“I do feel very sorry for younger people in this business,” says Malik Karim, the founder of Fenchurch Advisory Partners.

“This is a relationship business. It is a business where you learn talking to people or sitting alongside people or listening to their calls. But the young people who are starting and have been thinking about coming to the office are going to be stuck at home.”

Karim, 59, is one of very few people working from Fenchurch’s new offices in 110 Bishopsgate, the 46-floor skyscraper that towers over Liverpool Street station. This year was supposed to mark the next phase of development for the business, an investment banking boutique that specialises in financial services. Instead, Karim is working hard to keep his team together.

“It’s all our problem,” he says. “We have to find a new way of working and staying in touch. We can’t have 330 people on a Zoom call having a drink together. Even eight is hard. So however the next few months work out, it is going to be disruptive.”

Yet deals are being done. Fenchurch is advising the mutual insurer LV= on its potential buy-out by the private equity firm Bain. Karim’s team is also helping the Post Office examine the options for its insurance business. Fenchurch has done 10 deals so far in 2020, including the £1.7bn buy-out of Hastings, and expects to complete more even as coronavirus restrictions tighten and the economic recovery is cut off.

Hunt for talent

The firm is part of the long-standing trend in investment banking towards specialist boutiques that can provide advice free of the potential conflicts of big banks. The giants of the City and Wall Street want to provide financing as well as advice.

Karim left that world when he was sacked by Credit Suisse

A group of Black Atlanta businessmen, politicians and entertainers — including former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, the entertainer Michael Render (better known as Killer Mike) and Bounce TV founder Ryan Glover — have launched a new digital bank focused on developing and promoting local communities and cultivating Black and Latinx entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Named Greenwood in an homage to the thriving Tulsa, Oklahoma, business community known as “Black Wall Street” that was destroyed by white rioters in 1921, the digital bank has several features designed to promote social causes and organizations for the Black and Latinx community.

For every sign-up to the bank, Greenwood will donate the equivalent of five free meals to an organization addressing food insecurity. And every time a customer uses a Greenwood debit card, the bank will make a donation to either the United Negro College Fund, Goodr (an organization that addresses food insecurity) or the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

In addition, each month the bank will provide a $10,000 grant to a Black or Latinx small business owner that uses the company’s financial services.

For Render, the decision to launch a new digital bank alongside Young and Glover was a way to link Atlanta’s well-established, centuries-old Black business community with the technologies that are redefining wealth and creating new opportunities in the twenty-first century. It was also a way to equip a new generation with financial tools that could empower them instead of undermine them.

“What I have learned about capitalism is that you’re either going to be a participant in it or a victim of it,” said Render. “The ultimate protest is focusing your dollar like a weapon.”

Young, who is also the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, had seen the ways digital banking technologies were transforming the

The combination of a down economy, the pandemic and election uncertainty are causing the youngest consumers, Generations Y and Z to be pulling back on spending. That does not bode well for retailers in the run-up to the holiday season.

Bloomberg news announced in September that the U.S. unemployment rate was 7.9 percent, more than double what it was last year. But among those ages 16 to 24 that straddle Generations Y and Z, the unemployment rate is a staggering 13.5 percent, according to data from the Labor Department released last week.  

A new Piper Sandler survey suggests that teen spending hit its lowest levels in two decades. While it is hardly surprising that they spent less on food and events during the coronavirus pandemic, even apparel spending was down 11% from last fall. And there is plenty of reason to suggest things could get worse among our youngest spending cohorts. This is particularly troubling given that it was younger spenders that powered the economy out of the 2008 recession.   

Easing the Pay Pain

Retailers are working overtime to reengage the Generation Z demographic, which still wants to touch and feel the goods. Eighty-one percent of this cohort group prefer the instore experience, according to buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) leader Afterpay. As a result, retailers and the fast-growing BNPL industry are mounting a multifront, seasonal attack aimed at this valuable consumer, on and offline.

Two major announcements hit the wires on October 6th introducing new relationships between two major BNPL players with a couple retail powerhouses. First, Australian based Afterpay which claims 10 million active users globally, announced a partnership with Simon Property Group to promote in-store shopping ahead

When Covid-19 hit, Aspetto cofounder and CEO Abbas Haider, like lots of small-business owners, was nervous that business would fall. After all, the biggest buyers for his company’s bullet-resistant clothes and tactical gear were federal agencies, which he figured would be focused elsewhere. “We thought a lot of the funding from defense contracts was going to go to PPE,” he says. “We thought business was going to hurt during Covid.”

Instead, Fredericksburg, Virginia-based Aspetto’s business boomed. It now expects revenue to reach $12.5 million this year, up from less than $2 million in 2019, when he company hit a rough spot. Haider and his cofounder Robert Davis, both 30, are already beginning to line up contracts for 2021 (they say they have $14 million worth secured now), when they expect revenue to surpass $25 million. Since the beginning of the year, they’ve won multi-million-dollar deals to make female specific tactical gear for the U.S. Air Force, armored vests for Homeland Security, ballistic shields for the Internal Revenue Service, stab vests for the Bureau of Prisons, and more.

“Innovation is what really helped us,” Haider says. “The reason we were able to develop these better solutions for the military is that we were looking at it from a different perspective, from fashion.”

Haider’s original idea for the business was to create fashionable body armor, which has long been utilitarian if ugly. While in college at the University of Mary Washington, he teamed up with classmate Davis to start the company in 2008. They bet that U.S. government agencies would be willing to pay for better looking bullet-resistant clothes for their employees in unsafe locales; its men’s suits are stylish, but often cost an extra $3,500 to be outfitted with armor

Dear Amy: I am a personal trainer in my early 20s. I have been hooking up with a woman (almost 40) for the past few months, two or three times a week. Her husband found out about us. Yesterday, he called the gym where I work and also called my mother and told her I was sleeping with his wife. My mom is furious. Then he came after me at the gym.

I told him to calm down, but he took a swing at me and we fought. I knocked him out cold. He was out cold for about five minutes on the floor.

The manager at the gym fired me for fighting. I think it was wrong of the manager to do that, as I was only defending myself.

Now I’m wondering how to get my job back. I talked to my lady friend and she told me her husband is home in bed with a couple of broken ribs and a headache. He couldn’t go to work today.

How can I get my job back?

— Well Trained

Dear Trained: “My mom is furious” is a sign that you aren’t grown up enough to shoulder the burden of being a true badass. I hope you wise up.

I think you are very lucky that you weren’t arrested for assault. Your manager was justified in firing you. Your behavior put this business (and other patrons) at great risk.

I would not want to attend a gym where a trainer regularly hooked up with a married patron, and then beat that person’s husband to unconsciousness – right there in the gym. You obviously take no responsibility for your own actions and how they contributed to the outcome.

Dear Amy: I always assumed that my hairstylist of many years and I