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Sabbaticals are a new corporate perk

Here are three recent top pieces of financial insight, gathered from around the web:

Sabbaticals are a new corporate perk
Citigroup is the latest big company to recognize that workers need an improvement in work-life balance, said Elisa Martinuzzi at Bloomberg. The Wall Street bank announced last week it will begin offering three-month sabbaticals (at 25 percent pay) to staff with at least five years of service. Citigroup also promises “a month of fully paid leave to anyone who wants to work pro bono for a charity.” So far, sabbaticals are still not common. Many companies have feared that allowing workers extended time off would leave them with one foot out the door. But “high performers are a flight risk with or without a sabbatical,” and their loyalty could “strengthen after a company-endorsed three-month trek around the world.”

Illegal overdraft fees at Chase
Regulators have let banks get away with illegal overdraft fees with little publicity or penalty, said Patrick Rucker at ProPublica. Since 2017, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has “found at least six banks wrongly charged overdrafts and related fees,” but in each case, the agency “issued a quiet reprimand” rather than penalization. The latest example was JPMorgan Chase, which charged overdraft fees to roughly 170,000 customers last year due to a software glitch. The customers had chosen to opt in to “overdraft protection” that promised “they would get an alert before their accounts went negative.” But a “coding hiccup” meant those alerts didn’t happen, leaving customers in the dark. “Chase charges $34 for an overdraft and allows three such charges a day on an account with insufficient funds.” Chase promised to repay its customers, and the OCC’s supervisory letter stayed largely out of public view.

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Buying fractional shares in ETFs
More investors are buying fractional shares as a way to diversify risk, said Julia Carpenter at The Wall Street Journal. Brokerages like Robinhood, Charles Schwab, and Fidelity advertised the option to purchase fractions of a stock “as an easy way for small investors to buy a piece of Tesla or Apple.” But a growing number of investors are using the feature to “slowly accumulate exchange-traded funds that give them a small piece of the broader market.” Online investment platform SoFi estimates “about one-quarter of its clients’ fractional buys are ETFs,” such as the Invesco QQQ Trust, a fund that tracks the Nasdaq 100 index and costs about $300 per share.

This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.