With just a week left before the December 31, 2020, transition-period deadline, the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) finally agreed to new post-Brexit trading arrangements and, in doing so, avoided a potentially disastrous no-deal scenario. But conspicuously absent from the trade deal are rules governing the financial-services sector.
Bank of America
On December 15, US bank Goldman Sachs announced what many believe to be the strongest restrictions on fossil-fuel activity by any major bank in the United States. Most notably, the bank has become the first big American lender to restrict financing on any part of the oil-and-gas sector, with a particular focus on protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The United States will soon break a record: the longest period of economic expansion, last set in the 1990s. But some don’t see this growth continuing much longer; they expect a recession, or even a depression, to extinguish the growth trajectory the world’s largest economy has been following for nearly a decade. Are these fears justified? Or are there as many reasons to expect the economy to continue to soar, shattering all records?
Diversity and inclusion have recently become top goals in the strategic policies of many banks, but how is execution matching up? Research continues to expose large gaps between good intentions on paper and good outcomes in practice. Diversity and inclusion are more than nice-sounding words; when realized, they boost profitability. Banks that go no further than prioritising these goals in mission statements miss out on playing the ace.
The name of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 describes its purpose: slashing the US corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent would result in executives investing the resultant savings into growing their companies, increasing productivity, creating jobs, equalizing wage inequalities. If only the executives were on the same page. Instead, many are funnelling the lion’s share of the windfall into share buybacks, benefiting their investors.
Weighing the possibility of adopting AI and automated decision-making is no longer a choice for banks; this technology has proved its worth in everything from combating fraud to meeting compliance requirements to providing excellent customer service via chatbots. As banks struggle to be profitable in the post-financial crisis era, AI has been an invaluable friend to those that have learned how to make it work for them.
As the landscape of financial services continues to change, it’s critical to stay ahead of the game. ATMs were groundbreaking achievements once upon a time, while more recently, mobile baking was the logical next step in banking’s maturation.
In March, the US Senate reformed the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act by loosening its tight regulations on smaller financial organizations, welcome relief for those firms that have been struggling for eight long years with requirements targeted for larger, systemically important institutions during the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Most are upbeat about the Senate bill, but how will it fare in the House of Representatives?
“Plan for radical change, or prepare for obsolescence” was the recent message from former Apple CEO John Sculley in reference to the banking sector’s latest digital innovation: the chatbot. As part of the ongoing fintech revolution, mobile-messaging applications are now being adopted around the world at an astronomical rate.
Blockchain, the technology underlying bitcoin, is poised to enter the mainstream with about 30 medium and large banks planning to put it into use by 2017. Applications range from reference data (real-time sharing of information about transactions within a bank and with external parties), retail payments, consumer lending and trade finance.