Rethinking “universal” banking

UBS is abandoning its “universal banking” model, says Barbara Kiviat in, which is the kind of rethinking that comes after “$40 billion in client money get yanked in a single quarter.” But the all-in-one banking model is losing favor across the board, with Citigroup shareholders pushing for a breakup and HBSC and Barclays feeling the need to “very loudly defend their own universal-bank models.” Why the shift? Having retail banking and investment banking, wealth management, and mortgage lending under one roof looks good on paper—diversification should steady banks “in times of tumult”—but it mostly seems to “add complexity and confound risk management to the point of some very bad things happening.”

Taking on wireless termination fees

The era where wireless customers are hostage to “exorbitant early termination charges” may be nearing an end, says Lisa Scherzer in Thanks to customer activism, and legal setbacks for Sprint and Verizon in California, all the major carriers but Sprint “have made their early termination fees more subscriber-friendly.” Verizon and AT&T customers, for example, no longer face flat $175 termination fees—the fee drops by $5 a month over the course of the contract. But there are also “legal loopholes” that might reduce the fee to zero. If your carrier changes your plan—raises text message rates, say—you usually have 14 days to “bail out” scot-free.