The BBA is now integrated into UK Finance. Please go to www.ukfinance.org.uk for new content and updates from UK Finance.
Material published by BBA prior to 1st July 2017 is still available on this website.
From 1 July 2017, the finance and banking industry operating in the UK will be represented by a new trade association, UK Finance. It will represent around 300 firms in the UK providing credit, banking, markets and payment-related services. The new organisation will take on most of the activities previously carried out by the Asset Based Finance Association, the British Bankers’ Association, the Council of Mortgage Lenders, Financial Fraud Action UK, Payments UK and the UK Cards Association.x
BBA brief is a round up of each morning’s banking policy news prepared by the BBA’s media team. It is a selection of the articles in the papers and broadcast stories. The content does not reflect the views of the BBA.
City calls for clarity on post-Brexit arrangements as Article 50 judgement expected on Tuesday
The Sunday Times (£, p5) reports on banks’ preparations to change their operating models following Brexit. Highlighting calls for continued two-way accessibility between UK and EU markets, BBA Chief Executive Anthony Browne said: “Passporting is currently the only means of banks selling across borders and setting up branches in other EU countries without complicated regulatory approvals from member states.” Bloomberg (online) notes that the Supreme Court will rule on whether Prime Minister Theresa May must consult Parliament before triggering Article 50 tomorrow, and highlights two further legal challenges on Brexit.
Prime Minister May calls for a “high-skilled, high-paid” workforce for Britain; ahead of meeting President Trump to discuss US-UK trade deal
Prime Minister Theresa May writes that she is today launching a new industrial strategy with a focus on technical education and infrastructure spending to secure a “high-skilled, high-paid” Britain (The Independent, p5). The Daily Telegraph (£, p1) reports that May and President Trump will meet this week to discuss a new US-UK trade deal that is expected to reduce tariffs and make it easier for employees to move between both countries.
Strong economic growth in Q4 2016, however economists warn of 2017 slowdown
The Guardian (p22) reports that official statistics for economic growth are likely to show strong performance in the final quarter of 2017, but warns that this is expected to reverse in 2017. Investec’s Chris Hare comemnted that, “the UK economy has held up remarkably well”, but anticipated slower growth this year as a weakening sterling filters through into higher inflation and lower consumer spending.Read more
FCA says Senior Managers Regime prompts enforcement “rethink”
Mark Steward, the Financial Conduct Authority’s Director of Enforcement, has said that the Senior Managers Regime has prompted a change in the regulator’s approach to fines, suggesting that senior managers would be ” reluctant” to settle cases with high penalties. (City AM, p3). Read the full speech here.
Prime Minister Theresa May use Davos speech to highlight business tax and pay obligations
The Times (£, p16) reports that Prime Minister Theresa May has used her speech to business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos to stress the need for business to pay a “fair share” of tax and call for “increased accountability to shareholders”. The Financial Times (£, p4) reports that Chancellor Philip Hammond reiterated his view that “political realities” will force the UK to leave both the customs union and single market, with The Times (£, p17) noting his warning that “any diminution of London’s financial markets would be bad for business and consumers in Britain and the EU”.
President-elect Trump to be inaugurated at 5pm UK time today
The Daily Telegraph (£, p1) reports that many financial services institutions have welcomed the likely opportunities for the banking sector presented by the Trump administration, while the Financial Times (£, p1) reports comments from prospective US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in support of a strong dollar, highlighting “uncertainty” over the new administration’s economic policies.Read more
May pledges to deliver a Brexit for workers as UK begins “trade crusade”; EU warns of “difficult” negotiations
Writing in the The Sun (p11) Prime Minister Theresa May has set out her commitment to “ensuring that every worker enjoys the rights and protections they deserve”. She is expected to stress the UK is, “open for business” in a speech to business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos today (BBC, online). International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has confirmed that the UK has started “informal” trade negotiations with countries including China, India and Australia (The Daily Telegraph, £, p1; read Liam Fox’s full article in The Daily Telegraph £, p18). The Guardian (p1) reports a warning from the European Parliament’s lead negotiator Guy Verhofstadt that it is an, “illusion” to suggest the UK can access elements of the single market, “without accepting the obligations that come with it”.
Inflationary pressures in UK and US may prompt a rise in interest rates
The Financial Times (£, p3) reports data from the Office of National Statistics, showing faster than expected growth in earnings in the three month period up to November 2016, questioning, “whether the job market has peaked” and citing “pressure” on the Bank of England to focus on controlling inflation. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has indicated that, “rates could move in either direction”, while US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said she expects, “to increase the benchmark lending rate “a few times a year” through the end of 2019.” (Bloomberg, online) following an increase in US inflation, which rose to to 2.1% in December 2016 (The Times, £, p42).
Markets anticipate impact of Trump presidency ahead of his inauguration tomorrow
CNBC reports that Congress will question Donald Trump’s Treasury nominee Steven Mnuchin today, in a session that will be scrutinised for any hints on the prospective Trump administration’s views on the dollar and issuance of long term Treasury debt. Writing for Bloomberg, Allianz’s Chief Economic Adviser Mohamed El-Erian praises President Obama’s economic legacy, however the Financial Times (£, p13) notes that while President-elect Trump inherits favourable economic conditions, he faces a social “crisis”.Read more
Greater clarity over Brexit prompts rise in Sterling
Prime Minister Theresa May set out her priorities for Brexit in a speech yesterday, confirming that the UK will withdraw from the European single market, and commenting that, “no deal is better than a bad deal” in a speech widely interpreted as setting out a tough opening negotiating stance. (The Daily Telegraph, £, p1).
Commenting in The Daily Telegraph (£, p4), The Guardian (p4) and Daily Mail (p10), BBA Chief Executive Anthony Browne said: “The prime minister has provided important clarity today on the kind of relationship the UK will seek with the EU and we welcome the government’s commitment to free trade with the EU and the rest of the world.”
The Daily Telegraph (£, online) and The Guardian (p4) summarise European reaction to May’s speech. The Guardian reports that Donald Tusk, President of the European Council tweeted: “Sad process, surrealistic time, but at least more realistic announcement on Brexit. EU 27 united and ready to negotiate after article 50”.
China’s President Xi Jinping champions free trade at Davos
The Guardian (p18) reports that Xi Jinping has used his speech to the annual World Economic Forum at Davos to stress the importance of free trade, noting that there would be “no winners” from a trade war and called for continued international support for the 2015 Paris climate change agreement.
Office of Budget Responsibility warns that government borrowing likely to rise after next election
The Financial Times (£, p3) reports that the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) projects the UK’s budget deficit will rise over the term of the next Parliament, suggesting that government borrowing will have to increase. The OBR suggests the deficit will grow from 0.7% in 2020-21 to 1.8% in 2025-26, driven by higher healthcare and pension costs.Read more
Prime Minister to reject retaining “bits” of EU membership as she sets out Brexit priorities
The BBC (online) reports that Prime Minister Theresa May will today set out her 12 negotiating priorities for Brexit, rejecting arrangements that leave the UK, “‘half-in, half-out’ of the EU”. The Guardian (p1) expects that the Prime Minister will, “confirm that Britain will be leaving the single market”. The Daily Mail (p6) interprets her commitment to securing trade deals as a sign that she will also seek to withdraw the UK from the EU customs union. You can read the BBA’s Brexit Quick Briefs summarising the major issues on key topics including single market access here.
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney warns on risk of rising inflation
The Financial Times (£, p1) reports on a warning from Bank of England Governor Mark Carney that the recent drop in sterling is, “pushing the Bank of England towards a more hawkish stance against inflation”. Speaking at the London School of Economics yesterday, Carney referred to relatively strong global economic growth and domestic consumer demand. The Guardian (p18) reports that the International Monetary Fund has upgraded its predictions of UK economic growth for 2017 to 1.5%, up from 1.1%, although it expects “unsettled” Brexit to reduce the UK’s rate of economic growth in 2018.
Caution urged over speedy trade deal with US
Following President-elect Donald Trump’s indication that he’d like to secure a speedy bilateral trade deal with the UK, The Times (£, p10) reports that, “Whitehall departments have been asked to come up with three priorities for future talks with America” ahead of the Prime Minister’s visit to the US in May. However, some officials have cautioned against entering new trade arrangements before establishing clear negotiating principles. Bloomberg (online) also reports calls from pro-EU campaigners for the Prime Minister to safeguard environmental standards as part of any trade deal.Read more
Prime Minister to set out vision for Brexit, as the Chancellor warns of consequences if UK is denied of Single Market access
Prime Minister Theresa May will set out further detail on the UK’s negotiating priorities in a speech to EU ambassadors tomorrow. May is expected to focus on securing a, “clean break” and a, “strong new partnership with the EU” rather than securing access to the Single Market. Writing in The Sunday Times, Brexit Minister David Davis says that the Government, “will consider time for implementation of new arrangements”. The BBC (online) reports a sell-off in the pound this morning, which reached a low point of $1.20 in Asian markets before recovering slightly today.
Speaking to German publication, Welt am Sonntag (online), on Sunday, Chancellor Philip Hammond set out how the UK’s economic model may change if it can no longer access the Single Market. His comments have been widely interpreted as a suggestion that he would reduce the level of corporation tax in the UK, “if Britain were to leave the European Union without an agreement on market access…we will have to change our model to regain competitiveness.”
President-elect Tump indicates a speedy trade deal with the UK
Speaking to Michael Gove MP (The Times, £, p1) five days ahead of his inauguration on Friday, Donald Trump has indicated that he wants to secure a bilateral trade agreement with the UK, “very quickly.” President-elect Trump comments on a wide range of subjects, indicating that he may reduce financial sanctions against Russia in exchange for a reduction in Russia’s inventory of nuclear weapons (The Times, £, p6-7).
Chief EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier calls for EU deal to secure access to UK financial markets
The Guardian reports leaked minutes from a European Parliament meeting which include calls for the EU to retain a “special relationship” with the UK’s financial markets ), noting that this reflects views expressed by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney emphasising the need for a transition period after Brexit. However, Reuters (online) reports that Barnier has sought to clarify these comments in a tweet: “When asked on equivalence I said: EU would need special vigilance on financial stability risk, not special deal to access the City”.Read more
Theresa May to set out further detail on Brexit negotiating approach next week
Bloomberg (online) reports that Prime Minister Theresa May is to set out her, “vision for Brexit and her hopes for creating a ‘truly global Britain’”, in a speech next Tuesday. The Prime Minister has previously signalled that she will prioritise control over immigration and exiting the single market.
Meanwhile, European leaders have indicated that the UK is likely to remain, “under the rule of European courts well into the 2020s”, (The Times, £, p1). Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has said that the UK must accept judgments from the European Court of Justice during any transitional period. The Guardian (p12) reports that Muscat recognised that financial services would be an obvious area to cover during a transitional period but that it would “depend on the demands that will be put by the British government”.
Government considering new corporate criminal offences
The Times (£, p2) reports that the Government is consulting on whether to strengthen the current laws regarding the prosecution of corporations for criminal offences including fraud and money laundering. In a new consultation being launched by the Ministry of Justice today the Government is asking for evidence on whether the need to prove “directing mind” on corporate crime is hindering prosecutions. Evidence will also be taken on US style “vicarious liability” offences (Reuters, online).
Level of first time buyers rises, with many opting for longer-term mortgages
The BBC (online) reports on research from Halifax bank, which reveals that 2016 saw the highest level of first time house buyers since the financial crisis. The Times (£, p2) attributes this to, “first-time mortgages becoming cheaper, with borrowers able to benefit as low as 2.5% for the first three years”, and citing Government schemes aimed at increasing home ownership, such as Help to Buy. However, The Guardian (p29) notes that many buyers are choosing to borrow over longer periods, driving a trend towards mortgages that last into retirement.Read more
Impact of Brexit on financial stability; priorities for the post-Brexit settlement
Giving evidence at the Treasury Select Committee yesterday, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney commented that, “Brexit no longer poses the biggest risk to domestic financial stability”, and signalled that that the Bank is, “very likely” to upgrade GDP forecast next month (£, The Daily Telegraph, Business p1). Bloomberg (online only) reports comments in a report published today by TheCityUK underscoring the importance of transitional arrangements following Brexit: “The U.K. and the European Union should conclude a bespoke agreement that delivers mutual market access, transitional arrangements to allow for enough time to implement the new relationship and access to talent.” The report can be read in full here.
Fears over the rising level of household debt
The Times (£, p35) notes a warning from the Bank of England that, “consumer borrowing grew at its fastest pace in 11 years in November”, which it describes as a, “worrying echo” of pre-crisis consumer spending patterns. The article also reports comments from Alex Brazier, the Bank of England’s Executive Director for Financial Stability, raising concerns over “loosening credit conditions by lenders” and suggesting that the Bank may consider intervening, “as it did in the mortgage market in 2014.”
ECB cautions on merger between LSE and Deutsche Boerse
Reuters reports a letter from ECB President Mario Draghi to a member of the European Parliament citing concerns over Brexit and urging caution over the proposed merger between the LSE and Deutsche Boerse: “when a merger leads to a change in ownership of a euro area bank, as could be the case for entities within Deutsche Boerse and LSE Group that are licensed as banks, the ECB has to analyze it carefully from a prudential perspective”. Reuters also notes that the $28 billion mergers faces a number of barriers including regulatory concerns over clearing derivatives contracts and antitrust issues.Read more
Sir John Vickers raises concerns around stress testing
There is widespread coverage of Sir John Vickers comments last night on ITV criticising the Bank of England’s stress testing and calling for regulators to increase banks’ capital requirements, describing progress to date as “really disappointing”. City AM (City AM (p3) quotes the chair of the Independent Commission on Banking as saying that, “I think we need to be more rigorous, more robust and use a wider set of information than rely so heavily on these accounting measures, adjusted as they are for regulatory purposes – they didn’t do very well in 2007-8 let’s not assume they’ll work in future”.
Reforms to pay and corporate governance
The Financial Reporting Council’s (FRC) annual report on standards in corporate governance is published today. BBC Radio 4’s The Today programme coverage notes that number of FTSE 350 companies reporting full compliance with all provisions has increased from 57% to 62%; however the FRC has called for greater powers to question companies on details for their corporate governance framework, and for enhancements to directors’ obligations to “wider stakeholders” under the Companies Act. There’s widespread reporting of Jeremy Corbyn’s calls for the introduction of pay caps for executives of companies with government contracts (The Guardian, p1), alongside wider commentary on the impact of yesterday’s speech by the Labour leader (The Times, £, p1). The BBA’s response to the recent BEIS Select Committee enquiry on corporate governance is available online here.
Senior City figures emphasise importance of transitional measures
The Financial Times (£, p1) reports evidence given to the Treasury select committee calling for a transition period to allow time for adjustment to post-Brexit trade arrangements and, “avoid the risk of systemic crisis in the multi-trillion dollar derivatives market”. The Times (£, p11) reports concerns expressed during the session that an inability to clear euro-denominated derivatives could lead to global disruptions to the financial system. Commenting on the session, Andrew Tyrie MP, Chairman of the Treasury Committee, said: “Preserving the access arrangements provided currently by passporting is an important objective. Accepting the loss of one part of the financial services industry, such as euro clearing, could have unintended and disruptive consequences, for the UK and the EU”.Read more
The importance of equivalence arrangements for after Brexit
The BBC’s Today programme covered the impact of MIFID II, and potential for equivalence arrangements to minimise disruption to UK banks and other financial institutions after Brexit. Describing the new rules, which are intended to improve transparency and investor protection, the BBC also highlighted research that suggests 2 in 5 firms are not yet ready to meet the requirements by the implementation deadline of 1 January 2018. It also suggested that provisions in the regulation that deem “third countries” to have equivalent rules may help UK based financial institutions continue to operate in the EU after Brexit if they are deemed to meet these rules. BBA Chief Executive, Anthony Browne, described these provisions, and some of the steps needed to achieve equivalence, warning that the final decision is made by the European Commission and is likely to take place against a backdrop of the UK’s negotiations to leave the EU and create new trade arrangements.
Sterling falls on fears over Brexit, driving record gains in FTSE
The Times (£, p33) reports that Sterling fell to a 10 week low against the dollar yesterday, following comments from the Prime Minister that she, “was not interested in keeping ‘bits’ of European Union membership”. The Financial Times (£, p1) reports German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s comments that she would be, “unwilling to allow Britain favourable access to the single market if Mrs May insisted on ending free movement” and highlights calls for further clarity over the Government’s Brexit plan, quoting Commerzbank’s Esther Reichelt who said: “until the government finally presents a concrete and convincing strategy, market participants will increasingly fear a disaster”. The Daily Telegraph, (£, p1) notes that the FTSE peaked at a record 7,243.76 points yesterday, closing at 7,232.40 driven by “hard-Brexit” fears.
Property prices rise – but availability of buy-to-let mortgage deals declines
City AM (p 10, print only) reports Halifax data showing UK house prices increased by 6.5% last month compared to December 2015, with the average house in the UK priced at £222,484. The Daily Telegraph (£, p5) notes that the data also reveals the fastest increase since March 2016, attributing this to a lack of supply; however this trend is expected to reverse later in the year, according to Halifax’s housing economist, Martin Ellis, who expected to see “reduced housing demand in 2017” based on increased inflation and low wage growth. The Daily Telegraph (£, p5) also noted data from the Moneyfacts comparison site showing that there has been a 5% fall in the availability of buy-to-let loans. Moneyfacts attributes this decline to new tax obligations for private landlords and increased regulatory requirements for lenders.Read more