2nd Oct 2014 Back to top
  • A Wealth of Opportunities

    A wealth of opportunitiesThe BBA’s Wealth of Opportunities report, which is supported by the Wealth Management Association (WMA), reveals that investors rate the UK higher than other financial centres for these services, and that the sector last year paid taxes of £1.2 billion – equivalent to £19 for each individual living in the UK.

  • BBA Brief – 2 October 2014

    Lord Hill recalled for second hearing

    Lord Hill has been called back for a second time at the European Parliament in an unprecedented move by MEPs.  While the hearing was said to have been fairly gentle, Lord Hill was reported to have been likeable without having a detailed knowledge of his brief. The FT (£, p7) quotes one MEP saying: “It was very strange. The hearing was tame and then they all turned on him in private.”  Michael Theurer MEP said that Lord Hill was “rhetorically brilliant” but “completely lacking substance”.

    Fears over banks withdrawing from benchmarks

    The front page of the FT (£) reports that many global banks are pulling out of providing data for benchmarks over fears of being hit by accusations of manipulation.  In the paper’s Lombard column (£, p20) Jonathan Guthrie warns, “tottering benchmarks would cause turmoil for investors no longer able to price contracts worth trillions. That would be just another negative unforeseen consequence of over-regulation. The need for governments to yank on the choke chains of watchdogs such as the NYDFS is clearer than ever.”

    New York vs London

    The FT (£, p19) looks at the rivalry between New York and London to be the world’s leading financial centre.  While New York is the “undisputed global king of equities” and has the world’s largest banks, London has the largest currency trading and over-the-counter interest rate derivatives.  The article warns that more top executives are open to moving away from London following the introduction of EU bonus rules and suggests that both cities need to be on their guard for the challenges from Asian competitors.

  • A wealth of opportunities: Private banking and wealth management attracts investment, creates jobs and boosts growth

    A new major study into Britain’s private banking and wealth management (PBWM) industry today reveals that the sector now oversees £524 billion and contributes £5.5 billion a year to the economy – equivalent to a city the size of Brighton and Hove.

    The BBA’s Wealth of Opportunities report, which is supported by the Wealth Management Association (WMA), reveals that investors rate the UK higher than other financial centres for these services, and that the sector last year paid taxes of £1.2 billion – equivalent to £19 for each individual living in the UK.

1st Oct 2014 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 1 October 2014

    FCA gives more details of “portability” review

    The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) plans to conclude its look at the way customers move their accounts to other banks by the first quarter of next year, Reuters reported yesterday.  The study will examine the success of the Current Account Switching Service launched last year and whether customers should be able to take their account number with them to a new provider – just as they can with mobile phones.  The FCA said this innovation may “remove the need to change direct debits and standing order instructions, with is a key area where perceived or actual problems with switching such as missed mortgage payments can arise”. More information on the FCA’s review is available here.

    M&A activity at its strongest for five years

    The value of mergers and acquisitions in the first nine months of 2014 eclipsed those in the same period over the last five years, according to analysis by Thomson Reuters reported in the FT (£, p21).  Meanwhile, a poll by the law firm CMS and Mergermarket reported in the Times (p36) suggests that two thirds of European executives are more “bullish” about the outlook for M&A activity now than they were this time last year.

    ECB eyes junk bonds purchases to power growth

    The FT (£, p1) writes that Mario Draghi will encourage the ECB to buy billions of euros’ worth of Greek and Italian “junk” bonds as part of a plan to foster economic growth. However, the paper suggests the move will increase tensions between the ECB’s president and Jens Weidmann, the Bundesbank president. Elsewhere in the FT (£, p15) Christopher Thompson and Claire Jones look at why the ECB has become more interested in buying Asset Backed Securities

    RBS wipes out more than £800 million of bad debt

    The decision by RBS to erase more than £800 million of bad debt from its provisions due to stronger than expected performance of its Irish operations and other subsidiaries is reported widely across newspapers. The Telegraph (Bp3) describes the bank’s latest trading statement as “upbeat”, citing the improved economic environment for the better-than-expected outlook. The Mail’s City editor Alex Brummer (p67) writes of the irony that the “worst” parts of a bank can over time “become the best”.

30th Sep 2014 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 30 September 2014

    FSB backs derivatives plan

    The Financial Stability Board yesterday accepted proposals to give authorities more time to agree on a resolution plan if a bank fails. The plans – overseen by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) – involve the insertion of a “stay” on a bank’s derivatives if it gets into financial difficulty. The FT (£, p32) reports that regulators had become concerned over the “potential chaos” which could occur if a counterparty chose to close out swaps after a resolution authority’s decision. The FSB has now asked that these swaps contracts legally “stay alive” whilst resolution options are assessed. ISDA expects the largest banks to sign up to the agreement in the coming weeks and for institutional investors to be participating from next year.

    Lord Hill promises to work to keep UK in a stronger EU   

    David Cameron’s nominee to oversee financial markets for the new European commission has pledged in his written answers to the European Parliament to work to keep Britain in a stronger Europe, writes the Guardian. In his answers he wrote: ”This commission takes office at a crucial moment for the relationship between the EU and the UK … I am keen to play my part in making the argument that the UK is stronger as part of a stronger EU”. Although the issue of bankers’ bonuses does not fall within his portfolio, he has promised to clamp down on those who try to get around the EU cap. He wrote: “If a member state does not comply with EU rules, or tries to circumvent them, I will ensure that full use will be made of the various enforcement tools available. I will support, whenever necessary, investigations on alleged breaches of EU law.” Lord Hill’s hearing with MEPs takes place tomorrow.

    BoE’s stats suggest cooling housing market

    Statistics published by the Bank of England yesterday revealed a drop in mortgage approvals for the third successive month. The Guardian (p21) suggested this provided “fresh evidence of a slowdown in the housing market”. The number of mortgages fell from 66,100 in July to 64,212 in August, although analysts had expected 65,000. The Telegraph (B3) quotes Capital Economics’ Matthew Pointon who argues that the slowdown in demand for homes is due to “higher prices for already very expensive homes. However, the Nationwide House Price Index released this morning reveals a 0.2% drop in national prices in September.

29th Sep 2014 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 29 September 2014

    Jourová takes over on City pay

    Saturday’s FT (£, p2) reports that Věra Jourová of the Czech Republic could be confirmed as EU justice commissioner next month, making her responsible for remuneration rules in the City of London. According to the article, Ms Jourová’s party is on the centre left but sits within the Liberal bloc of the European Parliament and her views on pay and the City are, as yet, unknown. Overseeing pay in financial services originally belonged within the financial services portfolio of Britain’s Lord Hill but was carved out last week by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

    Global economists warn on interest rates

    A report to be published today is to warn that the global economy could be heading for another crisis (FT, £, p6). In the 16th Annual Geneva Report, commissioned by the International Centre for Monetary and Banking Studies, senior economists warn that interest rates will have to stay low for a “very very long time” in order to give companies, households and governments time to service their debts and avoid another crash.  Though there is an acknowledgement that financial sector debt is falling and household debt has stopped rising, the report highlights the rapid rise of public sector debt in places like China. The authors warn of: “…[the] poisonous combination of high and rising global debt and slowing nominal GDP, driven by both slowing real growth and falling inflation.” They continue: “Contrary to widely-held beliefs, the world has not yet begun to delever and the global debt-to-GDP ratio is still growing, breaking new highs.”

    Appeals Process has led to fewer mistakes

    CityAM (p10) writes that external reviewer Professor Russel Griggs’ latest report on lending to small businesses shows that the UK’s main high street banks have “slashed” the number of errors they make. This is due to a drop in the number of successful appeals made by businesses who have their finance applications declined. The external Appeals Process reviewer said: “I am hopeful that this is the start of us all beginning to see the positive outcome of the process changes. I and my team have been working with all the banks to make their decision-making process better both for the SME and importantly themselves”. In the Independent (p51) though David Prosser argues that Professor Griggs’ view is an optimistic one and says that the number of successful appeals should be declining at a faster rate as the Professor’s report still shows that some businesses are being unfairly turned down for finance.

    Card fees to cost shoppers £785 million each year

    The Mail on Sunday (p93) looks at the EU’s proposed cap on the “interchange” fees charged by credit card companies and the potential impact on customers. The article warns that banks would be looking to make up costs as they are hit with a £785 million bill from card issuers. Speaking with the paper, the BBA said that banks are wary of threatening higher banking fees, but: “Inevitably somebody has to pay for increases in costs caused by regulation and that can mean consumers”. The piece goes on to say that the BBA are in talks with Brussels about the plan.

  • Lending Appeals Process working for small businesses

    Responding to the  Q1 2014 Appeals Process report by the Independent External Reviewer, Professor Russel Griggs, BBA Executive Director of Business Finance, Irene Graham, said:

    “Thousands of businesses have successfully used the Appeals Process to unlock the finance they need to grow, innovate and take on new staff.

26th Sep 2014 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 26 September 2014

    FCA holds forex discussions with banks

    On Sky News, Mark Kleinman reports on speculation that “some of the world’s biggest banks” have met with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to discuss a settlement for the manipulation of global foreign exchange markets. The article says that the regulator has agreed with the banks an eight week “consultation period” so that they might reach a deal on penalties by the end of November. According to the article the penalties handed out could be higher than the FCA’s fines for Libor.

    EU recommendations on bank allowances

    The FT (£, p1) reports that Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, has removed Lord Hill’s responsibility for overseeing financial sector pay if he is accepted as Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union. The article speculates that this is intended to head off objections in the European Parliament. The report also looks at the European Banking Authority’s proposals that would push British regulators to tighten rules on banks’ plans to pay their staff allowances. The paper writes that to be excluded from the EU bonus cap, the draft report concludes that “allowances must be awarded over a set period, include no forfeiture provisions if a person hands in their notice, and be impossible to adjust midterm without staff consent. Fixed allowances would be expected to be assigned to particular positions rather than individuals, meaning that bankers or traders with the same role should receive the same allowance, regardless of performance.”

    Chancellor allows regulators to police benchmarks

    In a consultation yesterday the Treasury said that seven market benchmarks are to be newly scrutinised by regulators (FT, £, p3). Under rules proposed by the Treasury, the FCA would be the responsible regulator with powers to impose criminal sanctions on those creating false or misleading impressions in the financial markets. Andrea Leadsom, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said: “Ensuring that the key rates that underpin financial markets are robust and that anyone who seeks to manipulate them is subject to the full force of the law, is vital.”

    Commenting a spokesman for the BBA said:  “We welcome these moves to introduce clear, robust regulation of benchmarks with tough criminal sanctions. This did form part of the announcement of the Fair and Effective Market Review and will only enhance London’s reputation as a safe place to do business. We also believe it is absolutely right that anyone who has been found guilty of manipulating market benchmarks should be properly punished.” The consultation paper can be read here.

    Interest rates rises around the corner

    Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has said that the strength of the recovery has put the UK in a position to cope with higher interest rates (Times, £, p43). The Governor restated that any rise would be “gradual and limited” and he emphasised that rate rises would be lower than those seen in the past. Mr Carney said that keeping rates too low for too long could encourage risks to build up in the financial system – including the housing market, which he said posed the biggest risk to the economy (Telegraph, p1). In a separate interview with the Yorkshire Post, Minouche Shafik the Bank’s deputy governor for markets and banking said policymakers might have to raise rates more quickly if pay rises aren’t matched by higher productivity.

    New rules on buy-to-let mortgages

    The Telegraph (p1) reports how new EU affordability rules are being extended to buy-to-let homeowners. The new measures, to be introduced in March 2016, will now impact “accidental landlords” including those who have inherited property or rent out their home after being unable to sell it. The Council of Mortgage Lenders estimated that these accounted for less than 20% of the buy-to-let market. The rules for ordinary mortgage borrowers require lenders to assess their incomes and spending habits in great detail to ensure that they can afford the loan, which could impact upon older landlords as some companies require mortgages to be paid off before retirement.

25th Sep 2014 Back to top
  • BBA: those who manipulate benchmarks should be properly punished

    Commenting on the HM Treasury consultation launched today on extending legislation of financial benchmarks, a spokesman for the BBA said:

    “We welcome these moves to introduce clear, robust regulation of benchmarks with tough criminal sanctions. This did form part of the announcement of the Fair and Efficient Market Review and will only enhance London’s reputation as a safe place to do business.

  • BBA: “encouraging” signs on complaints – but there can be no complacency

    Commenting on FCA statistics showing a 5% fall in complaints to banks and other financial services firms, a spokesman for the BBA said:

    “Banks are trying hard to lower the number of complaints and have been working closely with the Financial Conduct Authority to achieve this.

  • BBA Brief – 25 September 2014

    FCA reveals fall in complaints to banks and other financial services firms

    The number of complaints received by the Financial Conduct Authority concerning financial services companies was 5% lower in the first six months of this year, the regulator has announced this morning. These figures continue to be dominated by Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) products, which were down by 11% on the second half of 2013. Christopher Woolard, the regulator’s director of policy, risk and research, said that it was “encouraging” that complaints were falling, but that there was still “further work to be done” to ensure that consumer interests came first. The data can be found here.

    Cable announces more help for small businesses

    A new Government scheme launched by the Business Secretary Vince Cable to encourage banks to lend to businesses is reported widely across the media. The FT explains that from October the British Business Bank will guarantee some loans made to smaller businesses, aiming to focus on underpinning finance deals offered by challenger banks. The scheme aims to cut the amount of capital smaller lenders have to hold, thereby allowing them to lend more and grow their market share. The BBA’s report on promoting competition in the banking industry, which sets out a series of policies to help challengers grow, can be read here. If you’re looking to raise business finance, you can assess your options at the Better Business Finance website overseen by the BBA.

    Savers hope for impending rate rise

    Analysis by Moneyfacts suggesting that ISA rates have fallen to their lowest levels since they were introduced 15 years ago features in the Mail (p28) and several other newspapers. There are nearly 300 different saving products in the UK, the newspaper reports. The Bank of England’s base rate has remained at an historic low of 0.5% since March 2009. The Mail suggests that savers can hope for an initial rise early in 2015. Read the BBA’s thoughts on how to rebuild Britain’s savings culture here.

24th Sep 2014 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 24 September 2014

    Miliband pledges to “break up the banks” and close tax loopholes

    The Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband, renewed promises to “break up the banks” to promote competition and said he would use funds from a mansion tax, levy on tobacco companies and closing a tax loophole on Eurobonds and hedge funds to invest in the NHS (FT, £, p1). Speaking at the last Labour Party conference before next year’s general election, the Labour leader promised to raise £2.5 billion to spend on thousands of new staff for the NHS (Guardian, p1). The Telegraph reports that senior city sources responded to the move to end an exemption on stamp duty for hedge funds by arguing it could reduce stock market liquidity and increase the cost of credit for consumers and small businesses (Telegraph, B1). The FT (£, p2) notes that a consultation by the former Labour government examined the issue of “Eurobond exemptions” and concluded that changes to the legislation were not required.

    BBA launches platform to counter cyber crime

    The FT (£, p4) reports that the banking industry, government and several law enforcement agencies have launched a pioneering Financial Crime Alerts Service in a bid to boost cyber security. The BBA, working with preferred technology partner BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, will launch the service as the industry comes together to spot emerging problems and threatening criminal trends. The initiative will pool intelligence from 12 governmental bodies, including the National Crime Agency, in order to provide information to help banks safeguard the accounts of millions of customers.

    Commenting on the launch, BBA Chief Executive Anthony Browne said: “This alerts system is a powerful new weapon against fraudsters, cyber criminals and other crooks intent on stealing our customers’ money. This service is a shining example of how banks and government can work together to benefit all customers.” The full press release can be read here.

    Andrew Bailey calls for greater consultation between international regulators

    Speaking at the BBA’s Financial Crime and Sanctions conference, Deputy Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey called on more structured and formal dialogue between global regulators before fines are handed out to banks (FT, £, p4). Mr Bailey, who is also the Chief Executive of the Prudential Regulation Authority, warned that if fines were too high they could “have real or potentially negative effects on the safety and soundness of the firms we regulate”. The comments follow a number of high profile and heavy fines imposed on non-US banks by US regulators.

    Mortgage approvals slow as business borrowing picks up

    A number of newspapers report the BBA’s monthly High Street Banking statistics, which revealed that the number of mortgage approvals fell from last month despite overall lending to homeowners up 15% on this time last year. A total of 41,588 mortgages were approved in August compared to 42,715 in July (CityAM, p7). However, the Times (£, p42) reports that net lending to businesses grew by £1.5 billion in August, reversing last month’s fall of £900 million. The jump was the biggest monthly increase in nearly a year. The full BBA press release can be read here.

23rd Sep 2014 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 23 September 2014

    BBA stats reveal rise in consumer optimism

    Today’s BBA High Street Banking stats show that new mortgage lending is 15% higher year-on-year, with approvals for house purchases up 6%. The figures also reveal a strong rise in unsecured personal loans. BBA Statistics Director David Dooks said: “These products are often used to finance bigger purchases such as cars or major home improvements – the sort of spending we often put off until we feel confident about our financial circumstances.” The full press release can be read here.

    Aldermore to float on stock market

    Aldermore has announced that it will list on the London Stock Exchange this October, writes the FT (£, p22). According to a statement from the lender, it intends to issue £75 million in new shares and have a free float of 25%. The paper writes that the bank – which focuses on asset and invoice financing for small businesses and commercial and residential mortgages – has no branches but 12 regional offices and 14,000 intermediary agents, a model which CEO Philip Monks has “no intention to change”. CityAM (p7) notes that the bank is “leading a new charge” of IPO’s following the Scottish referendum. Mr Monks told the paper: “The UK is recovering strongly, and there is good resurgence in demand from small businesses.” Read the BBA’s Promoting competition in the UK banking industry report here.

    Draghi gives evidence to ECON committee

    ECB president Mario Draghi told the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) Committee yesterday that the poor uptake of cheap loans by Eurozone lenders was “within the range of take up values” that the central bank had expected, writes the FT (£, p6). He added that the first tranche of loans should be assessed alongside the second offer in December, for which he expects higher demand. However, Mr Draghi admitted that the recovery is “losing momentum” and that the central bank was ready “to use additional unconventional instruments within our mandate”, reports the Times (£, p41). He added that “courageous structural reforms and improvements in the competitiveness of the corporate sector” are needed to improve the business environment (CityAM, p3).

  • Banks team up with government to combat cyber criminals and fraudsters

    A pioneering financial crime alert system will see 12 government and law enforcement agencies warn banks of the latest threats in a bid to safeguard the accounts of millions of customers.

    The BBA, working with preferred technology partner BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, will launch the Financial Crime Alerts Service (FCAS) as part of a new approach to combat a wide range of financial crime threats. The new alert service will allow the sector to react more swiftly than ever to major incidents and allow industry financial crime professionals to spot emerging problems and threatening criminal trends.

  • August 2014 figures for the high street banks

    David Dooks, Statistics Director at the BBA, said:

    “When customers feel more optimistic about the economic outlook they are much more likely to take on new borrowing.

    “Today’s figures show that mortgage lending in August was up 15% on last year and that credit card spending remains robust. But I was particularly struck that after years of decline demand for unsecured personal loans is rising quite strongly again.

    “Those products are often used to finance bigger purchase such as cars or major home improvements – the sort of spending we often put off until we feel confident about our financial circumstances.”

22nd Sep 2014 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 22 September 2014

    BBA warns that mortgage rules could disproportionately hit private banks

    The FT (£, p23) reports that new rules could restrict the number of mortgages being offered to high-net worth customers unless they are adapted. The BBA has warned that the proposals by the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee to put a 15 percent limit on the total number of mortgages that a bank can lend at more than 4.5 times a borrower’s income could have “significant effects” on private banks’ ability to offer mortgages.  Despite low default rates of less than 1 per cent, many private bank clients could be caught by the new rules because they tend to be asset rich but do not have a steady income.  The BBA argues in the article that the rules will “disproportionately affect” private banks.  Saturday’s Times (£, p57) looked at the increasing competition in the private banking sector. Read Nicholas Smith’s blog here.

    A million switchers use new service

    The Herald (p25) reported that more than 1 million people have taken advantage of the new Current Account Switching Service which allows you to change account within seven days and redirects your direct debit payments automatically. In Saturday’s Independent (p64) Andrew Hagger says that the service is “running like clockwork” and encourages people to look around for better deals because it is “very easy to switch” to get an account that suits your individual needs.

    City gears up for new fight on allowances

    The Sunday Times (£, p3) reported that the European Banking Authority (EBA) is likely to rule that new role-based allowances for top earning bankers might breach the EU’s bonus cap rules.  If not it is likely to change the rules to outlaw these payments.  The front page of CityAM speculates that this could lead to legal challenges from the industry.

  • A level playing field for private banks is vital

    Irresponsible lending is good for no-one. Taking on too much debt can devastate an individual’s life and we only have to remember the events of the last decade to see what happens to banks when they lend out money that can’t be repaid.

    That’s why the BBA and its members broadly support proposals from the Prudential Regulatory Authority to limit the number of mortgage loans greater than four-and-a-half times a customer’s income.

19th Sep 2014 Back to top
  • The next stage of a technological revolution

    You could be forgiven for thinking that London’s trams might be an unlikely place to find cutting edge technology. But from this week, this iconic and characterful mode of public transport – along with our more conventional Tube stations and buses – are offering technology that allows you to pay your way with just a flash of your bank card.

  • BBA Brief – 19 September 2014

    Scotland remains a part of the United Kingdom

    The people of Scotland have decided that their country should remain part of the union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The FT reports that this ‘no’ vote is likely to boost the economy, averting scenarios feared by investors such as a slump in the pound and capital flight from Scotland. According to the paper, investors reacted with relief with bank shares up sharply after the market opened (FT). Economists believe that pent up demand could now be released, with property and investment deals that had been put on hold going ahead. David Davidson, the Scotland managing director at Cushman & Wakefield commercial property advisers told the paper: “For the last three months it feels like we have been driving with a handbrake on. There will be a surge in investment market activity when the handbrake is released”. Thoughts have now turned to the impact of devolution on spending and public finances. Economist Samuel Tomb told the paper: “…despite the No vote, the UK economy will continue to be buffeted by uncertainty about its political future over the next couple of years.”

    Fines on banks can lead to financial exclusion

    Speaking to the FT (£, p19) Jeremy Bennett, chief executive of Nomura in Europe said that developing countries are having their capital cut off by western banks who are concerned about the multi-billion dollar fines imposed by regulators for sanctions and money-laundering violations. He said: “The use of sanctions as a geopolitical tool is a big risk for financial markets. What we are doing with best intentions in our capital markets regulations, in our money-laundering [regulation], in our use of sanctions…that has an unintended consequence of excluding a large part of humanity from access to capital. That worries me greatly”. The article gives the example of the $9 billion (£5.5 billion) in fines imposed upon BNP Paribas who pleaded guilty to providing finance for customers in Sudan, Iran and Cuba. Mr Bennett says that he ultimately worries about the impact exiting such countries will have on the City of London which acts as a financing hub for many low-income nations.

    August mortgage lending hits six year high

    The Mail (p2) reports on data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) showing that mortgage lending for this August marked a 13% increase on the same period last year – the highest levels since August 2008. The FT (£, p4) reports that gross mortgage lending in the year to August sits at £203 billion, with a sharp increase in the number of first-time buyers taking out a home loan.  However CML chief economist, Bob Pannell, warned that the new Mortgage Market Review rules could cause a slowdown in the remaining months of this year: “A gentle slowing of lending activity may now be in prospect, as a result of the continuing impact of tighter lending rules and a softening of the London market.”

    Low take up on cheap finance

    The ECB president’s plan to offer cheap four-year loans in an attempt to avoid economic stagnation has faltered due to little interest from commercial banks (Le Soir and FT, £, p1). In total 255 banks took €82.6 billion (£65 billion) out of a possible €400 billion (£243 million) – much less than analysts had predicted. The lack of demand has dealt a blow to Mario Draghi’s ambitions to expand the central bank’s balance sheet to €1 trillion in order to boost lending to small businesses and counter inflation. An article in the Times (£, p53) says that this disappointment is likely to pile more pressure on the ECB to consider moves like quantitative easing, though there is also speculation that low take-up could have been due to the region’s banks not wanting to reveal a weak funding position just weeks before new stress tests.

18th Sep 2014 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 18 September 2014

    ECJ ruling could see VAT bills rise for financial services

    The European Court of Justice has ruled that services supplied between a group’s headquarters and its branches will be subject to VAT. Previously, European VAT law has allowed countries to treat companies and their overseas branches as single entities, however these services will now be taxed at rates of between 15% and 27%, writes the FT (£, p17). The Telegraph (B7) states that the ruling will “disproportionally affect the UK financial service industry”, with British banks that receive services from foreign offices and the UK subsidiaries of banks headquarters elsewhere likely to be affected.

    G20 split over impact assessment of regulation

    The current holders of the G20 presidency Australia are facing opposition after it backed calls to undertake a cost-benefit analysis of financial regulation, writes the FT (£, p7). B20, the business lobby group, has called for international standard setters to investigate side-effects of financial regulation and consider their impact on growth and stability. However some G20 members such as Japan and the US have voiced their concerns, stating that individual nations already have robust procedures to analyse such regulations.

    Commentators warn of EU membership following Yes vote

    BBC Business Editor Kamal Ahmed  warns that a Yes vote in today’s Scottish referendum could increase the likelihood of the UK leaving the EU. He adds that those businesses who may wish to relocate may move to continental Europe rather than the UK due to the heightened risk of Brexit. In the FT (£, p24) Jonathan Guthrie echoes Kamal’s sentiments, stating that Scots are more pro-european and that a Yes vote could make the “English more nationalistic and thus more eurosceptic”.

    Lenders cut mortgage rates

    A number of mortgage lenders have cut their rates and increased their range of fixed-rate loans in recent days, despite expectations that the Bank will raise interest rates next year, reports the Guardian (p29). The Mail (p30) writes that it is “great news for consumers” after a “rising number of new lenders has helped to increase competition and push down rates”.

    Fed to keep rates low

    The US Federal Reserve has committed to keeping interest rates low for a “considerable time”, reports the Times (£, p41). The central bank confirmed that rates would remain low as long as inflation was under control and until there were improvements in wage growth and long-term unemployment. The policy statement also revealed that the Fed would cut its buying of Treasury bonds by another $10 billion (£6 billion) per month, and expects to end the programme after October (Independent, p59). However the FT (£, p1) writes that the Fed expects rates to rise by 1.25% – 1.5% in 2015, implying five rate rises in their eight meetings next year.

17th Sep 2014 Back to top
  • Social media and crisis management

    Government and businesses face an increasingly urgent need to interpret and act upon information in social media.

    In an era of outsourced services and cross-border operations, banks and financial services firms face a range of threats, ranging from large scale geopolitical risks to localized problems. As a result, their capacity to crowd-source reports rapidly from observers on the ground has seen social media play an increasingly important role in crisis management. Tools such as CrisisNET1, which aggregate reports from social media platforms such as Twitter, have become indispensible tools. At the same time, reports sourced from social media cannot always be trusted and this presents a growing and potentially unmanageable problem.

  • BBA Brief – 17 September 2014

    Infrastructure investment on hold in Scotland ahead of independence vote

    More than 80 public-private partnerships worth £6.2 billion are on hold as foreign investors wait for the result of the Scottish independence vote (Telegraph, B5). The projects are mostly local authority backed and underwritten by the UK Government. However, it is unclear whether the support would be withdrawn if Scotland decides to leave the UK, which is creating uncertainty amongst investors. Elsewhere, the Times (£, p41) reports that a survey of fund managers by Bank of America Merrill Lynch has identified the UK as the “least popular market for investment” because of fears that Scotland will leave the UK.

    Government “bad bank” is close to selling mortgage book

    The Telegraph (B3) reports that UK Asset Resolution (UKAR), which was created from the toxic debts of the bailed-out banks Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley, has selected JP Morgan as its preferred bidder for a £1.6 billion package of state-owned mortgages. TSB is also believed to have expressed an interest in the purchase. The move could see the British taxpayer recoup hundreds of millions of pounds, but UKAR still has more than 520,000 “risky” mortgages on its balance sheet worth around £75 billion.

    G20 to back OECD rules to end corporate tax avoidance

    New rules designed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and submitted to the G20 aim to stop transnational corporations from “exploiting differences between tax regimes to conjure up unwarranted tax deductions”, reports the Guardian (p23). The organisation has criticised the current international tax system, which has more than 3,000 bilateral tax treaties, and wants to prevent countries from offering tax incentives to encourage corporations to domicile with them. The move would mean an end to retailers, such as Amazon, using its residence in Luxembourg to avoid paying taxes on UK transactions.

    US money market funds using new Fed tool instead of banks

    European and US banks have expressed concerns that the increasing use by US money market funds of the Federal Reserve’s new “reverse repo programme” (RRP) is distorting the bank repo market (FT, £, p28). The RRP allows the central bank to lend bonds from its vast portfolio of assets to large investors, which will give the Fed some control over short-term interest rates when it takes money out of financial markets. However, banks warn that the tool is exacerbating the outflow of deposits from their institutions.

16th Sep 2014 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 16 September 2014

    Contactless tube payment

    In an article for CityAM (p21), BBA Chief Executive Anthony Browne writes about the latest advance in the UK banking revolution: contactless tube payment. In the article, Anthony states that “this is just the latest chapter of the astonishing evolution that isn’t just good for consumers but for our country’s economic prospects too”. The article also mentions the BBA’s report published jointly with EY “The Way We Bank Now”, which suggests that “the UK would need an extra 750,000 digitally-skilled workers over the next three years if it is to capitalise on a £12 billion economic opportunity in the digital sector.”

    BoE blames household debt for the deep recession

    A number of papers report that high household debt levels could have been one of the main reasons why the 2008 financial crash became the longest and deepest recession since the 19th century, according to the Bank of England’s Quarterly Bulletin (Guardian, p24). The BoE said this research justified its decision in June to limit mortgage borrowing “to insure against a further significant increase in the number of highly indebted households” (FT, £, p4). The Independent (p57) quotes the report researchers saying: “It is possible to make the case that debt played at least some role.”

    Scottish “yes” could force the BoE to raise interest rates sooner than expected

    In the Times (£, p44), Paris based Lyxor Asset Management warns that a Scottish “Yes” vote could force an interest rate rise. The article explains that “until a month ago, hedge funds had net long positions of sterling versus the dollar, but with increased possibility of Scotland voting for independence, this has gone into reverse”. Albert Edwards, a strategist at Societe Generale, said: “Interest rates may be set to rise a whole lot faster than anticipated if we get a good old-fashioned sterling crisis.”

15th Sep 2014 Back to top
  • Innovation you can bank on

    As highlighted in the BBA’s recent Way We Bank Now work and by the FCA report on Mobile Banking and Payments our mobile devices are now, more than ever ‘essential kit’ – and increasingly used for day to day banking and payments.

  • BBA Brief – 15 September 2014

    BBA raises concerns over leverage ratio proposals

    The BBA has argued that the Bank of England’s new leverage ratio proposals are “too complex and potentially damaging”. In an article on our website BBA Executive Director Simon Hills argued that the plans “would particularly impact lenders with lower risk business models such as mortgage providers. This could create perverse effects- such as incentivising banks to increase the cost of new mortgages or even to engage in higher risk lending.  This is the opposite of what policymakers want to achieve.” (Sunday Telegraph, B1, Reuters)

    To read the full consultation response click here.

    EU ministers fail to agree on FTT; Schaeuble says “small first step” is on the cards

    At the informal ECOFIN meeting in Milan on Saturday European finance ministers failed to agree on proposals for a new Financial Transactions Tax (FTT) after opposition from France.  German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeublesaid:“Given the different situations in the different countries, we will probably only agree on a small first step, but a small first step is better than none… I am very optimistic that, if we make the first step, we will create a knock-on-effect that leads to further steps and that could convince other countries to join in.”  It is expected that a proposal could be agreed on by the end of the year. (EUbusiness)

    End of free banking could spur new entrant       

    The Sunday Telegraph (B2) reports that the Competition and Market Authority’s consultation on whether to hold a full enquiry into the banking sector ends on Wednesday. The article speculates that if the result of the enquiry is a recommendation to end “free when in credit banking” this could lead to a wave of new companies entering the market, which could boost competition.

  • The Bank’s leverage ratio proposals are too complex and could be damaging

    The BBA supported the concept of a simple, non-risk based leverage ratio when it was proposed by international banking standard setters at the Basel committee in 2009.  That’s why we have today raised some concerns about the Financial Policy Committee’s (FPC) proposals for a UK specific leverage ratio (see the full response here).  We believe that they are too complex and potentially damaging.

14th Sep 2014 Back to top
  • Competition in the interest of customers

    Responding to the Which? report on customer satisfaction levels for bank accounts, a spokesman for the BBA said:

    “Britain has a vibrant, competitive banking market – with more than 50 current account providers. There is more and more choice between these products, which reflects how we all bank in slightly different ways.

12th Sep 2014 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 12 September 2014

    Hike in UK interest rates could shake market

    Speaking to the BBA Donald Kohn, a former vice-chairman of the US Federal Reserve’s Board and current member of the Bank of England’s financial policy committee, has warned that raising interest rates “is not without its risks and dangers” (Times, £, p51). Following remarks made by Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, who said that rates were likely to rise in the spring, Mr Kohn said that the banking industry needed to be ready for defaults, an increase in borrowing costs and a liquidity crunch.

    Mortgage approvals for first time buyers highest since crisis

    The Mail (p6) reports figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) which signal that first time buyers are “flocking back to the market”, with the number of mortgages approved at its highest level since the crisis. The number of home loans approved last month topped the 30,000 mark for the first time since August 2007.

    The same CML statistics also revealed that the over-60s are driving the boom in buy-to-let (Mail, p18). According to CML, the number of older borrowers taking out loans for rental properties has risen by 58% in two years.

    Apple’s mobile payment technology could come to Europe

    The FT (£) reports that banks and credit card companies are in talks to bring new payment technology to Europe. At the moment those hoping to buy the new iPhone 6 when it is released in the coming days will not be able to use Apple Pay, which allows customers to pay for goods using their phone or Apple watch, as it will be launching in the US first. Apple are currently in talks with European banks and credit card companies who will need to sign-up to the technology. If introduced, Apple Pay could be used on the 350,000 points of sale in the UK that currently offer contactlesspayments.

    To read more about how banking and payment technology is evolving, take a look at the BBA’s The Way We Bank Now report here.

    BoE shows concern over virtual currency

    The Bank of England has said that virtual currencies such as Bitcoin could “make central banks obsolete, create huge economic risks and trigger deflation”, according to an article in the Times(£). The Bank stated that people could be defrauded and that governments would have to address “taxation, money laundering and the possible use of new payment systems in financing terrorism or other crime”. The BoE added: “The total stock of digital currencies is at present too small to pose a threat to financial stability, but further increases cannot be ruled out and it is conceivable in time that there could be an asset price crash among free-floating digital currencies that had the potential to affect financial stability.”

    IMF warns over Scotland vote

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that a “yes” vote in the Scottish referendum next week could result in market turbulence (FT, £, p4). A spokesman for the organisation said: “The immediate effect is likely to be uncertainty over the transition to potentially new and different monetary, financial and fiscal frameworks in Scotland”. The article goes on to say that an independent Scotland would have to resolve its membership of the IMF as, with a population of just 5.3 million, it would be too small to have its own executive director and would have to look to form a constituency with another territory.

11th Sep 2014 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 11 September 2014

    1.1 million customers have switched current accounts

    Figures released by the Payments Council show that between October 2013 and August 2014 there’s been a 19% increase in the current account switching rate, in comparison to the same period last year (Guardian, p34). The figures also show that an estimated 1.1 million customers have switched provider in the 11 months since the Current Account Switch Service (CASS) was launched. The Mirror (p58) highlights the Payments Council’s Executive Chairman Gerard Lemos saying: “It’s clear from reviewing the very first year that it’s [CASS] made great ground.”

    Juncker nominates Lord Hill as financial services Commissioner

    A number of papers report Juncker’s decision to nominate Lord Hill as the new financial services Commissioner for the EU. The Telegraph (p14) writes that Lord Hill – if approved by the European Parliament – “will oversee a major economic shake-up with plans to liberalise the European Union’s capital markets.”  Lord Hill said it was a “great responsibility” to run a new commission department and David Cameron stated yesterday that Lord Hill’s appointment was “a great piece of news” and that it’s “great to have someone in the heart of the European Commission”. BBA’s Chief Executive Anthony Browne also commented on Lord Hills’ nomination by saying: ““This appointment should be good for customers and businesses as the Commission looks for ways to unlock the flow of finance to bolster jobs and growth across Europe.”

    Carney warns Scotland over needing “billions in reserve” if they vote “yes” to independence

    Bank of England Governor Mark Carney told MPs on the Treasury Select Committee yesterday that central banks will need to have at least 25% of their GDP in reserve if they use another country’s currency (FT, £, p4). Dr Carney used Hong Kong as an example, which has US Dollars as its currency and 110% of its GDP in reserve. Dr Carney said: “Countries with complex financial systems would require higher levels of reserves.”  The Telegraph (B1), highlights Carney saying there would be “real fiscal costs” to this, while Andrew Tyrie, Treasury Select Committee chairman, said Scotland would face a “very big shortfall” which would “almost certainly” need cuts or higher taxes.

    Germany and France raise concerns over the ECB’s securities plan

    The European Central Bank (ECB) plans to revive the Eurozone economy by buying asset backed securities (ABS), despite doubts from Germany and France (FT, £, p6). The ECB President, Mario Draghi, announced last week that the ECB intends to buy an “unspecified” amount of these securities from banks to “free up” balance sheets and “boost” lending to businesses in the EU. However, the French and German finance ministries are calling for measures to encourage “high quality securisation” and believe that “an intervention in the form of a public guarantee scheme would be problematic”.

10th Sep 2014 Back to top
  • Credit where it’s due

    Anyone looking to take out credit in the UK is not short of places to go looking. There are more than 30 credit card issuers, at least 60 mortgage providers and over 100 firms offering personal loans.

  • BBA response to Lord Hill’s appointment

    Responding to the appointment of Lord Hill to lead the European Commission’s newly created Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union directorate-general, Anthony Browne, chief executive of the BBA, said:

    “This is a good decision for Europe. We welcome the approach by President-elect Juncker to entrust key Commission portfolios to people with the right experience.

    “This appointment should be good for customers and businesses as the Commission looks for ways to unlock the flow of finance to bolster jobs and growth across Europe.”

  • BBA Brief – 10 September 2014

    Party leaders head to Scotland to campaign for “No” vote

    The newspapers are dominated by the latest news from the Scottish independence campaign, as the latest poll indicates voter intentions are nearly 50:50 (Times, £, p8). The Guardian (p1) reports that the leaders of Britain’s three main political parties have agreed to suspend Prime Ministers’ Questions in favour of travelling to Scotland to support the “No” campaign. A joint statement said: “There’s one thing on which we all agree passionately: the United Kingdom is better together”. Writing in the Mail (p7), David Cameron argues that “our union is precious” and outlines plans to give more powers to Scotland over taxation and borrowing.

    The Times (£, p8) describes how “Devo-Max” might work and reports that Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has called a currency union between the UK and an independent Scotland “incompatible with sovereignty” (Times, £, p7). The comments come as several investors indicate they are pulling cash from Scotland to limit their exposure to the UK (FT, £, p1).

    Meanwhile, the Financial Conduct Authority’s Chairman, John Griffith-Jones, told the Treasury Select Committee that the financial regulator was making “contingency plans” for a “Yes” vote. Mr Griffith-Jones added he was unable to comment on the precise nature of post-independence regulation. At the evidence session, Treasury Select Committee Chairman Andrew Tyrie criticised the regulator for a “slow and apparently obstructive approach on a number of issues” and called for greater scrutiny of money–laundering regulations (Telegraph, B3).

    Carney tells TUC interest rates likely to rise before wages

    Speaking at the Trade Union Congress in Liverpool, Mark Carney indicated that interest rates will begin to normalise in spring 2015 and continue to rise “very gradually” (Mail, p4). The comments were made as part of the conference’s debate on the lack of wage growth in the UK. Dr Carney said pay rises are not expected to exceed inflation until “around the middle of next year”. The Governor added that firms had looked to hire during the recession instead of investing in capital, which meant more people were in work.

    Dr Carney also said he found the lack of female executives at the Bank of England “striking”. The proportion of female senior managers at the Bank has increased from a fifth to a third since the Governor took over, but the process of rebalancing would “take years”.

    Apple launches new iPay technology

    Alongside yesterday’s launch of its new iPhone6 and iWatch, Apple announced iPay, a new payments system that will allow consumers to pay for goods via their “smart” devices (FT, £, p1). Tim Cook, the company’s new CEO, said that Apple hoped the technology, which will only be offered in the US at first, would “replace” the traditional wallet and plastic card.

    Elsewhere, the Mail (p45) reports that Lloyds Banking Group is set to trial the use of fingerprint recognition technology for its mobile app. It aims to make “paying quicker and more efficient and the app more secure”, according to a Lloyds spokesperson. Read more about how technology is changing retail banking in the BBA’s Way We Bank Now report here.

9th Sep 2014 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 9 September 2014

    UK bonus challenge begins in ECJ

    The Government’s attempt to overturn the cap on bankers’ bonuses began in the European Courts of Justice yesterday. The Telegraph (B5) reports that Belgian judge Koen Lenaerts and Advocate General Niilo Jääskinen focussed on the argument by Treasury lawyers that the ruling contravenes the Lisbon Treaty. Mr Lenaerts described this claim as “inconsistent” as the UK had not opposed other parts of similar EU legislation. Mr Jääskinen announced that the final judgement on the case would be made on 20 November 2014. The paper adds that although the decision is made by the group of judges, “they tend to follow the Advocate General”.

    Meanwhile, MEPs will threaten to veto the candidate for the next EU financial services commissioner unless they promise to prevent banks from circumventing bonus cap rules, according to the FT (£, p8). Gianni Pittella, leader of the parliament’s Socialist group, told the paper: “If you are part of the EU you must apply the same rules as any other member state.”

    TSB to open more branches

    A year after it began trading as a separate company, TSB has announced plans to open 30 new branches, writes the BBC. The bank has also promised customers that they will be able to telephone their local branches directly, with CEO Paul Pester stating “TSB is a High Street bank, not a Wall Street bank”. In addition, Santander has also announced plans to open or extend more than 30 branches over the next two years. Read the BBA’s Promoting competition in the UK banking industry report here.

    BSA rejects leverage ratio proposals

    In its response to the Bank of England’s consultation seen by the FT (£, p22), the Building Societies Association (BSA) has questioned plans for a tougher leverage ratio, describing it as a “primitive” measure of risk. The association warned that firms would be incentivised to take on more risks and pass higher costs onto consumers. The submission also argued that a rise in the ratio from 3% to 4% could result in a 25% fall in mortgage lending.

    HMT calls on end to red tape

    HM Treasury’s financial services director Katharine Braddick has called for Brussels to deal with the unintended consequences of red tape that have resulted from European legislation. Ms Braddick told delegates at the BBA’s Foreign Banks Reception: “The EU must take stock, review the cumulative effects of this enormous post-crisis package of regulation, and ensure the unintended consequences are mitigated”. For more information on BBA events click here.

8th Sep 2014 Back to top
  • We are the United Nations of banking

    I often think that there’s something rather misleading about the name of our organisation. The title “British Bankers’ Association” might easily suggest that our main interests lie solely in British banks and those who work for them when, in fact, this isn’t entirely true.

  • BBA Brief – 8 September 2014

    Apple and Vodafone set to join payments revolution

    The FT (p17) reports that Vodafone and Apple are both set to launch integrated mobile wallet payments systems in the coming days.  Near field communciations technology will be integrated into SIM cards or the iPhone to allow customers to swipe for payments at contactless tills.  The paper quotes Mark Ritzman from m-commerce who said that these payments systems “will start to replace the leather wallet”.

    Fears grow over union break-up as poll puts Yes ahead

    The front pages of all the main papers this morning report that the UK could be heading for a break up following a YouGov opinion poll yesterday that put support for independence at 51%, with the No camp on 49%. It is reported that the palace is briefing that the Queen is concerned over the situation.

    ECJ to hear UK challenge on bonuses as EU threatens industry over allowances

    The European Court of Justice will today consider the UK’s legal challenge to the EU’s bank bonus cap. A Treasury spokesman said “These latest EU rules on bonuses, rushed through without any assessment of their impact, will undermine all of this [financial stability] by pushing bankers’ fixed pay up rather than down, which will make banks themselves riskier rather than safer.  In other words, as the Chancellor has said, they may undermine responsibility in the banking system rather than promote it.  Regulation of pay in this manner goes beyond what is permitted in the EU treaty. That’s why we are challenging these rules in the European court, to ensure the legislation respects the EU treaty and actually achieves what it’s meant to – a more stable banking system that serves the economy, businesses and consumers.”(Mail p62).

    The front page of the FT reports that outgoing EU Commissioner Michel Barnier has written to the European Banking Authority to warn that the EU is prepared to challenge new cash allowances which have been introduced since the cap came into effect.  In the letter he said he wanted to “underline [his] strong concerns with regard to the continuing reports of the use of these allowances.”

    Which? calls for shake up of credit market

    Saturday’s papers reported on the demand by consumer group Which? to ban the term 0% on credit cards that come with an upfront balance transfer fee and for health warnings to be given to unauthorised overdrafts with high interest rates (Guardian, p40).  The Mirror (p58) quoted a BBA spokesman saying, “If you feel you are paying too much for your credit, it’s important to shop around and look at the rates offered by other providers.”  It also reported on our monthly credit card statistics which showed that 42% of all borrowing on credit cards is now interest free.

6th Sep 2014 Back to top
  • Millions of customers harnessing a competitive credit market

    Commenting on the Which? report on the credit industry, a spokesman for the BBA said:

    “Britain has a competitive credit market with clear rules that rightly oblige lenders to set out interest charges and notify borrowers if rates change.

5th Sep 2014 Back to top
  • A little more time please

    In his latest article for BBA Voice, Executive Director Simon Hills says that the incoming senior managers regime has the potential to change banks for the better, but calls on regulators to give the industry a little more time than the “tight” 6 month deadline to implement it.

  • BBA Brief – 5 September 2014

    ECB cuts rates and introduces stimulus

    Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, announced measures yesterday to cut the central bank’s benchmark interest rate to 0.05% in combination with a new asset purchase programme in a bid to avoid deflation. Mr Draghi would not reveal the scale of the purchases but stated that the aim was to boost the Bank’s balance sheet by up to €1 trillion(£794 billion), the highest level since the start of 2012 (FT, £, p1). The FT (£, p7) said that Draghi’s choice of stimulus, which he refers to as “a broad portfolio of simple and transparent asset-backed securities”, marked a comeback for the practice of reprocessing bundles of loans. The Telegraph (p1) reported the consequent surge in the European markets as the euro plunged to a 14-month low of $1.30 against the dollar.

    UK interest rates remain low

    The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee has voted to hold interest rates at their current 0.5% low and keep the central bank’s stock of assets purchased under quantitative easing to £375 billion (FT, £, p3). According to the paper, most City economists are not expecting a rate rise until next year with none of the 42 polled by Reuters expecting a rise yesterday.

    Technology continues to change the way we bank

    The cashpoint of the future looks and feels more like a smartphone, according to the BBC, who surveyed the latest developments in ATM technology at a recent “cash machine jamboree” in London. The event featureda new cashpoint based on a tablet computer produced by security and software company Diebold. The article explains: “It is two-thirds of the size of a traditional cash machine, uses touch screen keypads, and just plugs in using a broadband connection”. Users will also be able to organise their withdrawal in advance, and built in cameras with facial recognition protects personal safety and could even catch fraudsters in the act.

    Another development in a bid to tackle fraud has been unveiled by Barclays, who hope to launch “finger vein authentication” for large businesses next year (Times, £, p46). To use this technology the user simply inserts their finger into a special reader which allows them to access their accounts without the need for PINs or passwords. Though barely known in Britain, this method of identification has been around since 2002 and is used in eight out of ten cashpoints in Japan. The Guardian (p10) writes that, crucially, the technology only works with live fingers.

    You can read the BBA report on the evolution of technology in banking – The Way We Bank Now – here.

    Independence vote leads pound to drop

    The Times (£, p45) reports how the pound dropped a US cent yesterday as the result of speculation over the Scottish independence vote. According to the article analysts have said that a “yes” vote could create uncertainty, sparking a run on sterling and a sell-off of companies with large Scottish exposure. According to one industry expert, the pound could fall 5% against the dollar and the euro if Scotland votes to break away from the United Kingdom.

  • July 2014 – Credit Card Market

    Richard Woolhouse, the chief economist at the BBA, said:

    “This is another set of good numbers that shows the UK consumer is putting the tough years behind them and feeling more confident about spending again.

    “It’s also very striking how savvy customers have become in recent years. As much as 42% of all borrowing on cards now is interest free – up from 34% two years ago.

    “This illustrates how many of us are cleverly using plastic to give us greater control about how we manage our finances without being charged to do so.”