No financial institution (FI) wants to be in the news because of a lawsuit with its customer, but corporate-account-takeover incidents are creating these types of headlines with increasing frequency. Businesses are being targeted by malware, which obtains credentials to a business’s online bank account and uses that access to drain the funds. Malware is not a new threat, but its sophistication is growing in leaps and bounds. Malware is actively targeting small to midsize businesses with keystroke logging, man-in-the-browser attacks, and other invisible methods that compromise an organization’s security. These breaches result in six- and seven-figure losses because they facilitate access to the online banking platform, where significant sums can be transferred.
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While Americans and Europeans faced austerity programs, borrowing, or the printing of additional money to bail themselves out of the global financial crisis of 2008, Canadians used their budget surplus, accumulated over the last 10 years by a government that worked to maintain balanced budgets. Generally, the country weathered the storm well.
Canadians are comparatively conservative in their approach to financial activities, from government budgeting and risk-averse financial-institution-foreclosure rates (less than .5% due to rigorous lending policies) to strict regulatory oversight of financial institution activities to investors with a bias toward bonds, domestic equity investments, and low household debt.
Following its six-month study of investment advisors and broker/dealers, the SEC has concluded that investors and financial advisors will be better off if broker/dealers can continue to provide incidental advice and investment advisors can continue to act as broker/dealers when clients need fast execution, liquidity, single-transaction service, etc. Given this mindset, the SEC is seeking to harmonize registered investment advisor (RIA) and broker/dealer rules where RIAs and broker/dealers perform similar functions; this, they believe, will minimize regulatory burden and maximize client benefits.
A couple of weeks back, the New York Times Magazine ran an article on how people are managing the digital content that is left behind when they pass away. There are a variety of startups (Entrustnet, DataInherit, DigitalLocker) offering services, as well as gurus offering advice on best practices. Last year, a conference called Digital Death Day took place in San Francisco.
In an interview with Bloomberg earlier this week, Maurice Greenberg, former CEO of AIG, stated that selling off units of AIG was weakening the firm, and that the sale of Nan Shan in particular, wasn’t a good idea. Greenberg knows AIG better than anyone, and may well be right in the long run. But the perceived motivation for the Nan Shan deal, AIG’s desire to “pay off the government,” is incorrect. The proceeds of the firm’s sale of ALICO to MetLife and its IPO of Hong Kong-based AIA have sufficed to pay down the outstanding credit line owed to the New York Fed as part of AIG’s announced restructuring plan. At that point in time AIG has nothing more to pay off, as the Treasury will become a 92% shareholder in the firm.