Wall Street Journal

JPMorgan Chase is trying to seal off potential gaps in its security system by limiting which employees can access Swift. Unnamed sources said JPMorgan began reducing employee access in recent weeks.

The move comes after two Asian banks were breached through the use of Swift's global interbank messaging service.

JPMorgan doesn't have a specific concern about its vulnerability through Swift, but it's part of a broader policy to review system access after a security threat.

Swift sent a warning to its customers to "urgently review controls in their payments environments to all their messaging, payments and e-banking channels."

Are car-title loans the next target for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau?

Auto title lending can trap consumers in a cycle of debt, repeatedly rolling over loans, the CFPB said in a new report issued Wednesday. The typical car-title loan carries an annual loan rate of about 300%. Borrowers also frequently have their cars repossessed.

The CFPB is expected to unveil the first national regulations for the payday lending industry later this summer. Auto title loans are less prevalent than payday loans, but are similar in cost, structure and the business model of the companies behind them.

Read American Banker's coverage of the CFPB report on title lending here.

Former Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit is set to become an investor in financial-services companies, possibly including banks.

With backing from Comcast, Pandit has started an firm that will look to invest in "insurers, lenders, asset managers, or financial technology firms." Pandit wants companies that are profitable, growing or mature. No startups, please.

Pandit's new venture, called Orogen Group, will buy majority stakes, or minority stakes if accompanied by a board seat or active management role.

Pandit is already a personal investor in some financial-services startups, including online student lender Common Bond and Orchard Platform, which links investors with online lenders.

Buried in the earnings statements of many banks, listed under noninterest expense, is a line item slugged "professional fees," "professional services," "consulting services" or some such euphemism. Banks rarely identify what exactly that means, who was paid that money, or what services or advice they receive in exchange.

Here's a possibility: In a story about the consulting kingpin McKinsey & Co., and its struggles in disclosing conflicts of interest, Bank of America is identified as one of its clients. How much does B of A shell out for the privilege of having McKinsey tell it how to run its business? How about $1,075 per hour?

No wonder B of A has purged scores of branches and fired dozens of workers to lower its expense base.

Washington Post

Bank of America has been sued for gender discrimination by a former executive who described the company as having the atmosphere of a "bros club."

Megan Messina, who holds the title of co-head of global structured credit products and credit assets, said a male colleague who held the same job title and comparable duties, received a $5.5 million bonus compared to her $1.6 million bonus. Messina is currently on administrative leave.

When she first talked to her new boss, he asked her if she colored her hair and asked about her eye color. Messina said those same questions would not have been posed to a man.

B of A declined to comment on the lawsuit and said about 30% of its senior leadership are women.

"We take all allegations of inappropriate behavior seriously and investigate them thoroughly," B of A said in a statement.

New York Times

Lending Club's ex-chief executive Renaud Laplanche may have committed fraud, but the underlying mission of Lending Club itself is still a worthwhile pursuit, Steven Davidoff Solomon writes for the "Deal Professor" column.

Mainly, they are not banks and don't present the same structural threats to the global financial system, he said.

"The company offers an alternative for borrowers who might be turned away by a big bank or find the interest rates at those banks prohibitive," Solomon wrote.

"Lending Club and other peer lenders have emerged as a real competitive force against the banks," he said. "The newcomers give small businesses an option that looks particularly attractive when compared with high-interest credit cards sold by the banks."

"Companies like [Lending Club] are not banks — they do not have the same central importance, and are not too big to fail," he said.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development will soon announce new rules to control the sale of mortgages that had received government guarantees.

The rules are likely to address concerns raised by housing advocates that hedge funds and private equity firms had been benefiting from a mortgage loan-sale program, not borrowers who needed financial assistance, and that the program had led to increased foreclosures.

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