Posted In:


Pls Fix Work-Life Balance


Mar 27, 2021


Posted In:



Mar 27, 2021



It all started with a simple pitch deck from 13 junior bankers at Goldman Sachs. While the deck was highly ridiculed, and the analysts (for the most part) mocked in the meme-filled world of social media and beyond, the reaction it has caused across Wall Street is undeniable.

Jefferies was the first to respond, immediately announcing that all analysts and associates could receive either a Peloton, Mirror, or suite of Apple products. Apollo and Credit Suisse followed suit with various financial incentives for mid and junior level employees (some with strings attached). And Citi recently announced this week that Fridays would be “Zoom-free” for all internal calls. The irony is that while Goldman spurned the revolution, it was perhaps the most lacking in response - only conceding to reinforce the “protected Saturday” rule more stringently.

In a world where almost every aspect of financial services is being disrupted, the lack of efficiency and automation in the world of big banking is hard to believe. Of course the overall workload has been exacerbated over the past year given the amount of activity seen in the markets, but the fact that the average investment banking analyst still works 100+ hours a week is a sign that something is broken.

Baby steps have been made for sure - for example, many banks have been on spending sprees either acquiring or integrating with fintech companies. Goldman created a Tinder for M&A, which has the potential to create some efficiencies without displacing the traditional banker. Morgan Stanley developed a bot that does junior analysts’ work faster - mainly by helping them find useful information buried in the 50k research reports the bank generates every year.

In spite of this, while the past year has felt like everything has changed, most who have a front row seat would argue that really nothing has changed. The rollout of PPP was perhaps the most stark reminder of the power of automation, and what fintech companies can bring to the table in terms of speed and efficiency. But until the way banks do business and serve their clients dramatically changes, analysts will remain sleep deprived and their inboxes will be filled with many more “pls fix”… kind of like the inbox of the poor unfortunate skipper of Ever Given, currently wedged firmly in the wall of the Suez Canal…

Portfolioi News

Gabrielle Haddad named to Women in FinTech Powerlist 2020 - Congratulations to Sigma Ratings co-founder Gabrielle Haddad on being named to the Women in FinTech Powerlist 2020, which shines a spotlight on the women leading innovation in financial services. Now in its 6th year, the Powerlist has increasingly attracted a global audience, resulting in applications and nominations from around the world. The 2020 iteration shines a spotlight on 200 women across 7 categories. Read more

NYDIG's Yan Zhao explains how the digital asset manager makes buying bitcoin more comfortable - When NYDIG president Yan Zhao began working at the digital asset manager, she was surprised by how many people with similar professional backgrounds to hers were interested in bitcoin. A chief reason for NYDIG’s success convincing this kind of institution to buy into digital assets is that Zhao and her colleagues have spent years working not only with those kinds of companies but, in some cases, with those exact companies. Read more

Fintech Open Co, a merging between Geru and Rebel, raises a round of BRL 150m - Brazilian credit fintech Open Co announced on Wednesday it raised BRL 150m in a round led by International Finance Corporation (IFC), an institution linked to the World Bank, and followed by Goldman Sachs. Raiz Investimentos, Monashees, LTS, Chromo and Sampa also participated in the round. Open Co was founded in 2021 after the merger between the fintech startups Geru and Rebel, and plans to use the value raised in technology and new products. Read more

Plaid accelerator announces inaugural cohort of fintech startups - Plaid has announced the inaugural cohort of startups in its new accelerator program, FinRise.The equity-free and capital-free program has chosen five early-stage fintech startups out of 100 applications to join its cohort. The accelerator is explicitly focused on backing underrepresented founders in tech. Read more

Oyster Financial rolls out instant and revolving credit - That giant rushing sound you hear could be a collective sigh of relief from small business owners across Mexico. Today, Oyster Financial, a leading neobank for SMBs in Latin America, announced a major first: access to affordable instant credit and revolving credit lines specifically designed for small to medium-sized businesses in Mexico that have struggled for a year during a crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more

Pls Fix Work-Life Balance

Wall Street firms are showering junior bankers with special bonuses and perks as burnout mounts - Junior bankers are revolting. Whether it's leaked pitch decks from junior employees laying out their dissatisfaction with their working conditions or widespread associate departures at some firms, Wall Street's youngest generation is making its feelings known. The complaints come after a year of frenzied deal activity and working from home. Their bosses are responding with the promise of protected time off, perks, and, in some cases, special bonuses. Read more

Citi creates ‘Zoom-free Fridays’ to combat pandemic fatigue - The bank’s new chief executive, Jane Fraser, announced the plan for “Zoom-free Fridays” in a memo sent to employees on Monday. Recognizing that workers have spent inordinate amounts of the past 12 months staring at video calls, Citi is encouraging its employees to take a step back from Zoom and other videoconferencing platforms for one day a week. Read more

Morgan Stanley creates bot that does junior analysts' work — faster - When the team at Morgan Stanley created the virtual assistant, it had two goals: to help people in research and sales be more efficient and to make the information in the company’s research reports more discoverable to internal and external clients. Eventually, they want to make the bank’s research omnipresent — in other words, have it follow people around as they’re doing other things. But while the bot can do some of the tasks of a junior analyst, it is certainly not meant to replace them. Read more

Industry News

Trading app Robinhood says it files confidentially for IPO - The company said in a statement that it had submitted its filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and could go public as soon as late in the second quarter. Robinhood's increased popularity during the pandemic has led to scrutiny from politicians and regulators, who are focused on the so-called gamification of trading and the company’s role at the center of the meme-stock frenzy. Read more

The new stock influencers have huge—and devoted—followings - Today’s gurus, like Elon Musk, Chamath Palihapitiya, Barstool Sports founder David Portnoy aren’t defined by Wall Street bona fides. Fund manager Cathie Wood, who cut her teeth at firms like the Capital Group and Jennison Associates, is an exception. Many of today’s influencers have appealed to their followers precisely because of their irreverence and disdain for financial-industry norms. Their followers often profess they couldn’t care less about the depth of analysis behind a trade. If their icon is buying something, they will throw money at it, too. Read more

Fidelity plans to launch bitcoin ETF - The ETF, which requires the Securities and Exchange Commission’s approval, would mark a major step forward in the firm’s bitcoin ambitions. If it is approved, the ETF could be available for purchase on the large brokerage and wealth-management platforms that oversee trillions of dollars of individual investors’ assets. Read more

Mastercard, SoftBank and others call on G7 to create tech group - A group of leading companies including Mastercard, SoftBank and IBM have called on the G7 to create a new body to help coordinate how member states tackle issues ranging from artificial intelligence to cyber security. The Data and Technology Forum, would be modelled on the Financial Stability Board that was created after the 2008 financial crisis and provide recommendations on how tech governance can be coordinated internationally, rather than proposing firm regulations. Read more

SEC kicks off probe Into $220b SPAC market - The SEC's enforcement division is seeking information from several Wall Street banks on fees, volumes and internal controls in SPACs, which have raced ahead of traditional IPOs as the hottest investment trend in the market this year. The trend has also raised significant concerns from market watchdogs and consumer and investor advocates, who worry that the rush to market has come at the cost of sufficient due diligence of the black-check vehicles. Read more

You can now buy a Tesla with bitcoin in the US - As well as confirming the availability of the new payment option, Musk offered some details on how Tesla is handling the cryptocurrency. “Tesla is using only internal & open source software & operates Bitcoin nodes directly,” he said in a followup tweet, “Bitcoin paid to Tesla will be retained as Bitcoin, not converted to fiat currency.” Read more

SoftBank-backed Compass targets $10b valuation in U.S. IPO - Compass, which runs an integrated software platform that serves real estate agents in the residential market, has seen a surge in online home transactions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The firm aims to raise up to $936m in the IPO, selling 36m Class A shares priced between $23 and $26 per share, it said in a filing. Read more

Nubank ended 2020 with BRL 230m of net loss and a fifth of all keys registered on PIX in Brazil - Nubank released its financial results for 2020; the Brazilian fintech reported 28 million keys registered on PIX, Brazil's instant payment system. Read more

Revolut applies for bank charter in the U.S. - If the company manages to get a charter in California, it would let the company operate throughout the U.S. as an independent bank and could therefore start offering more financial services. In particular, it would open up more opportunities when it comes to lending and savings products. Read more

The paradoxes of Coinbase - Rather than a failing, Coinbase's position at the center of such contradictions may explain much of its success. Coinbase's flourishing has owed much to its ability to tread a path between disparate worlds and ideas. Yes, co-founders Armstrong and Ehrsam were economic apostates — contrarian and bold enough to believe that a new financial system was possible — but in suits and starched shirts, they represented the most palatable of heretics. Read more

UK bank fraud hits new record - Online fraudsters have capitalized on the pandemic, using fake texts about Covid-19 vaccines, lockdown fines and missed parcel deliveries to scam UK consumers out of a record £479m last year. There was a 5 percent annual rise in money lost to “authorized fraud” — where customers unwittingly sanction payments to criminals — according to data released by UK Finance, the banking industry body. Read more

Central bankers’ crypto experiments should put investors on alert - Beyond the major bitcoin headlines, there is a second crypto tale unfolding that most people have noticed less: central bank experiments. This week the Bank for International Settlements held an “innovation” conference, at which Jay Powell, Federal Reserve chair, explained that Fed officials are working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to explore the feasibility of a dollar-based central bank digital currency. Read more

Cryptocurrencies set for LatAm payments growth - Latin American payment networks are increasingly adopting cryptocurrency capabilities – and regulation will be key to give digital money a bigger boost. Read more

Robinhood building platform to allow users to buy into IPOs - Robinhood is building a platform to “democratize” initial public offerings, including its own, that would allow users of its trading app to snap up shares alongside Wall Street funds. The move could further erode Wall Street’s grip on stock market flotations. It would be easier to implement for Robinhood’s own IPO, given how companies and their investment bankers tightly control allocations to investors in new listings. Read more

OCBC rolls out facial verification for ATM transactions - OCBC Bank is rolling out facial verification technology to its network of ATMs, enabling users to check their balances and ultimately make cash withdrawals via a scan of their faces. Read more

A new online commerce and payments infrastructure is finally starting to evolve - Alongside the familiar 404 error, encountered when a web page is “not found”, there exists a similar code 402 denoting “payment required”. Apparently, the 402 code was intended to tell a visitor that they needed to pay to view a certain web page. However, the scheme was never built out. To this day, there is still no standardised way to send or receive payments online. Read more

Select Financings

Airwallex - Melbourne based cross-border online payments and infrastructure platform raised $100m in Series D funding led by Greenoaks. Read more

Bankly - Nigeria based fintech startup digitizing cash for the unbanked raised $2m in Seed funding from Vault and Flutterwave. Read more - London based digital assets platform raised $300m in Series C funding led by DST Global, Lightspeed Venture Partners and VY Capital. Read more

Chainalysis - New York based blockchain analysis company raised $100m in Series D funding led by Paradigm. Read more

Feedzai - San Mateo based financial risk management platform raised $200m in Series D funding led by KKR. Read more

Freetrade - UK based stock trading platform raised $69m in Series B funding led by Left Lane Capital. Read more

Greenwood - Atlanta based digital banking platform aimed at Black and Latino customers raised $40m in Series A funding led by Truist Ventures. Read more

Lev - New York based commercial real estate financing transaction platform raised $10m in Seed funding led by NFX. Read more

Loft - Brazil based real estate platform raised $425m in Series D funding led by D1 Capital Partners. Read more

Lolli - New York based maker of bitcoin rewards company that gives users free bitcoin when they shop raised $5m in pre-Series A funding led by Seven Seven Six. Read more

Lukka - New York based enterprise crypto portfolio management software raised $53m in Series D funding from Soros Fund Management, S&P Global and Read more

Pacaso - Los Angeles based startup aiming to make second home purchases more accessible raised $75m in new funding led by Greycroft and Global Founders Capital. Read more

Pie Insurance - Washington, D.C. based provider of workers’ comp insurance for small businesses raised $118m in Series C funding led by Allianz and Acrew Capital. Read more

Pilot - San Francisco based accounting company raised $100m in Series D funding led by Bezos Expeditions. Read more

Pluang - Indonesia based investment and savings app raised $20m in pre-Series B funding led by Openspace Ventures. Read more

Polly - San Francisco based provider of mortgage industry SaaS raised $15m in Series A funding led by 8VC. Read more

PPRO - London based localized payments provider raised $90m in new funding from JPMorgan Chase and Eldridge. Read more

Rupifi - India based buy now pay later platform for micro SMEs raised $4.1m in Seed funding led by Quona Capital. Read more

Side - San Francisco based real estate brokerage platform raised $150m in new funding led by Coatue. Read more

Vórtx - Brazil based corporate and trust service provider for fund managers and corporate issuers raised $35m in Series B funding led by FTV Capital. Read more


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