Category Archives: News

How Falls in Real Wages Could Increase Demand for Payday Loans

How Falls in Real Wages Could Increase Demand for Payday Loans

People use payday loans as a means to tide them over to their next pay cheque in a wide range of situations. For example, they may rely on this type of credit if they are short of money to cover expenses such as rent or mortgage payments and food costs, or if they encounter unexpected expenses like car or property repair bills.

More people may be turning to these short-term loans as the pressures on consumers’ finances continue to rise.

Official statistics

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, when adjusted for inflation regular pay dropped by 0.5 per cent year-on-year in the three months to May. This came after a fall of 0.6 per cent in real pay in the three months to April and a 0.4 per cent year-on-year decrease over the three months before that.

Rising levels of inflation and stagnating wages mean many households now have less, if any, money to spare each month. Inflation hit 2.9 per cent in June, which was up from 2.7 per cent the previous month and was considerably above the Bank of England’s target of two per cent.

With the prices of goods and services increasing relative to pay, more people may struggle to balance their budgets and this could result in an increase in applications for payday loans in the UK.

Public sector workers under strain

Workers in the public sector may be among those who are especially likely to need short term loans. There has been a lot of attention on public sector pay restrictions over recent weeks, with the government under pressure to lift pay limits first imposed in 2011-12. Since a two-year pay freeze starting in 2011-12, rises have been limited to one per cent.

According to an analysis conducted by the Trades Union Congress, firefighters, nurses and border guards may all see their real wages decline by more than £2,500 over the next three years if the pay restrictions remain in place. Meanwhile, the National Union of Teachers suggested that teacher pay has dropped by around 15 per cent in real terms since 2010.

Decreases in inflation adjusted earnings like this could make people more likely to approach payday lenders seeking short-term loans.

Could a payday loan be the right option for you?

Regardless of the sector you work in, if you’re short of money, you might be considering taking out a payday loan. Whether you need cash to cover a particular expense such as a bill or you simply need some extra money to help you meet your general living costs, these loans could offer a solution. One of the benefits of these products is the fact that they can be easy and quick to access, even if you have a bad credit history. If your application is approved, you may be able to receive the money the same day.

However, it’s important to realise that these financial agreements are only suitable if you want to borrow small sums of money. If you’re applying for a loan through Swift Money, you can request up to £1,000. If you require a larger sum than this, you will have to consider other options, for example taking out a personal loan. Also, bear in mind that payday loans tend to have higher interest rates than alternatives such as personal loans and the repayment terms are shorter.

Before you sign up to one of these products, make sure you have shopped around to find the best payday loans on the market. It’s also important that you’re confident you can meet the repayment terms set by the lender.

Sources: 

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jul/12/uk-pay-squeeze-real-wages-tuc-unemployment-ons-figures
https://www.tuc.org.uk/economic-issues/government-must-act-after-three-months-falling-real-wages-says-tuc
https://www.teachers.org.uk/news-events/press-releases-england/public-sector-pay
https://swiftmoney.com/
https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/payday-loans-what-you-need-to-know
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-40259392

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.
New Report Warns Average UK Family Will Be 15k In Debt By 2020.

New Report Warns Average UK Family Will Be 15k In Debt By 2020.

A recent TUC (Trades Union Congress) report shows that the average UK family will be £15k in debt by the year 2020. The shocking report revealed that UK households are heavily dependent on credit cards and payday loans. Unsecured debt per household expected to hit £13,900 by the end of 2017. The TUC reports that Britain is in a living standards crisis given that millions of families in the UK use credit cards and payday loans to pay for essentials. According to the report, UK households are ”running on empty”.

Back in 2016, unsecured debt per UK family stood at £13,200 which is the highest ever unsecured debt figure since Britain and the world at large was hit by the financial crisis. The figure is only a small margin below the £13,300 peak in 2007. The report highlights unsecured debt as debt from; payday loans, credit cards, store cards, car loans, bank loans and student loans (mortgage payments are excluded). The TUC report blames the low investment and low wages for the debt crisis and stresses that these difficulties have to be solved by the next government if we expect the average debt per household to reduce.

UK wages are still below the pre-financial crisis level by approximately £20 a month. This simply shows that it has taken more than a decade for UK wages to recover fully. What’s more shocking is; official figures indicate that real wages have begun falling again. The TUC report believes that the increasing level of household debt in the UK should be the most important concern for political parties and the next government given the UK economy heavily relies on household spending to sustain growth.

Consumer spending has skyrocketed in the past eight years. One notable segment is the amount of money Britons borrow to buy new cars every year. The figure currently stands £30 billion. This is against the official government debt figure of £1.7 trillion whose interest payments demand £10 million monthly as of April 2017. The savings ratio has also reached a record low. The latest figures show that the ratio of income to savings in the UK stands at just 3.3%.

The UK household debt crisis looks worse from a legal perspective given County Court judgments relating to consumer debt have risen to 35 percent in England and Wales. The debt crisis has also attracted the attention of the Bank of England which has currently launched an investigation on unsecured lending to UK households.

According to the TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, the increasing household debt is pushing Britain’s economy into a danger zone. O’Grady attributes the problems to the fact that UK wages haven’t recovered fully since the financial crisis forcing families to rely on payday loans and credit cards to cater for household bills. She stresses that the next government needs to act urgently to increase the minimum wage as well as end pay restriction affecting public servants like firefighters, nurses and midwives otherwise economic growth won’t be sustainable.

According to O’Grady, the next government must do more for many parts of Britain where good jobs are minimal or non-existent. She argues that communities lacking well-paying jobs have an opportunity to thrive in the future if the government invests adequately in training, broadband, transport links and decent housing.

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.
CMA competition markets authority

Summary of the UK Payday Lending Market Investigation by the Competition Market Authority (CMA)

Just recently, the Competition Market Authority (CMA) conducted a payday lending market investigation (Click here to download the official report). Below is a summary of the findings as well as recommendations.

Overview

According to the CMA investigation, the average size of a payday loan in the UK stands at £260 and almost all loans are £1000 or less in value. The loans vary depending on repayment terms with most loans repayable in a month or less with a single instalment.

The average term of most payday loans in the UK is just over 21 days or three weeks.
In terms of growth, the UK payday loan industry grew the fastest from 2008-2012. During this period, payday loan lenders we issuing approximately 10.2 million loans per year valued at approximately £2.8 billion. Growth has been reducing since then. In 2013 for instance, payday loan industry revenues dropped by 5%. The market also contracted in 2014 with the number of new loans falling by approximately 27% between January and September 2014.

The year 2014 saw four out eleven major payday loan lenders, as well as many small lenders, stop offering payday loans. The market hasn’t recovered since following the introduction of Price Cap Regulation in January 2015 which saw many payday lenders unable to operate profitably under the new regulation.

In-depth CMA findings

The CMA payday lending market investigation reveals a lot of information on various aspects of the industry. Here’s what you need to know;

1. Payday loan usage (number of loans taken out per customer)

According to the CMA report, most payday loan customers take out many payday loans over time with the average lender taking out approximately six loans every year. In regards to borrowers’ lender preferences, most borrowers use two or more lenders.

2. Online vs high street borrowing

In regards to loan platforms, most payday loan customers today prefer taking out loans online i.e. 83% vs. 29% who take out loans on the high street. 12% of all payday loan users borrow using both channels today. On amount, borrowers borrow more online i.e. £290 compared to the high street £180.

3. Borrower loan application assessment

Most payday lenders today have developed computerised risk models that help them conduct thorough assessments on their client’s credit worthiness as well as their ability to repay the loan successfully. Borrower assessment has been and is still part of every lender’s loan application process. The sophistication of risk models, however, varies from one lender to another. In regards to loan application success, the number of loan applications turned down was above 50% for most of the major lenders back in 2012. The figure continues to rise to date as lenders become more cautious in the wake of the new FCA regulations.

4. Payday loan customer profile

The CMA investigation shows that the typical online payday loan customer in the UK has an average income of £16,500 while high street borrowers have an average income of £13,400. In general, most people who have been using (and are still using payday loans) in the UK earn less than the average income in the UK which stands at £17,500.
In regards to gender and occupation, most payday loan customers in the UK are male working in full-time jobs. They also happen to be younger (than average) and living in larger households.

Most payday loan customers also happen to have experienced financial problems in the recent past. According to the CMA investigation, 38% of all payday loan customers have a bad credit score/rating while 10% have been visited by a debt collector or bailiff. In a nutshell, 52% of payday loan customers have faced some debt problems in the near past. The number of people who repay their payday loans in full has also decreased over time.

It’s also worth noting that most payday loans are taken on Fridays at the beginning or end of the month. Most borrowers also seem to be under some financial pressure when borrowing leaving little room for assessing other suitable credit alternatives that may be available to them. In fact, less than 50% of all payday loan borrowers shop around effectively before taking out payday loans. The typical payday loan customer is also recurring. Repeat customers account for a majority of payday loan business. Most borrowers also take loans from multiple lenders mainly because of problems with existing lenders i.e. late repayment, outstanding loan/s, etc.

5. Overall Payday loan usage

In regards to overall usage, most payday loan consumers (53%) use payday loans to cater for living expenses like utility bills and groceries. 10% take payday loans to pay for vehicle/car related expenses while 7% take payday loans to pay for general shopping such as clothes and household items. Only 52% of payday loan consumers use payday loans to pay for emergency-related expenses. This is despite the fact that payday loans are actually meant for catering for emergency expenses.

Recommendations

The CMA investigation reveals some difficulties in the industry which need to be addressed. Luckily, the CMA has given recommendations for dealing with these problems. Here’s what needs to be done;

1. There is a need to boost the effectiveness of price comparison websites

Most payday loan customers don’t have the luxury of choice when taking out loans as revealed in the investigation. Since borrowers take loans under duress, better price comparison websites can help borrowers shop for loans more effectively regardless of the time constraints or other problems present when taking out loans.
Better price comparison websites will also create a perfect environment for competition which will, in turn, result in better payday loans in every regard from the pricing/fees/charges to variety. Existing price comparison websites have numerous limitations that make it impossible for payday loan customers to make accurate comparisons.

2. More transparency on late fees/overall cost of borrowing

The CMA also feels there is a need for more transparency on fees charged in the industry by different lenders. The Authority believes the FCA needs to take more action to ensure all lenders have a legal obligation to disclose all their fees/charges on previous loans clearly to allow effective cost analysis.

3. Cooperation between the FCA, payday lenders, credit reference agencies and authorised price comparison websites

The CMA also feels the FCA must cooperate with all industry players more so lenders, credit reference agencies, and price comparison websites to improve payday loan borrower abilities to search the payday loan market extensively without compromising their credit history.

4. Real-time data sharing

There is also a need for real-time data sharing according to the CMA. Such efforts will benefit both borrowers and lenders. When lenders are able to get real-time access to their clients’ credit information, they will be in a position to do better borrower assessment and in turn, avail the best possible terms.

5. Increased transparency on the role of third parties like lead generators

The CMA also feels there should be more transparency on the role played by third parties like lead generators, affiliates, brokers, etc. since most of them pose as actual lenders when that’s not the case. The CMA stresses the need for the FCA to do more to make sure borrowers know upfront if they are applying for loans directly or indirectly. This move will reduce instances of erroneous expectations since most third parties tend to overpromise or provide inaccurate information.

Summary

The UK payday loan industry is far from its peak in 2012. The number of payday lenders has reduced following the introduction of the price cap regulation by the FCA. Lenders have also become stricter today. Unscrupulous lenders may have reduced, but borrowers remain vulnerable even after the new regulation since most of them borrow under pressure. There is hardly any time to compare payday loan lenders effectively, and price comparison websites are doing very little to help. This explains why the CMA is calling for better price comparison websites among other recommendations like transparency on fees, real-time data sharing and cooperation between the regulator, lenders, credit rating agencies and price comparison websites. Third parties also need to be more transparent when promoting lenders to ensure payday loan customers make the best possible decisions when taking out loans.

Financial education is also important to reduce over reliance on short-term credit to cater for living and emergency expenses. Financial education is bound to improve the customer profile of the typical payday loan user.

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.
How Has The UK Short Term Credit Market Been Revolutionised by The 2015 FCA Price Cap Regulation?

How Has The UK Short Term Credit Market Been Revolutionised by The 2015 FCA Price Cap Regulation?

Since the FCA introduced price cap regulation back in 2015, there have been changes in the short-term credit market.

The latest Social Market Foundation (SMF) report (Click here to download the official report) commissioned by the CFA (Consumer Finance Association) offers the latest assessment on the impact of price cap regulation on the short-term credit market in the UK with a special focus on cost as well as access to loans. The report contains information gathered from industry data as well as short-term credit consumers in the UK.

Considering 6.8 million UK households still live below the poverty line, a significant number of UK households rely on credit. Changing employment and work patterns as well as state benefit changes have also resulted in income instability which has, in turn, increased dependence on credit. Rising inflation and housing costs have also increased the need for short-term credit in the UK.

Let’s not forget the poor saving habits in the UK. A previous SMF research study shows that 40% of UK citizens have less than a week’s worth of income as savings. With this in mind, the health of the UK short-term credit market can’t be overlooked since most people with financial difficulties turn to short-term loans. Considering the FCA price cap regulation is the latest and most significant UK credit market event, how is the market now?

What has changed?

1. Cost of loans

According to the latest SMF report commissioned by the CFA and produced independently by the SMF, the cost of loans has fallen significantly. The latest industry data shows that the cost of loans has reduced by from 1.3% (in 2013) to 0.7% currently. In a nutshell, loans cost less now. It gets better! Loans are cheaper than the 0.8% initial cost cap set by the FCA which is an indication of healthy competition in the industry.

2. Default fees

Industry data also shows that default fees have fallen. The proportion of short-term loan on which borrowers pay additional over and above contractual interest has halved from 16% back in 2013 to 8% currently. In cases where loans are subject to default fees, the total amount of fees including interest charged after default has dropped from £45 to £24. However, concerns linger on whether the fees are still high considering they represent approximately 10% of the value of most short-term loans taken in the UK.

3. Borrower perceptions and experiences

According to the latest SMF survey, consumer perceptions have improved on affordability. Consumers are of the notion that short-term loans have become affordable. 56% of recent borrowers agree that short term loans have become more affordable. Only 43% of borrowers who took out short term loans before 2015 believed they were affordable. Although there are consumers who insist that loans haven’t become affordable, a majority of such opinions can be attributed to the fact that some borrowers assess affordability based on their own ability to service loans.

In regards to experience, most people (90%) feel short term loans are the most convenient source of short-term credit today. Some concerns have however been expressed on repayment. Approximately 20% of all recent borrowers today state that they have problems repaying short-term loans as planned or in time.

4. The size of the short-term credit market (Number of loans sold)

The latest industry data shows that the number of loans sold decreased significantly over the January 2016 to April 2016 period. The loans taken during this time were 42% lower compared to the same period in 2013. Industry experts attribute the fall to a decreasing number of lenders during this period. Many short term loan lenders exited the market between January and April 2016 after finding it extremely difficult to operate in the confines of the new price cap regulation.

5. Access to loans

The FCA had predicted that the regulation would exclude some consumers from the short term credit market more so, lower income individuals. This prediction is consistent with industry figures. The SMF report suggests that access has become restricted. An SMF survey shows that consumers are of the notion that it has become harder to obtain loans. 57% of all consumers who have taken loans before and after the regulation changes state that short term loans have become more difficult to access.

The SMF survey, however, shows that only 16% of people who have tried accessing loans before the regulation, not afterwards, have been denied loans. This is against 18% who haven’t bothered to take loans after the new regulation just because they thought they wouldn’t qualify.

Many consumers still find access to loans important for essentials or avoiding other borrowing channels such as borrowing from family members and friends. According to the SMF survey, 27% of consumers risk going without essentials if they don’t get access to short-term loans. The survey also reveals that 37% of consumers are forced to pursue other credit channels such as borrowing from family and friends if they don’t access credit despite this option being the least reliable and suitable for many.

The rest are forced to cut back on spending, misappropriate funds or rely on alternative or mainstream credit which comes at a higher cost. Some customers also resort to borrowing from unlicensed lenders when they fail to secure funding from licensed short-term credit lenders.

Summary

In a nutshell, the new regulation may have reduced the cost of loans and default fees as well as improved consumer perceptions, however, access to credit has shrunk, and the hardest hit borrowers are low-income individuals. Although the regulation stops exploitation by lenders, which was a huge problem especially in the payday loan industry, some borrowers are being forced into the hands of unlicensed lenders. This is contrary to the FCA’s previous conclusion that the new regulation would be a good thing to low-income borrowers.

The price cap appears to have reduced unscrupulous lending practices among licensed lenders, but there is an increasing number of borrowers turning to unlicensed lenders giving rise to worse problems. Unscrupulous (unlicensed) lenders don’t have to work as hard as before to attract borrowers since access to short-term credit has shrunk among the lower income borrowers. Short term credit lenders in the UK have stricter affordability assessments today which have reduced the number of loans being offered to individuals who are deemed high risk.

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.
Data Protection Act in the UK Explained

Data Protection Act in the UK Explained

Definition

The DPA (Data Protection Act) in the UK is a law that controls how the personal information of any UK citizen should be used by businesses, organisations or the government. Every person or entity responsible for using personal information or data of any UK citizen must follow data protection principles which are simply, strict rules on the proper use of data. The individual or entity must ensure the personal information is; used lawfully and fairly, used for the intended purpose and used adequately in a relevant manner that is not excessive. The individual or entity must also make sure the data is handled according to data protection rights, and the data is kept in a safe and secure manner. Stronger legal protection applies to more sensitive data such as a person’s overall health, sexual health, criminal records, political opinions, religious beliefs and ethnic background.

Data subject rights: Finding out the type of data an organisation/company has about you
Under the DPA, UK citizens have the right to see the type of information a company or the government stores about you. The DPA allows you to ask about personal information in writing through an enquiry referred to as a subject access request. When writing to an organisation to get a copy of the information they have about you, you should address the letter to the organisation’s company secretary. The organisation has a legal mandate to share with you such information as long as you make a formal request.

What it means for customers submitting their information to companies

Customers don’t have to guess or remember the exact kind of information they submit to companies. If you aren’t sure about the information a certain organisation has about you, just write a formal request.

It is, however, worth noting that information can still be withheld even after making a formal request. For instance, if the information is about the armed forces or national security, organisations reserve the right to withhold the information. Organisations can also withhold information if it is about detection, investigation or prevention of a crime. Information about assessment/collection of tax as well as judicial/ministerial appointments is also supposed to be withheld and organisations aren’t obligated by law to disclose why they are withholding information.

In a nutshell, if you are a regular UK citizen who just wants to know the kind of information an organisation has about you, there is no reason why you shouldn’t get access to such information.

Cost

Although you can get this information for free, some organisations charge to provide such information. Most organisations charge £10 or less although the cost can increase depending on the amount and type of information. For instance, it will cost you more to get numerous paper records held by a public authority in an unstructured way. Health and education records also cost more.

Launching a complaint

If you suspect your data has been stored insecurely or misused by any organisation/company in the UK, you should contact them immediately and share your concerns in writing. If you are not happy with the response you get, you can contact the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office). The ICO is also open if you need any advice on data related issues or concerns. The ICO has a telephone helpline: 0303 123 1113. The ICO also has an online chat feature that allows you to talk to an adviser.
The ICO has the mandate to investigate claims as well as take the necessary action against individuals or entities that misuse personal data.

What it means for the company taking the information

The ICO takes its data protection mandate very seriously. Just recently, the ICO fined UK telecommunication provider TalkTalk £400,000 after finding the company guilty of maintaining poor data protection measures. TalkTalk failed to prevent a data breach which compromised personal data belonging to approximately 157,000 of its customers back in 2015. Payday loan lender Wonga is set to face the same fate after facing the worst customer data breach in history. In April 2017, the lender suffered a data breach that saw the theft of sensitive data belonging to 270,000 customers. If Wonga is found guilty, the payday loan giant could pay a hefty fine amounting to millions of pounds.

Companies which receive sensitive personal information from their clients have no choice but to invest heavily in data protection security measures or face disgruntled customers and the ICO.

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.
Bill Set Out To Tackle 'Extortionate' UK Overdraft Fees

Bill Set Out To Tackle ‘Extortionate’ UK Overdraft Fees

MP Rachel Reeves has proposed legislation to make UK banks subject to the same rules applicable to payday loan lenders.

Bank customers who have been subject to ‘extortionate’ overdraft fees have hope going forward after a parliamentary bill tabled recently promises to protect customers from escalating overdraft fees. On 25th April 2017, Labour MP Rachel Reeves who also happens to be a Treasury select committee member tabled the bill outlining plans for FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) regulators to cap the total amount of money UK banks are allowed to charge their customers for making unauthorised overdrafts. The bill proposes limits similar to those imposed on payday loan charges.

According to Rachel Reeves, UK banks have forced many people to take up more debt with the charges applied on unauthorised overdrafts. Reeves argues that UK banks have a responsibility to help their customers get out of debt rather than being part of the problem.

The FCA has already included overdraft fees into a review on high interest loans alongside doorstep lending and payday loans. The FCA announced it would be including overdraft fees in its review in response to a two-year investigation into high street banks conducted by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in 2016. The CMA was focused on capping overdraft fees but stepped back and instead required banks to be publishing their monthly maximum charges going forward. The FCA has taken over the issue.

It is estimated that UK banks make approximately £1.2 billion every year from unauthorised overdraft fees. Rachel Reeves is pushing for restrictions to bring down this amount. The current cost of borrowing a hundred pounds (£100) via unauthorised overdraft for a month can amount to ninety pounds (£90). This is 400% more than the maximum limit set on payday loan charges.

Rachel Reeves has been campaigning for a cap on extortionate overdraft fees in the UK for a long time. In her statement, she expressed concerns about UK households saving less due to these unjust fees. Her concerns are evident according to statistics given the fact that the savings ratio is at 3.3% currently (a record low from 2010) while unsecured debt has increased by a record 10% in the past year alone. Statistics also indicate that the debt-to-income ratio has increased by 6% in the past year to stand at 145%. This poses serious economic risks to Britain’s economy according to Reeves.

With an election looming, Reeves’s bill may not become law in the current parliament. She, however, promises to reintroduce the bill as a private member or via a bill amendment in parliament if she gets re-elected. Reeves has also called on parties to incorporate the bill in their manifestos. She wants to see banks subject to the same limits as payday lenders to bring an end to extortionate UK overdraft fees charged by high street banks.

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 UPDATE on Fintech

FCA UPDATE on Fintech

The FCA regulates over 56,000 firms which employ over 2 million people in the UK. The financial services industry is obviously an important industry in UK’s economy given this statistic. This highlights the need for Fintech initiatives going forward (technology initiatives supporting or enabling the financial industry). One such initiative is Project Innovate. The initiative was developed back in 2014 to promote competition and growth in UK’s financial services industry. The initiative has been supporting small and large businesses which make new products and services that benefit customers genuinely. In the first year of operation, Project Innovate helped over 175 businesses. Currently, the project has helped over 358 businesses.

The latest FCA update on Fintech as of April 2017 focuses on a few main points. First and foremost, the FCA continues to tackle regulatory barriers to allow firms to continue innovating for the benefit of their clients. The FCA is doing so given the fact that the demand for its support is increasing. Project Innovate is also entering a new phase. As a forward-looking regulator, the FCA sees the need to continue evolving its approach. The FCA has seen an emergence of Fintech hubs in the UK and has reaffirmed its commitment to support these hubs by offering more/better local assistance.

The FCA’s approach to innovation

In an effort to highlight the importance of innovation in the financial services industry, the FCA continues to educate the public on why innovation is important. According to Christopher Woolard, the FCA’s Executive Director of Strategy and Competition, the FCA has an obligation to make UK’s financial services work well. To do this, the FCA continues to assess the integrity of financial markets and consumer protection issues. The FCA also has the duty to continue promoting the interest of consumers.

According to Woolard, the FCA is increasingly focused on using innovation to promote competition going forward. The FCA has completed its second round of testing innovative products/services, business models and well as delivery mechanisms in practice through its Regulatory Sandbox program. The FCA is also continuing to support technologies that will facilitate the delivery of regulatory requirements better than existing capabilities. The regulator has already held successful initiatives aimed at bringing market participants together to solve crucial problems in the financial services industry.

Priority areas going forward

The FCA is increasingly focused on expanding the scope of its Advice Unit which has been making automated advice models in the investment, pension and protection space. The FCA’s Advice Unit has a broader scope now. The unit is currently engaging the general insurance, mortgage, and debt sectors as well as many other firms that are keen on providing guidance, instead of advice. According to Woolard, the FCA will do more to spearhead the conversation about emerging innovations and trends. The regulator has already started a conversation about the risks and advantages of Distributed Ledger Technology.

The FCA also intends to take an international approach to innovation i.e. restarting its commitment to supporting innovation globally by signing cooperation agreements. The FCA has already signed such agreements with China, Hong Kong, Japan and Canada and is also working with other global regulators to foster a common understanding on good innovation. The regulator is working towards this via international bodies such as the IOSCO and the G20.

In early April 2017, the FCA hosted the first ever International Innovate Seminar featuring over 90 regulators from 56 countries globally.
According to Woolard, this will foster stronger international cooperation as well as help to secure the future of the industry in the long-term. Woolard, however, insists that the FCA is still focused more on supporting emerging Fintech hubs in the UK.

In his latest remarks, London has experienced the most Fintech emergence regionally. This emergence is however expected to spread beyond London. The FCA sees numerous exciting Fintech developments across the UK from Liverpool to Bristol which is why the regulator has promised to work with numerous organisations across the UK. The FCA is focusing on areas with a technological presence as well as strong financial centers. The FCA is also looking at areas where it has established strong relationships with local learning institutions like universities.

The regulator has mapped out the Leeds-Manchester and Edinburgh-Glasgow areas as promising emerging Fintech hubs and is focused on offering such areas the same access to regulatory support as key areas like London. The FCA is committed to ensuring good Fintech ideas in the financial services industry come to fruition regardless of where they are conceived.

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.
How to Stop the Constant Cold Calling Here In the UK

How to Stop the Constant Cold Calling Here In the UK

Cold calls, which are simply unwanted phone calls, top the list of UK’s most hated marketing tactics. Although marketers cold call people all over the world, the problem is worse in the UK. If you hate cold calls, look no further. Below are top 6 tips for you to consider.

1. Register with the TPS (Telephone Preference Service)

TPS-registered phone numbers are protected from cold calling. UK-based companies are barred from making unsolicited sales/marketing calls to TPS-registered phone numbers. You can register with TPS for free by visiting the website (www.tpsonline.org.uk/) or calling 0345 070 0707. It’s, however, worth noting that the TPS stops unsolicited sales/marketing calls only. You can still get market research calls as well as calls where you have opted in. Also, the TPS doesn’t stop calls from companies which are based abroad.

2. Keep your contact details off directories

Most companies especially local businesses use phone books to get phone numbers. To avoid cold calling, you need to request for your contact details to be removed from directories. Keeping your contacts off directories ensures marketing companies don’t find your number when looking for target customers. You should also be careful when giving out your contacts. If you have to give out your phone number, request whoever you are giving your number to; avoid calling you for sales/marketing offers or giving out your number to third parties.

3. Screen all your calls and use call blocking software

You should also avoid picking calls from unrecognised numbers. You can use software such as Truecaller to help you identify calls from numbers you haven’t saved in your phonebook. Screening calls is an effective way of avoiding cold calling since you get to know the identity of every person/organisation that calls your phone immediately. You can also block ”suspect” numbers.

4. Never bow down to cold-calling pressure

Some resilience can also go down a long way. Some marketing companies use underhand tactics to pressure their victims into accepting calls and offers. Never pick a cold call if you don’t want to. If you pick a cold call unknowingly, don’t disclose your personal information. Simply cut short the conversation and hang up. If you receive a cold call from a company you are interested in, insist on contacting them yourself. Most marketing companies will stop calling you if you don’t express any interest whatsoever or if they notice you won’t bow down to pressure.

5. Record cold-call numbers and report them

You should also record all unsolicited calls and report such numbers to organisations like Ofcom to take the necessary action. Get as much information about the company or person cold calling you and report them. Ofcom is UK’s communication industry regulator with a mandate for investigating and prosecuting individuals and companies which breach communication laws. You can also report cold calling offenders to TPS which will then forward the complaints to Ofcom or the ICO to take the necessary action against repeat offenders.

6. Use opt-out options

Sometimes you may be a victim of cold calling because you submitted your contact details somewhere without much thought. In such an instance, you should look for ways of stopping such calls. Legitimate companies have opt-out options that prevent calls or any other type of correspondence at the touch of a button. If you can’t find such options on a company’s website, call the company directly and ask the sales/marketing team to stop calling you. Legitimate companies abide by verbal requests so you shouldn’t have a problem stopping cold calls this way. You can consider writing a formal request just in case the cold calling doesn’t stop, and you have to take legal action.

Summary

Constant cold calling is a huge problem in the UK. Luckily for you, it is possible to stop this menace by taking any one or more of the above measures. Start by being cautious when giving out your contact information. You should also use the technology and institutions at your disposal. Being resilient and getting your contact information off directories will also go a long way.

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.