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It has emerged that the Skipton building society is celebrating its 160th anniversary by offering two new savings accounts. The 160-day bond pays 13 December 2013 on between £500 and £5,000. Meanwhile a special edition Regular Saver account pays 3 per cent on deposits of up to £160 per month for a year.
The Independent, p. 58

Today’s youth do see the sense in saving
Researchers working for Scottish Widows found that children as young as 10 were already putting aside money for “key milestones” in their lives such as university, buying their first home or starting a business.
The Daily Telegraph Your Money, p. 12

Cap on pension fund fees to help savers
Pensions minister Steve Webb has said that the government is looking at proposals to cap the fees that can be levied on pensions, which can wipe up to a third off the value of retirement savings. The Government will also ban “consultancy” fees which advisers levy on workers who are automatically enrolled in pension schemes.
The Daily Telegraph, p. 1-2

Mutuals target first-time buyers
Building societies continue to provide the majority of mortgages available to first time buyers, according to new research from Moneyfacts, the data provider.
This abstract from the Financial Times was produced by Kantar Media
Financial Times Money, p. 2

Co-op in crisis as bank given ‘junk’ credit rating
It has emerged that just weeks after its ambitions to create a new force in banking were dashed, the Co-operative is in crisis after being warned that its banking arm may need “external support” to plug a near £1bn hole in its balance sheet. Co-op chief executive Barry Tootell resigned in the wake of a devastating downgrade to the bank’s credit by Moody’s which pushed it down six notches from “investment grade” to junk at the stroke of a pen.
The Independent, p. 4-5
Also appeared in : The Guardian, p.1-6, Evening Standard London, p.44, Financial Times, p.1, Independent i, p.5, The Daily Telegraph, p.37, The Times, p.4, The Times, p.44

Co-op downgrade hits bonds
The Co-operative Bank has been downgraded to junk status weeks after cancelling a bid to buy 600 Lloyds bank branches.
This abstract from the Financial Times was produced by Kantar Media
Financial Times Money, p. 2

Sainsbury’s buys bank stake
Sainsbury’s confirmed this week it would purchase the 50 per cent of Sainsbury’s Bank it did not already own from Lloyds Banking Group for £248m.
This abstract from the Financial Times was produced by Kantar Media
Financial Times Money, p. 2

EU threatens free banking
The European Commission said consumers “often pay above the odds” for the services they receive from their bank and “struggle to have clarity on the various fees charged”. Michel Barnier, the European commissioner for the internal market, said: “By making it easier to compare fees and change bank accounts, we hope to see better offers from banks and lower costs.”
The Daily Telegraph Your Money, p. 7

Dollar climbs above the 100-yen mark
The value of the dollar today jumped above 100 yen as Japanese investors responded to Tokyo’s monetary stimulus push by buying foreign assets.
Evening Standard London, p. 44

Banks/Lloyds repays final loan of €3.5bn to ECB
Yesterday Lloyds Banking Group, bailed out to the tune of £20bn by the taxpayer four years ago, made two moves signalling its strengthening balance sheet. In the biggest move, it said it had paid back all the €13.5bn (£11.4bn) of cheap loans it took from the European Central Bank last year. This is almost two years before they were due for repayment.
The Independent, p. 51
Also appeared in : The Daily Telegraph, p.39, Evening Standard London, p.44

Bernanke tells banks to avoid excessive risk
In a speech in Chicago, the US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke yesterday said he was watching for signs that banks were resorting to speculation because of low interest rates.
This abstract from the Financial Times was produced by Kantar Media
Financial Times, p. 6

Journalists’ all-seeing eye is blocked by Bloomberg
Bloomberg came under fire from two of Wall Street’s largest banks, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, yesterday after it emerged that reporters for its news service might have gained access to private customer information from its data terminals.
The Times, p. 48
Also appeared in : The Daily Telegraph, p.37, Financial Times, p.13, The Guardian, p.32

F&C hit by big protest over pay
F&C Asset Management, Britain’s worst-performing listed fund management group, has suffered a large protest vote over company pay yesterday and lost another big investor.
This abstract from the Financial Times was produced by Kantar Media
Financial Times, p. 17

Russian slowdown expected to ripple
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development announced Friday that it had slashed its 2013 growth forecasts for emerging countries in Europe and North Africa by almost a full percentage point, saying that a sharp slowdown in Russia would drag down the regional economy.
International Herald Tribune, p. 10

Personal loans
Derbyshire building society, now part of Nationwide, reduced the rate on its personal loan this week to 5.0% APR, topping the Moneyfacts best buys for borrowings of £7,500 and £10,000 over five years.
The Guardian Money, p. 5

UK Government bonds were marked sharply lower after fresh economic data suggested that recovery was gaining pace, making further stimulus measures from the Bank of England less likely.
The Times, p. 51

Taxman moves on Isa bonuses
Investors with funds in stocks and shares Isas could be forced to pay tax on the bonuses they receive from online fund supermarkets. Last month HM Revenue & Customs began to levy income tax on fund units and cash rebates paid by platforms, but excluded tax-free wrappers such as Isas and also self-invested personal pensions (Sipps). When a rebate is reinvested back inside the Isa, it is not taxable.
The Sunday Times Money, p. 9

The latest figures released by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) show that the amount of money being invested in Isas dropped by £200m last year. National accountancy chain UHY Hacker Young said this decline was driven by a substantial fall in the amount of money being squirrelled into cash Isas – with savers investing £500m less into these plans than they did the previous year.
The Sunday Telegraph Money and Jobs, p. 1

Rise in savers lending to firms for a higher return
Capita Registrars, the shares registration service, will release figures tomorrow predicting that the amount savers will put into mini-bonds is expected to soar from £1bn this year to £8bn in 2017.
The Sunday Times Money, p. 1

Ban on consultancy fees boosts pensions
Last week campaigners hailed a victory against costly pension charges after the government unveiled a series of measures, including a ban on “consultancy fees” for auto-enrolment schemes. Millions of workers will see their retirement pots boosted thanks to the ban on the fees, paid to the firms that have recommended schemes.
The Sunday Times Money, p. 3

The route to a top retirement income
Britain is divided into a nation of pension winners and losers, with the richest 25% of savers having eight times as much in their pots as the bottom quarter, according to government figures, and middle-class savers caught between the two extremes. Final salary scheme members aged between 50 and 64 have average savings of £177,900, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The Sunday Times Money, p. 8

Just 5pc of John Lewis employees have decided to withdraw from the company’s pension scheme after being automatically enrolled into it in February.
The Sunday Telegraph Money and Jobs, p. 2

Holland’s pensions superiority called into question
Dutch pensioners – held up as the envy of their British counterparts by campaigners three years ago – have been forced to endure cuts to their pensions because of funding shortfalls in their schemes.
The Sunday Telegraph Money and Jobs, p. 4

We’re all landlords now
With the cost of retirement jumping 29% since December 2009, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics, it’s no surprise that more older people are looking to property as an alternative method of funding their later years. “The average age of our investors is around 52,” says John Heron, director of mortgages at Paragon. “They are relatively sophisticated financially: they will always own their own property and have a full-time occupation.”
The Sunday Times Home, p. 18-19

Work for 132 days to pay the rent
People living in rented homes have had to spend an extra month at work to pay their costs compared with home owners. The calculations are based on typical mortgage repayments for a new borrower, including capital and interest payments, but do not take into account additional costs for home owners such as home insurance.
The Sunday Telegraph Money and Jobs, p. 2

Co-op asks Bank to back rescue plan
The Co-operative Bank has submitted a rescue plan to the Bank of England that will force the struggling lender to sell large parts of its business to plug a £750m black hole in its finances. Pressure has been mounting since last Thursday when Moody’s, the credit rating agency, slashed the bank’s rating six notches to junk status.
The Sunday Times Business, p. 1
Also appeared in : The Sunday Telegraph Business, p.1, The Sunday Times Business, p.4, The Sunday Times Money, p.7, The Independent on Sunday, p.79, The Sunday Telegraph Money and Jobs, p.2, The Observer, p.45

HSBC set to announce more job cuts to make it leaner and meaner
HSBC could announce more job cuts on Wednesday, when investors will be told that the chief executive, Stuart Gulliver, will push ahead with plans to produce a leaner, more streamlined bank.
The Independent on Sunday, p. 71

Banking culture not change
The leaders of Britain’s banks have not done enough to change the culture of the financial services industry five years on from the financial crisis, according to Benny Higgins, chief executive of Tesco Bank and a former head of retail banking at Royal Bank of Scotland.
The Sunday Telegraph Business, p. 2

Credit unions challenge high street banks
The monopoly of the big high-street banks is gradually coming under threat. Inspired by action sites such as moveyourmoney and angered by the Libor-fixing scandal, hundreds of thousands have moved their accounts away from the big boys in the past year.
The Independent on Sunday, p. 78

Banks hit customers in search for profits
it has been announced that millions of customers at one of Britain’s biggest banks have seen returns on their cash cut to zero and charges increased if they go into the red. Santander has forced almost 2m customers who were being paid 1% on their current account balances on to the Everyday account, which pays no interest. Banking experts said the forced transfer is the latest sign that banks are looking to cut costs. Banks have been reducing returns and pushing up fees on current accounts recently in a bid to boost profits at customers’ expense.
The Sunday Times Money, p. 1

We are here to serve
Interview with Benny Higgins, the head of Tesco Bank which is already the largest provider of online personal loans, issuing more than 100,000 loans last year, while its cash machine network is used for the withdrawal of £1 in every £8 taken out on a daily basis.
The Sunday Telegraph Business, p. 9

Osborne presses tax havens for details of wealthy
Yesterday the Chancellor George Osborne warned Britain’s offshore tax havens they will need to share more information on wealthy taxpayers as the UK seeks to extend a pilot for exchanging tax information across Europe. The UK has put tax evasion on the agenda for next month’s G8 meeting, when David Cameron will play host to leaders of the world’s most powerful nations, including Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. Cameron has also signalled his intention to discuss an initiative by the OECD to reform tax rules that currently allow multinational corporations to move billions of pounds of profits to low-tax jurisdictions.
The Observer, p. 7

Tax-haven leaks name 1,000 Britons
HM Revenue & Customs are investigating a cache of 2.5m documents which reveal that up to 1,000 British people are hiding their wealth in tax havens.
The Sunday Times, p. 4
Also appeared in : The Sunday Times News Review, p.8-9

King-sized good news on economy
Sir Mervyn King will mark the end of his stewardship of the Bank of England this week with, finally, some uplifting news for the British economy. His last inflation report before handing over to the Canadian Mark Carney in July is likely to show the BoE lowering its forecasts for the cost of living from February. This is due to lower crude oil costs. The report should also signal a stronger growth profile for the economy after a better than expected 0.3 per cent advance in the first three months of 2013.
The Independent on Sunday, p. 71
Also appeared in : The Sunday Times Business, p.1-2, The Sunday Telegraph Business, p.1

Bank of England under fire for not putting women on notes
Yesterday the Bank of England was facing a threat of court action for failing to adhere to equality laws following its decision to replace the only historical female figure on English banknotes with a man. Solicitors acting for feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez have written to the Bank accusing it of failing in its duties to eliminate gender discrimination under the Equality Act. It comes after the Bank of England’s governor, Sir Mervyn King, announced last month that social reformer Elizabeth Fry would be replaced with former prime minister Winston Churchill on the £5 banknote from 2016.
The Observer, p. 9

UBS talks over call to split bank
Axel Weber, the Chairman of UBS, has agreed to meet activist investor Knight Vinke to discuss demands to hive off its investment bank into a separate business.
The Sunday Telegraph Business, p. 3
Also appeared in : The Sunday Telegraph Business, p.8, The Sunday Telegraph Business, p.8

Government’s start-up scheme accused of being ‘overly aggressive ‘
Organisations responsible for distributing over £100m of Government money to would be entrepreneurs have been criticised for “overly aggressive” marketing of loans to young people.
The Sunday Telegraph Business, p. 1

Payday lenders ‘have a year to clean up their act’, says their new troubleshooter
Seymour Fortescue, the former chief executive of the Banking Code Standards Board, has said he believed that payday lenders had about a year to clean up their act or face compulsory regulation. His appointment follows a damning report from the Office of Fair Trading earlier this year on the £2bn industry, with the possibility that the OFT will remove credit licences from the worst offenders.
The Sunday Telegraph Money and Jobs, p. 2

Man from Pru cashes in for a fond farewell
It has emerged that the outgoing chief executive of Prudential UK has almost halved his stake in the company ahead of his departure in October after four years in the role. Rob Devey, who is being replaced at the FTSE 100 life insurance firm by Jackie Hunt, chief financial officer at Standard Life, traded in 186,064 shares on Thursday at 1,164p each, for a total of just under £2.17m. Devey’s stake now stands at 219,022 shares.
The Sunday Times Money, p. 9

Fed Reserve inquiry into Bloomberg journalists
Banking regulators at the Federal Reserve said last night they were investigating how journalists from Bloomberg news agency were given access to sensitive databases that enabled them to see when traders were searching for data at the US central bank.
The Independent on Sunday, p. 73

The above articles appeared on 11/05/13 & 12/05/13 reproduced with the kind permission of Kantar Media UK. All rights reserved.

Charterbridge Private Financial Planning, Independent Financial Advice, Thornbury, Bristol.