Posts Tagged ‘money’

RBS fined £14.5m over lousy mortgage advice

August 27th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

rbs RBS fined £14.5m over lousy mortgage adviceThe Royal Bank of Scotland has been fined £14.5m by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) after they failed to ensure that they were giving good mortgage advice to customers.

The FCA said: “Two reviews of sales from 2012 found that in over half the cases the suitability of the advice was not clear.”

The could’ve said: ‘As if there wasn’t enough reasons to loathe them.’

Of course, RBS was quick to apologise, with chief executive Ross McEwan saying that these failures are “unacceptable and should never have happened”.

After their investigation, the FCA discovered that RBS and their NatWest buddied had failed to take the full extent of a customer’s budget into consideration when they were making a recommendation.

On top of that, the banks didn’t give proper debt consolidation advice as well as completely failing to advise customers which mortgage term was best suited for them, according to the watchdog.

“Only two of the 164 sales reviewed were considered to meet the standard required overall in a sales process,” the FCA added.

RBS chief executive Ross McEwan said: “Taking out a mortgage is one of the biggest moments in our lives, and our customers have every right to expect the very best service when making this decision. It is clear that in the past the bank just didn’t get this right, this was unacceptable and should never have happened.”

“When I joined the bank we completely overhauled our processes, and took all our mortgage advisers off the front line for an extensive period of time to get the training required.”

Looks like they didn’t give the advisers enough training when it comes to treating customers fairly in a financial agreement that could potentially be for life, and indeed, ruin a family financially. Considering that taxpayers own 80% of the bank, thanks to previous bad behaviour from RBS, you’d hope that at some point, they’d try and up their game.

RBS have already mis-sold loads of insurance (to which they’ve put £3.2bn aside for when that bites them on the arse) and were hit with a £390m fine for their role in the Libor rate fixing affair.

Anti-deathwatch: Salaries

August 26th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

wages 300x199 Anti deathwatch: SalariesSalaries are showing signs of increasing for the first time since the financial crisis, says obscure-ish jobs search engine Adzuna.

The average salary has had an 0.9% advance on the previous year while the number of vacancies were up by a quarter to 872,629, said the report, which comes based on online job vacancies from more than 300 sources.

They’ve even broken their findings down into areas of the UK, which showed that all parts of the country benefited from a salary rise, except London.

The biggest rise in salaries came in Wales with 19%, with south-west England 7% and 6% in north-east England. London actually recorded a 1% fall in salaries.

The coincidentally named Andrew Hunter of the job hunter website Adzuna said:

“The UK job creation boom has become a double-edged sword, creating record highs in employment rates at the expense of stagnating wages. For once we can see good levels in both job creation and wage increases. And as the UK motors on towards full employment, we may well see wages increase at a higher rate as employers begin a bidding war for skills.”

It’s all quite good news isn’t it? People no longer having to sign on and that.

Co-op announce losses of £75.8m

August 22nd, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Co op Co op announce losses of £75.8mThe troubled Co-operative Bank have announced pretax losses of £75.8m for the first six months of this year. Losing that amount of money is not a thing to be sniffed at all.

They’ve said that “much needs to be done” in turning around the company, and hopefully, someone was on-hand to give them an award for stating the obvious.

That said, it isn’t all gloom – this is a significant reduction on the £844.6m loss during the same period last year, but at the same time, customers clearly aren’t happy as the bank said they’d lost 28,199 current accounts in the six months to 30th June.

Chief executive, Niall Booker, said the “deep-rooted issues” would continue to impact on the company’s performance for a while yet.

“Considering the scale of the challenge we faced a year ago we are encouraged by the progress made to ensure the stability of the bank. By the measures of capital and liquidity the bank is considerably stronger than it was a year ago. We are ahead of schedule in the disposal of non-core assets and have improved governance, particularly at board level. However, the issues we continue to face in building a sustainable business are deep-rooted and there remains much to be done,” he said.

“Transforming the organisation into a viable and profitable business which generates capital in the long term still requires significant change – both operationally and culturally.”

“The core bank continues to remain stable. In the first half of the year more people switched into the bank than in the second half of 2013. Although we have also seen an increase in the number of people switching out of the bank, the net numbers remain small relative to our total number of current account customers whose continuing loyalty is deeply appreciated. Recent trends suggest this net outflow of retail customers has slowed.”

One thing working in their favour it seems, is that for the most part, people just can’t be bothered to switch their current accounts.

Interest rates: no need for rise

August 20th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

British high street 300x180 Interest rates: no need for riseThanks to supermarket price wars and sales on the high street this summer, there’s been no need for the Bank of England to go ahead with early interest rate rises. Hurrah!

The consumer prices index, or CPI, went from 1.9% to 1.6% last month, which means it is still below the Bank’s 2% target for the seventh month on the trot.

The Office for National Statistics reckon this is down to a third month of falling food costs, which is due to the supermarkets scrambling for what customers they can get with all manner of discounts and offers.

The July RPI figure, which they use to set next year’s regulated rail fares, came in at 2.5%, which hopefully is good news for commuters expecting a massive price increase in the new year.

The City was a bit freaked out by the drop in CPI. Experts said the lack of evidence of inflation would stay the hand of the Monetary Policy Committee from a first rate since 2007.

There’ll no doubt be more exciting news like that when the Bank publishes the minutes of its August meeting, but otherwise that’s all quite optimistic news isn’t it?

Please say it is.

pensioner 242x300 You can benefit from next years pension changes even if youre retiring nowThey don’t make old people like they use to do they? Once upon a time they were all hunched over and angry, and now they’ve all got tracksuits and dancing lessons.

Either way, if you’re old and planning to collect your pension next year, you’ll have more options than ever to take your cash and run. If you’re retiring this week, you can also benefit from the new rules that are coming in next year.

There’s a relaxation in pension rules from next April, which means it is easier for old people to take their entire pot in cash (income tax pending, naturally). If you’re retiring before April you can still take advantage if you rest your cash in a ‘capped drawdown’ scheme until next year.

What’s that when it’s at home?

Well, capped drawdown pays out income from a pension based on the GAD rate set by the Government Actuary’s Department (GAD) and at the moment, allows retirees to take 150% of the equivalent annuity rate.

A company called Hargreaves Lansdown has launched a simplified capped drawdown plan called ‘retirement bridge’ (don’t worry, there’s not many steps for you to walk up) which provides you codgers access to your money, with a 25% tax-free lump sum and access to income if you need it (that’ll be taxed though).

Tom McPhail, head of pensions research at Hargreaves Lansdown, said there were many people retiring who want to take advantage of next year’s flexibility, but didn’t want to buy a pricey drawdown product or short-term annuity.

“There are relatively few ways for people to access some, or all, of their pension now,’ he said. “Insurers have come up with temporary solutions [such as short-term annuities] but in the main you need to go through an independent financial adviser and the costs of doing that are not insignificant.”

“I am quite concerned that a lot of people are hitting retirement today who are not being offered this option,” he said. “They think their options are either annuity or [full] drawdown, which will be complex and expensive. There are a huge number of people just treading water who are not sure what their options are. Some people do need to access the money… and others are waiting to see what happens and are reluctant to commit until they know what the rules are.”

Check the charges though – if you have a smaller pension, drawdown might not be the thing for you.

You should check your pension contracts before moving your money around though. Some older pensions have guarantees that can offer good annuity rates or the ability to take more than 25% tax-free cash, which you might lose if you move your money.

Always check your old policies before doing anything and phone up your provider and ask them if you can have the tax-free cash and leave the balance of your pension in scheme.

Legal  General Legal & General go it alone: what now for the Association of British Insurers?The future of the Association of British Insurers is an uncertain one after one of the main players in it – Legal & General – decided to go solo. L&G decided that it would be in the best interests of shareholders and policyholders if they cancelled their membership.

A few weeks ago, the company said that they wanted the trade body to be “a more forward-looking organisation”, so it isn’t too much of a surprise.

Nigel Wilson, Legal & General’s chief exec, said: “Our public policy work increasingly involves sharing commercial aspects of our business with government, which, for very obvious reasons, not least competition law, we cannot share with competitors.”

“We believe that, increasingly, engagement with government, regulators, quangos and other external bodies will be on a case-by-case basis going forward.”

The ABI have been having a rough time lately as it is, with the insurance industry looking at huge regulatory changes, which include reforms in the last Budget which promised structural changes to the insurance sector.

For the time being, Admiral and Allianz have no plans to ditch the ABI, and it looks like Axa will be sticking with it for the foreseeable future. Aviva and Prudential haven’t given their thoughts on the matter, but if Legal & General start making serious money and having more freedom, are we going to see the insurance equivalent of a Premier League breakaway where they can all start calling the shots more frequently?

Would that be good for consumers? It could go either way.

goldengirls 241x300 Boost your pension by 258% with this one clever trick No, it’s not a dodgy Facebook ad – it’s TRUE. People in their 50s and 60s can stand to triple their pension pot by joining new company pension schemes and boosting their contributions.

Many older people don’t bother with new pension schemes, thinking that they’re too old to get the benefits. But new pension reforms mean that they can up their contributions by 258% in just a few years and take out all their money without paying any tax. Woohoo!

Here’s how it works. In the last 2 years companies started automatically putting their employees on a pension scheme. Once you’re enrolled, your contributions are deducted from your payslip, your employer contributes something and you get tax relief from the government.

But people who were over 50 tended not to bother with it. WRONG.

If you do it, under the new reforms you can take all your wonga out of these schemes when you retire, rather than bothering with boring, stifling annuities.

Here’s the maths. (Theoretically.)

If you earn £24,000 a year this year, make an increase in contributions in 2018, and get a small pay rise every year – and there is a rate of 5 per cent annual growth – a 55-year-old could make £14,134 by the age of 65.

So get on it, silver foxes! That cruise ship buffet is waiting…

Could the banks be broken up by watchdog?

July 18th, 2014 2 Comments 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.

He SHAT IN THE BANK.

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*