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Banks’ war against fintechs is a battle they’re destined to lose

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Friday I’m in love! It’s Dan DeFrancesco, and I’m really hoping they consider naming Jonah Ryan from “Veep” as the next Speaker of the House.  

Before we get into it, I’m trying a new segment: Fun Fact Friday. 

Today’s fact: Reno is farther west than Los Angeles. 

If that wins you a point in bar trivia, you owe me a drink. 

On tap, we’ve got stories on a couple of hedge-fund managers who are absolutely crushing it, more bad news for real-estate brokerage Compass, and a cat with a bank account that’ll make you blush

But first, banks do battle.

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The wall street bull in a hoodie and headphones, holding a laptop with stickers on it.

iStock; Rebecca Zisser/Insider

1. When a Goliath tries to be a David.

Banks are good at plenty of things. They can keep money safe. They can lend. They can help firms make trades. They can advise companies on deals. 

Something banks aren’t good at is changing quickly. Whether it be their sheer size, the amount of regulations they need to navigate, or just a general fear of rocking the boat, banks aren’t the most innovative bunch.

One group that is good at innovation is fintechs. And while this shouldn’t bother banks — they make plenty of money doing what they do best — this is Wall Street. Enough is never enough, and life is a zero-sum game. 

So banks view fintechs as a general threat to their livelihood, from competing for tech talent, to stealing their market share, to, most importantly, impacting their bottom line. 

In fact, the face of Wall Street, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, literally declared war on fintechs on an earnings call in 2021.

“I expect there to be very tough, brutal competition in the next 10 years,” Dimon said. “I expect to win. So help me, God.”

But, as Insider’s Bianca Chan and Reed Alexander recently outlined in a fantastic feature, banks’ bid to topple fintechs is hopeless.

It’s not because of some great success on the part of fintechs, which were brutalized for most of 2022. No, the biggest thing holding banks back from being more innovative is themselves. 

As detailed by interviews with more than a dozen industry insiders, the culture banks have established, which serves their traditional areas of business well, is not a prime environment for a forward-thinking, tech-savvy firm.

It’s a lesson that’s been proven time and again. Whether it’s JPMorgan’s digital-only bank Finn or, more recently, Goldman Sachs’ Marcus, banks’ attempt to cosplay as fintechs rarely ends well. 

Click here to read more about why banks are doomed to keep failing in their fight against fintechs.

In other news:

taylor swift bejeweled music videoTaylor Swift in the “Bejeweled” music video.

Taylor Swift/YouTube

2. Compass is conducting its third round of layoffs in eight months. The embattled real-estate brokerage, which has seen its public valuation go from $8 billion in 2021 to roughly $1 billion currently, slashed its revenue projection by 25% for 2022. We’ve got the full memo announcing the cuts.  

3. It’s Ken Griffin’s world, and we’re all just living in it. Citadel, the billionaire’s hedge fund, had $28 billion in revenue in 2022, The Wall Street Journal reported, which was nearly double last year’s record mark. Citadel Securities, meanwhile, had a record $7.5 billion in revenue. At this rate, forget all-inclusive trips to Disney World for his staff, Griffin might just buy the park. 

4. I take that back, it’s Ken Griffin’s AND Steve Cohen’s world. The Point72 founder and New York Mets owner made more than $1.7 billion in 2022, according to Institutional Investor. And that doesn’t even include his cut of fees from the hedge fund! Here’s hoping he keeps pouring that money into the Mets

5. Crypto’s favorite bank is having a crisis. Silvergate Bank, which was a favored bank of now-bankrupt FTX and whose deposits are almost entirely related to crypto activity, cut 40% of its staff after $8.1 billion in customer withdrawals

6. Oh no! It turns out the wealthiest people might be hit the hardest by an upcoming recession! A so-called “richcession” could be brewing that would impact the wealthiest Americans. Don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll figure out a way to pass those losses down to the rest of us

7. So about those startup investments… Investing in startups was all fun and games for hedge funds when the valuations just kept rising. But after a brutal 2022, investors are questioning funds on the state of their holdings. Bloomberg mapped out the valuations of more than 40 private companies that have hedge-fund investors. See for yourself, but it’s brutal

8. Pronatalism for me but not for thee. Elon Musk reduced coverage of fertility-related needs and treatments by 50% for Twitter employees. The cuts come despite Musk having used fertility treatments to conceive most of his children, and the billionaire being associated with pronatalism, a movement among the tech elite to have tons of kids to save the world.  

9. JPMorgan is helping TikTok’s parent company get into the payments game. The largest US bank by assets is helping ByteDance build out a payments infrastructure, Forbes reports. More on the quiet partnership

10. Taylor Swift’s cat is worth more money than you’ll ever earn. Olivia Benson (sidenote: what happened to “Paws” or “Fluffy?”) is worth $97 MILLION. And it’s not even the richest animal! Here are some more posh pets.   

Curated by Dan DeFrancesco in New York. Feedback or tips? Email, tweet @dandefrancesco, or connect on LinkedIn. Edited by Jeffrey Cane (tweet @jeffrey_cane) in New York and Hallam Bullock (tweet @hallam_bullock) in London. 


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