The most passive-aggressive innovator on Earth.

The most passive-aggressive innovator on Earth.

Last week, Morningstar noted that more than half of the net flows into ETFs and mutual funds in 2016 went to one firm: Vanguard. That pushed the indexing giant’s assets over the $4 trillion mark and within about $1 trillion from world leader BlackRock. But what you may not realize about the passive investing giant is that it isn’t too shabby as an active manager. 

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Meet Watson, your new tax preparer

Meet Watson, your new tax preparer

IBM’s ongoing transformation into a lighter, more forward-thinking technology company continues to prominently feature fintech. A case in point: this week, the company announced a partnership with Dubai’s government to test trade finance applications using the hyperledger Fabric protocol and IBM’s cloud solutions. That announcement, which likely won’t generate any near-term revenues, follows last week’s announcement ...

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Watch the WASSUPPs

Watch the WASSUPPs

With the exception of Amazon, our guess is that the so-called FANGS (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google) will never view financial services as primary. Sure, they’ll keep hoovering up data on people and use that information to build a widening array of products, some of which will involve financial services. But these companies have their hands full with lots of other big things beyond finance. Moreover, self-driving cars, digital assistants, virtual reality devices and open data center projects sound a lot more exciting than 401(k) plans. But watch out for the new crop of tech powerhouses we’ve nicknamed the WASSUPPs ...

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Five fantasy insurance products we’d like to see for real

Five fantasy insurance products we’d like to see for real

A post from Asia’s E27, which details fictitious insurance start-ups, makes a serious point: New technology-based insurance solutions for a rapidly changing world will seriously upend many insurance verticals. Will we ever see the day where an insurance offering from "Welll" offers quality of life coverage that pays for remedial treatments if happiness levels falls below a predetermined threshold?

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Mobile banking innovation goes through the Congo.

Mobile banking innovation goes through the Congo.

That’s right, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); ranked 151 out of 159 on the Global Freedom Index, home to the bloodiest war on Earth since World War II (The Second Congo War) and generally viewed as a corrupt nation that permits horrific child labor practices. It’s also the dominant global producer of cobalt, an essential element in making the lithium ion batteries used in mobile phones (including Apple products). Currently, ...

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Citizen Ray

Citizen Ray

We aren't sure what to make of this Wall Street Journal story (subscription) discussing Bridgewater Associates' attempt to transform Ray Dalio's brain into a software tool that governs how employees should spend each moment of their day. Mr. Dalio's 123-page meditation on radical transparency, life and management principles has been widely read on Wall Street as has his view on the economic machine that governs markets.

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Munich Re and young insurance start-up cut a deal.

Munich Re and young insurance start-up cut a deal.

In the reinsurance world, Munich Re is a großen hund (big dog); Next Insurance is a Silicon Valley start-up founded and seeded this year by three guys with an idea. What’s the deal? The answer lies in Next’s focus on delivering quick and easy insurance to small businesses in niche markets.

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Health care insurance disrupted visually.

Health care insurance disrupted visually.

Even though we are fintech focused, we harp quite a bit on health care because we believe health care not software is eating the world  —  in a bad way. Plus, there’s increasing overlap between the two sectors as fintech innovation marches toward mainstream acceptance.

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The state of global insurance innovation in one handy graph.

The state of global insurance innovation in one handy graph.

We love the old adage ‘the right graph is worth a thousand white papers.’  If you are sympathetic to that perspective and/or you just don’t have an extra five hours to read a full white paper on the state of insurance innovation, we’d suggest you check out the graphic below. Given that it was produced by the UK’s Oxbow ...

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This medallion makes a whole lot of veal.

This medallion makes a whole lot of veal.

If you have any kind of Wall Street credential on your resume, you probably won’t get hired at Renaissance Technologies or be able to own a piece of its flagship fund, Medallion. So who does this 300 person, Long Island fund hire? Astrophysicists, ex-IBMers, PhDs and assorted other folks who create Feynman diagrams for fun. And why do they want to work there?

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AirBnb needs to book a room in a town called Authenticity.

AirBnb needs to book a room in a town called Authenticity.

This week, Morgan Stanley contradicted a report by research firm STR and made a bold claim: AirBnb will clip growth in hotel revenues by 80% more than previously thought. AirBnb’s response: “We've long believed that for us to win, no one has to lose...There's no question that travel and hospitality will continue to grow and that's good news for everyone." Hey AirBnb, ...

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