Hello, readers! After this fall's all-out commission price war, we've been keeping a close eye on how the big discount brokers are coping. When Charles Schwab announced in November it was buying smaller rival TD Ameritrade, execs described the deal as an offensive play for sheer size after commissions evaporated — and were pretty forthright about the layoffs and branch closures to come. Rebecca Ungarino reported just last night that Fidelity's enterprise-cloud-computing group has been rocked by job cuts and senior departures. The asset management and brokerage giant is no stranger to the race to zero, given it got rid of online trading commissions in October and debuted two index mutual funds with zero expense ratios last year. This week, Alex Morrell picked insiders' brains about the most transformational M&A deals of the 2010s, and came up with the 10 transactions that left the biggest mark. Aside from being a great conversation starter for holiday gatherings, the question gets at the heart of massive trends that have reshaped the art of dealmaking. We've also been polling Wall Street execs on what's in store for the next decade, resulting in a must-read list of 26 predictions for the future of finance. Augmented reality on bank trading floors and hologram financial advisers are just a few of the huge changes to brace for. Insiders have also been talking innovation when it comes to the IPO process. Spotify and Slack were the first two big tech companies to choose a new way to go public, opting for a direct listing instead of an initial public offering. Now, some are thinking through even more ways to make a debut. The SEC gave a thumbs down to the New York Stock Exchange's initial bid to let companies raise fresh capital even if they opt for an underwriter-free direct listing. But insiders still seem to think a middle ground between direct listings and old-school IPOs may soon be possible. (And NYSE gave it another go this month with an amended rule change proposal.) Meghan Morris talked to bankers at JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs about their outlook for 2020 IPOs and direct listings. Greg Chamberlain, JPMorgan's head of US TMT equity capital markets, said elements of the direct listing and IPO process will continually evolve, meaning more options for issuers. And Nick Giovanni, the co-head of Goldman's global TMT group, told us the Wall Street behemoth is "absolutely on the side of innovation" and wants to find more paths to the public markets. And finally, a few more 2020 predictions. Bradley Saacks highlighted the hedge fund managers that everyone should be watching. Meanwhile, Alex Nicoll talked to eight coworking and flex-office execs to learn how they plan to shake the WeWork effect next year. Happy New Year! Meredith
These 3 people hold the fate of hundreds of local newspapers in their hands after a hedge fund and private equity feeding frenzy Local newspapers have been rocked by consolidation and closures, as digital advertising revenue has not been able to replace print advertisements. Hedge funds and private equity firms have scooped up hundreds of local news sources over the years, with three firms — Alden Global, Fortress, and Chatham Asset Management — now pulling the strings behind the biggest media moves. Local papers have been reduced to joining large conglomerates to stay afloat. The result has been slashed payrolls, lost jobs, and the sales of many iconic newspaper offices, like The Chicago Tribune's Tribune Tower. Business Insider took a look at who the people determining the future of media are, and why the people that work for them are bracing for the worst. READ THE FULL STORY
UBS is deploying 200 'hybrid pods' to tackle tech projects across its investment bank — and that means fewer project managers Beatriz Martin, UBS Investment Bank's chief operating officer, told Business Insider the Swiss bank spent 2019 overhauling how its investment bank organizes teams that develop and update technology. In 2019, the bank created more than 200 small, multi-disciplinary teams — called hybrid pods — that encompass roughly 1,300 employees spread across the bank that focus on specific goals. Martin said increased productivity, not cost reduction, is the goal of the approach. Still, UBS will need fewer program and project managers to get projects done that it used to thanks to the new structure, she said. READ THE FULL STORY
The SEC's patience is running thin with an accounting measure that WeWork, Peloton, and Uber are fond of Memo from the Securities and Exchange Commission: If you want to use contribution margin to tout how well your company is doing, you might want to think twice. WeWork tried to brag about its contribution margin. And WeWork isn't the only high-flying, money-losing company that likes to highlight that kind of figure. Peloton, Uber, and Lyft have all touted their own version of the metric. But moves like that appear to have irked the SEC, to put it lightly. READ THE FULL STORY
Cars will start paying for their own parking and gas as soon as 2020. Here's why Visa is betting on a world of invisible payments. You probably have heard of the so-called internet of things (IoT). It refers to the network of everyday objects that are plugged into the internet. Think: phones, refrigerators, cars, even lightbulbs. Talks of IoT often conjure up fears of Black Mirror-esque dystopian realities. If the things you use every day are connected and communicating with each other, it's easy to see how privacy and security become top concerns. IoT devices can collect data including location, spending habits, and health information. It's that rich trove of data and always-watching connectivity that has caught the attention of one of the world's biggest payments players, as well as venture investors and startups. And as IoT continues to mature, experts and industry leaders are exploring applications through something we all do every day — buy stuff. They're eyeing not only your wallet, but your car as the next opportunity to roll out IoT payments. READ THE FULL STORY
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