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Citigroup Follows UBS And Morgan Stanley In Exiting Broker Pact

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Citigroup has announced its withdrawal from a pact which was designed with a view to allowing financial advisers to switch firms without a lawsuit being filed against them by former employers. The withdrawal of Citigroup from the pact comes after UBS Group AG and Morgan Stanley also indicated that they would exit the protocol. Citigroup will exit the pact on January 8.

“Similar to others in the industry, Citi has decided to exit the protocol. This decision allows us to continue to invest in our growing team of award-winning financial advisers,” Drew Benson, a company spokesperson, said in a statement.

Three months ago the decision by Morgan Stanley to withdraw from the pact raised concerns in the sector that other players would exit the protocol. The fears were confirmed when UBS indicated it would follow Morgan Stanley’s lead.

Broker pact

Signed around 14 years ago, the agreement was meant to mitigate lawsuits whenever financial advisers were poached by competitors. So far close to 1,700 companies have signed the agreement. Three firms created the protocol which offers departing financial advisers a waiver on the non-solicitation agreements which are common in the sector.

In the United States Citigroup employs around 1,000 relationship managers and financial advisers as part of the Citigold service. Advisers are thus able to transfer to other firms books of business on condition that the client information they bring along with them is limited.

In October while exiting the protocol Morgan Stanley indicated that the pact was full of loopholes and gamesmanship and this made the agreement unsustainable. A significant number of the big wirehouses had also indicated that they would be pulling back from the recruitment of new financial advisers.

Hundreds of firms

Despite the exit of Citigroup, UBS Group AG and Morgan Stanley, there are hundreds of firms which remain in the pact and this includes two of the biggest wealth management firms in the industry, Wells Fargo Advisors and Merrill Lynch. Last month, the head of Merrill Lynch, Andy Sieg, indicated to his leadership team that the firm had no intentions of exiting the pact though it was monitoring what the competition was doing. Two months ago, the chief executive officer of Raymond James Financial, Paul Reilly, said that the firm would remain party to the pact until everyone else had left.

The exit of Citigroup from the industry pact coincides with a decision by the U.S. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority to fine the financial institution approximately $11.5 million over errors which resulted in its retail clients getting wrong research ratings.

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Business

Google Announces Big Change to Search Algorithms

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google Search Algorithms august 2018

Calling it a “broad core algorithm update”, Google introduced its latest change in how searchers locate your website. Users might have noticed a change in their pages’ ranking already, although the update will continue to roll out over the next few days.

Google makes small changes to their search algorithms constantly but only makes three or four each year big enough to be mentioned.

As they’ve done after most of their larger search algorithm updates, Google was quick to announce that no changes were made to penalize existing pages. If a ranking went down, it was because someone else’s page was being under-recognized earlier.

google Search Algorithms august  2018

The company tweeted, “There’s nothing wrong with pages that may now perform less well. Instead, it’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded….”

The company also announced there is no “fix” to adjust to the new Google search algorithm. Google spokesman, Danny Sullivan, said he feels the “no fix” position by Google is helpful to webmasters and corporations trying to improve their websites.

Hopefully, they think more broadly,” he said. Site speed and security are things everyone might try to update, but it really comes down to one thing.

“Want to do better with a broad change? Have great content. Yeah, the same boring answer. But if you want a better idea of what we consider great content, read our raters guidelines. That’s like almost 200 pages of things to consider,”  tweeted Sullivan.

This is the link to Google’s rater guidelines: https://t.co/pO3AHxFVrV Sullivan verified that raters do not contribute to broad algorithm changes. He simply points out that great content covers all ills.

Whatever you do in response to the new Google search algorithm, you probably want to wait a little while for a couple of reasons.

First, the algorithm is rolling out slowly. Google verified that it might be Wednesday (August 8) before the entire package is running. What you see today might not be as bad as what you see Thursday.

Second, despite Google’s care to test and validate all updates before release, with as many as two trillion search requests rolling through each day, some anomaly or unintended consequence is bound to come up.

The company often, as in almost always, follows up major algorithm updates with an adjustment update soon after. If you see disastrous changes in your rankings, check if there is room for improvement. But don’t make radical changes for a week or so in case Google fixes it for you.

Google makes these search algorithm changes to enhance the experience of the people searching for what you sell. As more websites come on board, the company needs to assure that it matches the most relevant results to customer queries.

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Uber Obtains 15-Month Probationary License To Launch Its Operations In London

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Uber is currently valued at about $62 billion. Efforts of this controversial transportation startup last September to secure a license to run a private hire vehicle service in London turned out to be an exercise of futility.

The reprieve

However, there is a short reprieve for it following ruling by a judge hearing Uber’s appeal against Transport for London, which is city’s transportation regulator. Uber was served with a 15 month provisional license after it succeeded at demonstrating that it had been playing nice lately. It is looking forward to satisfying conditions set by TfL.

The interested parties are following closely to see what happens with Uber’s push to obtain a regular five-year license, but there is hope considering the recent ruling by court.

To reach her final decision, Chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot considered substantial documentary evidence that was presented. She was convinced Uber modified its practices a huge deal and also illustrated it would adhere to the same in the future. She decided to give it a chance.

Major developments

TfL was ordered to make a payment of about £425,000 in the form of court charges for this case. It was way back in 2012 that Uber was established in London and reports indicate it started off with about 300 drivers in the first year of operation.

Numbers are moving higher as we progress and a person well conversant with the matter says the figure has moved up to 48,000 registered drivers in 2018. Tom Elvidge, the UK general manager has outlined that there were almost 3.6 million riders using it over a 12-week period.

A lot of changes need to be put in place and one of them is proactive reporting of outrageous incidents. There is need to ensure drivers operate only in those areas where they have been licensed.

In launching its arguments, TfL outlined that it was necessary for the steps of Uber to be looked at from the context of the way it conducted itself in the past. TfL took a stance that Uber was to be provided with a shorter license than the one it had been awarded previously.

The director of licensing regulation and charging at TfL Helen Chapman opined, “We’ve had five years of a very difficult relationship, where Uber has felt that it hasn’t required regulation. Frankly frustrating that TfL was made aware of issues via the media rather than Uber.”

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News & Record Is Selling Its Downtown Property After Moving To New Location

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The News & Record has signed an agreement to sell off its property located in downtown Greensboro. The company’s 6.5-acre property is located at 200E. Market St. and occupies the block between Davie and Church Streets and Market and Hughes streets. Unconfirmed reports have indicated that the newspaper intends to sell the property to one of the main players who intend to build the Westin Hotel across Davie Street from the building.

Undisclosed buyer

The News & Record announced that the parties agreed on the terms of the deal on May 4 and the deal is expected to be closed in the third quarter of 2019. The company did not however reveal the buyer of the property.

However, according to The Rhino Times the buyer is Greg Dillon the president of Dillon Development based in Maryland and who is involved in development of a parking deck. The development is being undertaken in partnership with the city of Greensboro and will be part of the Westin Hotel. However, when asked about the potential buyer, Daniel P. Finnegan, an editor and publisher at News & Record did not confirm if indeed Dillon was the buyer.

After selling the property, News & Record is expected to move to a new location in Greensboro in the later 2019 or early 2020. This is after being in the current location since 1976. After the closing date, the company has the option to lease the property.

The paper no longer needs such a big facility after moving its press and mailroom operations to Winston-Salem. The News & Record property, which is owned by BH Media Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway has been regarded as the most outstanding opportunity for redevelopment in downtown and has been up for sale since the last fall when the newspaper shifted to a new location.

Mixed-use property

According to Zack Matheny from Downtown Greensboro the owners of the property will have to put to mixed use if they are to maximize it. The property could be used for restaurants, retail, hotels, residential and offices. The newspaper did not quote the selling in its announcement.

The newspaper has been reducing its staff, which has in turn reduced the amount of space required.   The company has scrapped 50 positions across all its operations in the last one year. 36 of the positions where in Greensboro.  Early this year, the company announced that its advertising sales had declined and was scrapping nine other positions.

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