Performance Management vs Disciplinary Action: The Differences Explained

Many employers find performance management, or instigating disciplinary action against employees for misconduct, difficult and emotionally challenging. It can be hard for an employer to distinguish between misconduct and underperformance; it’s harder still managing an employee through either a disciplinary or a performance management process with confidence.

If you are required to take management action, to help you gain confidence in your processes which in turn may help you to build a better business, we have set out some differences between performance management and disciplinary action below.

What is Disciplinary Action?

If an employee is behaving improperly in the workplace, an employer may need to raise and address concerns regarding the employee’s conduct by means of a formal disciplinary process.

Employers should introduce and implement policies and procedures in line with the expected standards of behaviour in the workplace, so employees know what is considered acceptable conduct. These policies should be made available to all employees and the employer should be consistent in applying and enforcing these policies.

Disciplinary action is usually taken to address misconduct, which is defined as behaviour in the workplace which is generally unacceptable, or contrary to the employment contract, or breaches policies and procedures of a company.

What Are Some Examples of Misconduct?

Misconduct is behaviour that is considered unacceptable and inconsistent with employee obligations or duties, i.e., a breach of company policy or procedure.

Examples include:

  • unauthorised absences (including ‘sickies’)
  • lateness
  • bad language
  • poor presentation
  • misuse of company equipment

Serious Misconduct

Serious misconduct is defined as wilful and deliberate behaviour that is inconsistent with the continuation of the employment contract or causes serious and imminent risk to the reputation, viability or profitability of the business, or health and safety of a person. Examples includes theft, fraud, and assault.

Provided a fair process is followed, serious misconduct may give an employer grounds for instant, or summary, dismissal which means the employee is not provided with notice, or payment of notice in lieu.

Employsure is here for business owners and are committed to giving every business free initial advice. If this is a topic of concern and you need to get more from your staff, call us on 1300 207 182.

Appropriate Standards of Behaviour

It needs to be noted that not all misconduct is clear and obvious. For example, getting into a fight at work is clearly and obviously inappropriate behaviour in any workplace, however, expected behaviour when using company equipment may vary from business to business. It’s important to ensure that you’ve implemented – and consistently applied – a thorough code of conduct or standards of behaviour policy in your workplace in case an employee disputes an allegation of misconduct.

What is Performance Management?

Performance management is used to address poor performance. Poor performance is where an employee is not meeting the essential requirements of their role. If an employee is underperforming – for example failing to hit KPIs or unable to meet their remit due to lack of skills an employer may consider entering the employee into a performance management process.

As part of a fair process, the employer should identify the issue e.g., where skills are lacking, inform the employee and provide further training where appropriate. The employer should put in place a plan of action to address the performance issues and to give the employee an opportunity to improve to the required standard. Performance management should only address the requirements of the role, not behaviour in the workplace; it should be clear that misconduct is not poor performance.

While part of the performance management process is similar to disciplinary procedures, it is important for employers to not conflate the two concepts. If you’d like to know more about performance management, download Employsure’s free guide. For a more confidential chat, call Employsure’s Employer Helpline for free initial advice: 1300 207 182.

What’s the Difference?

A performance management process may result in further training or a performance management plan (PMP), or performance improvement plan (PIP), an opportunity to improve their performance.

A disciplinary procedure may not result in a behavioral management plan as it is not an employer’s responsibility to ensure their employees act reasonably and appropriately in the workplace. An employer’s duty is only to remind them of their expected behaviour in the workplace and ensure they abide by it.

By : Employsure

Source: Performance Management vs Disciplinary Action: The Differences Explained – Dynamic Business

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Down More Than 30%: Insiders Call a Bottom in These 3 Stocks

Despite brief periods of respite, the markets have mostly trended south in 2022, with the NASDAQ’s 28% year-to-date loss the most acute of all the main indexes.

So, where to look for the next investing opportunity in such a difficult environment? One way is to follow in the footsteps of the corporate insiders. If those in the know are picking up shares of the companies they manage, it indicates they believe they might be undervalued and poised to push higher.

To keep the field level, the Federal regulators require that the insiders regularly publish their trades; the TipRanks Insiders’ Hot Stocks tool makes it possible to quickly find and track those trades.

Using the tool we’ve homed in on 3 stocks C-suite members have just been loading up on – ones that have retreated over 40% this year. Let’s see why they think these names are worth a punt right now.

Carvana (CVNA)

First out of the gates, we have Carvana, an online used car retailer known for its multi-story car vending machines. The company’s ecommerce platform provides users with a simple way to search for vehicles to purchase or get a price quote for a vehicle they might want to sell. Carvana also offers add-on services such as vehicle financing and insurance to customers.

The company operates by a vertically integrated model – that is, it includes everything from customer service, owned and operated inspection and reconditioning centers (IRCs), and vehicle transportation via its logistics platform.

Carvana has been growing at a fast pace over the past few years, but it’s no secret the auto industry has been severely impacted by supply chain snags and a rising interest rate environment.

These macro developments – along with a rise in high used-vehicle prices and some more company-specific logistics issues – resulted in the company dialing in a disappointing Q1 earnings report.

Although revenue increased year-over-year by 56% to $3.5 billion, the net loss deepened significantly. The figure came in at -$506 million compared to 1Q21’s $82 million loss, resulting in EPS of -$2.89, which badly missed the analysts’ expectation of -$1.42.

Such an alarming lack of profitability is a big no-no in the current risk-free climate, and investors haven’t been shy in showing their disapproval – further piling up the share losses post-earnings and adding to what has been a precipitous slide; Overall, CVNA shares have lost 88% of their value since the turn of the year.

With the stock at such a huge discount, the insiders have been making their moves. Over the past week, director Dan Quayle – yes, the former vice president of the United States – has picked up 18,750 shares worth $733,875, while General Counsel Paul Breaux has loaded up on 15,000 shares for a total of $488,550.

Turning now to Wall Street, Truist analyst Naved Khan thinks Carvana stock currently offers an attractive entry point with compelling risk-reward.

“We see a favorable risk/reward following reset expectations, a 50+% decline in stock post earnings/capital raise and analysis of the company’s updated operating plan. Our analysis suggests at current levels the stock likely reflects a bear-case outcome for 2023 profitability along with lingering concerns around liquidity (addressed in the operating plan). We see room for meaningful upside to 2023 EBITDA under conservative base-case assumptions, with Stock’s intrinsic value >2x current levels. At ~1x fwd sales, we find valuation attractive,” Khan opined.

To this end, Khan rates CVNA a Buy, backed by an $80 price target. The implication for investors? Upside of a hefty 200%. (To watch Khan’s track record, click here)

What does the rest of the Street make of CVNA right now? Based on 7 Buys, 13 Holds and 1 Sell, the analyst consensus rates the stock a Moderate Buy. On where the share price is heading, the outlook is far more conclusive; at $83.74, the average target makes room for one-year gains of 214%. (See CVNA stock forecast on TipRanks)

Wolfspeed (WOLF)

We’ll now switch gears and move over to the semiconductor industry, where Wolfspeed is at the forefront of a transformation taking place – the transition from silicon to silicon carbide (SiC) andgallium nitride (GaN). These wide bandgap semiconductor substrates are responsible for boosting performance in power semiconductors/devices and 5G base stations, while the company’s components are also used in consumer electronics and EVs (electric vehicles), amongst others.

Like many growth names, Wolfspeed is still unprofitable, but both the top-and bottom-line have been steadily moving in the right direction over the past 6 quarters. In the last report – for F3Q22 – WOLF’s revenue grew by 37% year-over-year to $188 million, albeit just coming in short of the $190.66 million the Street expected. EPS of -$0.12, however, beat the analysts’ -$0.14 forecast. For F4Q22, the company expects revenue in the range of $200 million to $215 million, compared to consensus estimates of $205.91 million.

Nevertheless, companies unable to turn a profit in the current risk-free environment are bound to struggle and so has WOLF stock. The shares have declined 41% on a year-to-date basis, and one insider has been taking note. Earlier this week, director John Replogle scooped up 7,463 shares for a total of $504,797.

For Wells Fargo analyst Gary Mobley, it is the combination of the company’s positioning in the semiconductor industry and the beaten-down share price which is appealing.

“We view WOLF as one of the purest ways in the chip sector to play the accelerating market transition to pure battery electric automotive power trains,” the analyst wrote. “Not only have WOLF shares pulled back in the midst of the tech-driven market sell-off, but we are also incrementally more constructive on WOLF shares given we are on the cusp of the company’s New York fab ramping production, a game changer for WOLF as well as the SiC industry, in our view.”

Standing squarely in the bull camp, Mobley rates WOLF an Overweight (i.e. Buy), and his $130 price target implies a robust upside of ~99% for the next 12 months. (To watch Mobley’s track record, click here)

The Wall Street analysts are taking a range of views on this stock, as shown by the 10 recent reviews – which include 4 Buys and 6 Holds. Added up, it comes out to a Moderate Buy analyst consensus rating. The average price target, at $109.59, implies ~68% one-year upside from the current trading price of $65.40. (See WOLF stock forecast on TipRanks)

The Home Depot (HD)

Lastly, let’s have a look at a household name. The Home Depot is the U.S.’ biggest home improvement specialty retailer, supplying everything from building materials, appliances and construction products to tools, lawn and garden accessories, and services.

Founded in 1978, the company set out to build home-improvement superstores which would dwarf the competitors’ offerings. It has accomplished that goal, with 2,300 stores spread across North America and a workforce of 500,000. Meanwhile, the retailer has also built a strong online presence with a leading e-Commerce site and mobile app.

Recently, even the largest retail heavyweights have been struggling to meet expectations, a development which has further rocked the markets. However, HD’s latest quarterly update was a positive one.

In FQ1, the company generated record sales of $38.9 billion, beating Wall Street‘s $36.6 billion forecast. The Street was also expecting a 2.7% decline in comps but these increased by 2.2%, sidestepping the macroeconomic headwinds. There was a beat on the bottom-line too, as EPS of $4.09 came in above the $3.68 consensus estimate.

Nevertheless, hardly any names have been spared in 2022’s inhospitable stock market and neither has HD stock; the shares show a year-to-date performance of -31%. One insider, however, is willing to buy the shares on the cheap.

Last Thursday, director Caryn Seidman Becker put down $431,595 to buy a bloc of 1,500 shares in the company.

She must be bullish, then, and so is Jefferies analyst Jonathan Matuszewski, who highlights the positive noises made by management following the Q1 results.

“We came away from the earnings call with the view that management’s tone was more bullish on the US consumer than it has been in recent history. With backlogs strong across project price points, consumers trading up, and big-ticket transactions sequentially accelerating on a multi-year basis, we believe investor reservations regarding slowing industry sales growth are premature,” Matuszewski opined.

Matuszewski’s Buy rating is backed by a $400 price target, suggesting shares will climb 39% higher over the one-year timeframe. (To watch Matuszewski’s track record, click here)

Most on the Street also remain in HD’s corner; the stock has a Strong Buy consensus rating built on a solid 18 Buys vs. 4 Holds. The forecast calls for 12-month gains of 24%, given the average target clocks in at $357.35. (See HD stock forecast on TipRanks)

To find good ideas for stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.

Source: Down More Than 30%: Insiders Call a Bottom in These 3 Stocks

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European Electric Car Sales Growth Will Slow Before Spurting, While China Lurks

Sales of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are exploding in Western Europe, but growth will slow over the next couple of years, restrained by the semiconductor shortage, and actions by manufacturers who will seek to push demand for internal combustion engine (ICE) powered vehicles before European Union regulations destroys ICE profitability.

Tesla TSLA +1.6% will retain its lead in BEV sales and profitability and only the best of traditional manufacturers like VW and Mercedes look like posing a serious challenge.

Meanwhile, Chinese carmakers, which tried and failed to penetrate Europe markets with traditional ICE cars, look like being much more of a threat with electric ones.

In Western Europe, BEVs are now linked with big numbers. Recently, sales passed one million in the year, while Germany recently announced there were now 1 million BEVs on its roads. BMW announced in early December it had sold its 1 millionth electric vehicle and plans to reach 2 million by 2025.

Western Europe includes the big markets of Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain.

BEV sales more than doubled in 2020 to just under 750,000 and jumped again this year with sales of 1,143,000, according to Schmidt Automotive Research, representing a market share of 10.3%. The pace of growth will slow though with market share rising to 12.0% in 2022, 13e.0% in 2023 and 15.0% in 2024, before jumping 5 points to 20.0% in 2025 and an estimated total of 2,860,000.

Fitch Ratings warns that even though the number of available electric cars and SUVs is increasing and battery technology is improving, range anxiety is still an issue, and a slow expansion of the charging infrastructure could impede a major step-up in EV sales.

In addition, EV profitability does not yet match that of ICE vehicles and (manufacturers) earnings and cash flows will remain burdened by further heavy technology investments over the next several years,” Fitch Ratings said in a report.

“Margin dilution from a higher share of EVs has been manageable for carmakers as government subsidies enticed EV buyers, but a gradual removal of the incentives could weigh on profitability in the medium term, diluting manufacturers’ margins but helping them to avoid (excess CO2) fines (from the EU). We also expect greater competition for European carmakers from new entrants, notably China,” Fitch Ratings said.

According to David Leah, analyst with LMC Automotive, the number of Chinese electric models in Europe has more than doubled over five years and government backing at home has given them a competitive advantage.

“This has allowed Chinese (manufacturers) to develop more competitive battery technology, as well as control large parts of the battery material chain, thus enabling them to achieve greater economies of scale. BEV prices have halved in China during the last 8 years, whilst increasing by 42%-55% in the West,” Leah said.

“As a result, Western (manufacturers) are playing catch up in the mass market BEV space, and the growing threat of new entrants has forced Western companies to reassess their competitiveness as competition intensifies,” Leah said.

Prospects for BEV sales won’t have been helped by news Wednesday one of the biggest selling electric cars in Europe, the Renault Zoe, was awarded zero stars in the Euro NCAP safety ratings, and the Dacia Spring only 1 star. Dacia is Renault’s value brand which uses mainly old technology to cut prices to the bone. Most modern vehicles score 5 stars in these tests.

Investment bank UBS expects strong global BEV sales, with Tesla remaining the undisputed leader.

“In 2021, Tesla has gapped away further from all others in terms of volume growth and margins, and Tesla’s lead should be undisputed in 2022 as battery cell supply could emerge as the next bottleneck for the industry,” UBS analyst Patrick Hummel said in a report.

“We expect global BEV sales to grow by about 60% again in 2022, reaching 7 million or 8% share globally. Only the fastest moving (traditional manufacturers) can avoid further bleeding to Tesla, such as Mercedes-Benz and VW Group. As BEV demand will likely continue to exceed supply, BEV pricing will be very solid and therefore margin parity vs. ICE cars reached over the next 1-2 years,” Hummel said.

And Schmidt Automotive Research said the slowing in BEV market share to 2024 is the result of manufacturers seeing a window to push profitable ICE vehicle sales before EU regulations on CO2 tighten. More regulation in 2027 will have a similar impact before BEV demand wins again, as ICE profit margins disintegrate.

Schmidt Automotive reckons BEV sales will gradually accelerate again and reach a market share of 60.0% by 2030, or 8.4 million vehicles.  VW has said its European BEV sales will hit 70% by 2030 while Ford Europe and Jaguar have set a 100% target.

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As a former European Automotive correspondent for Reuters, I’ve a spent a few years writing about the industry. I will penetrate the corporate

Source: European Electric Car Sales Growth Will Slow Before Spurting, While China Lurks


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Fintech’s Fraud Problem: Why Some Merchants Are Shunning Digital Bank Cards

When Robyn Mathis, a 41-year-old food production plant worker from Brunswick, Georgia, stepped off a flight to Philadelphia last June, she expected an easy passage to her destination. She was set to pick up her rental car and charge it to her Chime card, as she had done several times before. For the last few years, the digital bank’s debit and credit cards had been her payment methods of choice. But at the Budget car rental desk at Philadelphia’s International Airport, Mathis got an unpleasant surprise.

Budget would not accept her Chime credit or debit card. Frustrated, Mathis, who was traveling with her two college-aged children, called other airport rental outlets—Enterprise, Avis and Dollar. All said they wouldn’t take her card. After two hours, Mathis finally gave up and called an Uber. Fintech had failed her. Upon returning home, she moved most of her money from Chime to her account at Bank OZK, a regional institution with more than 200 branches and roots stretching back to 1903.

Digital-first “neobanks” like Chime are one of the hottest sectors in the fintech revolution. They offer fast approval and low- or no-fee accounts, all without any brick-and-mortar branches—a powerful selling point during a pandemic. Chime grew from 7 million U.S. customers at the start of 2020 to more than 13 million by the end of this year, according to estimates by eMarketer.

Chime’s valuation hit a stunning $25 billion in August, and an initial public offering that could value the enterprise at $45 billion is in the works. Square’s Cash App, which began as a peer-to-peer money transfer service and has evolved into a digital bank, added 12 million users in 2020. Square’s stock has more than tripled since the pandemic began, and it now boasts a market capitalization of about $90 billion.

But the same “frictionless” signup and ease-of-use features that make digital banks appealing to customers have given crooks an opening to wreak havoc through various schemes. That includes “first-party fraud,” where customers (with accounts in their own names) do everything from racking up charges and yanking the money to pay those charges out of their accounts before a transaction settles to illegally collecting unemployment insurance in states where they don’t live or work.

Another tactic: exploiting America’s tortoise-like bank-to-bank transfer network by moving money from one account to another and then withdrawing the same funds from both accounts while the transfer is in process. Fintech providers also appear to be more susceptible to identity theft and “account takeovers,” where swindlers get access to another person’s account and start spending.

Take the case of Shayla King, a single mother of four from Tampa, Florida, who became a Chime fraud victim in July 2021. She first noticed the problem when she woke up on a Friday to see dozens of automated texts on her iPhone asking if she had made 62 transactions totaling $744 from different businesses in India. She texted back “no” and then got an automated text confirmation that the charges would not go through. King says she also immediately rang Chime’s customer support line to report the charges were fraudulent. But come Monday, her Chime account was nearly emptied.

“Companies used to build financial products starting with the risk … Everything today is built starting with marketing, and risk oftentimes comes way further down the funnel.”

King disputed the charges, but Chime denied her claim. She tried twice more, eventually copying an investigative consumer reporter at a local ABC affiliate on her email to Chime. Four days later, after the reporter contacted Chime, it returned the money, more than a month after King first reported the incident. (Chime admits it made an “initial error” in its dealing with King, but says it corrected the problem after King appealed, and not because of the TV reporter’s inquiry.)

“I will never in my life bank with an online bank again,” adds King, who says she spoke on the phone with more than a dozen different customer service reps during the ordeal. “That’s my car payment, my electricity bill … I’m a paycheck-to-paycheck person, and I’m still trying to climb out of that hole.”

According to data from Aite-Novarica Group, fintech companies like neobanks and robo advisors have an average fraud rate of roughly 0.30%. That’s as much as double credit cards’ historical rates of 0.15% to 0.20% and three times higher than debit cards’ less than  0.10% fraud rate. While these percentage differences might seem small, they’re significant given that banking profitability is measured in basis points or hundredths of a percent.

And these seemingly tiny percentages add up. In 2020, identity fraud alone caused $56 billion in losses across all U.S. financial services firms, according to research firm Javelin. Facing growing incidents of fraud, some merchants have begun limiting or even blocking the debit and credit cards being offered by Chime, Cash App and other neobanks.

“Companies used to build financial products starting with the risk,” says a fraud expert and executive at a San Francisco fintech company. “Everything today is built starting with marketing, and risk oftentimes comes way further down the funnel.”

Rental car agencies and hotels have so far taken the most consequential actions in response to fintech’s fraud problem. In March, Avis, which owns the Budget and Payless car rental brands too, blackballed Chime. Said one tweet to a customer, “Only Chime cards we no longer accept due to many fraud reports. Have a great day!” Avis also hung up signs at branch locations announcing the ban and over the summer its FAQ singled out “prepaid debit/gift cards and Chime debit/credit cards” as not acceptable for vehicle pick-ups. 

Avis’ restrictions prompted a backlash from Chime and its card network, Visa, in late summer. Visa has a strict “honor all cards” policy for merchants who generally must accept any Visa card from any issuer. After Forbes reached out to Avis for comment, its policy page was updated to remove mention of its Chime restriction. An Avis spokesperson declined to explain the reason for its Chime ban, simply saying that Chime cards are accepted as payment upon returning a rental car, which would still require customers to have a different card for vehicle pick-up.

Enterprise and Hertz, the two largest rental car agencies in America, have also instituted fintech card bans. Forbes spoke with 10 Hertz storefronts across ten states, and most said cards tied to Chime were not welcome, with Cash App, Paypal or Venmo also rejected by some. An Enterprise customer service rep said locations at airports don’t accept Chime cards either. Some of the non-airport branches called by Forbes said they do accept Chime, though they cited various special restrictions such as requiring a utility bill. Nearly half of the dozens of Marriott Courtyard, Holiday Inn, Extended Stay America and La Quinta franchise locations Forbes spoke with said they don’t accept Chime or Cash App cards, either.

Spokespeople for Hertz and Extended Stay America said company-managed locations had banned Chime or Cash App cards, while spokespeople for Marriott and Enterprise claimed the cards are accepted. (Enterprise failed to clarify its airport policy.) The owners of the La Quinta and Holiday Inn brands did not respond to multiple requests for comment by Forbes.

Brian Mullins, Chime’s senior vice president of risk, downplays the problem. “In July, we had 50,000 transactions across all Marriott and Courtyard Marriotts … There may just be some individual locations where [a rejection of Chime cards] had occurred.” Chime had already done $150 million in Enterprise car rental transactions in 2021, he said in late August. “If it’s an issue, it’s not affecting our customers,” he insisted.

According to experts, much of the fraud seen by rental car agencies and hotels is so-called first-party fraud, where card holders run schemes under their real identities. One way they can do this involves taking advantage of a quirk in the U.S. payments system, says Mary Ann Miller, a vice president at identity and fraud company Prove. When someone picks up a rental car or checks into a hotel, the merchant processes a pre-authorization charge on their debit or credit card that puts a  “hold” on a set amount of money.

That hold expires after a short period of time—say, three days, depending on the terms set by the bank that issued the card. Once it expires, a bad actor, who might have rented the car for a week for example, can spend the money, since it’s no longer locked up. When the rental car agency finally goes to charge the customer after the car is returned, the bank account tied to the debit card is empty or the limit on the credit card is exhausted, and the merchant or bank can’t collect.

Another fraud tactic is for a customer to dispute large numbers of legitimate charges. Chime says its systems try to weed out serial disputers, but its frictionless interface makes refusing Chime charges as easy as a few taps on its mobile app. “Account takeovers” are another scam that fintechs like Chime are particularly susceptible to, because fraud rings often target new technology, thinking it’s more likely to have holes. In one rip-off, scammers buy information on the dark web to figure out Chime customers’ usernames and passwords, then gain access to their accounts and go on a buying spree.

Can’t traditional banks’ accounts be taken over too? Yes, but the digital banks may be both more vulnerable and more likely to be targeted. “Digital-focused banks have a target on their backs because fraudsters know that the banks want to make the user signup flow and banking experience as seamless as possible,’’ says Vice President of Trust and Safety Kevin Lee at fraud prevention firm Sift.

Because of Visa’s and Mastercard’s dispute protection policies, merchants hit with various forms of fraud can often escape being held liable for the unauthorized charges themselves. But trying to clean up a rash of illicit activity is costly, involving many hours of research and internal meetings across different corporate teams.

Chime vigorously denies that its app has become a haven for fraud. Still, part of its problems may stem from the company’s aggressive customer acquisition campaigns, often using social media to attract unbanked or underbanked prospects who have little or no credit histories. In September, the company offered cash prizes of up to $1,000 to TikTok users who made videos including the hashtag “ChimeHasYourBack.” Two months later, TikToks sporting the hashtag had collectively garnered 7.3 billion views.

Chime declined Forbes’ request to provide its overall fraud rates, saying only that they’re significantly below the maximum thresholds set by Visa and Nacha, the nonprofit association that runs ACH, the U.S. bank-to-bank payments network. The fintech’s CEO Chris Britt instead blames the merchants for any problems that have developed.

“I think there’s a limited number of merchants that are not applying the industry standard of due diligence before giving consumers access to these rental cars,” he says. He adds that Chime doesn’t run credit checks on its users—it’s the rental car agencies’ job to determine consumers’ creditworthiness.

Chime isn’t the only fintech wrestling with fraud and delinquency problems, and these issues date back to the earliest fintech companies in America. From July through October of 2000, two years after PayPal got off the ground, the company lost $6 million to fraud at a time when its revenue was less than $5 million. PayPal was losing $1,900 an hour to fraud. More recently, phony jobless claims have been a problem for Green Dot and Square’s Cash App, as well as Chime.

Ten residents of Palm Beach County, Florida were arrested in September for attempting to raid other states’ unemployment benefit coffers. According to court records, the defendants typically opened accounts at Chime, Cash App or Green Dot under their own names, then applied for unemployment checks from states they had neither lived nor worked in. Explaining how to commit the fraud to an unnamed associate, one 21-year-old defendant suggested using the three fintechs for direct deposit of the swindled funds: “States like Arizona and Pennsylvania hittin fasho…FREE GAME,” he wrote in an Instagram message reprinted in court records. “Chime Greendot cash app.”

“There’s no risk of needing to show identification in person, no surveillance video to show who’s utilizing the bank account.”

-Kyle Kinney, detective at a local Florida police department

Kyle Kinney, a detective at the local Florida police department who investigated the cases, says the offenders likely preferred digital banks for their convenience, compared to brick-and-mortar alternatives. “There’s no risk of needing to show identification in person, no surveillance video to show who’s utilizing the bank account,” he explains. “Transferring and receiving funds to and from co-conspirators is pretty easy.”

The flood of extra unemployment money tied to the pandemic, as well as the expanded categories of people eligible for payments, has likely exacerbated the problem.  The U.S. Labor Department’s Inspector General recently estimated that, based on an historical mispayment rate of 10%, between March 2020 and September 2021, $87 billion in enhanced benefits could have been improperly paid, with “a significant portion attributable to fraud.”

But, the IG added, the actual number—based on a preliminary audit—was likely higher. Frank McKenna, cofounder of fraud prevention firm Point Predictive, suspects that Chime was “one of the preferred ways that a lot of these fraudsters took money from the government, because they could easily go online, set up a Chime account very quickly, have the funds transferred into the account, and then quickly have those funds diverted elsewhere …

I think what you’re seeing now is the result of a lot of growth, and a lot of the fraud that might have gotten into the portfolio while all the stimulus came in.” He also says that there’s an active market on messaging app Telegram for people to buy Chime accounts.

It’s not just the merchants who have become wary of doing business with big fintechs like Chime and Cash App. HMBradley, a three-year-old, Santa Monica-based online bank with $375 million in assets, saw a startling rise in fraud coming from the transfers it gets from Chime and Cash App accounts. The schemers would typically open an HMBradley account, then connect it to an existing Chime account.

They’d request to transfer funds from Chime, and when the money reached HMBradley, they’d quickly ferry it into a third bank account. Often, the funds HMBradley was pulling in from Chime didn’t exist—and that’s possible because of the way the U.S. bank-to-bank transfer network, or the Automated Clearing House (ACH) system, works.

The ACH network, first built in the 1970s, lacks real-time verification and it can take days for transactions to settle through ACH. So when a neobank allows a customer to pull money from an outside account via ACH, it takes on the risk of finding out several days later that the customer only had $1 in his account even though he requested to transfer $1,000. ACH still underlies most money transfers, to the tune of $62 trillion in 2020, and is run by Nacha, a nonprofit association funded by financial institutions.

While HMBradley typically only sees about $500 worth of fraud per month, in May it lost tens of thousands of dollars, split between Cash App and Chime users, according to CEO Zach Bruhnke. To stop the bleeding, Bruhnke put longer holds on transfers so that a customer trying to pull in funds from a Chime or Cash App account would have to wait a few more days to see the funds arrive in HMBradley.

Another new online bank called One has also placed longer holds on Chime transactions. “It’s a reflection of how frequently the accounts tend to be fraudulent and how much loss tends to be taken on those transactions,” says One CEO Brian Hamilton. Chime CEO Chris Britt again prefers to shift the blame. He says that small companies like HMBradley and One “probably don’t have the same level of sophistication in terms of how to process things like ACH transactions and transfers from online accounts.”

Betterment, a robo-investing app with $29 billion in assets, blocked all new connections to Chime, Cash App, Square, Robinhood, Green Dot and Metabank in May due to “a trend of attempted fraudulent activity,” according to an email Betterment sent to some customers that was reviewed by Forbes. Britt says there are a “number of companies” that Chime “runs much more volume through … that are managing just fine.”

According to Bruhnke, Chime’s team was helpful in troubleshooting HMBradley’s fraud spike. Bruhnke tried to work with Cash App to get help, too, but their support was “almost non-existent,” he says. Today, HMBradley no longer puts longer holds on Chime transactions, but for most Cash App customers, he extends HMBradley’s typical two-day hold period for transfers to five business days and caps daily transactions to between $100 and $500.

Bruhnke says of Square’s rapid customer growth, “They’re a public company, and they’re sort of padding their user numbers by perpetuating this.” Square declined to make an executive available for an interview, but told Forbes via email that fraud prevention is a top priority and that Cash App maintains teams dedicated to resolving merchant acceptance issues.

Stock trading app Robinhood recently highlighted its own ACH fraud challenges. “Customers initiate deposits into their accounts, make trades on our platform using a short-term extension of credit from us, and then repatriate or reverse the deposits, resulting in a loss to us of the credited amount,” it wrote in its second quarter regulatory filing. As a result, its provision for credit losses for the first half of the year surged 54% to $37 million.

In February, a payments processing company that works with hundreds of merchants that sell age-restricted products like alcohol saw 45% of its fraudulent ACH transactions come from Chime, according to an executive at the payments company.

It noticed a pattern where some people had used multiple Chime accounts under slightly different names but with the same IDs. They’d buy alcohol from one merchant, but before the transaction settled, they’d quickly pull the rug out by moving that money into another Chime account, a maneuver made possible by the settlement lags of the ACH system.

The liquor stores saw tens of thousands of dollars of losses, and when the payments company determined that Chime wasn’t going to do anything to fix the problem, it permanently blocked Chime transactions altogether. Says the payments company executive, “If they’re not actively doing anything about it, then we have to actively do something about it.”

I’m a reporter on Forbes’ wealth team covering the world’s richest people and tracking their fortunes. I was previously an assistant editor for Forbes’ Money & Markets section, and I

I lead our fintech coverage at Forbes and also cover crypto. I edit our annual Fintech 50 list and 30 Under 30 list for fintech, and I’ve written frequently about leadership and corporate

Source: Fintech’s Fraud Problem: Why Some Merchants Are Shunning Digital Bank Cards


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The 10 Commandments of Salary Negotiation

The largest salary increase I’ve helped get was for a female FAANG executive: I helped her get $5.4M more on her offer. Through the process, it struck me that even though she was a senior leader everyone admired (you’d 100% know of her if I told you her name), she had very little knowledge of how to negotiate. Don’t get me wrong — she knew how to ask and be assertive, but she was much less comfortable “playing the game.”

And she’s not alone.

Regardless of how senior or junior you are, most tech folks struggle with negotiation. Partially this is because compensation is set up to be intentionally misleading. Partially it’s because sticking up for yourself is nerve-racking AF.

Here are the 10 commandments to negotiation I wish everyone knew:

1. Negotiation starts earlier than you think

Every recruiter worth their salt will ask about your salary expectations when you first start interviewing. Do not — I repeat, do not — give them a number.

What to do instead: Ask for the range they’re budgeted for the role.

How to say it: “Can you tell me the salary band for this level? Happy to let you know if it’s within my range, and we can discuss specific numbers later when I’ve met the team.”

Bonus points: If you’re junior/mid, time all your interviews so you get offers around the same time. If you’re senior, get some press before you start meeting folks.

2. Mine for intel during interviews

Go into the interview ready not just to answer questions but to ask some of your own. You will use this as ammunition to negotiate later. Here are a few examples of what you should ask:

  • What’s the biggest priority for the team right now?
  • Why is this role open?
  • What’s the biggest challenge for someone stepping into this role?
  • How does the org structure on the team work?

3. Don’t give in to the pressure

Once you’ve been offered the role, the recruiter’s job shifts from evaluating you to closing you. Most experienced recruiters will ask you again to put up a number for your salary. Clever recruiters may even tell you that they “will go to bat for you.” Yeah, no thanks.

What recruiters say: “If you give me your number, I will make it happen for you.”

What they mean: “I’ll get you something lower, but kinda close to what you asked for.”

4. At FAANG, your recruiter may have no say at all

At FAANG-size companies (i.e. over 5K employees), compensation is heavily formulaic. In fact, there is often a separate team — the “compensation committee” — who sets your salary. They take into account your background, interview performance, and level. They give the recruiter a number to go with. The recruiter then gives you the number, and every time you negotiate they have to go back to that committee to ask for a re-evaluation.

What do clever recruiters do? They get your number up-front to save some legwork.

Unfortunately, this may hurt your chances of getting more on your offer later. It also deprives you of some valuable data — where you fall in the level/salary band. If you get caught in this loop, quickly turn the tables: most companies will consider “new information,” like another offer, to reopen a negotiation. Don’t forget, an offer to stay from your existing company also counts!

5. Read between the lines

Your initial offer speaks volumes, if you know how to interpret the data. Here are a few scenarios you should consider:

Let’s say you’re applying for an L6 role at a big company.

Initial offer comes in low: The team may have felt that you have a lot of “room for growth.” In this case, my advice is to dig deeper and ask the interviewer to share feedback from folks who met you to fix any misconceptions before you ever negotiate. Telling someone you want more money because you’re “the greatest PM ever” while the team felt you were “meh” is not going to fly.

Middle of the road: You got “the number” (the medium opening number that’s basically a template recruiters use). It’s the most common opening offer — companies do this to reduce risk of lawsuits. Over 80% of people get it. It likely means you don’t have a strong advocate on the interview loop. Do not negotiate until you match with a team and you have a manager batting for you.

Initial offer comes in top-of-band: There was likely a discussion about giving you a higher level. Many times in this case, you can push for an “out-of-band” offer — essentially getting paid for an L7 while you’re an L6.

6. At a startup, the playbook is different 

You may be dealing with the founder directly. It’s very likely there is no range for the role, as smaller companies have much less access to salary data. The goal at the initial offer conversation is to understand three things:

That last one can be tricky because you need data the recruiter may be reluctant to give — the option strike price, preferred price, number of outstanding shares — and you need to understand how options work. At last, get ready to ask:

“What is the valuation based on?”

And get ready to not get a straight answer until you’ve asked five times (yes, this is normal).

TL;DR: Ask the questions an investor would ask because, *news flash*, you are now an investor — but instead of cash, you’re staking your time and earning trajectory on the company’s success. You can meet with the investors too; it’s 100% OK to ask for that when the company is early-stage.

Lastly, 2021 has been a weird year for startup compensation, so much of the data from previous years is unreliable. Remote work, abundant access to capital, and greater trust in international talent have skewed things quite a bit. Still, I find the Holloway Guide ranges to be a good starting point.

7. Your job is to win hearts and minds

It can be tempting to think you need to negotiate now that you have data. Nope, not yet. The next step, instead, is to upsell your worth before you come back with any kind of counteroffer. This is especially important if you’re going for a senior role.

What to do next: Ask for follow-up meetings with decision makers. If you’re a Director or higher, you can usually ask to meet with any VP and possibly C-level execs. VPs can often meet with the CEO and even board members. Take your time; this is important if you want your salary to reflect your value. If everyone wants you, you’ll be calling the shots later.

How to run these effectively: Come prepared with three things, tailored to who you’re meeting:

  • Questions about how you can create meaningful impact
  • Ideas based on your interviews so far
  • Bonus points: discussing obstacles to your taking the role and making them sell you on it

8. OK, now get some good data

Did you know that women make only 47 cents in equity for every dollar a man makes? A HUGE reason for that is that many women don’t fully evaluate their offer before negotiating. Let’s change that. Particularly if you are a woman, ask yourself these questions:

9. Comparing offers

Not all offers are made equal — in fact, they are intentionally confusing. At Google, you may get a front-loaded vesting schedule on your stock; at Amazon, sizable cash bonuses the first two years. It seems obvious that you should look at the comp, but that’s not everything:

  • Which company has a better trajectory?
  • How do promotions work?
  • Is your manager influential enough to pull for you when needed?
  • Is your product or team visible enough to get good resourcing?
  • What’s the company brand worth to your earnings trajectory?

TL;DR: Getting paid more up-front doesn’t always mean you’ll make the most overall. Plan carefully.

10. Time to make an ask

It can be awkward to ask for more money, but trust me, everyone expects you to do it. On top of that, it doesn’t help that so much of the advice out there is conflicting. Let’s set the record straight:

“I need a competing offer.”

MYTH: You absolutely do not need multiple offers. Just being able to say you’re speaking to other companies is sufficient — you can quote the expected salaries for other roles if needed.

“I need to provide copies of my other offers.”

MYTH: Nope, nope, nope (even though Google in particular loves to ask for them). You signed an NDA before every interview, so you can always use that as a reason.

“I should send the recruiter an email with my ask and justification.”

MYTH: Negotiating via email = MAJOR CRINGE and definitely a worse outcome. I know there are folks selling fill-in-the-blank templates out there. My advice if you want a meaningful/large increase is to have the conversation over the phone.

“If I find a number online, I can quote it as a reason to get more.”

MYTH: Nothing boils a recruiter’s blood more than “It says X on Glassdoor.” Compensation is an exact science — have arguments prepared that are specific to your situation.

“The best way to get more is to reiterate how qualified I am.

MYTH: You already got interviewed and everyone’s read your resume. That’s how you got your initial offer; now you need to build additional arguments. Use the information you collected during the interview about what challenges the team is facing — maybe that increases the scope of the role? Discuss why leaving your current role will be hard — are you critical to your current team? In other words: instead of asking for money, make them give you more money by bringing in obstacles the recruiter needs to overcome to close you.

“I need to be aggressive and threaten to walk if they don’t match.”

MYTH: LOL, let me know how that goes for you. My guess is you’ll get a mediocre increase worded as a “final offer.” If you want big moves, I’m talking $100K+ more, you need to collaborate with your recruiter, not make them an enemy.

As a final word of wisdom: Start with negotiating your overall compensation, not individual components. For example, ask for “500K” and then the next round ask “Can I have X more equity?” Then, when you’ve exhausted all other avenues, ask for a signing bonus. If you still need more help, you can always read our guide.

Now that you’ve got all these RSUs in your compensation…

If your new RSUs are more than 10% of your liquid net worth, you should make a plan to diversify ASAP. Holding a concentrated position can translate into greater portfolio volatility, which has been shown to reduce compounded growth rates and future wealth. At Candor we help you automate RSU diversification by converting your stock weekly, even during blackout periods. You can find us here.

Thanks, Niya!

Till next week, and have a fulfilling and productive week 🙏

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By: Lenny Rachitsky

Guest post by Niya Dragova, co-founder of Candor

Source: The 10 commandments of salary negotiation – by Lenny Rachitsky – Lenny’s Newsletter


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