Christmas Gifting Tips 2017

Christmas Gifting Tips 2017

It’s that time of the year again. Christmas is several days away which means plenty of time with family, that well-deserved holiday and gifts of course. Gifting is fun, however it can be a costly affair if you don’t makes some considerations. It can also be daunting trying to figure out what you should get your loved ones. If you are clueless this time around on where you should start, what you should do/buy, here are some holiday gifting tips to consider.

1. Gift by observation – This Christmas gifting tip comes in handy when you don’t know what you should get your loved ones but you want something meaningful. You can get a lot of hints by observing your loved ones interests, what they are saying, current situation in life etc. For instance, household goods are great gifts for someone who just moved into a new house. This tip is powerful because it makes you understand the circumstances of the person you plan to gift. Considering people don’t usually ask for what they want or know what they really need, you are in a position to discover what would make them happy or what would make their lives easier.

2. Consider experiences over tangible gifts – Most people give their loved ones tangible gifts for Christmas. You can consider gifting an experience instead if you can’t think of a gift you haven’t given. For instance, you can pay for an experience they haven’t experienced like skydiving or deep-sea diving. Experiences are more memorable than tangible gifts because they last forever. Clothes and shoes will become old and forgotten. Experiences will last a lifetime especially when they are being experienced for the first time. Your kid will remember their first horse race forever but may have a hard time remembering their 11th horse race.

3. Consider DIY gifts – This tip is handy when you don’t want to spend too much and you want to offer a very personal/unique gift. DIY gifts are simply gifts you can make yourself. It could be anything really from artwork to a scarf. You can even write/perform a song/poem. DIY gifts are great because you include a bit of yourself. DIY gift ideas are also limitless. You can fuse your interests and those of your loved one together to come up with a gift they will cherish.

4. Check wish lists/social media – You can also use technology to get gift ideas for your loved one. If you are still finding it hard selecting a gift for your loved one, check their wish list on online stores like Amazon. This tip applies mostly if you share a computer or you can get access to their online store accounts. You may have to be a bit innovative to implement this tip i.e., do some stalking, check social media posts for clues. They will be surprised and delighted you bought them precisely what they wanted. Checking wish lists is a great way to gift someone exactly what they want without asking them and ruining the surprise.

5. Gift for a cause – This tip is great if you are planning to gift a minimalist, someone who seems to have ”everything” or someone who appears to desire nothing. We all have that one family member or friend who never seems to be impressed by gifts. You can consider a gift that touches on their interests i.e. a cause or charity they care about. You can check their line of work or hobbies for ideas. It would be great gifting them and giving back at the same time.

6. Ask – Sometimes you just need to ask to know the kind of gift you should buy. You can do so indirectly so it’s not too obvious. You can also ask outright if you are gifting someone who is a bit choosy. Some people don’t mind being asked what kinds of gifts they want. If you are dealing with such a person, ask by all means so that you can get them something they will cherish. In a nutshell, meaningful gifts are the best kinds of gifts.

As long as you follow the above tips, you shouldn’t have a problem gifting your loved ones this coming holiday. You don’t have to settle for typical gifts, waste precious time or spend a fortune in the process. Observe, think outside the box, make your own gifts, look for clues on social media and ask if you have to.

Bitcoin Sets a New High £14,262 ($19,000). Is It Too Late to Buy?

Bitcoin Sets a New High £14,262 ($19,000). Is It Too Late to Buy?

Bitcoin has set a new high, again. One Bitcoin will set you back £14,262 or $19,000 as of 16th December 2017 representing a 7% price increase in a day. This puts the total market capitalization of Bitcoin at £238 billion ($318 billion). Cryptocurrencies are now controlling over £420 billion according to the latest statistics. Following the latest statistics, Bitcoins Year to Date return is approximately 20 times.

Bitcoin which is the world’s most popular and valuable cryptocurrency has increased in value by over 30% in the past seven days alone. Back in 2009 when the cryptocurrency was created, one Bitcoin cost less than a pound which leads us to a critical question; is it too late to buy Bitcoin? Is the current run sustainable? We’ve gone through the trouble of doing some in-depth research and compiling options from leaders in the cryptocurrency space.

Here’s what you need to know.

Insider sentiments – According to Early Investing Co-founder and cryptocurrency expert Adam Sharp, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies as a whole are yet to reach their full potential. Snapchat’s first investor Jeremy Liew also shares similar sentiments. Liew has even been on record stating that the price of one Bitcoin could reach $500,000 realistically in a recent interview with Business Insider. Liew and Sharp attribute their views to Bitcoin’s surge in global adoption.

Bitcoin is officially a global currency with Asian countries leading the way on adoption. The latest statistics show that Asian countries like Japan and South Korea account for 75% of Bitcoin’s trading volume currently. This is clear given most Bitcoin buys are taking place using the Korean Won and Japanese Yen. Bitcoin is also growing in popularity in emerging countries and troubled economies. Bitcoin is preferred over traditional currency because it is impossible to manipulate. The currency isn’t controlled by entities like central banks and governments which can print more money or introduce fiscal and monetary policies resulting in inflation or deflation.

Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in extension solve a fundamental problem that has affected regular currency for decades. This is among the underlying reasons why experts like Adam Sharp feel the currency hasn’t scratched the surface yet. However, it is important to understand that Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, in general, have shortfalls such as volatility. For instance, Bitcoin has registered more than a 10% drop in a single day in the past. Cryptocurrencies are at the mercy of news to a larger extent when compared to traditional currency. This can result in significant losses when you buy cryptocurrencies for speculative purposes. This simply means that the current rally could stop and reverse at any moment. The rally could also continue upwards given fiat currencies are still the most widely used form of currency today. According to Adam Sharp, Bitcoin offers a great opportunity in the future. However, new and alternative coins (altcoins) offer greater opportunities.

Are altcoins a better alternative?

Instead of focusing on Bitcoin, Sharp sees greater opportunities investing in altcoins or IPOs for new coins (Initial Coin Offers or ICOs). The creator of Bitcoin opened up the cryptocurrencies code allowing the creation of other coins. Currently, there are 1300+ cryptocurrencies today some of which are better than Bitcoin is some ways. Ripple, for instance, has a higher potential (in terms of settling global transactions). This is according to its developers. Some cryptocurrencies are also offering faster transaction times than Bitcoin making them preferable means of payment. Although Bitcoin already has an outright advantage (it enjoys approximately 50% of the entire cryptocurrency market share), new, cheaper coins promise higher gains. According to Sharp, investors stand to gain the best returns by participating in initial coin offers. With ICOs, investors don’t need to invest as much to enjoy unmatched returns. Sharp believes there are better returns buying into new cryptocurrencies just before they are launched or immediately after. There are however shortfalls to ICOs since cryptocurrencies are being launched every day most of which aren’t great. Furthermore, it is a new and challenging experience trying to figure out if a new cryptocurrency is worth it. ICO investors focus on the people behind the cryptocurrency as well as what is different about the new cryptocurrency. Unlike participating in IPOs for stocks, there is very little to work with when analysing ICOs. Nevertheless, investing in the right ICO offer enormous returns given the low initial price of such offers. In a nutshell, there’s nothing wrong with buying Bitcoin now, even later as many cryptocurrency experts have predicted the price of one Bitcoin may reach and surpass $500,000. However, you stand to enjoy higher returns buying newer cheaper and more promising coins.

Consumer County Court Judgments (CCJs) rise by 24% in 2017

Consumer County Court Judgments (CCJs) rise by 24% in 2017

CCJs against consumers in the UK have risen drastically according to the latest statistics by Registry Trust. In the third quarter of 2017, 313,719 consumer county court judgments were registered in England and Wales representing a 24% increase compared to the same period last year.

Background

What are CCJs?County court judgments are court orders in the UK (England, Wales & Northern Ireland) that are registered against individuals who fail to repay money they owe. ValueThe total value of Q3 2017 consumer county court judgments stands at £467,861,240 representing an 11% increase compared to the same period last year. The average value of a consumer CCJ has however dropped by 10% to £1,472. At its peak, in 2009, the value of a consumer CCJ was at £3,680. The value has been dropping ever since. The number of consumer high court judgments issued are however higher.

In Q3 2017 for instance, 45 judgments were issued against 17 during the same period last year. Collectively, the value of county and high court judgments is slightly lower (by 3.7%) compared to the same period last year. The value stands at £471,960,510 compared to £489,987,967 last year. The latest statistics show that the number of CCJs is increasing for the fifth consecutive year.

Interpretation

The new data suggests more people are struggling financially. A closer look at the decreasing value of a CCJ shows that people are having problems settling smaller loans now more than ever. Considering there is an increase in the number of judgments and a decline in their value, this can only mean that people are having a hard time repaying small or short term loans. According to Malcolm Hurlston, Registry Trust Chairman, the trend can also mean borrowers with plenty of commitments are being detected early in the lending cycle. Hurlston believes responsible lending practices are a leading cause of rising CCJ numbers. Impact of a CCJ to a consumerConsumers with a CCJ have a harder time accessing loans such as mortgages from mainstream providers. It gets harder for consumers with more than one CCJ. However, there are still lenders such as ”sub-prime” lenders who are catering to borrowers with CCJs.

How CCJs work

Receiving a CCJ claim: CCJ claims come in the form of a letter. If you happen to receive a claim, it is advisable to consult a debt advice service. CCJ claims come after creditors have sent default notices or warning letters. According to the Consumer Credit Act, a creditor must inform you of pending payments and the consequences of defaulting before they launch a CCJ claim. The Consumer Credit Act gives borrowers 14 days to act before a CCJ claim is launched. Individuals who have CCJs receive a letter or notice alongside a default information sheet.

Responding to a CCJ claim: It is advisable to solicit professional advice immediately preferably from a debt advice service the moment you receive a claim letter or notice. Seeking professional help is essential because it helps you avoid making a costly mistake. For instance, the court can consider your circumstances when deciding your fate (such as how you should pay the debt if you handle the claim correctly from the onset.)Ignoring the notice or letter only compounds your problems. For instance, the court can rule that you repay the debt at once which can be impossible leading to more problems. It’s worth noting that you can get free debt advice services, so you have no reason to mishandle a CCJ claim. You have 14 days to respond/reply to a CCJ claim. Simply fill in the reply form and send. The form requires personal information such as income and expenditures to show the court your current financial standing. When replying, you can admit the claim or agree that you owe money. In such an instance, you need to reply as described above. You can also file a defence if you don’t agree with the information in the claim, i.e., if the amount you owe is wrong. You need professional advice when filling a defence.

Lastly, you can reply to a CCJ claim by asking for more time. This option should be taken if you need more than 14 days to file a defence. This option acts as an acknowledgment that you have received a CCJ claim. Receiving the judgmentAfter responding to a CCJ claim, the court can issue two types of judgments. One, a judgment by installments which simply allows you to repay the debt in installments over a specified period of time. This type of judgment is highly likely if you agree to a claim and make a repayment offer in your reply. If you choose to ignore a CCJ claim, the court is most likely to issue a judgment forthwith requiring you to settle the debt immediately. You are free to request for a redetermination if you are not happy with the judgment. If you fail to adhere to the terms of the final judgment, i.e., you don’t pay up as instructed, the creditor can go back to court and request for a; changing order, attachment of earnings order or bailiff action order. A bailiff action order gives the creditor permission to visit your business or home to collect their debt or seize property/goods that can be sold to settle the debt. An attachment of earnings order gives the creditor the power to have their debt extracted from your wages. A charging order gives the creditor power to secure the debt against your property.

Can CCJs affect a person’s credit record? You must repay in full within a month (30 days) after receiving the judgment or risk having your credit record damaged for six years.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.