Do you know how to rob a bank?
If not, you should. No, I am not talking about wearing a ski mask and walking in demanding money; I am referring to corruption of the banking system by insiders and fraud activity. William Black explains the key points of his book, “The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One,” via a TEDX presentation.
The last financial crisis cost eleven trillion dollars, as well as 10 million jobs. Black addresses the epidemics of control fraud: the fraud that takes place when a person in control, typically a CEO, of a seemingly legitimate entity, uses the company as a weapon to defraud. Reducing and eliminating control fraud, according to Black, is the most important element to address in order to prevent repeated financial crisis.
He presents a 4-part recipe for accounting control fraud which is a “sure thing” to insure fraud will take place: grow like crazy, making or buying crappy loans at a premium interest rate; employing extreme leverage (debt); and providing only trivial loss reserves. The four-part recipe mathematically guarantees the following three things will happen: record bank profits, CEO will be made wealthy, and farther down the road, the bank will suffer catastrophic losses. The prime example: the 1984 savings and loan debacle.
How the fraud was so widespread
Appraisal fraud and liar’s loans drove the massive amounts of fraudulent activity. Appraisal fraud was characterized by an inflated value of a home being used as security for loans. By 2000, honest appraisers were begging the government to do something about the fraud because honest appraisers were being blacklisted by loan companies for refusing to inflate the value of homes. The industry responded by increasing liar’s loans by 500 percent, which created even more problems. 40 percent of all American loans were liar’s loans: 90 percent of all no-document loans were fraudulent and 90 percent of appraisals were fraudulently inflated at the insistence of the banks.
How can this be prevented? Black proposes a three-step solution: shrink, or break up, the “too big to fail” banks; reform executive compensation (so bad ethics do not coerce good ethics out of the marketplace), and reform the “three D’s” (deregulation, desupervision, and de facto decriminalization).
What does this mean for you? Perhaps nothing more than possessing the knowledge that fraudulent activity happens. Every system keeps its own best interests at the core, sometimes, to the point of corruption. Any system, particularly one that involves money, is going to be at risk for fraudulent activity. Be aware of the system, but not afraid of it, and always keep an eye on your money.
Under-representation of women in fintech: Let’s talk about it
(BUSINESS FINANCE) Representation of women in fintech remains scarce despite a prevalent population of interest. Why is this the case, and what can we do about it?
Women are 50% of the population – so why are there only 9 of us on the 2020 Forbes Fintech 50?
I’m personally shocked by how underrepresented women are in such a lucrative industry. By 2022, it’s predicted that fintech, or financial tech, will be worth $26.5 trillion, and we cannot afford to miss out.
And I’m serious when I say fintech is truly taking over. This includes payment processing, online and mobile banking, person-to-person payments (think Venmo or Cash App), financial software, to name a few. For some perspective, half of consumers use digital banking services as the primary way to manage their money. That’s a big deal.
So why does it matter that women are drastically underrepresented in leading roles at these companies?
- Women CEOs receive only 2.7% of all VC funding – that is astonishingly low, considering that the remaining 97.3% is secured by their male counterparts.
- While a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review on leadership skills found that women scored higher than men in 17 out of 19 categories (I could’ve told you that), women founders make up only 17% of fintech companies. Some of the categories tested on were:
- Bold leadership
- Taking initiative
- High integrity & honesty
- Collaboration and teamwork (this is a big one!)
- Inspiring & motivating others
If you’re a woman interested in business, tech, or entrepreneurship looking to break into the big leagues, here’s some exclusive advice from lady CEOs, founders, and COOs:
- Stay Passionate
Suneera Madhani, Founder + CEO of Fattmerchant, says: “…remember why you started and hold that close to your heart when times get tough.”
- Be Open to Learning
“Never behave as the smartest person in the room because you may miss some of the best ideas.” Says Snejina, Co-founder + CEO of Insurify.
- Trust Your Intuition
As the Founder + CEO of Tala, Shivani Siroya urges us to: “Stay excited, focused on results and be incredibly optimist. It’s okay to really believe in your gut – just make sure that you see the results with it.”
2021 is a new year full of opportunity – even though the odds are (and always have been) stacked against us, let’s have this be the year where women techies and business owners capitalize on their leadership skills. We have lost time – and profit – to account for.
Author’s Note: Thank you to CreditRepair for the linked infographic!
TikTok users are making bank by copying Congress peoples’ investments
(FINANCE) TikTok, the short-form video platform, has users trading stocks tips. The newest strategy: following Congress peoples’ stock moves.
TikTok isn’t just for funny dances, crude jokes, and kids born after the year 2000 (but crazy to think, they aren’t kids anymore, they could be 21…time flies). The short-form video platform that soared to be the #1 most downloaded app during the pandemic is giving tips to youngsters and millennials for their finances. The newest strategy: following and copying Congress’ stock moves.
“Invest together with your family, friends, and brilliant people all over the world. Get real-time notifications when others make trades and copy their moves.”
Nancy Pelosi and her husband, Paul, are the prime examples of government traders (or traitors, you decide) to watch. For example, Paul made $5.3 million through call options to buy 4,000 shares of Alphabet before the House Judiciary Committee voted on antitrust regulations. He also exercised $1.95 million worth of Microsoft stock just 2 weeks prior to the company’s awarded contract worth $22 billion for the use of their VR headsets in military training. Lastly, before President Joe Biden announced another incentive program for EV manufacturers, he also paid Tesla stock options for $1 million.
Christopher Johns, the cofounder of Iris, said that every trade “inevitably turned out to be such a long-term winner.” Wonder how that’s possible (eye roll). He adds, “if they’re the ones passing the laws, it’s probably smart to keep up and see what they’re buying.”
And yes, their stock picks are considered public trading activity and this is perfectly legal. Trading is no longer a lone man in a dark room behind 3 large computer screens of graphs or Jim Cramer screaming in the background- it’s a full-on social activity, just like everything else nowadays.
There is a whole community behind these meme cryptos, penny stocks, and short squeezes. You’ll find them on r/wallstreetbets, Elon Musk’s Twitter, Facebook groups, and of course, trading TikTok, all contributing to the “Eat the Rich” scheme of Gamestop/AMC, the elaborate rise and fall of Dogecoin, and the now trending, 2nd dog-specific coin, Shiba Inu.
Laugh all you want, but these kids are working smarter, not harder, and even outsmarting the best in the league, by following the best in the league.
Mastercard partners with Bakkt to offer crypto services to its vast network
(FINANCE) The thousands of banks and millions of merchants on the Mastercard network could soon integrate cryptocurrency in their products and purchases
Mastercard has announced a partnership set to change the financial industry forever.
The major payments network is teaming up with Bakkt, a crypto-focused firm spun off of Intercontinental Exchange, that would be the provider of custodial services for users that sign up. This means that the thousands of banks and millions of merchants on Mastercard’s network could soon integrate cryptocurrency in their products and purchases. Bitcoin wallets, cards that earn rewards in crypto, and loyalty programs like airline travel or hotel points that convert to bitcoin would be included. The benefit is that the rewards or points in the form of crypto will allow users to earn a yield. Bakkt CEO Gavin Michael said in an interview,
“It’s an easy way to get going because you’re not using cash, you’re putting something that’s an idle asset sitting on your balance sheet, and we’re allowing you to put it to work.”
With Mastercard being a dominant force in the global payments industry alongside Visa, and 2.8 billion Mastercards in use, the announcement could bring a noteworthy expansion to how Americans interact with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Sherri Haymond, the executive vice president of digital partnerships says,
“Our partners, be they banks, fintechs, or merchants, can offer their customer the ability to buy, sell, and hold cryptocurrency through an integration with the Bakkt platform.”
The development of crypto, and bitcoin in particular, has dramatically increased in just the last year. Bitcoin has reached the record price of $60k this month and U.S. regulators have now allowed bitcoin-linked ETFs.
In a U.S. Consumer Crypto survey by Bakkt consisting of 2,000 consumers, 48% said that they purchased some form of crypto in the first half of 2021. 32% that had not yet purchased crypto reported that they were heavily interested in purchasing by EOY.
“We want to offer all of our partners the ability to more easily add crypto services to whatever it is they’re doing.”
And just announced, due to the popularity and interest in cryptocurrencies in the Asia Pacific, consumers and businesses there will have the ability to apply for crypto-linked Mastercard credit, debit, or prepaid cards allowing them to convert their crypto into traditional currency to use globally. Mastercard is partnering with Amber Group, Bitkub in Thailand, and CoinJar in Australia to offer this service. Be on the lookout for the rollout of these services in the States soon!
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