi space over the next few years will determine its success. The latest developments suggest the future of DeFi looks promising. Time to go decentralized.

By: Ariel Shapira Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

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Paris Fintech Forum

by O. Bussmann, CEO, Bussmann Advisory (CH) Speakers *M. Froehler, CEO, Morpher (AT) *H. Gebbing, Managing Director, Finoa (DE) *U. Shtybel, Vice president, HighCastle (UK) *N. Filali, Head of Blockchain Program, Caisse des Dépôts (FR) more on http://www.parisfintechforum.com/videos2020

99Bitcoins

Start trading Bitcoin and cryptocurrency here: http://bit.ly/2Vptr2X DeFi applications – https://defipulse.com/defi-list/ DeFi is becoming more and more popular as the main use case for cryptocurrencies. This video explains in detail what DeFi is and what you should know about before getting involved. 0:38 Bitcoin and Our Financial System 1:24 Our Centralized Financial System 1:59 What is DeFi? 2:22 DeFi Components 4:16 – DAI explained 5:51 – DEXs explained 6:33 – Decentralized money markets 8:06 Money Legos 8:56 DeFi Advantages and Risks 10:02 Conclusion For the complete text guide visit: https://bit.ly/2R35g6Z Join our 7-day Bitcoin crash course absolutely free: http://bit.ly/2pB4X5B Learn ANYTHING about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies on our YouTube channel: http://bit.ly/2BVbxeF Get the latest news and prices on your phone: iOS – https://apple.co/2yf02LJ Android – http://bit.ly/2NrMVw2

Your Financial Year-End Checklist

2020 is over, and for many of you, it can’t end soon enough. There will be plenty of time to celebrate the end of one year and to hope for better days in the one ahead. But before we get to that, take these steps to get financially ready for 2021.

1) Review your goals: The end of the year is a great time to review the goals you made at the beginning of the year and set new ones for 2021. How did you do this year? Is there anything you’re proud of accomplishing? I like to start with bright spots because they can guide you toward success as you set new goals. But let’s be realistic, too; 2020 threw us a lot of curveballs.

Was there anything you wish you could have done better? You can also learn from any potential stumbling blocks and figure out how to use them as stepping-stones next year. You may also want to take time now to review your net worth. That’s one way to gauge the progress you’ve made in your financial health this year.

2) Update your budget: Did you save the money that you wanted to? Pay off the debt that you needed to? The end of the year gives you a solid end point to assess whether met the goals you set at the outset of 2020. What if you didn’t have a budget or financial goals? You’ve got a blank slate ahead. Why not create a budget that works? 

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3) Create a holiday bucket: Holidays can be budget breakers, so why not incorporate them into your spending goals right from the start? Christmas may look a lot different this year. But you can still create a separate bucket for holiday spending and when that money is gone, stop spending. You’ll thank yourself in January when you don’t have an unusually large credit card bill.

4) Use it or lose it: Some of your benefits—like vacation days or a medical or dependent care flexible spending account (FSA)—expire at the end of the year. Take stock of what you have left and use these benefits to your advantage. MORE FOR YOUPPP Loan Forgiveness Application Guidance For The Self-Employed, Freelancers And ContractorsSBA Approving Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs): What You Need To KnowWhat You Can Do Now To Maximize Paycheck Protection Loan Forgiveness

5) Make any last charitable contributions: December 31st is the last day your charitable contributions can be deducted on your 2020 tax return. If giving to charity is a part of your spending plan, you can use these questions to help make the most of your charitable giving.

6) Pump up your 529: Just like charitable contributions, contributions to your 529 college savings plan must be made by December 31st to count for this tax year. Find out if your state is one of over 30 that allow you to deduct your contribution. You can find the specific deduction here. If your state is one of the four that allow an unlimited deduction, keep in mind the yearly gift-tax and super-funding rules.

7) Max out your 401k: While you have until April to make contributions to your traditional IRA, Roth IRA and HSA, you can only contribute to your 401k through December 31st. So, if you have extra cash and are looking to boost your savings, consider contributing your last couple of checks entirely to your 401k. Business owners can do the same with the employee portion of your Solo 401k contributions.

8) Find your tax return: You’ll be doing your taxes before you know it, so use this time to get prepared. Review last year’s return and make a mental list of records you’ll need to assemble. Year-end is also a good time to decide whether a Roth conversion makes sense for you.

9) Review your business structure: Evaluate your business structure and the QBI deduction to identify any changes you need to make to your business. You might want to set up a solo 401k, for instance, and if so, you’ll have to act before December 31st (although you can make employer/profit sharing contributions up to the business tax filing deadline).

10) Defer income and incur expenses: If you’re a business owner, you may also want to look at ways to defer income into 2021 or pay for business expenses you anticipate for early next year. This is any easy way to reduce your tax liability for 2020. However, remember not to spend money on business expenses that you wouldn’t otherwise incur just for a tax deduction. Spending a $1 to save 24 cents still costs you 76 cents.

 11) Will and trust review: The end of the year is a good time to take stock of changes in your life—like getting married or divorced, having children, starting a business or retiring.  Your estate plan should reflect these changes. Get out your will, documentation for trusts you’ve established and powers of attorney and make sure they match your current situation.

12) Insurance documents: Insurance documents also need to cover your current situation. Take a look at your life and disability insurance policies to make sure they protect your current income and those dependent on it. Your renters or homeowners insurance should cover any additional big purchases you made during the year. And lastly, you should review your health insurance policy for any upcoming changes for 2020. For those of you enrolling in the Market Place, you have until December 15th to pick your plan.

genesis-2-1

My last bonus task is to enjoy this holiday season. I love the holidays because you can reflect and appreciate what you have. We’ve been tested a lot this year, living our lives through a pandemic, racial unrest and a contentious election. I hope the end of the year brings you comfort and peace. Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website

Brian Thompson

Brian Thompson

As both a tax attorney and a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, I provide comprehensive financial planning to LGBTQ entrepreneurs who run mission-driven businesses. I hold a special place in my heart for small-business owners. I spent a decade defending them against the IRS as a tax attorney and have become one as a financial advisor. It’s a position filled with hope and opportunity. It gives you the most flexibility to create the life that you want. I also understand the added stresses of running a business while being a person of color and a part of the LGBTQ community. You may feel like you don’t have access to the knowledge that others do. I’m here to help lift some of that weight from your shoulders.

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Critics:

A personal budget or home budget is a finance plan that allocates future personal income towards expenses, savings and debt repayment. Past spending and personal debt are considered when creating a personal budget. There are several methods and tools available for creating, using and adjusting a personal budget. For example, jobs are an income source, while bills and rent payments are expenses.

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IBM and Bank of America Advance IBM Cloud for Financial Services, BNP Paribas Joins as Anchor Client in Europe

ARMONK, N.Y., July 22, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that several global banks including BNP Paribas, one of Europe’s largest banks, will join a growing ecosystem of financial institutions and more than 30 new technology providers adopting IBM Cloud for Financial Services. Today’s news also marks a significant milestone in IBM’s collaboration with Bank of America, with the availability of the IBM Cloud Policy Framework for Financial Services.

The IBM Cloud Policy Framework for Financial Services establishes a new generation of cloud for enterprises with common operational criteria and streamlined compliance controls framework specifically for the financial services industry, allowing IBM’s growing financial services ecosystem to transact with confidence.

IBM is also announcing the formation of the Financial Services Cloud Advisory Council to support this effort and advise on the ongoing advancement of the IBM Cloud Policy Framework for Financial Services. Chief Technology Officer Tony Kerrison will represent Bank of America on the Council, which will be led by Howard Boville, SVP, IBM Cloud. The Council will be focused on bringing major financial institutions together to help drive the strategic evolution of cloud security in this highly regulated sector.

“We have had great success with our proprietary, private cloud, that currently houses the majority of our technology workloads,” said David Reilly, Bank of America’s Global Banking & Markets, Enterprise Risk & Finance Technology and Core Technology Infrastructure executive. “At the same time, we have been looking to identify a financial services-ready solution that offers the same level of security and economics as our private cloud with enhanced scalability. That’s why we’re partnering with IBM to create an industry-first, third party cloud that puts data resiliency, privacy and customer information safety needs at the forefront of decision making.”

Central to the development of the IBM Cloud for Financial Services, IBM collaborated with Bank of America and Promontory, an IBM Services business unit and global leader in financial services regulatory compliance consulting, to establish a set of cloud security and compliance control requirements as the basis of its policy framework, which will allow financial institutions to confidently host key applications and workloads.

The IBM Cloud Policy Framework for Financial Services is now available and aims to deliver the industry-informed IBM public cloud controls required to operate securely with bank-sensitive data in the public cloud. IBM, Promontory and the advisory council will continue to collaborate to assure  that the framework will be up to date to address the latest industry regulations.

BNP Paribas joins IBM Cloud for Financial Services

BNP Paribas has committed to joining the IBM Cloud for Financial Services as an anchor client in Europe to support its first dedicated cloud in Europe to be GDPR compliant, acknowledging that a public cloud informed by IBM’s deep financial industry expertise, controls framework and industry-leading data-protection capabilities, meets their exacting standards. BNP Paribas will utilize a dedicated cloud, developed and managed by IBM, that will leverage IBM public cloud technologies, including Keep Your Own Key (KYOK) encryption capabilities. BNP Paribas could plan to onboard additional banking partners to the ecosystem across Europe in the future.

“As we continue to expand our collaboration with IBM, we’re driving innovation in the financial services industry and are able to partner with a growing ecosystem of technology providers, from small startups to leaders in the industry.  That’s an important step forward for BNP Paribas Group to accelerate its transformation journey and be compliant with European regulations,”  Bernard Gavgani, CIO, BNP Paribas. “IBM Cloud for Financial Services helps us to further our transformation journey to the cloud and migrate mission critical workloads with confidence knowing that we can meet the regulatory standards established for the industry.”

IBM Grows Financial Services Cloud Ecosystem

Additionally, MUFG Bank plans to explore the deployment of IBM Cloud for Financial Services in Japan, continuing its ongoing transformational journey with IBM to accelerate digital reinvention.

“MUFG has been shifting its IT workload to cloud for years, with strong focus on keeping our data secure and mitigating operational risks on this new and fast-changing technology platform. We believe IBM Cloud for Financial Services will be suited to help Japanese financial institutions redirect their efforts to maintain legacy systems toward digital reinvention in the era of new normal. We look forward to continuing discussions around our strategic partnership with IBM to leverage best-in-class technology for our mission-critical workloads, as well as to drive digital transformation across MUFG”, said Mr. Hiroki Kameda, Managing Corporate Executive Group CIO of MUFG.

IBM has also expanded its growing ecosystem of Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) to include more than 30 partners. These technology providers have committed to onboarding offerings and cloud services to IBM Cloud for Financial Services that will help address stringent security, resiliency and compliance requirements and can accelerate transactions with financial services institutions.

“With major financial institutions and technology partners joining our financial services cloud, IBM is establishing confidence within the industry and around the globe that the IBM public cloud, equipped with industry-leading encryption capabilities, is the enterprise cloud for all highly regulated industries, including financial services healthcare, telco, airlines and more,” said Howard Boville, Senior Vice President, IBM Cloud. “IBM is creating a platform with the goal that financial services institutions can address their regulatory requirements, while creating a collaborative ecosystem that helps enable banks and their providers to confidently transact.”

New IBM Research Cloud Innovation Lab and Innovative Security Capabilities for Clients

IBM Research has played a central role in the technology underpinnings of the IBM Cloud for Financial Services, taking a holistic approach to security and compliance that spans infrastructure, platform, data, and the developer workflow. For example, developed in collaboration with IBM Research, IBM will launch the IBM Cloud Security and Compliance Center which will allow clients to continuously monitor and enforce their security and compliance posture across their workloads, and provide a seamless, automated and adaptable process for improving cloud security. Following on the heels of its recent acquisition of Spanugo, the IBM Cloud Security and Compliance Center will include the ability to instrument the developer workflow with automated security and compliance checks.

Once the IBM Cloud Security and Compliance Center is available in August 2020, global banks and ISVs with workloads on the IBM Cloud for Financial Services, will be able to define their compliance profiles and manage controls, maintain an extensive data trail for audit, and, in continuous real time, monitor compliance across their organization. Promontory will continue to provide tailored, IT risk advisory services to users of the IBM Cloud for Financial Services.

To enable financial services clients and ecosystem partners to benefit from, and influence, the emerging cloud technologies being created at IBM Research, IBM will launch the IBM Research Cloud Innovation Lab, planned for August, 2020. Clients and industry partners of the IBM Cloud for Financial Services will be able to get a first look at the latest innovations from the IBM Research lab as well as quickly experiment, go deep into the technology and functionality of new cloud solutions and exchange ideas. More information on the IBM Research Cloud Innovation Lab and IBM Cloud Center for Security and Compliance can be found here.

IBM Cloud for Financial Services is built on IBM public cloud, powered by the same industry-leading confidential computing security found in IBM Z. Delivered via IBM Hyper Protect Services, it features ‘Keep Your Own Key’ encryption capabilities backed by the highest level of security certification commercially available, making the IBM public cloud the industry’s most secure and open public cloud for business.

Source: IBM

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