California suspends business relationships with Wells Fargo

California State Treasurer John Chiang on Wednesday announced a sweeping suspension of business relationships with Wells Fargo Co as punishment for the company’s defrauding of customers.

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In addition, Chiang vowed to work with the state’s two giant public pension funds to change the management structure at the bank, which is California’s oldest financial institution.

The sanctions, which will last for 12 months, include suspending Wells Fargo as a managing underwriter on state negotiated bond sales, Chiang said. California is the nation’s largest issuer of municipal debt.

“We want to make sure that Wells Fargo understands its errors and we want to make sure there is meaningful change,”

Chiang told reporters, adding that the bank would not be happy with the State’s actions.

“We hit them with the three most highly profitable lines of business.” Chiang said.

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Attempts to reach Wells Fargo for comment were not immediately successful. The company’s stock rose 0.48 percent to close at $45.31.

Wells Fargo on Sept. 8 agreed to pay $190 million to settle a case by California prosecutors and federal regulators over what were potentially more than 2 million unauthorized credit card and deposit accounts opened by branch employees scrambling to meet sales quotas. The bank said it fired 5,300 employees over the issue.

Chiang, who oversees nearly $2 trillion of California’s annual banking transactions and manages a $75-billion investment pool, called for the state to suspend Wells Fargo’s “most highly profitable business relationships with the state of California.”

In addition to the suspension on underwriting on state negotiated bond sales, the sanctions include suspending investments in all Wells Fargo securities and suspend the use of Wells Fargo as a broker-dealer for investment purchasing.

“Wells Fargo’s fleecing of its customers by opening fraudulent accounts for the purpose of extracting millions in illegal fees demonstrates, at best, a reckless lack of institutional control and, at worst, a culture which actively promotes wanton greed,” Chiang said in a letter to Wells Fargo’s chairman and chief executive, John Stumpf, and bank board members.

Chiang called Stumpf’s responses to a U.S. Senate Finance Committee inquiry “disheartening” and “callous.”

Chiang promised to work closely with the state’s two public pension funds, the California Public Employees��� Retirement System and the California State Teachers��� Retirement System, to among other things, advocate for the separation of the bank’s CEO and chairman roles and to appoint a consumer ombudsman.

Together, these funds hold more than $2.3 billion in Wells Fargo fixed income and equity instruments. He called for the bank to develop a whistleblower protection program and to “claw back” some executive compensation.

Stumpf is already forfeiting unvested equity awards of $41 million and will not get a salary during a board investigation.

The bank will face tougher sanctions or permanent severance with the California’s Treasurer’s Office if it does not comply with the sanctions, Chiang said.

(Reporting by Robin Respaut; Additional reporting by Dan Freed in New York; Editing by Daniel Bases, Leslie Adler and Nick Zieminski)

So #TrumpWon? Not according to the real polls

The hashtag #TrumpWon was trending on Twitter Tuesday. Partially boosted by sarcasm, it was fuelled primarily by Donald Trump, who was quick to claim he won Monday’s debate by citing a slew of online polls that pegged him as the winner.

But there’s a problem. None of the polls Trump has pointed to are actually legitimate polls. Instead, all of the scientific, real polls published so far have shown him to be the loser of the debate by significant margins.

In the world of public opinion research, the “online polls” that litter news websites are a plague. Whereas real surveys try to assemble representative samples of the population, these online polls are more of a gimmick or a game. Anyone can answer them. Often people can answer them multiple times. They can invite their friends, who likely think just like them, to answer the online polls on social media.

And then they can point to these completely unrepresentative and meaningless results as if they signal something important.

At their very best, these online polls are only a sample of a given website’s audience — at least those who see the online poll while it is posted and are interested enough to participate. It is no coincidence that two of the online polls Trump has quoted come from conservative websites like Drudge and Breitbart (the latter run by Trump’s campaign CEO).

These online polls are not the same as the legitimate surveys conducted by pollsters that sample from a demographically representative internet panel. And they are certainly not the same as the legitimate surveys that randomly sample from the general population via telephone.

These legitimate polls also differ in their results. Four scientific polls published since the debate using legitimate surveying methods have shown that debate-watchers saw Hillary Clinton as the better performer and the winner of Monday’s debate:

  • CNN/ORC poll of 521 debate-watchers taken the night of the debate found that 62 per cent thought Clinton had done the best job, compared to 27 per cent for Trump.
  • A PublicPolicyPolling survey of 1,002 debate-watchers also taken the night of the debate showed 51 per cent of viewers thought Clinton had won, while 40 per cent gave the nod to Trump.
  • POLITICO/Morning Consult poll of 1,253 likely voters on Sept. 26 and 27 found that 49 per cent thought Clinton had won, while 26 per cent thought Trump did.
  • YouGov poll of 1,145 Americans conducted on Sept. 26 and 27 found that 57 per cent of those who viewed the debate thought Clinton won, against 30 per cent for Trump.

Nevertheless, some of these legitimate polls still come with some caveats.

The Morning Consult poll, for instance, included voters who did not watch the debate.

The CNN/ORC poll has been criticized for having a slightly larger sample of Democrats than most surveys normally do. But the disproportionate presence of Democrats in the sample was not significant enough to put much of a dent in Clinton’s 35-point lead over Trump. And it is impossible to know for certain whether or not the debate audience was disproportionately Democratic in the first place, or that the debate itself pushed more Americans to self-identify as Democrats.

Still, the evidence gleaned from the scientific surveys shows that Clinton won the debate by a wide margin. The last time CNN recorded such a big win in a debate was in 2012, when Mitt Romney bested a tired-looking Barack Obama in that campaign’s first tilt. 

Romney used that performance to close the gap on his rival, though his surge did not endure.

Debate impact unknown, for now

We won’t know for certain what short-term impact the debate will have on the race for a few more days. A few surveys on voting intentions will trickle out for the rest of the week, but clear trend lines won’t be clear until after the weekend. 

The legitimate polls of debate-watchers, despite the clear victory for Clinton, do not necessarily suggest that she is likely to make significant gains. In a two-point race, though, she will gladly take insignificant gains.

On balance, the legitimate polls suggest that the debate may have made Americans slightly more likely to vote for Clinton than for Trump, though most of the enthusiasm for each candidate came from people who were already planning to vote for them. Nevertheless, both the CNN/ORC and PPP polls found that Clinton had done better among Independents than Trump did.

Additionally, the scientific polls found that Republicans were more likely to say Clinton had won than Democrats were to give the debate to Trump.

So Trump may have been scraping the bottom of the barrel in the public opinion world to find these online polls that suggested he had the better night. But that may not be the point. Most voters are unlikely to differentiate much between legitimate and illegitimate polls.

In the end, Trump’s tweets and statements about the “online polls” that have shown him as the winner may not be for the consumption of the broader public, but instead to keep his own supporters motivated and optimistic about his campaign. In a post-truth political world, that may be good enough.

How to Build a High-Performance Customer Service Team Using Data and Empathy

By Cassandra Marketos, author of The Customer Service Training Handbook.

Two hundred tickets a day. Average time until first reply: two minutes. Average number of replies: three (okay, three and a half.) Response time unaffected by nights and weekends, because your support team is sprawled around the globe.

Sound ideal? Terrifying? Unattainable?

Honestly, it should sound like what it is: a bunch of numbers. They can tell you that you’re getting back to customers quickly, but they can’t tell you whether or not those exchanges are successful. That doesn’t mean they’re not important–while data doesn’t deliver qualitative judgments, it can help you make reasonable deductions based on common sense and context.

When it comes to the performance of your customer service team, there are a few key metrics that will keep you pointed in the right direction.

Ask the right questions

Asking the right questions means more than just, “Is my team performing well?” By itself, data can’t tell you that. Switch things around and ask yourself, “What type of work environment will allow my team to perform best?”

Sketching out an ideal work environment requires defining quantitative measurements: how many conversations should each person manage? How often should they be utilizing established feedback channels? What is the busiest time of day and how many people should be on duty?

Define and set those metrics with your team, but be flexible. As the workload evolves along with your product, you’ll likely need to set new goals. Making it part of a group conversation ensures total transparency and gives your team both a barometer to measure its own performance and a set of tangible goals for which to aim.

Pay attention to average volume

There’s no template threshold for “too much” in customer support. Depending on the type and complexity of emails you receive, exhaustion could set in after as few as 25 replies or as many as 75. But finding and setting that threshold, as a team, goes a long way in ensuring that you have the energy and emotional resources to engage with each conversation productively. It sounds obvious, but it’s surprising how often this number slips beneath the more obvious-seeming margins like average time to first reply and average time to resolution.

You’ll need to dial down into how much work–and what kind of work–each of your team is doing. When looking at the numbers keep context in mind. When reviewing the team report, you might want to reward the team member with the most customers helped, but make sure you’re balancing that number with the rest of the data that the report makes available.

For example, if you see a team member serving a lot of customers, but with very few replies per person and a very low average response time, that may actually be a sign that he or she is carelessly blowing through tickets.

On the other hand, a high number of replies sent and a low number of customers helped might indicate that a team member is getting unfairly overloaded with higher complexity issues, thus reaching an exhaustion point more quickly than others.

Too fast or too overloaded

In both cases, the best way to solve potential problems is to use these data points as an entry into 1-1 conversation with the team member. Other factors, like anticipating an influx of emails (new product launch, a big announcement) and tracking what days and times are most busy, can help you fluidly schedule your team so that no single person is disproportionately bearing the load.

The takeaway? Pay attention to how much work each person is doing. An overworked team member is an underperforming one, and while you can’t guarantee high quality support with an evenly distributed workload, it’s a necessary first step.

Empower the team to self-diagnose

Pummeling users with satisfaction surveys is a good way to end up with unreliable data and an unhappy team. Nobody wants more emails in their inbox, and a customer could rate an interaction as being poor when a problem is unsolvable due to issues beyond the control of your team member. The outcome is that your team may end up feeling powerless and self-critical, which then leads to (you guessed it) subpar support. Empowered teams, who feel like they have space to both celebrate and fairly criticize the outcomes of their interactions, are also teams who are ideally positioned to–cheerfully!–handle unhappy customers.

One solution for baking a feedback loop into your day-to-day? Create a series of team-only tags that rate a customer service experience according to a vocabulary you establish. For example, “Hooray!” could indicate an above-and-beyond experience, where someone went the extra mile to solve a problem, and “Lost Cause” could indicate a customer who simply refuses to be helped. (We’ve all had ’em.) Whatever tags you go with, it’s important to determine and define them with your entire team. Everybody should have input and everybody should feel confident about what means what. You’re essentially learning a new, private language together. When you ask a teammate why an experience was a “Total Spelunk,” both parties need to understand the important nuance of that statement.

Know your tagging terms

Keep things simple: 5-7 tags is a digestible number that can cover a full spectrum of customer experiences without giving you too much to remember.

With a few weeks of data under your belt, trending tags can be a helpful barometer as to who is struggling and who is succeeding. They’re also a great jumping-off point for open conversation. You could ask, for instance, “It seems like you’re rating a lot of issues as High Complexity. What are some examples?” From there, you can determine if that person is being unfairly loaded with super complicated issues or if there’s a gap in his or her fundamental understanding of the product. Then, you can solve from there. That might mean giving a refresher course on the product and/or consciously divvying up the workload differently.

At the end of the day, the best way to guarantee high-performance customer support is to build a transparent company culture that emphasizes consistent and productive communication. Processes–and data points–have to evolve as a company grows in order to stay relevant, and the feedback you receive from your team will be a critical part of that process.

Data is a great weatherman, but it’s never going to completely replace good ol’ fashioned one-on-one experience. Incorporate both into your growth process, and you’ll be well-ahead in the customer support game.

Apple’s Project Titan Is Not About Building a Car

Amidst reports of layoffs across Apple’s rumored car division, I fielded several calls from reporters who assumed the news meant Project Titan was dead and Apple had abandoned car-related efforts altogether.

Nextcar Bug artThat’s absurd. If Cupertino was killing Project Titan, why would it bring back Bob Mansfield, former vice president of engineering, to manage the project? Instead, I imagine Mansfield returned, assessed Project Titan, and tightened its focus, which unfortunately led to layoffs.

In the beginning, Apple likely hired a lot of people from many disciplines as it was researching and playing around with what it should do in the automotive space. Knowing Apple as I do, I would not be surprised if it entertained everything from doing its own car to new ways to integrate its technology into existing vehicles.

My personal belief is that Project Titan is not about creating an Apple Car. It just does not make sense given the competition from traditional auto makers. Instead, the biggest opportunity I see for Apple is creating software that makes existing cars smart or autonomous.

At its simplest level, Titan will beef up Apple’s CarPlay. But what if Apple created a “kit” or special self-driving package that is relatively easy to deploy at a dealer or by a mechanic and integrates the sensors and cameras seen on Google’s self-driving vehicles into an existing car? An iPad in the dash could deliver intelligence and navigation. And instead of an ugly 360-degree camera up top, Jony Ive and team could design a sleek roof attachment.

Think of what a goldmine that would be. Even if it’s pricey, it will be much cheaper than buying a new autonomous car.

Of course, the other benefit is that Apple brings more people into its services ecosystem and grows its business beyond iPhones, iPads, and Macs.

In a recent LinkedIn post by Dan Lyons (aka Fake Steve Jobs), he stated that we might eventually “think of a car as just a container for software and services, a node on the Internet of Things.” I believe this is at the heart of what Project Titan is really all about.

I realize that doing this type of “kit” is not easy, but given the fact that Google has already done this to an existing car, it is in the realm of possibility that Apple could do it, too. I would not be surprised to see it in the next few years, but even if Apple isn’t the first to try it, I think retrofitting existing cars to make them self-driving vehicles will become big businesses in the next five to 10 years.

Stocks Rise After Trump, Clinton Debate

Stocks rose, the Mexican peso soared and haven assets retreated on Tuesday as investors reacted to a debate between presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. 

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Investors appeared to be betting that the debate shifted support toward Mrs. Clinton. Many market participants believe a Clinton victory would offer more support to risk-assets such as stocks in the short term, amid greater clarity on her policy stance. 

“I don’t know that we learned much about the candidates but the market definitely liked it,” said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade. 

Shares in Japan, Hong Kong and Shanghai rose during the debate while futures pointed to a 0.6% opening gain for the SP 500. The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.6% in the early minutes of trading, as the banking sector recovered from a brutal start to the week. Shares of Deutsche Bank AG, which pulled back significantly on

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China’s Wanda in Talks to Buy Dick Clark Productions

Chinese property-to-entertainment conglomerate Dalian Wanda is in talks to buy a controlling stake in Dick Clark Productions, the company that runs the Golden Globe awards and Miss America pageants, as it expands a growing Hollywood portfolio.

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Run by China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin, Wanda already owns Legendary Entertainment, co-producer of film hits such as “Jurassic World” – which was the biggest U.S.-China movie deal when it was sealed in January. It also owns U.S. cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings.

A source familiar with deal said Wanda was looking to bid $1 billion for the TV production company, but cautioned the deal was not yet certain. The person could not be named as the deal value is not public.

“Dick Clark Productions and Beijing Wanda Culture Industry Group have agreed to enter into exclusive talks with the shared goal of finalizing a mutually satisfactory transaction,” a spokesman for Eldridge Industries, the owner

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China Shares Rise Ahead of Long Holiday

China stocks ended modestly higher on Tuesday but trade was thin, with many investors reluctant to stake out fresh positions ahead of a week-long holiday despite a surge in August industrial profits.

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Both the blue-chip CSI300 index and the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.6 percent, to 3,240.75 and 2,998.17 points, respectively, helped by a late afternoon rally, but turnover remained low.

The first U.S. presidential debate between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump attracted attention from the investment community, but did not appear to have had an immediate impact on the China market.

Investors largely ignored data that showed profits earned by China’s industrial firms in August grew at the fastest pace in three years, with some traders doubting whether the trend can be sustained.

The market also shrugged off a move by the Asian Development Bank to increase its growth forecast for China, as recent official data had already pointed

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Oil Prices Slip as Hopes For a Deal in Algiers Fade

Crude futures fell further on Tuesday as optimism faded for an output-limiting deal during an oil producer meeting in Algeria that so far has failed to yield any agreement to curb one of the worst supply gluts in history.

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Saudi Arabia on Tuesday dashed hopes that OPEC oil producers could clinch a deal in Algeria this week as sources within the exporter group said the differences between the kingdom and rival Iran remained too wide.

Brent crude futures slipped 80 cents to $46.55 a barrel by 0851 GMT, having closed up $1.46, or 3.2 percent, in the previous session.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell 68 cents to $45.25 a barrel, after rising $1.45, or 3.3 percent, in the previous session.

“It’s all about what’s going on in Algiers really … the prospect or no prospect of a supply deal,” said Olivier Jakob, oil analyst at Petromatrix. “There is no new

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Labor Department Launches Review of All Wells Fargo Complaints

U.S. Labor Department Secretary Thomas Perez on Monday pledged to conduct a “top-to-bottom” review of all cases, complaints and other alleged violations that the department has received concerning Wells Fargo in recent years.

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Perez’s announcement, outlined in a Sept. 26 letter to Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, comes after Warren and other Democrats asked the Labor Department last week to launch a probe into possible wage and working-hour law violations involving Wells Fargo tellers and sales representatives who may have stayed late to meet sales quotas.

“Given the serious nature of the allegations, the recent actions of our federal partners, and recent media reports, I have directed enforcement agencies within the Department to conduct a top-to-bottom review,” he wrote.

He also said the department has created a web page at to help ensure current and former Wells Fargo employees are aware of worker protection laws.

Wells Fargo was ordered to pay

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‘That makes me smart’: 7 key moments from the Clinton-versus-Trump debate

“That makes me smart.”

The remark by Donald Trump, a glib response to charges by his Democratic challenger that he cheated on paying his federal taxes, was among the more withering moments Monday night at the first U.S. presidential debate of the general election.

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Trump, her Republican rival, tangled on stage for 90 commercial-free minutes at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., during which time Trump attacked Clinton over supporting “bad trade deals” and her mishandling of sensitive emails via a private server while she was secretary of state.

Clinton deflected the criticisms that she flip-flopped on support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Deal and owned up to her “mistake” with regard to the email controversy. She also repeatedly called on fact-checkers to verify

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