I recently decided to open a brokerage account with my bank of 10 years (a top five U.S. depository institution). Since I’ve begun covering account opening from the wealth management angle, I thought I would dive in and experience a live account-opening process; I intended to open accounts with other institutions, too, to compare my experiences. My initial expectation was that this was going to be a quick, one-call, two-to-three-day process for a standard account and the purchase of a couple of mutual funds. Instead, I am here one week later without a funded account and with a failed identity verification check (the identity information I provided the new accounts team did not match public record data).
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More than 300 U.S. banks, mostly small community banks, have failed since the start of the financial crisis. While many banks are showing signs of optimism regarding the economy, many are expected to fail over the next couple of years. A speaker at a recent conference predicted that the total number of U.S. banks will decline by 50% over the next 10 years. Again, the smallest institutions are the most likely to fall victim to this continued industry consolidation.
As individual taxpayers and insurance industry participants, we should all be aware of an important but brief opportunity to promote and protect our interests and our points of view regarding the future regulation of the insurance industry. It seems that the Federal Insurance Office (FIO), established by the far-reaching Dodd-Frank Act, is taking shape much more rapidly than most other aspects of this ambitious piece of federal legislation.
Finovate Spring 2011 has come and gone. For those of you unfamiliar with Finovate, it’s the conference version of speed dating. Over a two-day period, 64 companies are given seven minutes apiece to demo innovations in financial technology. There were a few overarching themes among the presentations this spring -- most notably a variety of flavors of merchant-funded rewards. Here are my thoughts on highlights and lowlights of the two days:
The number of active retail FX traders in Japan rose to 643,000, a record high, for the quarter ending in March 2011. The 7.7% increase follows six quarters that each averaged 600,000 active traders. Much of this increased level of activity that took place did so in a quarter that saw a major earthquake and a record low level in USD/JPY (U.S. dollar/yen). As with retail FX's institutional peers, price volatility attracts retail traders.