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Wednesday Express: Wells offers free trading; HighTower eyes $100B in assets

* Wells Fargo Advisors will now offer zero-fee trading on its WellsTrade platform for stocks and exchange-traded funds. The move, which excludes options and penny stocks, follows big brokerages' fee-free trend.

* Four asset management companies, T. Rowe Price Group, Natixis, Fidelity Investments and Blue Tractor, received the Securities and Exchange Commission's approval to roll out exchange-traded funds that would disclose their holdings once in a quarter, as opposed to the daily releases conventional ETFs make, Bloomberg News reports.

* In an interview with InvestmentNews, HighTower CEO Robert Oros said he expects the wealth management firm to potentially double its M&A activity in 2020 compared to 2019 and soon hit $100 billion in assets. So far in 2019, HighTower has announced four acquisitions and signed letters of intent with two more, Oros said. As of Sept. 30, HighTower had about $71.3 billion in assets under administration and $59.5 billion in assets under management, according to the company's website.

* Citigroup promoted 14 female employees, or 31%, of the total 45 managing directors named in Asia in 2019, up from eight in 2018, representing 21%, Bloomberg News reports, citing a company memo.

* At a Senate hearing, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton told lawmakers the regulator will not impose "caps" on whistleblower awards, Reuters reports.

* The American Bankers Association criticized the National Credit Union Administration's proposals to adopt two amendments to the chartering and field of membership rules for federal community credit unions, saying they were "seriously flawed." The banking group is urging NCUA to withdraw or significantly revise the proposals.

* Goldman Sachs is collaborating with QC Ware, a quantum computing-as-a-service company, to have a better understanding of the near-term impact of quantum computers and how quantum computing algorithms can eventually be used in finance.

* At the Goldman Sachs U.S. Financial Services Conference, Prudential Financial Vice Chairman Robert Falzon said the firm is "a little cautious" about the longer-term pipeline of its pension risk transfer business as funding for pension plans significantly fell due to lower interest rates.

* New York Life Insurance is in talks to acquire Cigna's nonhealth benefits unit in a deal that could value the subsidiary at up to $6 billion, sources told The Wall Street Journal.

* American International Group's pending sale of a majority of its holdings in Fortitude Reinsurance Co. signals an end to the company's legacy life and annuity segment. The deal is expected to close in mid-2020.

* Texas Windstorm Insurance Association plans to ask for approval from the state's insurance regulator to implement a $90 million assessment, to be added to the $282 million already assessed, for losses due to Hurricane Harvey. Harvey made landfall on Texas and Louisiana in August 2017.

* Bruce Kelley will retire as president and treasurer of EMC Insurance will retire on Jan. 3, 2020, and as CEO, effective March 11, 2020.

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