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Sexist and racist chats spike among home-bound traders

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City bosses have seen a spike in sexist, discriminatory and unlawful behaviour since thousands of finance workers started working from home due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

Surveillance companies that help banks, funds, private-equity and trading firms track employee behaviour, told Financial News that firms have seen a rise in misconduct amongst remote-working staff. 

The reports of misbehaviour come as regulators brace for more market abuse cases as the virus exposes gaps in systems suddenly tasked with tracking thousands of employees scattered throughout London. 

Behavioural analytics firm Behavox, which is backed by Softbank Vision Fund 2, said its clients saw an 18% increase in alerts generated by the platform to flag dodgy behaviour when their staff began homeworking in March compared to the month before.

“They could comfortably be sitting in their bedroom or in their home office and be chatting away with their colleagues without being noticed,” Behavox’s chief executive Erkin Adylov said.

“[This] is encouraging these cliques or these kind of buddy networks, where people are frivolously using sexist, racist and discriminatory language that wasn’t there before.”

The financial services industry – among the world’s most heavily regulated – has long used surveillance software to track employee phone calls, texts, trading activity and behaviour. Such technology is now taking on a new prominence as compliance workers battle to keep up with worker communication from afar.

SteelEye, a data analytics firm that has 55 clients in the finance sector, said firms using its surveillance software had seen a spike in “language that could be deemed as harassment” or “completely inappropriate for a professional environment”, according to its chief executive Matt Smith. 

SteelEye clients also saw a “massive increase” in alerts flagging possible insider dealing and market abuse in the first few weeks of the lockdown, said Smith.

The CEO of a third surveillance software provider, who spoke on the condition on anonymity, said that weeks into the crisis the “psychological impact of the Covid lockdown was now starting to take effect” and the “stresses of a prolonged period of homeworking could bring out the worst in people”. 

Firms like SteelEye and Behavox can’t access information within client surveillance systems, people with knowledge say, but clients can share examples of behaviour picked up by their software.

Mark Steward, the Financial Conduct Authority’s executive director of enforcement and market oversight, told Financial News in April that the regulator was bracing for an uptick in market abuse cases in the wake of the pandemic. 

The FCA said in a 27 May note that it was aware of a “surge in the number of surveillance alerts in a number of markets” in recent weeks. 

The note warned financial services firms to ensure they were maintaining “robust market surveillance” to catch out would-be miscreants in light of “changes in market conditions and the current use of alternative working arrangements” during the Covid-19 lockdown. 

Working under lockdown, SteelEye’s Smith said had increased “the ability for people to do nefarious things if they want to do nefarious things”.

He also warned that finance workers tracked by the firm’s systems have been frequently switching work communication to channels not tracked by their company surveillance systems. That’s “always a red flag” for compliance teams seeking out signs of wrongdoing, he said.   

The Behavox system had flagged an attempted intellectual property theft at one of its investment firm clients in early May, Adylov said. “A person was trying to steal proprietary data relating to a deal that was going on live … The [Behavox] system found out and caught this person in the act of trying to take proprietary information away from the client. And it escalated this to the compliance team, which then decided to act on it.”

Adylov added: “Typically these types of events are very rare, but what we’re seeing is that these rare events are becoming more frequent in the work from home environment.”

“I think … they [finance workers] are probably assuming that compliance teams are just asleep at the wheel or are probably firefighting somewhere else.”

Financial services firms may decide moving their staff back into the office is the only way to stamp out misbehaviour, other experts have warned. 

Paul Tombleson, a partner in KPMG’s forensics team and head of its trader surveillance practice, said most banks will want to move traders back to a “secure physical environment relatively quickly”. 

“It’s very difficult to replicate the controlled environment you have in place on a trading floor from home,” he said. “When you take a trader out of the trading floor, and you put them in their home … there is nothing you can do to put a hard control in place.” 

“You can’t have a supervisor sitting next to them.”

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Lucy McNulty

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Finance minister addresses COVID-19 economic recovery plan at virtual event

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Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will provide an update on the Liberal government’s plan to recover from the pandemic-induced economic slowdown today.

Freeland is scheduled to speak at the Toronto Global Forum at 12:40 p.m. 

The finance minister is the keynote speaker for the final day of the three-day event, which brought together politicians, business leaders and academics from around the world to exchange views on global economic issues.

Her speech is happening on the same day the Bank of Canada released a new report predicting the country’s economy won’t fully recover what was lost to COVID-19 until 2022.

The bank’s monetary policy report estimates the economy will shrink by 5.7 per cent this year, but grow by 4.2 per cent next year and 3.7 per cent in 2022.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this week that government officials are working on a “robust” budget update outlining the state of federal finances after months of spending on pandemic-related support programs.

The last detailed update came in the form of a fiscal snapshot tabled by then-Finance Minister Bill Morneau in July. It estimated the federal government’s budget deficit would hit $343.2 billion this year — but it was delivered before the Liberals made a series of costly changes to benefit programs that are sure to drive that number up.

In last month’s speech from the throne, the government promised to extend emergency supports for Canadians and struggling businesses hit by the COVID-19 crisis into next summer.

Trudeau said Monday the promised update won’t cite a specific fiscal anchor to keep spending from spiralling out of control.

In a recent report, the office of Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux estimated that the size of the debt compared to the size of the domestic economy — which had been the Liberals’ preferred fiscal anchor — could be around 48 per cent this year and next.

The debt this year is expected to push past $1.2 trillion.

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Marble Launches Maestro – Its Financial Literacy Educational Platform | 2020-10-28 | Press Releases

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(TheNewswire)

Launch of Maestro further expands the Marble platform with this educational component, as November marks the 10 th anniversary of Financial Literacy Month in Canada

Vancouver, B.C. – TheNewswire – October 28, 2020 – Marble Financial Inc. (CSE:MRBL ) (CNSX:MRBL.CN) ( OTC:MRBLF) (“Marble” or the “Company”) a financial technology company that empowers Canadians’ toward a positive financial future, is pleased to announce the launch of Maestro, Marble’s latest financial literacy educational platform, available to all MyMarble customers.

Maestro combines expert-curated educational content and skill testing quizzes to give Canadians the power to have both a foundation in crucial financial knowledge and the empowerment to effectively utilize Marble’s personal finance and credit rebuilding platform, MyMarble and its current products, Score-Up, and Fast-Track. Maestro users will benefit from over 30 different courses across three core financial foundations, credit, budget, and debt management.

Key findings from Statistics Canada’s 2019 Canadian Financial Capability Survey showed that 51% of 18 to 35 year-old Canadians surveyed seek financial literacy from online sources, displaying a preference for easy-to-use and digestible online content. In addition to this, 44% of Canadians surveyed said they engaged in financial education to strengthen their financial knowledge, proving a high demand and additional user acquisition stream with a product such as Maestro.

November marks the 10 th anniversary of Financial Literacy Month in Canada, and today, millions of Canadians are still seeking some form of online financial education. The launch of Maestro adds an additional dimension to Marble’s product line, allowing Marble to become its users’ primary personal finance solution through a more holistic, end-to-end financial experience.

Maestro is now available on the MyMarble Platform and offers the following:

  • – Available to all Marble customers at no cost, monthly fees or subscription

    – Over thirty expert-curated online courses in the credit, budget and debt management sectors

    – Desktop and mobile friendly

    – Video enabled and audio course content for all audiences

“Canadian’s are used to the traditional ways when it comes to improving their financial literacy – friends or family, financial advisors, or banks,” said Karim Nanji, CEO of Marble. “The description of a ‘Maestro’ is someone who conducts and is a master of their respective trade. The ability to master finances is something we believe all Canadians can achieve through financial literacy offered in an effective and easy online-learning environment. With Marble’s Maestro, we are very excited to fill the demand to further empower and educate Canadians. With the power of our online technology and our industry-leading MyMarble, Score-Up, and Fast-Track solutions, our customers have all the tools needed to take control of their personal finances.”

ON BEHALF OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS,

Karim Nanji, CEO

About Marble Financial Inc. (CSE: MRBL; OTC: MRBLF) Marble leverages its proven data driven strategies utilizing the power of machine learning, data science, and artificial intelligence, through its industry-leading proprietary technology solutions Fast-Track, Score-Up, and Credit-Meds to engage in and navigate a clear path for Canadians towards financial wellbeing and a meaningful credit score. Since 2016, Marble is proud to have empowered thousands of marginalized Canadians to a positive financial future, and we continue to establish ourselves as leaders in financial wellness through the licensing of our proprietary products on the Marble Platform.

For further information, please visit the company’s website at http://mymarble.ca

Mike Marrandino,

Executive Chairman

T:(855) 661-2390 ext. 104

Email: ir@marblefinancial.ca

NEITHER THE CANADIAN SECURITIES EXCHANGE NOR ITS REGULATIONS SERVICES PROVIDER HAVE REVIEWED OR ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE ADEQUACY OR ACCURACY OF THIS RELEASE.

Caution Regarding Forward-Looking Information

This release contains “forward-looking information” as such term is used in applicable Canadian securities laws, including statements regarding the Private Placement and the use of proceeds therefrom. The use of any of the words “target”, “plans”, “anticipate”, “continue”, “estimate”, “expect”, “may”, “will”, “project”, “should”, “believe” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking information is based on management’s expectations and assumptions, including statements relating to the future plans and objectives of the Company, the Company’s expectations surrounding the market potential of Maestro, Score-Up, Fast Track and the benefits including potential credit score improvement, building and management results. In making the forward-looking statements included in this news release, the Company has applied several material assumptions, including but not limited to, that the Company’s financial condition and development plans do not change as a result of unforeseen events, and that the Company will and has received all required regulatory approvals in the jurisdictions across Canada that it will be offering this product. Forward-looking information is subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause plans, estimates and actual results to vary materially from those projected in such forward-looking information. Factors that could cause the forward-looking information in this news release to change or to be inaccurate include, but are not limited to: general economic, market or business conditions; changes in the Company’s financial condition and development plans; and other risks and uncertainties as set forth in the Company’s most recent continuous disclosure filings filed under the Company’s profile at www.sedar.com .

Although the Company has attempted to consider important factors that could cause actual costs or results to differ materially, there may be other factors that cause actual results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. The forward-looking information included in this release is expressly qualified in its entirety by this cautionary statement. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information. The Company undertakes no obligation to update these forward-looking statements, other than as required by applicable law.

Copyright (c) 2020 TheNewswire – All rights reserved.



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Despite Financial Strain, Harvard Not Considering Varsity Athletic Team Cuts | News

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Harvard Athletics has spared its personnel and 42 NCAA Division I programs from cuts as it drastically reduces operations in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Director of Athletics Erin McDermott said in a Tuesday interview.

McDermott, who began her tenure as Harvard’s first female Athletics Director this summer, said she spent her first four months at the helm finding ways to make the department “austere in our operation.”

Harvard’s fields, courts, and pools now sit largely empty as a result of the coronavirus crisis. The Ivy League canceled the fall sports season and Harvard limited on-campus living to freshmen and a small share of upperclassmen this semester to curtail virus’s spread.

McDermott said the global health crisis has naturally circumscribed the department’s operations.

“Operations are so drastically different without having competition, you know, we’re not traveling teams, we’re not hosting competition,” she said. “With the student athletes that we have on campus, and with our recreational operations that we have ongoing for students and staff on campus, we’re operating really on an as need — and what’s really essential — kind of way.”

“There wasn’t really definitive, necessarily ‘cuts’ that were made,” McDermott added. “We’re just not doing all the same things that we would typically do.”

Still, the department has not broken even.

McDermott said two major sources of revenue the Athletics Department lost include the Harvard-Yale football game — which Harvard was scheduled to host next month — as well as the Boston Calling Music Festival, which takes place at the athletics complex every spring. As a result, McDermott said, a large part of her day-to-day job over the past four months has consisted of schmoozing potential donors virtually and soliciting their contributions.

Though McDermott did not state the extent of the department’s financial losses, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences — which oversees Harvard Athletics — netted more than $30 million in “unforeseen expenses and lost revenue” associated with the coronavirus as of April.

Despite financial pressures, Harvard Athletics has not cut any of its teams or fired its employees, according to McDermott.

While universities across the country — including peer schools such as Dartmouth and Stanford — have recently axed a handful of athletics programs to improve their balance sheets, McDermott said Harvard has not considered eliminating any of its 42 varsity teams — the most of any university in the country.

“There haven’t been conversations about cutting teams,” she said.

McDermott also said the department has been “fortunate” not to have to reduce its payroll, though it has adhered to the University-wide hiring freeze.

—Staff writer Ema R. Schumer can be reached at ema.schumer@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @emaschumer.



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