JPMorgan could make its first bitcoin fund available to private rich clients as soon as this summer, report says

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JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon.

JPMorgan is in the process of offering an actively-managed bitcoin fund to its private wealth clients for the first time, CoinDesk reported on Monday.

The fund could roll out as soon as the summer of 2021, the report said, citing two sources. Crypto-focused financial services company NYDIG is said to serve as the bank’s custody provider.

An actively-managed fund implies that money managers would supervise specific decisions about how the fund’s investments are carried out. Passively-managed funds, like those offered by Pantera Capital and Galaxy Digital, simply track a crypto market index without being touched by a money management team.

JPMorgan, the largest US investment bank by assets, has gradually shifted its stance on cryptocurrencies after labelling them as fraudulent four years ago.

CEO Jamie Dimon said in a 2018 interview he doesn’t “really give a s–t” about the digital asset and didn’t expect it to rival fiat currency. More recently, he listed fintechs as one of the “enormous competitive” threats to banks in an annual shareholder letter released this month.

The bank now frequently publishes research reports about bitcoin, and said last week the worst of the recent liquidation have likely passed. “Bitcoin liquidity is likely to remain robust and resilient; depth on major exchanges has continued to drop less and recover faster than other asset classes,” JPMorgan strategists said in a note.

Bitcoin rose 10% on Monday to trade near $53,000 after tumbling to its lowest level in nearly two months.

JPMorgan declined to comment on the report when contacted by Insider.

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Out of 1,548 Goldman Sachs US executives, 49 are Black

David M. Solomon, President and Co-Chief Operating Officer of Goldman Sachs, speaks during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills
David Solomon, CEO of Goldman Sachs, speaks during the Milken Institute Global Conference in 2017.

  • Out of 1,548 top executives at Goldman Sachs in 2020, 49 were Black, the bank said Tuesday.
  • The 49 Black leaders represented 3.2% of all executive leadership at the bank, a slight rise from 2.7% in 2019.
  • Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon said he would make improving the diversity of the bank’s workforce a “personal priority.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Goldman Sachs said on Tuesday that out of its 1,548 senior executives in the US, 49 were Black.

Out of those 49 Black executives, 25 were Black women and 24 were Black men, according to its 2020 sustainability report.

The 49 Black executives represented 3.2% of all executive leadership at Goldman Sachs in 2020, which was a slight improvement from 2.7% in 2019.

The bank employed a total of 21,040 people across the US in 2020. Tuesday’s report showed that 1,425 of these workers were Black, including 649 men and 776 women.

This means they made up 6.8% of the bank’s US workforce – a step up from 6.6% in 2019. Census data shows that 13.4% of the US population is Black.

In the executive summary of the report, CEO David Solomon said there was “still a long road ahead” on improving the diversity of the bank’s workforce, adding that he would “continue to make this effort a personal priority.”

Read more: Which Wall Street banks and private-equity firms are handing out special bonuses and pay bumps to junior talent

He added that Goldman Sachs has “set additional goals for retaining and promoting talent at the vice-president level.”

Goldman Sachs didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The report comes one month after the bank announced it was set to invest $10 billion in an initiative called “One Million Black Women.” The project aims to reach 1 million Black women by 2030 through investment in healthcare, jobs, education, and access to capital.

Goldman Sachs has a higher proportion of Black employees in senior executive positions than Morgan Stanley, which revealed in its 2020 Diversity and Inclusion report that it had 37 Black leaders out of 1,705 executives in the US.

Bank of America’s 2020 Human Capital Management report showed that 201 out of its 4,191 executives were Black, while Citigroup’s 2019 Diversity report said that out of 108 executives, four were Black men, but there were no Black women.

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Canada’s second-biggest bank is giving staff a subscription to meditation app Headspace and an extra day off

President and Chief Executive Officer of the Royal Bank of Canada, Dave McKay, addresses shareholders at the bank's 146th annual meeting, in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
President and CEO of the Royal Bank of Canada, Dave McKay, addresses shareholders at the bank’s 146th annual meeting, in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

  • Royal Bank of Canada CEO Dave McKay said the bank is giving an extra day off to “exhausted” staff.
  • Employees also get a free one-year subscription to the meditation app Headspace.
  • Toronto-Dominion Bank, Canada’s largest, has also offered its workers an additional day off.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Royal Bank of Canada is giving its employees an extra paid day off this year to avoid burnout from the COVID-19 pandemic – as well as a one-year subscription to the meditation and sleep app Headspace.

RBC’s CEO Dave McKay on Thursday said in a company memo that workers were the most exhausted they have been at any point in the pandemic. He said the bank needs to “eliminate the stigma associated with asking for time to focus, concentrate, and in some cases, log off and recharge.”

McKay told employees in the memo they should speak to their managers to book the extra day off and encouraged them to take the time to go on vacation. He said the few vacations he’d taken in the pandemic had allowed him to read, play his guitar, and spend more time outside.

Canada’s second-biggest bank also offered its global workforce of around 86,000 workers a free one-year subscription to Headspace, which usually costs $69.99.

“Beyond this extra day off, we recognize the ongoing pressures of the pandemic, especially for those in regions that have reverted back into lockdown,” McKay said. Canada is currently in a third wave of coronavirus infections which has mainly hit the province of Ontario, where RBC headquarters are. The province has introduced new restrictions to stop the spread.

“I encourage all of you to prioritize your personal time and continue to be mindful about work-life boundaries wherever possible,” McKay told staff in the memo.

Toronto-Dominion Bank, Canada’s largest bank, has also told staff they would get an extra day off work. CEO Bharat Masrani said in a memo to staff, seen by Bloomberg, that they should take the day off when they need it the most.

“After a year of sacrifice and disruption, we must all endure these challenging circumstances for a bit longer,” Masrani said in the memo. “I know that this has not been easy, and everyone is tired.”

The bank’s decisions to give staff an additional day off come after Goldman Sachs was criticized for making junior bankers work 100-hour weeks in “inhumane” conditions, leading to poor mental health.

Citigroup also launched a “Citi Reset Day” on March 28 – a company-wide holiday to relieve stress on staff. CEO Jane Fraser also banned video calls on a Friday.

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Goldman Sachs bosses reportedly sent snack hampers to junior staff after a survey revealed brutal 100-hour weeks. Rival banks sent their staff bonuses or Peloton bikes.

David Solomon
Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon.

  • Directors at Goldman Sachs sent one-off fruit and snack hampers to overworked junior bankers, the Guardian reported.
  • It follows a survey in which junior staff described “inhumane” 100-hour work weeks.
  • Other banks have offered much larger gifts, including Peloton machines and Apple devices.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Bosses at Goldman Sachs have sent snack hampers to London bankers in response to a survey that revealed the “inhumane” working conditions junior staff faced at the bank in the US, according to a report by the Guardian on Tuesday.

Managing directors, not the company, were paying for the one-off fruit and snacks hampers, the report said, adding that Goldman Sachs hadn’t directly offered any gifts or bonuses to junior bankers following the survey.

In the survey, leaked on March 18, 13 first-year analysts in the US described their declining mental and physical health, 100-hour work weeks, and a lack of sleep. UK staff told the Guardian they too faced burnout.

Some junior bankers told the Guardian they appreciated the gesture of the hampers. But staff at other banks have received much larger gifts.

Investment bankers at Credit Suisse are getting a one-time $20,000 bonus for dealing with an “unprecedented” workload during the pandemic, while Jefferies is offering 1,124 of its junior workers Apple products and workout equipment including Peloton bikes worth nearly £2,000 ($2,750), per the Guardian.

Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser banned internal video calls on Fridays and introduced a company-wide holiday on March 28 called “Citi Reset Day.”

Read more: Confessions of Wall Street’s burned-out junior bankers: 5 current and former analysts from firms like Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse explain their daily schedules

One Goldman Sachs employee told the Guardian that the bank should be doing more for the junior bankers who have to work gruelling hours.

“What we need is not a gesture from [managers], but from the firm,” one London banker told the Guardian.

Insider reached out to Goldman Sachs for comment, but did not immediately receive a response. Goldman declined to comment on the snack boxes to the Guardian.

Four days after the survey came out, CEO David Solomon said that the bank would work harder to give junior bankers Saturdays off.

He added the long and busy work hours were down to working from home and a boom in business during the pandemic.

One unnamed analyst said in the survey that “there was a point where I was not eating, showering, or doing anything else other than working from morning until after midnight.”

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Credit Suisse is overhauling its asset management business and has suspended bonuses after Greensill collapsed

Credit Suisse
The logo of Swiss bank Credit Suisse is seen at a branch office in Bern, Switzerland October 28, 2020. Picture taken October 28, 2020.

  • Credit Suisse is shaking up its asset management business following the collapse of Greensill.
  • Ulrich Körner will become the new CEO of the bank’s asset management business from April 1.
  • Three senior asset management employees have temporarily stepped aside.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Credit Suisse is overhauling its asset management business as it faces regulatory investigations into its dealings with Greensill Capital, warning on Thursday that its results and client confidence could be hit by the finance firm’s collapse.

Switzerland’s second-biggest bank and its asset management arm are reeling from the implosion of around $10 billion of funds related to British supply chain financier Greensill, heaping pressure on CEO Thomas Gottstein.

Credit Suisse said in its annual report that Swiss regulator FINMA was looking into the matter and reviewing its impact in relation to the bank’s so-called Pillar 2 buffer, which is capital banks hold against risks.

“We can confirm that we have also imposed a Pillar 2 buffer in this context as stated by the bank in its annual report,” FINMA said, adding it was in contact with other authorities.

Credit Suisse stuck to its guidance on capital and said plans to buy back at least 1 billion Swiss francs ($1.1 billion) worth of stock this year were still on.

The bank named Ulrich Koerner as its new head of asset management and said it would separate the business into its own division from April 1. It has been part of the international wealth division run by Philipp Wehle.

Koerner will return to Credit Suisse from arch-rival UBS, where he most recently served as adviser to the CEO from 2019 to 2020. He ran UBS Asset Management from 2014 to 2019. Koerner was previously a senior executive at Credit Suisse Financial Services and ran the Swiss business.

Current asset management head Eric Varvel, who is also chairman of Credit Suisse’s investment bank and head of its U.S. holding company, will focus on his other roles.

Credit Suisse’s annual report said some unidentified fund investors had threatened litigation over the Greensill affair and the ultimate cost may be “material” to operating results.

“The portfolio manager has been informed that certain of the notes underlying the funds will not be repaid when they fall due,” it added.

“We might also suffer reputational harm associated with these matters that might cause client departures or loss of assets under management,” it said.

Three senior asset management employees who helped oversee the Greensill funds have temporarily stepped aside.

The annual report showed the bonuses for a number of senior employees involved, “up to and including Executive Board members”, had been suspended.

Credit Suisse shares gained 2.5%.

The new structure bucks a trend for blending Credit Suisse products and services in a seamless offering to its wealthy clients. It could, however, help address suggestions that the model lent itself to internal conflicts of interest.

Asset Management lost 39 million Swiss francs ($42 million)before taxes last year after a hefty writedown on an investment in a U.S. hedge fund.

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HSBC has closed its main office in Hong Kong after an outbreak of COVID-19 at a gym

A worker wearing PPE guards the entrance of HSBC bank main Hong Kong office after it was closed until further notice after three people tested positive for Covid-19 amid a recent wave of infections among the citys business and expatriate community in Hong Kong on March 17, 2021.
A worker wearing PPE guards the entrance of HSBC bank main Hong Kong office after it was closed until further notice after three people tested positive for Covid-19 amid a recent wave of infections among the city’s business and expatriate community in Hong Kong on March 17, 2021.

  • HSBC has temporarily shut its main Hong Kong office after three workers tested positive for COVID-19.
  • There has been a wave of infections in the city following an outbreak at a local gym.
  • In an internal memo seen by Bloomberg, HSBC said the bank can reopen when staff have been tested.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

HSBC closed its main office in Hong Kong until further notice on Tuesday after three people working there tested positive for COVID-19.

The region’s Centre for Health Protection (CHP) published a formal notice asking people who spent more than two hours in the building between March 3 and 16 to be tested at a government-approved center by March 19, according to an internal memo HSBC sent to staff on Wednesday seen by Bloomberg.

The new infections followed a COVID-19 outbreak last Thursday at a gym in Sai Ying Pun, which has spread to the region’s financial district.

The CHP said Tuesday it was investigating 18 additional confirmed infections of the virus, taking the total number of cases in Hong Kong to date to 11,340.

The CHP also extended the current social distancing measures until March 31.

“It is our understanding that HMB can return to normal business when virus testing of colleagues and deep cleaning of the facility are complete,” HSBC said in the memo. “The exact timing is yet to be confirmed.”

Around 30,000 HSBC employees now have no access to the lender’s flagship office, located at 1 Queen’s Road Central, in the center of Hong Kong’s business district.

Guards wearing masks, face shields and protective clothing were standing in front of the building’s entrances and a poster stuck on the door told customers to visit another HSBC branch in the local area, Bloomberg reported.

Insider approached HSBC for comment but did not immediately receive a reply.

A spokeswoman from the bank told Bloomberg that HSBC was following advice from health authorities and taking the necessary steps so the building can reopen when it’s safe.

“For banking services, we have well-developed contingency measures that ensure our services and critical processes continue to be maintained,” she said.

Hong Kong, with a population of 7.5 million, has kept coronavirus cases low thanks to strict contact tracing, testing and quarantine measures. There have been 203 deaths in the city, according to the CHP data.

With a total of 292 cases between March 2 to March 15, the latest outbreak is the second largest since a surge in November.

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Revolut is operating as a bank in 10 Central European countries, and hopes to do so across the continent

Revolut
Revolut has been operating as a bank in Poland and Lithuania since last year.

  • Revolut has launched as a bank in 10 Central European countries using a Lithuanian banking license.
  • The startup has also applied for a UK banking license and hopes to achieve profitability this year.
  • Revolut broke even in December and was valued at $5.5 billion in 2020 after raising $500 million.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Revolut has started operating as a bank in 10 Central European countries.

Using a license issued in Lithuania, Revolut Bank will operate in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Malta, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

The British-born startup and financial app has been operating as a bank in Poland and Lithuania since last year while maintaining its services in other European countries using its e-money license.

Revolut started 15 years ago as a service for withdrawing money outside users’ home country without commissions, exchanging currencies at a more favorable exchange rate than with banks, and making payments between friends.

In February last year, Revolut was valued at $5.5 billion after raising $500 million from TCV, a Silicon Valley growth fund.

The neobank has been adding to its services with more insurance options, a cryptocurrencies news feature, and the ability to split bills with non-Revolut users.

The advantage of a banking license is that it allows Revolut to be used for deposits, while e-money licenses mean Revolut serves as more of a wallet for its users.

After Brexit, the company moved its license from the UK to Lithuania in order to continue operating in European markets. However, Revolut has also applied for a UK banking license to improve its profitability.

“Revolut is now the fastest growing fintech company in Europe because we put the customer at the heart of everything that we do. Our product design is second to none, we have no hidden fees, and we are constantly building new and innovative financial products,” Revolut Bank CEO Virgilijus Mirkės said in a statement.

“Launching the bank in ten new European markets will provide a greater level of security and confidence for our customers, and will enable us to launch a host of new products and services in the near future,” he added.

In December 2020, the company broke even following a 40% revenue decrease earlier in the pandemic, suggesting that profitability may soon be on the cards.

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Jack Dorsey’s Square kickstarts in-house banking services nearly a year after receiving conditional approval

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Digital payments processor Square said on Monday it has launched in-house banking operations after completing the approval process with a US insurance agency and Utah’s financial regulator.

Square Financial Services, the industrial bank based in Utah’s Salt Lake City, is now ready for business after receiving conditional approval nearly a year ago.

“Moving forward, Square Financial Services will be the primary provider of financing for Square sellers across the US,” the company said in a statement.

The first few actions for the bank will include underwriting and offering business loans for Square’s existing lending product. Its primary purpose is to offer business loans and deposit products.

“Bringing banking capability in-house enables us to operate more nimbly, which will serve Square and our customers as we continue the work to create financial tools that serve the underserved,” Square CFO Amrita Ahuja said.

Square is headed by longtime cryptocurrency advocate Jack Dorsey, who is also chief executive of social media platform Twitter. With a product line that includes the Cash App and Square Point-of-Sale, the company is known for its easy-to-use mobile payment services.

Shares in the company rose 3% to $248.80 in pre-market trading on Tuesday.

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Walmart has reportedly lured away two Goldman Sachs bankers to help lead its new fintech venture

walmart store shoppers
  • Walmart has reportedly poached two Goldman Sachs bankers to help it run its new fintech venture.
  • The retailer announced a partnership with Ribbit Capital to offer financial products in January.
  • Walmart’s latest move represents a commitment to forging a path in the financial world.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

As Walmart looks to launch a fintech startup, the retailer is turning to Wall Street veterans to help it move into the banking world.

Walmart Inc. has picked up two senior bankers from Goldman Sachs to help lead the retailer’s new fintech startup arm, Bloomberg reported on Sunday. Omer Ismail, the head of Goldman’s consumer bank, and David Stark, one of his top lieutenants, will leave the bank to help bolster Walmart’s venture into financial services with investment firm Ribbit Capital, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. The departure of Ismail, who runs Marcus, was a “surprise,” the sources told Bloomberg. 

Walmart announced earlier this year that it was partnering with Ribbit Capital, the firm backing fintech startups such as Robinhood, Affirm, and Credit Karma, to offer financial products for customers and employees. The startup, which has yet to be publicly named, will be mostly owned by Walmart and will include several Walmart executives on its board.

Customers have “made it clear they want more from us in the financial services arena,” president and CEO of Walmart US John Furner said previously in a statement. Walmart’s current financial service offerings include the Walmart CapitalOne credit card, the prepaid Walmart MoneyCard, and the ability for people to cash checks in stores.

“Walmart’s newly-announced fintech joint venture with Ribbit Capital will provide myriad growth opportunities, with the leveraging of its massive customer base at the center of the initiative,” Moody’s Vice-President and Senior Credit Officer Charlie O’Shea, said in a note to investors, Insider reported previously. “Walmart has been slowly and tactically expanding its financial service offerings to its customers, and measured expansion of these capabilities makes sense as it will deepen these all-important customer relationships.”

Walmart’s latest move represents a commitment to forging a path in the financial world. The retailer could also possibly have an advantage by eventually using its thousands of stores to market its new product and display advertisements to a large array of customers. 

In February, Walmart reported $152.1 billion in total sales, up over 7.3% year over year.

Walmart and Goldman Sachs did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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Big banks, including Deutsche Bank and Bank of America, are testing employees for COVID-19 before they step into the office. Insider took a closer look at their plans.

Arizona covid-19 testing coronavirus
Physician John Jones, D.O. tests administrative assistant Morgan Bassin for COVID-19 at One Medical in Scottsdale, Arizona.

  • As COVID-19 continues to spread, big banks worldwide are monitoring staff that come into the office.
  • Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, and BoA are all testing employees for COVID-19, sources told Insider.
  • JPMorgan and Wells Fargo said they require employees to complete a health check before they arrive.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Major banks worldwide have launched COVID-19 testing programs in order to enable a return to work for some employees during the pandemic.

Some banks are offering their staff lab-based PCR tests, which are considered the most accurate way of detecting coronavirus, but they can cost around $100 to process, per The New York Times. Results of PCR tests usually come back within a couple of days.

Other banks are providing antigen tests, also known as lateral flow tests, which give results in about 15 to 30 minutes. Both antigen and PCR tests require swabbing the nose or throat.

“I have been back at work since the start of the year and have been asked to produce three negative test results every week,” a source who works in a bank in London told Insider on the condition of anonymity. “It’s a bit stressful but the antigen tests are quick and I have got into a nice routine now. It’s also nice to be able to go back to work, although I miss the pre-COVID office environment,” they said.

However, a number of other banks are asking employees to fill out questionnaires about possible symptoms and exposure to the virus before they come into the workplace.

Insider spoke with sources working in banks across the world to get a sense of return-to-work plans. 

Deutsche Bank

Twice a week, Deutsche Bank is testing UK employees considered key workers that work on the busiest floors in the office, sources familiar with the system said. They are being tested with PCR tests. It’s unclear whether staff working on other floors are being also tested.

Deutsche Bank declined to comment to Insider.

Bank of America

Bank of America is testing employees on a weekly basis if they’re coming into the office, according to sources familiar with the matter. The testing is currently targeted at UK offices, and there are plans to roll out the tests to the rest of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa region. 

Bank of America declined to comment.

Read more: Bank of America has promoted 86 managing directors in its sales and trading, research, and operations groups – here are all the names

JPMorgan

JPMorgan told Insider that employees coming into the workplace in all locations are required to take a daily health check before entering an office. The health check is a survey that can be completed via mobile or laptop, and asks if you’ve been exposed or in close contact with someone who is infected with COVID-19 or showing related symptoms.

The bank said the daily health checks had been in place since the pandemic began in March.

On top of this, JPMorgan is also sending at-home testing kits to staff, if they want one. Employees are also able to book a PCR COVID-19 test at one of the bank’s on-site health and wellness centers.

Wells Fargo

A Wells Fargo spokesperson confirmed to Insider that all workers who go into the bank are required to complete a self-screening assessment, which involves filling out a questionnaire about whether they have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19. They must complete this every day before entering the workplace, the spokesperson said.

In its largest US locations, the bank has an on-site nurse to check staff for COVID-19 symptoms and refer them for testing.

Credit Suisse

Sources familiar with the situation at Swiss bank Credit Suisse said it is offering its staff in London weekly testing, despite only a small number of them coming into the workplace. Credit Suisse declined to comment.

Citibank and Barclays could not be reached for comment. HSBC didn’t respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Are you an employee in the banking sector being tested for COVID-19 on a daily basis? Get in touch with this reporter via email: kduffy@insider.com.

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