Category Archives: News

UK Payday Loan Lenders Offering Customers up To £1,000 for Referrals

UK Payday Loan Lenders Offering Customers up To £1,000 for Referrals

Payday loan companies like BrightHouse and Amigo Loans among many others are in the spotlight for offering their customers monetary incentives for recommendations. As the rules and regulations surrounding marketing payday loans tighten, some payday loan companies in the UK are resulting to using what many may consider to be unethical marketing practices.

The latest consumer watchdog reports show that some payday loan companies are offering their customers up to £1,000 if they successfully convince their friends and family members to take high-interest loans. Lenders such as BrightHouse are on the spot for offering £220 to customers who introduce their family members and friends successfully. Consumer watchdogs have termed this incentive ”cynical”. Amigo customers are earning up to £1,000 for making their friends and family members take out £10,000 loans which attract a 50% annual interest rate. BrightHouse which is a popular rent-to-own retailer is offering £220 to customers who convince their friends to take out loans attracting interest rates up to 99.9%.

There are many other lenders guilty of this seemingly unethical practice. Doorstep lender Provident is also paying its customers £30 for referral loans amounting to £100 or more at 535% interest. Loan At Home hasn’t been left behind. The lender is offering £20 or more to customers who promote loans attracting a 433% interest. What’s interesting is; the lenders see nothing wrong with their incentives. When contacted, Loan At Home claims they are happy to offer a ”small” reward to customers who promote them. BrightHouse claims its actions are common among retailers. Amigo is on record insisting their marketing strategy targets a small percentage of loans. Consumer watchdogs are of a contrary opinion. According to Marc Gander, a Consumer Action Group Administrator and Adviser, ”the schemes are bound to attract many people.” Martyn James from resolver.co.uk shares similar sentiments. James sees serious ethics concerns about the payday loan marketing schemes. His sentiments have been repeated by many other consumer watchdogs as well as individuals who are concerned about increasing debt levels in the UK. According to the latest Bank of England statistics, UK households have accumulated unsecured debt amounting to £204billion.

When should you take out a payday loan?

The recent developments have brought into question the circumstances that warrant taking a loan. Although unethical, these schemes may very well be legal exposing many vulnerable borrowers to debt problems. So, how should you protect yourself? The first most important step is understanding when you are supposed to take out a payday loan or any other loan. Never take a loan just because it is available. You need a better reason! For instance, payday loans should be taken by people who have emergency cash needs. If your car has broken down mid-month and you don’t have money for repairs, you can take out a payday loan. Payday loans can also cater for emergency medical expenses among other unexpected monthly expenses as you wait for your salary. If you don’t have any pressing emergency cash need, don’t take out a loan even if it is available to you instantly.

Short term loans spanning for a few months to one year should be taken for reasons such as starting a business. There is a general rule that states you should never use loans to acquire liabilities. A car is a liability if you don’t use it to earn you money. Clothes, shoes, electronics, and furniture are also liabilities in this regard because they don’t earn you any money and they lose value with time. It’s also important to take out loans from responsible lenders only. Responsible short term loan lenders in the UK don’t use unethical loan promotional techniques to lure innocent borrowers into debt. They care about their customers as much as they care about profits.

Reputable payday loan lenders in the UK are registered by the FCA. You can search the FCA’s register (https://register.fca.org.uk/) to ascertain the firm you are dealing with is authorised. Furthermore, authorised firms don’t charge exorbitant fees. It is worth noting the FCA has regulated payday loans tightly in the UK due to past incidences of borrower exploitation. The regulator is in the process of extending its reach to other types of loans. Before there is adequate regulation on all types of loans available in the UK, it is important for borrowers to seek loans for the right reasons and stick to borrowing from reputable lenders and brokers like SwiftMoney.

Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.

The FCA Has Published Its Future Approach to Consumers

The FCA Has Published Its Future Approach to Consumers

Back in April 2017, the FCA launched its mission and committed to publishing documents explaining its approach to regulation in-depth. The ”FCA Mission: Our Future Approach to Consumers” is the first of a series of documents explaining the FCA’s approach in more detail.

The FCA mission explained how/why the FCA prioritises, protects and intervenes in financial markets. Its publication was a milestone in the FCA’s efforts to be more transparent about its role and accountability while discharging its mandate. The regulators ”Approach to Customers” is the first of a series of documents. This particular publication explains the FCA’s approach to regulating for customers.

Background FCA Mission:

it’s important to note that the FCA exists to serve the public’s interest as far as financial services are concerned. The regulator does this through regulation. The UK parliament has given the FCA one strategic objective which is; ensuring financial markets function well. The FCA also has three operational objectives. The first one is to secure the relevant protection to consumers of financial services. The FCA is also charged with the responsibility of protecting as well as enhancing integrity in the UK financial system. Lastly, the FCA must ensure fair competition (consumer interests must be protected).

The FCA’s wish list in regards to consumers:

The FCA focuses on seeing financial markets where;

1. There are adequate high-quality financial products and services which meet the needs of consumers.

2. Consumers can buy financial products and services which are sold in a manner that is clear and fair (not misleading).

3. The needs of vulnerable consumers are considered. How was the approach was developed?

Before looking at the core ideas that informed the FCA’s approach to consumers, it’s important to understand how the approach was developed. The FCA’s approach to consumers considered the diverse characteristics of consumers and the external environment where firms and consumers operate. The approach explored vast research as well as the real experiences of 12,865 persons in the regulator’s Financial Lives Survey published on 18th October 2017. Core ideasThe FCA’s approach to consumers is based on the following core ideas;

1. Firm/consumer responsibility – According to the FCA, firms must treat their customers fairly. Financial services firms must provide products and services that customers need. Those products and services must also be marketed and sold in a manner that allows customers to make informed decisions. The FCA acknowledges the fact that some customers may not be able to make the best decisions when choosing products/services. Firms must exercise extreme caution where customers stand to be vulnerable. They should not exploit vulnerable customers in any way. However, the FCA also expects customers to assume reasonable responsibility for decisions made when buying financial products/services.

2. Regulation for vulnerable consumers – The FCA sees a need to have special regulation for vulnerable consumers i.e., consumers who are seriously ill or in financial distress. The FCA expects firms to pay special attention to the signs/indicators of customer vulnerability and have policies to deal with such customers. Firms must ensure vulnerable consumers are protected and helped.

3. Keeping up with changing environments – The FCA acknowledges that changes like new technologies have an impact on how firms and consumers make decisions. As a result, the FCA makes regulation while factoring in consumer needs based on changing circumstances while also ensuring adequate certainty to firms. The regulator uses Data Sciences and behavioural economics to ensure regulation approaches are great today and in the future.

4. Access and Inclusion – The FCA acknowledges the fact that some consumers are unintentionally excluded from enjoying some financial products/services because of their circumstances or specific characteristics. As a result, the regulator seeks to develop strategies for tackling access and inclusion problems. The FCA is working with financial services firms among other industry stakeholders to ensure there is fair access and inclusion. The regulator is also looking at its own rules currently and making efforts to ensure industry players interpret its rules correctly.

5. Delivering better outcomes for consumers – The FCA has a variety of tools it deploys to diagnose as well as remedy all types of ”harm” to guarantee better outcomes for all kinds of consumers. The regulator uses all types of interventions from harder to more prescriptive interventions such as issuing formal communication to imposing new rules. The FCA also uses its convening powers to bring all stakeholders together if need be when there is need to solve issues without formal regulatory intervention. According to Andrew Bailey, the C.E.O. of the FCA, the regulator’s mission is to act in situations where the greatest public value is added.

The FCA’s approach to consumers focuses on how the regulator can offer better consumer outcomes via interventions. The approach also highlights the regulator’s stance in tackling consumer problems. According to Bailey, the regulator will work with the Government and industry stakeholders among other players to address complex consumer issues such as financial exclusion and vulnerability. This is precisely why the regulator has opened consultation on its approach document. The consultation closes on 5th February 2018 after which a final approach will be published.

Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.

Consumer Finance Up 3% in September 2017

Consumer Finance Up 3% in September 2017

The latest on consumer finance in the UK According to the latest figures by the FLA (Finance & Leasing Association), consumer finance growth is up by 3 percent in September 2017 compared to the same period last year. Q3 2017 has seen a new business growth of 6% compared to Q3 2016.In September 2017, new business generated by credit cards and personal loans grew by 3% compared to September 2016. Online credit and retail store new business increased by 6% over the same period. Second charge mortgage value (new business) also grew at a similar pace in September 2017. However, new business volumes dropped by 2 percent over the same period.

According to Geraldine Kilkelly, Chief Economist and Head of Research at the FLA, new consumer credit is expected to increase by 3.3% in 2017, a significant drop from the 6.3% growth in 2016. This forecast comes in the wake of subdued consumer confidence and the slowest business growth since April. Consumer confidenceAccording to the most recent Lloyds Bank spending power report, consumer confidence is at the lowest level in 2.5 years (since April 2015). Consumer confidence is a measure of how consumers feel about their current as well as the future state of their finances and economic conditions as a whole.

In the IPSOS MORI monthly survey involving 2000+ UK bank account holders, 61% felt positive about their finances in October, a 3pp drop from 64% the previous month. Consumer confidence is a vital consumer finance metric. The measure is at its lowest level in 30 months. Statistics indicate that there is a huge gap between different age groups. Majority (78%) of individuals over 65 years old are positive about their financial situation compared to 60% of individuals between ages 18 and 24 years and 61% of individuals aged between ages 25 and 34 years. The latest statistics also show that women are less positive than men in regards to consumer confidence, i.e., 58% against 64%. Although we are approaching the festive season which is characterised by overly positive consumer finance metrics (increased borrowing and spending), 38% of individuals in the Ipsos MORI survey are worried about personal spending during Christmas. 13% of individuals in the survey are planning to cut back on typical spending to cater for festive spending.

The number of UK households with comfortable financial situations dropped in October 2017 by two percentage points to 60%. The situation is worse among households with children aged 18 and below. Lloyds Bank customer account data analysis shows that people are spending more on essentials. The latest statistics show a 2% growth in essential consumer spending in October. This represents a 17-month consecutive growth in essential spending with food accounting for approximately 40% of all essential spending.

Fuel spending is also significant according to the Lloyds Bank data analysis with an increase of approximately 5% which represents a 14-month continuous growth. Electricity and gas spending increased by 2.5% from 1% last month. Energy spending has been rising for the 3rd consecutive month after enjoying a continuous decline for three years. According to Robin Bulloch, Lloyds Bank Managing Director, although most people are positive about their finances, there was a significant drop in overall consumer confidence in September 2017. Bulloch attributes the drop to factors like inflation. Since inflation is at a 5-year high, Bulloch states that consumers, more so millennials, have begun to feel the pinch more than everyone else. He doesn’t find it surprising that the UK government reached out more to millennials in this week’s budget. As inflation rises and wages stagnate, UK consumers are being forced to rely on loans. This explains why there are more and more people taking out payday loans, credit cards and other forms of short term loans today. Consumer finance growth isn’t necessarily a good thing if consumer confidence remains low especially among the population that is supposed to drive the economy forward.

Although the budget has some interesting perks that will see minimum wage workers earn more and households save more in taxes, critics argue that the budget perks don’t mean much when you consider inflation. As the cost of essential increases, it is advisable to spend wisely during this festive season. You should stick to affordable goods during this season to avoid starting 2018 in debt. Avoid loans at all cost except for emergencies. Managing your finances is critical during this period since loans are easily accessible now more than ever before and we are approaching a time of the year characterized by overspending.

Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.

Shocking Number of Nurses Taking Out Payday Loans 2017

Shocking Number of Nurses Taking Out Payday Loans 2017

Payday loans for nursesMore than 1 in 20 NHS nurses are being forced to take payday loans to cater for everyday expenses. This is according to a new poll by the RCN. The recent Royal College of Nursing workforce poll revealed that 6% of nurses in the past year had been forced to rely on high-interest loans to meet daily expenses. 40% of the nurses questioned admitted to losing sleep over financial worries while 25% admitted to having borrowed money from their bank, family members or friends to meet regular monthly expenses.

What’s more is 23% admitted to having taken on another job just to cover typical bills/expenses. The survey which involved 7,720 nurses across the UK also showed that a record 50% of NHS nurses rely on overtime to meet their monthly bills. There’s more! 56% have been forced to make drastic financial decisions such as cutting back on travel and food expenses. 20% struggle to pay electricity and gas bills while 11% have been late meeting rental or mortgage payments at least once in the past year. Some nurses (2.3%) have also been forced to rely on food banks or charities to survive.

The RCN survey also indicated that 37% of nurses are seeking new employment opportunities which is a 24% rise compared to the same period a decade ago. What’s more interesting is majority of nurses looking for new jobs are searching for employment outside the NHS. 14% admitted to looking for employment opportunities abroad. The RCN survey shows that 70% of nurses feel worse off financially today than they were five years ago. The NHS employs 80% of the nurses in the survey. The current predicament is attributed to the NHS failure to meet its financial obligations as an employer. The RCN found it disturbing that the NHS is losing nurses because it is unable to pay wages promptly. Some nurses have gone as far as considering a total change in career.

Many nurses are ready to take on early retirement and find new jobs outside the industry. Some nurses are even discouraging new entrants in the industry despite being so passionate about nursing. The poll which was released before this week’s budget implored Philip Hammond to tackle issues surrounding public sector pay. According to Janet Davies, the RCN C.E.O and general secretary, these shocking findings show the amount of financial pressure faced by nursing staff in the UK today. Davies finds it ludicrous that the UK health service industry is losing highly-trained staff because the sector can’t be able to pay monthly bills on time. She goes further to state that the NHS may have managed to make savings, however; this has come at the expense of their staff.

The NHS is guilty of reducing remuneration for nurses every single year in real terms which explains why the health service sector has a shortage of 40,000 nurses currently in England alone. According to Janet Davis, the budget needed to give a clear way forward on wages for public servants. Hammond’s budget brings hope to UK workers including disgruntled nurses. In his budget reading on Wednesday 22nd November 2017, Hammond stated that the income inequality level in the UK is at its lowest in three decades. The poorest individuals have enjoyed faster income growth since 2010 compared to the richest . The percentage of full-time low-paying jobs has also decreased drastically.

According to Hammond, Britain’s conservative government is delivering a fairer country. Hammond has gone ahead and increased income tax personal allowance. The new limit (£11,850 per person) takes effect in April 2018. According to Hammond, this increase will mean typical basic rate taxpayers stand to save £1,075 yearly compared to 2010. Full-time workers who are on a national wage will enjoy an extra £3,800+ every year. The Chancellor has also increased higher rate tax threshold from £45,001 to £46,350 allowing people to earn much more before they are required to pay more tax. Most importantly, the Chancellor has raised the national living wage to £7.83 from £7.50. The raise which takes effect in April 2018 is expected to give full-time workers a £600 pay hike.

Many find Hammond’s budget a win-win for everyone although the wealthiest are expected to pay more income tax. Some critics, however, argue that the new budget doesn’t do much to help those in desperate need. According to critics, the budget incentives are mere inflation adjustments that don’t do much to solve the wage stagnation problem facing the UK in the past decade. As long as wages continue to fall behind the spiraling cost of living, nurses and many other workers in the UK will continue to depend on payday loans among other types of short term loans to get by. The average salary of a registered nurse in the UK stands at £23,319 according to the latest statistics. If the salary was to be adjusted in line with inflation, (by 14%, since the 2011 pay freeze), it should be £26,584 which is £3,265 more.

Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.

Global Trends in Financial Services Regulation

Global Trends in Financial Services Regulation

Financial sector regulators globally have been taking measures to protect financial services consumers. The FCA in the UK, for instance, has been spearheading financial services regulation in the lending sector to ensure borrowers are safe from unscrupulous lenders.

The FCA’s regulatory reforms started in the payday loan sector and are expected to shift focus to regular banks as the FCA looks to protect all borrowers from unnecessary charges.
While the UK financial services regulator is busy streamlining the financial services industry, countries like Canada among many others are following suit. So what are the global trends being experienced in financial service regulation?

According to the 2017 Global Regulatory Development & Impacts report, global financial services regulation is focusing on; enhancing transparency, imposing statutory best interest on advisors, banning embedded commissions and improving advisory proficiency. The report touches on financial services regulation implemented in 16 countries. There are many variations in the report in regards to the type of financial products under regulation.

The report reveals that there is a special emphasis on restrictions imposed on investment products in some jurisdictions while other jurisdictions focus on almost all financial products ranging from investment to insurance, deposit, and mortgage as well as other commission driven products. Different countries have also approached conflict of interest issues differently indicating differing market characteristics. Nevertheless, something is being done globally in regards to financial services regulation. Below is a summary of the major global trends.

1. Most countries favour enhanced disclosure

Most countries globally are in favour of financial industry players improving disclosure as part of the new financial policies and principles. Out of all the 16 countries reviewed in the Global Regulatory Development & Impacts report, the U.S. is the only country that hasn’t implemented enhanced disclosure initiatives. This trend focuses on ensuring financial industry players offer their customers as much detailed information as possible on fees and commissions to boost transparency.

2. Most countries are in favour of banning embedded commissions although few have taken action

The report also indicates that most countries have reviewed options to ban embedded commissions. This move has been spearheaded by securities regulators in many jurisdictions however, only the U.K., Australia, the Netherlands and South Africa have proceeded to ban embedded commissions. This represents just 13% of the $39.4 trillion global mutual fund assets market. In most of the markets that have implemented the ban, the decision was triggered by local circumstances. In the U.K. for instance, the ban was triggered by scandals in the financial industry. In Australia, the ban was triggered in reaction to the collapse of three main financial industry firms.

In seven countries namely; Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Singapore and New Zealand, the governments as well as securities regulators have ruled out banning embedded commissions entirely but promised to take some action.
Europe, on the other hand, has proposed to restrict independent advisors from receiving commissions. Some analysts, however, claim that these efforts aren’t enough since the independent advice channel is the smallest in the EU funds industry representing 11% of the total assets. Most fund sales in the EU are done via banks where the restrictions don’t apply.

3. Few countries have a best interest standard

Although most countries have expressed interest in creating a fiduciary/best interest standard, Australia happens to be the only country with a broad statutory best interest standard in place for advisors in the retail funds’ industry. The U.S. has made some steps in the right direction as well by adopting a rule which makes the definition of fiduciary more extensive under the employment retirement income security law. This change makes investment advisers offering retirement advice as well as insurance agents and broker-dealers subject to a fiduciary standard. The rule was supposed to come into full effect on 9th June 2017.

Summary

There is a collective global effort to improve financial services regulation. Most countries are however in the formative stages of reform. The U.K. led the way with the FCA by introducing tough regulation against unscrupulous payday loan lenders to protect the huge population dependent on payday loans. The U.K. must do more in regards to regulating other financial industry players.

But let’s not forget most countries including Britain only started making financial services regulatory changes recently. It will take time before the success of ongoing and already established changes is evaluated conclusively globally. In the UK however, the FAMR (Financial Advice Market Review) has already seen major improvements in the financial advice industry. The U.K. now boasts of offering better quality financial advice. However, accessibility is still an issue. There is a need to do more, faster, in the U.K. and the world at large although the world is on the right path in regards to financial services regulation.

Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.

Jobs That Risk Being Rendered Useless by Technology in The Future

Jobs That Risk Being Rendered Useless by Technology in The Future

As much as technology has made life easier, it has destroyed countless jobs in the process. Although this is one of the most notable cons of technology, let’s not forget the jobs that have been created by technology in the past few decades. Nevertheless, we can’t help but think of jobs that might be rendered useless by technology. To avoid being a victim of technology in a few years or decades to come, here are the top jobs that stand to be obsolete in the future.

1. Driving jobs

Self-driving cars are already here with us. This automatically puts driving jobs at risk in the future. Although it may take decades for self-drive cars to fill every city in the world, driving jobs are expected to be taken over by computers. Many companies have already invested in self-driving technology today like Tesla Motors and Google. Tesla Motors, for instance, is already working on self-driving trucks. If Tesla succeeds, this will mean fewer jobs for truck drivers. There are however many hurdles stopping self-driving from becoming a reality soon. The technology is however here with us and it poses risks to people who drive for a living.

2. Research-related legal jobs

IBM has already developed an artificial intelligence system (Watson supercomputer) capable of doing legal research. The computer is capable of searching through millions of case files in seconds and identify data points which lawyers can use in court. The system was rolled out in 2016 and is in use in several law firms today. In the future, such systems are expected to help experienced lawyers perform more in-depth research reducing the number of research-related legal jobs.

3. Surveyors

Significant advancements have been made in surveying technology. For instance, robotic total stations have allowed surveyors to do more in less time. Although surveyors are still in demand for jobs which have not been automated yet i.e. reviewing sites and certifying boundary lines, the demand for surveyors is expected to reduce.

4. Bank teller jobs

Bank teller jobs have been at risk since ATMs became popular in the 1970s. The jobs have however been safe due to the banking expansion that has taken place over the past few decades globally. Online and mobile banking has however introduced fresh fears. People no longer need to visit banks to transact. Banks are slowly closing down branches as people prefer online and mobile banking over traditional over-the-counter transactions.

5. Newspaper journalism jobs

Online publications and blogs have been challenging the traditional newspaper industry for several years now. People no longer buy newspapers like before since they can get the same information online for free. Advertisers have noticed this and turned their attention to online marketing. The number of people paying for newspaper ads is reducing yet this revenue has been used to pay newspaper journalists for a long time. Online journalism has taken over and what’s more interesting today is, many people are practicing journalism online without proper qualifications. If you are yearning for a career in journalism, you need to think online or electronic media as opposed to print media.

6. Insurance underwriter

In the past, insurance underwriters used to evaluate applications, risk and appropriate premiums individuals seeking cover would pay for manually. Today, most insurance companies are using algorithms to determine eligibility and premium rates. The demand for insurance underwriters is slowly reducing.

7. Cashiers

There are self-checkout kiosks today that are taking up cashier jobs. Coupled with electronic payments, the demand for cashiers will reduce in the future. Furthermore, most retail industry stakeholders see technology as a means of reducing overheads and theft that takes place at checkout points. Customers have also become increasingly comfortable using self-checkout kiosks because they are faster.

8 Translators

Translators also risk being rendered jobless by translation applications in the future. People no longer need a person who speaks or reads a different language to understand different languages. There are Smartphone apps that can translate written as well as verbal language real-time and what’s more interesting is, translation apps are becoming more accurate. They have also reduced the time it takes to translate and the awkwardness of using an intermediary to talk to someone who speaks another language.

Summary

Technology has come with many benefits and some cons. Many people risk being rendered jobless in the future with the ongoing technological advancements. People are also more open to using technology today more than ever, and this is bound to continue in the future. Considering technology can’t be stopped, it is important for people who face the highest risk of being rendered jobless to retrain and gain new skills to take up jobs with more security before it is too late.

Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.

FCA Warning: Are Young People In The UK Borrowing Too Much?

FCA Warning: Are Young People In The UK Borrowing Too Much?

In a recent ”Money Matters” interview with BBC, the C.E.O. of the FCA, Andrew Bailey expressed concerns about growing debt among young people aged between 18 and 34 years in the UK. His concerns came as the number of insolvent individuals in the 18 to 34 age bracket increased by 31% between years 2015 and 2016, according to the Insolvency Service.

The latest Insolvency Service statistics show that seaside towns in Wales and England have the worst debt levels among the youth in the UK. The towns that are worst hit include; Scarborough, Torbay, and the Isle of Wight.

The FCA is currently focusing on sustainable, affordable credit, i.e., reducing high-cost payday loans and long-term credit card debt. In his interview, Bailey warned that there is an increasing number of young UK citizens taking out credit cards and payday loans among other short-term credit loans to cater for basic living expenses.

Although Bailey goes ahead to state that the current debt levels haven’t reached a critical level from a macroeconomic standpoint, there are serious concerns about why debt levels are increasing among young people. Bailey attributes this new disturbing trend to a generational shift in patterns of wealth and income. He doesn’t view this trend as reckless borrowing per se, but an indication of the current basic living standards.

Bailey feels basic living costs have increased drastically over the decades forcing the young generation to borrow more to meet essential living costs. He points out specifics like the high cost of rental houses as well as poor/lack of income growth as the main causes of the debt problem. Today’s youth also have lower asset ownership levels which is a different generational experience from decades ago.

Bailey also attributes the current debt levels among the youth to an increase in ”unsecured lending” ranging from credit cards and overdrafts to car loan and personal loans. According to the latest Bank of England statistics, consumer debt now stands at over £200 billion and increasing drastically at 10% every year. Savings are also decreasing due to low interest rates and higher cost of living.

Other sentiments

According to Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Leader, the current debt problem among young people in the UK is attributed to the conservatives’ failure to implement their manifesto pledge on creating better laws for people facing financial difficulties. Cable claims the pledge to offer legal protection ranging from interest to charges and bailiffs for 6 weeks to individuals in distress because of debt will go a long way to solve the debt problem in the UK.

Jonathan Reynolds who is the Treasury’s shadow economic secretary finds a lot of human tragedy in the UK debt story. According to him, the youth don’t have a choice. Labour suggests there should be a cap on charges on other forms of short-term debt in line with the payday loan cap. According to Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, there is a need for special focus on credit card debt which has spiralled out of control. McDonnell has plans to help over 3 million people in the UK who are currently paying more than they should in interest payments.

Joanna Elson, the C.E.O. of Money Advice Trust agrees with Andrew Bailey’s sentiments. Elson states that although the current debt levels among the youth may not be severe to the economy, the trend has a critical effect on an individual level. Elson stresses the importance of debt advice but recognises the fact that very few young people are seeking financial advice when they find themselves in financial problems.

FCA intervention

The FCA is currently looking at some practices as well as forms of high-cost debt which are the main contributors to the UK debt problem. Although a lot has been done to regulate payday loans among other short-term loans in the recent past, the FCA boss would love to see increased focus on sustainable, affordable credit provision. The FCA has also turned its attention to the rent-to-own industry which charges high interest for ”white goods” like washing machines.

The FCA clampdown on payday loan lenders which started in 2015 brought sanity to a troubled industry. Payday loan charges are now capped. Borrowers don’t need to worry about affordability as long as they choose a reputable payday lender. Furthermore, there has been reduced over-dependence on payday loans according to Treasury select committee member, Kit Malthouse.

The next step is making the payday loan rules an industry standard. The FCA boss has stressed the importance of sustainable credit in society and offered assurances on maintaining a close eye on high-cost lending going forward.

Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.

House Prices - Biggest Fall in a Decade, Why?

House Prices – Biggest Fall in a Decade, Why?

Britain’s housing market is valued at approximately £7 trillion. Just recently London real estate prices experienced the biggest drop in 10 years. The recent drop came in the wake of Theresa May’s efforts to deal with criticism over ever-increasing prices and lack of housing. In case you are wondering what the recent fall means in regards to employment, investment, housing consumption, government deficit, etc. here’s what you need to know.

The ”Greater fool” mechanism

London’s real-estate prices have been fuelled by what is known as the ”greater fool” mechanism. Although London’s real estate buyers have known that property prices were ridiculously high for a long time, they continued to buy counting on the
fact that they would sell the property at a profit to a ”greater fool”. This phenomenon has been displayed in many instances the most notable being the free markets crisis. Although the ”greater fool” mechanism works, the upward usually reverses violently if the prices show the slightest indications of a fall. This happens when property investors start trying to sell in a hurry before property prices fall further. In the ”greater fool” mechanisms, property values which have been built over decades can collapse in months, and the slum is based purely on expectation.

London relies heavily on international property investors who view property as a commodity which can be sold readily for the sole purpose of maximising profit. International property investors accounted for approximately 82% of London’s property activity back in 2013. The ”greater fool” mechanism is a real threat in London now that the expectations are set.

Housing consumption and the Wealth Effect

Although real-estate prices in London are subject to the ”greater fool” mechanism, it’s important to note that most properties belong to households, mostly families who don’t need to sell. Nevertheless, a fall in property prices means that pension funds, as well as investment bonds, will suffer since they rely heavily on the property market to generate returns.

It’s also important to understand the Wealth Effect. Economists have shown that there is a strong relationship between spending behaviour and perceived real estate wealth. What this means is; property owners feel more financially secure if they believe their property is worth more. As a result, such property owners spend more and save less. This is evident given the number of people willing to subsidise their retirement using property generated wealth.

Considering 64% of England’s homes are occupied by owners, the negative effects of the wealth effect are dire if households start spending less. The Wealth Effect is crucial in most developed countries more so the UK which is heavily dependent on ever-increasing consumer spending for growth. A small drop in the value of homes/properties in the UK would result in a catastrophic loss of wealth. With the housing prices experiencing the biggest drop in 10 years, things don’t look good for UK households.

Ripple effects (Trade deficit and foreign direct investment)

The falling housing prices come with additional problems for the UK. Britain has been having a trade deficit for over two decades now. The effects of the deficit haven’t been dire since Britain has been enjoying hundreds of billions of pounds as foreign direct investment channelled to the property market over the same period. In a nutshell, the trade deficit has been manageable.

According to Bank of England statistics, over 50% of all commercial real estate deals since 2013 have been done by overseas companies. Since international investors expect a fall in prices, foreign direct investment inflows may slow down or stop soon. Britain may also see a sharp decline as foreign property investors choose to sell property instead of holding when there is a clear expectation of a decline.

A drop in foreign direct investment in the long-term will have a negative effect on the UK GDP and trade deficit. Britain will no longer have a cushion against its longstanding trade deficit when foreigners stop buying property. Britain’s credit rating would also fall which would, in turn, make UK government debt more expensive to refinance. When this happens, the UK government may be forced to tax its citizens more to handle an increasing deficit. Increased taxation would cause other effects such as increased unemployment.

Policy issues

The recent fall in housing prices has created a need for new policies to reduce Britain’s property addiction. There is also need to boost confidence in this single asset class considering it accounts for approximately two-thirds of Britain’s wealth. Theresa May’s efforts to push for more affordable housing are a step in the right direction although it has been politically challenging trying to push for such policies. The effects of targeting the UK real estate market are huge currently. Theresa May risks scaring away investors and triggering the ripple effects discussed above. Considering Brexit has introduced many risks, Britain may face a long period of economic stagnation.

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