Posts Tagged ‘money’

Could the banks be broken up by watchdog?

July 18th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

bank sign Could the banks be broken up by watchdog?Britain’s big four high street banks – Lloyds, HSBC, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland – could be broken up in to little pieces after the Competition and Markets Authority announced they’ll be launching an 18 month investigation into them all.

The big four currently control 77% of current accounts and 85% of small business (SME) current accounts, but customer satisfaction is low and the banks themselves are seemingly reluctant to change the way they do business.

The CMA was launched in April to replace other competition watchdogs.

“Competitive personal and SME banking markets are essential to households and businesses throughout the country, and to the success of the UK economy. However, our studies have found that despite some positive developments, significant competition concerns remain which mean that customers may not be getting consistently good service and value from their banks,” said Alex Chisholm, chief executive of the CMA.

This is a political hot potato (catch!) with all parties promising to do something about it all.

Ed Miliband, bless ‘im, has said that he’ll launch a competition investigation if elected next May. Meanwhile, his pal and shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, added: “As we said earlier this year, in the next parliament we need to see at least two new challenger banks and a market-share test to ensure the market stays competitive for the long term.”

The coalition themselves have also looked at ways of bolstering competition, including ideas to make it is easier for people to set new banks up.

No-one’s happy though.

“We note, in particular, that the larger banks, with relatively lower satisfaction levels, have not significantly lost market share, while banks with higher satisfaction levels have not been able to gain significant market share, which is not what one would normally expect to find in well functioning, competitive markets,” the CMA said.

However, there’s been loads of analysis into the market. When Gordon Brown was chancellor in ’99, he ordered an investigation into the banking sector. This will be the 10th occasion, and you have to wonder if anything will happen with this, given that nothing ever seems to get corrected.

Are the CMA going to be robust enough with our financial institutions? Don’t hold your breath.

barclays bank limited 300x300 Robbery! Robbery! Ha ha ha, Ive got all the money! Poor, dumb Teslim Adedibu. He was £9,000 in debt and thought his benefits were being slashed, so he decided to do something about it.

No, he didn’t call Step Change, or email the Money Advice Service. Instead he went to the flagship branch of Barclays in Piccadilly, kicked over a security screen and stole a piffling £910.

While yelling ‘Robbery! Robbery! Ha ha ha, I’ve got all the money!’ packets of dye he’d also accidentally pocketed went off in his rucksack – and he ran down Shaftsbury Avenue in a cloud of fetching red smoke.

Before he kicked down the screen and made his rather fabulous ‘getaway’, unemployed Adedibu had tried and failed to get money out over the counter because he was in thousands of pounds of debt.

So, thinking up a novel way to pay off his overdraft, he turned up five minutes later and demanded £10,000. He was caught the next day after his details were traced from his original (failed) transaction.

‘I’m sorry,’ said a now subdued Adedibu, as he was escorted to jail for 18 months. Bless him.

bank sign 1 in 4 want digital banking, says inconclusive survey A survey says that one in four of us would use a purely digital bank. No ‘banking ambassadors’, no counters, no humans. Apparently, we don’t care. A large percentage of us wants everyone to leave us alone and shuffle numbers about on a screen and then forget about it.

Unsurprisingly, the survey, by Accenture, found that folks between the ages of 25 and 34 are the ones most in favour of digital only banking, and are happy to only access their bank via the internet. And 80% of the 3600 current account holders surveyed are using internet banking regularly – however, the figure using mobile banking is just 27%.

BUT, there’s a bit of paradoxical confusion going on, too. It also found that there was a rise in customers using branches – up to 52% from 45% in 2012. And the biggest rise of all was between 18-25 year olds – the people you might assume would be all over digital banking like a rash.

‘This year’s survey underscores the growing complexity in how consumers want to interact with banks in the digital age,’ said Peter Kirk, from Accenture’s financial services group.

So what do we want? People or machines? Or both? Or do we just want that thing that seems so elusive – a bank that doesn’t annoy the crap out of us?

BT set for windfall with 0800 charges

July 11th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Picture 2 BT set for windfall with 0800 chargesWe’ve all been thinking it. We’ve all been worried about British Telecom not being wealthy enough. Well worry no more, because BT are going to get a “multimillion pound windfall” from mobile operators following a UK Supreme Court victory over phone call charges.

We can finally throw that nationwide street party in celebration of BT’s coffers! The orphans will be delighted.

So what happened? Well, the UK Supreme Court ruled in favour of BT following a dispute between the phone co. and mobile operators regarding extra payments for calls to 0800 and 0845 numbers.

EE, Telefonica, Three and Vodafone made an appeal, where they were trying to block charges for these non-geographic numbers, saying that BT’s wholesale costs (or ”ladder costs” if you like) were  ”unreasonable.”

The court dismissed them outright and furthermore, the companies would have to make back payments to BT dating back to 2009. In plain English, that’s tens of millions of pounds straight into BT’s pocket.

“Clause 12 of BT’s Standard Interconnect Agreement confers a discretion on BT to unilaterally fix or vary its charges,” the UK Supreme court said in its ruling.

BT said in a statement, “We will now start proceedings to recover the money that has been refunded to the mobile operators since the Court of Appeal ruling. We will also be pursuing claims for further termination charges subsequent to that ruling. Such pricing was designed to benefit UK consumers by incentivising the mobile operators to lower their retail prices.”

Maybe they should invent some firms and send threatening letters to all the companies that owe them money?

london houses Mortgage deals will ruin homeowners if prices fall Homeowners with small deposits and big EFFING mortgages are the most vulnerable to a slump in the property market.

According to a survey by ESurv, in June there were was ‘glut’ of teeny tiny 15% mortgage deals (hello, Help to Buy!) which has pushed the number of at-risk homeowners to levels not seen since the financial crisis.

The number of households with a high Loan to Value rate is now 10,898, which now accounts for 1 in 5 new mortgages, compared to 1 in 9 a year ago.

There’s also a regional divide – the majority of high LTV mortgages are in the North, where more than a quarter of people have them. Meanwhile, in That London, only 7% of mortgages have a high LTV. That’s probably because in the North, you’ll be lucky to earn enough to feed the whippet, fill the tin bath and have enough left over for a latte – let alone save up an enormous deposit for a house.

All this means that if house prices suffer any kind of slump in the future, that these householders will be plunged into a graveyard of negative equity, because their mortgage will cost more than the house is worth.

Seem to remember that happening back in 2008…

pt piggy bank pink 2 300x300 16 and 17 year olds get lucky with ISA changes While it’s quite doubtful that a 16 or 17 year old would have £19,000 knocking about in their piggy bank, loaded teens can save up to that amount tax free this year, thanks to an ISA loophole.

If you’re between these ages, you can open both a junior ISA and an adult ISA thanks to an anomaly in the system. The adult ISA limit has increased from £5940 to £15,000 today, while the junior ISA limit rises from £3840 to £5000.

And then when you turn 18, your junior ISA will be put in a separate adult ISA, which means your savings will still stay tax-free.

So perhaps if you’re a rich parent who is looking for a place to squirrel away Tarquin’s inheritance, or you’ve just got a REALLY BLOODY WELL PAID PAPER ROUND, then take advantage of it while you’re still young enough to get tax free savings.

Although you’re probably on Snapchat right now asking your mates if anyone wants to chip in for a Subway meal deal before you go to the job centre.

barclays poo 300x259 CODE BROWN: Man stages dirty protest in Barclays All hail the new hero of our times – the Robin Hood of the 21st Century. Yes, yesterday he did what every Barclays customer has been longing to do for years.


Staff and customers in Barclays in Andover, Hants, had to break out the Febreze after a ‘well-to-do’ man in his 40s entered the branch and er, made a deposit. Several large ones actually, all over the floor.

Customer Garreth McCarthy painted a vivid, yet amusing picture of the scene.

‘I wasn’t really paying attention until I noticed a foul, but unmistakable smell. I looked at the guy and he was just calmly walking around the bank – going to all the areas he could.

It’s quite clear what he was doing – he just had this calm but angry look on his face, as he walked around leaving special deposits on the floor. And then as calmly as he walked in he left. Staff didn’t know what on earth had just happened. The stench was unreal.’

An unreal dump strikes at the foul, rotten heart of commerce. Perfect. If anyone knows this man, send us an email, because we’d like to shake him by the hand. (After he’s washed them, obviously.)

The Daily Mirror have a darling little gallery of all the faeces, here.

money jar 300x300 Couples with 2 kids have to earn £40,600 a year to live Ever wondered why you’re walking around in a knackered daze with moths flying out of your pocket, wondering how to make ends meet AND keep up with the endless demands of children, who want things like water, food and new shoes?

Well that’s because the amount of money required for an acceptable standard of family living has gone up by 46% since 2008, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. And we’re not talking about trips to Legoland or booze and hookers for Dad. We’re talking BASIC NEEDS.

Despite the fact that the amount of money needed for staying alive has risen by almost half, wages have gone up by a piffling, paltry, perfunctory 9%.

The JRF have said that even if wages start to rise, the gulf between income and cost of living is so huge that families still couldn’t hope to catch up.

‘People have talked a lot about wages falling behind the cost of living but this really lays bare the challenge to make up lost ground.’ Said Katie Schmuecker from the JRF. ‘This isn’t just falling short, it’s falling behind.’

So that’s why you feel like you’re running to stand still ALL THE TIME. No wonder our heartless moneybags overlords call us ‘hardworking families’, eh?

*sells kids*

Payday lenders told to behave themselves

June 30th, 2014 No Comments By Lucy Sweet

wonga ladies 300x282 Payday lenders told to behave themselves The clampdown on payday lenders starts tomorrow, which means they won’t be able roll over loans more than twice – plus there’ll be tighter restrictions to your bank account, so Wonga won’t be able to drain all your wonga.

July 1st will also be the day they’ll have to start being more transparent in their advertising. They’ll have to slap warnings all over the big rubbery face of Earl and his old lady friends, telling people about the risks of late repayment, with a link to the Money Advisory Service in case people need help.

The exact wording? This:

‘Warning: Late repayment can cause you serious money problems. For help, go to

Things are looking a bit shaky for the payday loans industry as a whole. A massive investigation is currently being conducted by the Competition and Markets Authority, following the billions of complaints and debt from its customers and critics. The FCA is also looking into capping the overall cost of a payday loan.

So could these new regulations mean that payday loans will soon be a thing of the past? Or are we all so skint and desperate that we’ll do anything to borrow a quick buck?

 We’re racking up debts so our friends don’t think we’re tightwadsIt seems that we’re getting into debts of over £1000 a year purely so that our friends don’t think we’re stingy on nights out.

Nearly half of people who took part in a Money Advice Service survey said that they had gone into debt due to their social lives.

The average amount of ‘social debt’ stands at a whopping £1,260.

Our concern is that our friends won’t think we’re generous if we don’t buy them a drink, so we spend £341 a year of that debt on getting the rounds in.

We’re also going out for dinner even though we can’t afford it, because let’s be honest, life is a tedious carousel of work and death, so you may as well have some garlic bread occasionally.

However, we’re getting ourselves into some financial bother as a result, with one in 11 of us unable to pay utility bills because we’ve spent all our money on cocktails. And many of us are overspending simply because we don’t like to say no to a night out. (AND WHY WOULD YOU?)

Jayne Symonds, a financial expert from MAS who probably hasn’t got any friends said:

‘I’d urge anyone in debt, due to their social spending, to take action now to avoid getting any further into the red and instead work at clearing it. You’d be surprised how empowering saying ‘no’ can feel when you see how healthy your bank balance looks.’

Yeah, whatever.


home sweet f ing home Homeowners   prepare to pay £1000 more a year Looking forward to interest rate rises? No? Well, you’ll want to bury your head in the nearest bucket of gin when you hear that – potentially – homeowners might have to pay more than £1000 more a year than they do now.

That’s according to a report by estate agents Savills, who calculated that if the base rate went up from 0.5% to 1.5%, that means cash strapped homeowners on an interest only mortgage will have to find an average of £1,312 for the pot.

And if you’ve got a capital repayment loan, you will have to magic an extra £872 from the back of the sofa.

Interest rates might go up by the end of the year, although the Bank of England has promised that the rise will be ‘gradual.’ But if it does go up by 1%, or even to 2%, it will push affordability to the limit and your mortgage alone will constitute over 20% of your earnings. That was the exact situation in 2007, before THE CRASH.

So when will interest rates rise? When do we have to prepare our nooses? Only Mark Carney knows. But for homeowners, it is written in the wind – Winter Is Coming. Better start your dodgy webcam business now and earn some £££s from home.

Cheques are going digital!

June 19th, 2014 2 Comments By Lucy Sweet

cheque flat 1 Cheques are going digital! Don’t you just love a cheque? The best cheques are from grans, with ‘£5.00’ in very spidery writing, or those massive ones that people carry around on Postcode Lottery adverts.

Most people don’t pay by cheque any more, but even so, they often show up, as if BACS was never invented. And it’s a drag to go into branches to cash them.

Soon, though, you’ll be able to take a picture of your cheque on your smartphone and pay it in either via email or your mobile banking app. It’s called ‘cheque imaging’ and next week the government is expected to give the go-ahead for legislation allowing banks and building societies to use it.

It’s great news for us, because electronic cheques will speed up the interminable clearing process involved with all those bits of paper. At the moment you have to wait up to a week for a cheque to clear because it has to go from your bank to a clearing centre. But cheque imaging bypasses all that antiquated messing around, and it will only take 2 working days for your money to appear in your account.

However, it’s bad news for branches. Take away the need to cash a cheque, and you could see nothing but tumbleweed and unemployment. But, the hardy paper cheque might not be phased out entirely. Even if the legislation goes ahead, the Cheque and Credit Clearing Company says: ‘Customers wouldn’t have to do anything different if they don’t want to. They would still be able to pay cheques into their accounts at branches.’

But if it only takes 2 working days to clear a photo of your cheque, what’s the betting that we’ll all be doing it via email instead?

Yorkshire Building Society fined £3.8m

June 17th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

yorkshire building society Yorkshire Building Society fined £3.8mThe Yorkshire Building Society (and their pals at Credit Suisse) have been fined £3.8 million for misleading inexperienced customers over investments.

What was so bad about these investments? They had pretty much zero chance of achieving maximum returns.

The YBS (we’re not typing the full name out all the time) were selling a product called Cliquet which was put together by Credit Suisse International (CSI) and flogged to almost 84,000 customers who between them, stumped up somewhere in the region of £797 million.

The Financial Conduct Authority said that Cliquet was aimed at “unsophisticated investors with limited investment experience” through distributors like YBS and offered a guaranteed minimum return plus the potential for significantly more if the FTSE 100 performed well.

However, the regulators said that the probability of achieving only the minimum return was 40-50% and there was slim-to-piss all chance of the maximum return being achieved and that the maximum return figure was given “undue prominence” in both CSI’s product brochures, which YBS approved and showed to clients.

YBS was fined £1.4 million and CSI £2.4 million.

Tracey McDermott, of the FCA, said: “CSI and YBS knew that the chances of receiving the maximum return were close to zero but they nevertheless highlighted this as a key promotional feature of the product.”

YBS said customers affected by this will be given the option to exit their account and receive an “appropriate rate of interest”. How about that for a crappy apology?

Britons don’t like cash

June 2nd, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

reg varney cash machine 300x300 Britons dont like cashWhen Reg Varney used the world’s first cash-machine in Enfield, 1967, he was looking to the future of banking. It is clear that Varney was a forward-thinking man in all respects, especially his views on women.

However, Varney’s dream of a world of robot dispensers is seemingly dying a slow death in 2014.

You see, Britons are less bothered about physical cash in their hands thanks to the advent of contactless payments, self-service tills and online shopping. If we can help it, we’ll shop by talking to no-one and wafting a bit of plastic at it, according to a new study by the British Retail Consortium.

The research showed that debit cards were used in sales for half the value of all retail purchases made in 2013, which is a rise of 11% over the last five years. In that same period, use of cash has fallen by 14%.

The BRC’s Payments Survey looked at 60% of the £191 billion spent down the shops last year. However, customers are more reluctant to buy things on credit cards, saving them for fewer, but bigger purchases. The 18% increase in the average payment cost to retailers hasn’t helped either.

BRC’s David Lonsdale said the declining influence of cash was “a milestone in the development of our digital economy”, but did point out that cold hard cash was obviously still dominant.

“This is very much in line with the attention customers have paid to price and value during the recent economic uncertainty as they have sought to minimise payments from their budgets for everyday items,” said Lonsdale. “The recent pattern of spending on larger but fewer products on credit cards shows that customers are now feeling more confident than they did a year ago and reflects the wider consumer outlook of cautious growth.”

BRC director-general Helen Dickinson said she was “really disappointed” by the increased cost to shop owners of allowing their customers to pay by plastic. “Interchange fees cost the retail industry and its customers almost £1 billion in 2013,” she said.

“The much-welcomed European proposals to cap how much banks can charge retailers to process card payments are close to final approval. But in the meantime, we continue to work with the UK Government and Payment System regulator to implement caps on UK fees without further delay, as has happened in other European countries.”

We’re all using cash now, but it looks like we’re embracing new technology and not having rolls of money in our back pockets.