Partnerships ahead: The online lending platform Kabbage has raised $250 million from the Japanese telecom giant SoftBank. This is its largest equity fundraising round to date, and Kabbage plans to use the capital infusion to engage in “a lot more expansions globally and partnerships with financial institutions around the world,” said Kathryn Petralia, the company’s chief operating officer. “We do enjoy partnering with institutions because they have a lot of really great assets,” like a low cost of capital, a rich amount of data and a constant flow of funds. Kabbage sees itself as an alternative to traditional banking services, but probably won't try to become a bank itself — they're really slow and boring — she said. “Eighty percent of our customers bank with the top 10 banks. They just can't get a loan from them.”
Doubting, but doing anyway: Westpac’s former chief executive, Gail Kelly, shares some of her experiences with maintaining work-life balance and connecting with employees on a more personal level in her new memoir, “Live Lead Learn.” During her time as CEO of St. George Bank, before its 2008 merger with Westpac, Kelly would email employees a bimonthly company newsletter and frequently closed with some message about her family — whether a snapshot of the family vacation or the challenges of having triplets all learning to drive at the same time. It made communicating with staff feel more like making a personal connection, said Kelly, who has the distinction of being Australia’s first female bank CEO. "All my career — as a consequence of being a woman in business — I have always been asked a little bit about family," she said. "It has been part of my style I suppose, my persona, to be open and candid about my whole life.” Kelly, who stepped down from Westpac in 2015, also talked about embracing opportunities outside of her comfort zone. "I have had lots of self doubts along the way in different opportunities that have come my way," she said. "Dig deep, be bold and have a go."
Alpha women: Michael Whelchel, co-founder and managing partner of Big Path Capital, wrote an op-ed arguing that the funding disparity that exists for female founders is a potential source of alpha for savvy venture capitalists. “Ability and intelligence cut across race, sex and gender orientation, but opportunity (and you can fill in access to capital) does not,” Whelchel said. “This is an arbitrage play for those who identify talent that the majority of the VC community has discounted and overlooked.” Out of the $60 billion that VCs invested last year, $1.5 billion, or roughly 2%, went to women-run companies. And only 24 of 10,238 venture deals done between 2012 and 2014 involved black female founders — that’s 0.2% and statistically speaking registers as zero. White men oversee the vast majority of the funding, and the allocations are going overwhelmingly to people who look just like them. “As an investment community, we have to realize that any system with 90% homogeneity is vulnerable, while diversity makes the system more resilient,” Whelchel said. “It is resilient organizations and investments that will outlast and outperform peers.”
#whereareallthewomen: The Financial Times examined the total compensation breakdowns of the largest banks’ CEOs. “The five best-paid bosses all work for U.S. lenders,” with one other U.S. CEO appearing further down on the list, Business Insider reported. “Outside the U.S., five work for British banks, two for Swiss lenders, two for Canadian banks, and one for Spain's biggest bank, Santander. All 20 of the best-paid CEOs are men, while 19 are white men,” with Credit Suisse’s Tidjane Thiam being the sole exception.
An economic experiment: Y Combinator Research is planning to test "universal basic income” as a potential solution for dealing with the increase in income volatility. The idea is to give people with incomes below a certain level a monthly check to cover basic needs like food and shelter until they make enough to repay the money in the form of taxes, according to YCR’s Elizabeth Rhodes, who argues that current social programs need to be rethought. "So many policies and social programs are reactive, not addressing a problem until many people's lives have been upended, and then acting as more of a Band-Aid than a sustainable response to the problem," she said. For as many as half of U.S. households, incomes go up or down by 25% or more from one month to the next, as noted in this story. Others experience financial shocks like getting laid off or having to care for elderly parents. And though many people have speculated on the pros and cons of universal basic income, real-life results are lacking, so the YCR experiment should better inform the debate, Rhodes said. "We want to know if and how this basic level of economic security helps people cope — and even thrive — in the midst of volatility and uncertainty.”
Fifth Third Bancorp's top lawyer, Jelena McWilliams, is rumored to be a leading candidate to run the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. She hasn't been formally offered the position. McWilliams is a former chief counsel for Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee and worked at the Federal Reserve. Fifth Third appointed her chief legal officer in January.
The Bank of England’s Joanna Place has taken over as its chief operating officer, a role previously held by Charlotte Hogg. Hogg left in July amid a controversy over her failure to disclose a conflict of interest. Place has been acting COO since and previously served as executive director for human resources.
Investors Bank in Short Hills, N.J., has named Margaret Lanning its next chief credit officer. She previously had the same title at OceanFirst.
Numbers story: Are perceptions of women in the workplace putting them at a disadvantage? Most men — and women — prefer to work with men, according to an MSN poll. Also, 31% of men and 24% of women believe gender diversity at work is "not important at all,” while 40% of men, and 17% of women, think women are treated "very fairly" in the U.S. workforce. MSN polled more than 463,000 readers on its U.S. homepage on July 17. It then used machine learning and data such as the census to model how a representative sample of Americans would have responded.
Why, oh why?: Speaking of attitudes toward female coworkers, this article from the Atlantic explores why some women are unsupportive of each other at work.
Girl power: The majority of Britain’s teen girls — 69%, between the ages of 13 and 18 — now describe themselves as feminist, according to new research from UM London. That percentage goes down as the ages go up; 54% of women aged 18 to 24 described themselves as feminist, but only 44% of those aged 25 to 34 did also. Wonder how teen boys identify themselves.