Category: Transactional and Investment Banking

AIMA calls for Regulatory Reforms to Support Non-Bank Finance
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

AIMA calls for Regulatory Reforms to Support Non-Bank Finance

AIMA made the remarks in its response to the European Commission’s Call for Evidence on the EU regulatory framework for financial services, published in September last year.

In their response, AIMA says that capital market financing is more long-term and transparent, encourages greater innovation and discipline, which leads to better allocation of resources and economic growth. However, regulatory barriers still hinder capital markets and non-banking finance from developing further in the EU.

AIMA argues the case that rules should permit greater asset managers’ participation in securitisations in order to support the supply of finance to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). AIMA also puts forward the case that greater holding of financial assets by institutions and investors that can bear risk without the need for public support – such as investment funds – will improve financial stability.

The response addresses a number of other areas where AIMA believes that existing regulation is not achieving its intended policy objectives, highlighting:

• The need to consider carefully the reform of market infrastructure to support liquidity as agreed standards are implemented;
• The need to look again at regulatory reporting to ensure that supervisors are collecting the right data in the most effective way possible;
• The importance of finalising the EU internal market in fund distribution and opening this market to third country funds; and
• The need to review public short-selling disclosure requirements which has hurt equity market liquidity.

Jack Inglis, CEO of AIMA, said:

“We recognise that most of the regulatory measures introduced since the financial crisis were intended to address key policy concerns and market failures. Our members welcome the opportunity to be part of the review and evaluation of this new regulatory framework in order to ensure that the policy objectives are being met and, if not, to adjust the structure where necessary.”


Extension to CMA Retail Banking Market Investigation
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Extension to CMA Retail Banking Market Investigation

A working paper on the bank levy and corporation tax surcharge will also be published by the end of February followed, by the end of March, by an addendum to our provisional findings on capital requirements – following work to understand how differences in capital requirements for mortgage lending affect competition in retail banking.

Alasdair Smith, Chairman of the retail banking investigation, commented:

“Retail banking affects nearly every business and consumer in the UK, so this investigation and the measures that result from it are of vital importance to the whole economy.

“Our provisional findings identified a number of competition problems in both personal current account and small and medium-sized enterprise banking

“We published an initial list of possible remedies, and we are pleased that the consultation has generated a lively debate about how best to tackle the problems we have identified.

“A number of new suggestions have been made, including proposals aimed at achieving better outcomes for current account customers with overdrafts and the CMA wants to ensure that there is enough time to hear from interested parties and consider the options properly.

“We therefore expect that an extension will be necessary to give us a bit more time for analysis and consultation.

“However, we remain committed to concluding this investigation as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Banc of California Reports Record 2015 Earnings
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Banc of California Reports Record 2015 Earnings

Pre-tax income for the full year 2015 was $104.3 million, an increase of 294% compared to full year 2014. Net income available to common shareholders for 2015 grew to $52.2 million, an increase of 97% compared to full year 2014.

Highlights for the fourth quarter included:
• Record quarterly core deposit growth of $540 million; including $110 million from non-interest bearing deposits.
• Record quarterly commercial banking segment loan and lease originations of $914 million; resulting in $2.8 billion for the full year.
• Full year 2015 total loan originations of $7.1 billion.
• Commercial Banking profits increased to 90% of total, fully allocated segment profitability with Financial Advisory finishing at 9% and Mortgage Banking falling to 1% for the quarter.
• The Company’s return on average assets for the quarter was 1.0%, and its return on average tangible common equity (ROTCE) for the quarter was 16.6%.
• The Company’s consolidated assets totalled $8.2 billion at December 31, 2015, an increase of $1.0 billion compared to the prior quarter, and an increase of $2.3 billion compared to a year ago.

Steven Sugarman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer said: “Banc of California finished 2015 with accelerating growth and profitability across our businesses. Our return on tangible common equity over 15% and return on assets over 1% demonstrates the long-term earnings power of our franchise. Combining these returns with our industry leading growth continues to yield significant value creation for shareholders. Our strong results are a testament to the hard work and dedication of our talented employees, who as employee-shareholders take pride in the shared success in growing the long-term value of the franchise. I am also particularly proud that Banc of California ranked #1 for total shareholder return in 2015 of all west coast banks included on Forbes Magazine’s list of America’s Top 100 banks.”

The Company will host a conference call to discuss its fourth quarter financial results at 8:00 a.m. Pacific Time (PT) on Thursday, January 28, 2016. Interested parties are welcome to attend the conference call by dialing 888-317-6003, and referencing event code 4988712. A live audio webcast will also be available and the webcast link will be posted on the Company’s Investor Relations website at The slide presentation for the call will also be available on the Company’s Investor Relations website prior to the call.


Real Return Investment Manager of the Year -2015 - UK
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Real Return Investment Manager of the Year -2015 – UK

Săl´tus (sal-) n. (L) a leap, step, jump – In 2004 Simon Armstrong and Jon Macintosh took a leap – to set up their own investment management company and to rethink some of the norms of the time resulting in these principles:

  • To bring investment management services to private clients that were then only available to very wealthy families and institutions
    To work within pre-determined risk limits so that more clients’ money can be returned over timethan they originally invested, whatever the market conditions
  •  To invest globally, across many assets classes, unconstrained by industry benchmarks. And as importantly, to choose not to invest in an asset class or investment strategy, if analysis demonstrates there is no merit
  • To search the world to find whom they believe to be the best investment specialists to invest/work with, many of whom are not accessible to UK investors
  •  To use plain English


Today, Saltus is an independently owned investment management company, currently managing assets of over £550m.

Our clients are private clients and family groups investing their pensions, trusts, investments and NISAs. Our clients come to us direct, typically through referrals from other clients or are introduced to us through financial advisers, solicitors, accountants and trustees.

We have a team of 30 people based in our offices in London, Manchester and Chichester.

Our investment objective is to preserve and grow wealth for our clients over time, irrespective of investing conditions. We do this through risk based, multi-asset class investing which is described in our investment approach below.

All portfolios are managed by the investment team.

Our investment approach

  •  As risk based, multi-asset investment managers we believe:
    Investing should be unconstrained with no built-in bias to any asset class. We
    do not copy or track a fixed benchmark and we are free to choose any investments

The best talent is not all in one company, so we source and invest with specialists who are ‘best in class’.

  • Controlling risk is at the heart of generating consistent returns. We use explicit rather than subjective measures of risk in portfolios.


Our investment process


We measure investment risk principally (but not exclusively) by the volatility of portfolio returns over a rolling 36 month period. All our portfolios are managed with a choice of distinct “risk budgets”, set with reference to the UK equity market. For example the Saltus 33 portfolio targets to 33% of UK equity market volatility, the Saltus 50 targets 50% of UK equity market volatility and the Saltus 67 targets 67% of UK equity market volatility. Although identifying and controlling risk is at the heart of what we do, it is necessary to take some risk to capital to generate returns in excess of cash over time. It is important for clients to assess the level of risk they are comfortable with us taking, in order to achieve the returns they seek.

Once this level of risk has been identified and agreed we will construct and manage an investment portfolio in accordance with this level of risk. We invest in broad variety of asset classes to generate returns.

 Asset Allocation

At Saltus we do not believe we should be limited to investing solely in traditional markets such as equities and bonds which can result in volatile returns and loss of capital over prolonged periods. The experience we
have within Saltus allows us to construct and manage an investment portfolio for you, based on your risk profile and your investment goals across the whole spectrum of asset classes as shown above.

Portfolio construction

Once the Investment Committee has decided the asset allocation we select who we believe are the best managers in
each asset class, as identified by our research process. This process uses both quantitative and qualitative analysis in order to identify real ‘skill’. We are able to access exceptional managers across the globe, which are frequently unavailable to retail investors, due to our personal contacts and experience. If we cannot identify exceptional managers we will use passive funds (sometimes known as index-trackers).

We use several Saltus managed funds, as “building blocks” to construct portfolios which consist of the
underlying investments which we have selected as described above. The reason we do it this way – rather than owning the underlying investments directly in clients’ names – is because it is more tax-efficient and it avoids the need for unnecessary dealing charges. It also allows us access to institutional funds in certain cases which we otherwise cannot invest in.





EBRD to Acquire a Stake of Around 20% Equity Stake in Ameriabank
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

EBRD to Acquire a Stake of Around 20% Equity Stake in Ameriabank

As a first step the EBRD will acquire a stake of around 20% for US$ 30 million, while the remaining US$ 10 million will be used for future capital increases. The goal of the investment is to strengthen Ameriabank and prepare the bank for a future IPO. In the course of 2016 an independent director representing the EBRD will join Ameriabank’s Board of Directors.

Prior to a possible listing, the EBRD investment will support the growth of Ameriabank by providing additional funds for lending to large corporate and private customers, small and medium-sized enterprises and retail customers. More lending to the real sector will strengthen the growth of Armenia’s economy.

Ameriabank has grown steadily in recent years. With total capital now close to US$ 200 million, the bank’s total assets topped US$ 1 billion at the end of 2015, a record in Armenia’s financial sector. This will open new opportunities for further lending as well as for engaging in possible M&A transactions in the local market.

The decision to become a shareholder in the bank reflects the EBRD’s positive expectations for the development of Ameriabank, and recognises the important contribution that Ameriabank makes to the growth of the Armenian economy, banking sector and society.

Mark Davis, EBRD Head of the Yerevan office, said:

“We welcome the opportunity to become a shareholder in Ameriabank and see this as a further step towards strengthening and consolidating the local banking sector. Increased access to finance is key to enabling local companies to realise their potential. As a shareholder the EBRD will support Ameriabank’s development, with a special emphasis on corporate governance.”

“We highly appreciate this new level of partnership with the EBRD. It is a great support for Ameriabank in global capital markets, in line with our strategic goals and aspirations. I am sure that our joint efforts will promote the development of Armenia’s banking sector and contribute to economic growth in our country,” added Andrew Mkrtchyan, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Ameriabank.

40 Graduates Bank Jobs with Financial Services Academy
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

40 Graduates Bank Jobs with Financial Services Academy

Minister Farry commented:

“I am delighted to launch the next FinTrU Financial Services Academy which will provide a further 20 participants with the skills, knowledge and experience required to take up exciting new employment opportunities with FinTrU. This Academy will build on the success of the previous two Academies, which have seen all 40 Academy participants secure employment with FinTrU.

“The continuing commitment of companies such as FinTrU to create jobs in Northern Ireland is hugely important to our continued economic growth. Through the Assured Skills initiative my Department continues to encourage companies to bring their business to Northern Ireland or expand their existing operations, stimulating the creation of new jobs in the local economy.”

The Financial Services Academy will target graduates holding at least a 2:2 in any degree discipline and previous experience in the sector is not required. The successful applicants will undertake an intensive six-week training programme focusing on Capital Markets, Financial Regulation and Investment Administration and will gain industry-recognised qualifications. For participants that complete the Academy there is a potential offer of employment with FinTrU.

Stephen Shaw, Head of FinTrU’s Belfast Centre of Excellence, added:

“The FinTrU Financial Services Academy is a unique opportunity to prepare for a dynamic career in Financial Services in Northern Ireland. Following on from the success of our previous academy programmes, we are continuing with our innovative approach to recruit talented young individuals from all backgrounds and provide candidates with tailored professional development to attain the skills required to have successful long term careers. The Academy will equip participants with a number of accredited external qualifications such as the Chartered Institute of Securities & Investments (CISI) Investment Operations Certificate.”

The FinTrU Financial Services Academy has been designed by the Department for Employment and Learning, FinTrU, Belfast Metropolitan College (Belfast Met) and Ulster University under the Assured Skills initiative.

Applications to the Academy will close at 4pm on Friday 4 February 2016 and the training programme for successful applicants will start on Monday 22 February 2016. Training will be delivered jointly by Belfast Met and Ulster University.
For further information or to submit an application, visit here.



New Figures Reveal Record European Investment Bank Investment in UK in 2015
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

New Figures Reveal Record European Investment Bank Investment in UK in 2015

Figures published today by the European Investment Bank (EIB) show that investment by the EIB in the UK increased to €7.77 billion in 2015, up 10.8% on the previous year’s lending. EIB loans fund vital infrastructure upgrade projects such as important transport links, and new hospitals and schools, as well as boosting UK-based research and development work that contributes directly to the growth of the UK economy.

Investment in the UK accounted for 11.2% of all EIB lending into the 28 EU member states. Since 2012 the UK has more than doubled the volume of EIB investment and increased its share of total lending within the EU by over a third (37%).

2015’s EIB investment includes the new European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), which was established earlier this year by the EIB and the European Commission to enable the EIB to undertake additional lending and boost private-sector investment. UK projects received €972 million through the EFSI, one third of all EFSI-supported lending in 2015.

EIB lending in 2015 continued the trend of the past five years by primarily targeting infrastructure, particularly in the key strategic areas of the energy, transport and water sectors, which received 67% (€5.2 billion) of the year’s EIB financing. 2015 also saw EIB support for UK education projects in the UK more than doubling, including a series of loans to fund the building of new schools and university campus investment.

Commenting on the EIB figures, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said:

“Over the past few years the government has focused on increasing the UK’s share of EIB loans, and this is paying off with record levels of investment. 2015’s record lending builds on our strong record of securing EIB investment to help grow our economy and is a vote of confidence in the UK and our economic plan.

“The infrastructure, education and research and development projects funded by these loans support jobs, growth and living standards. They are making a real change to people’s lives and will ensure that Britain is fit for the future.”

The largest EIB UK investment in 2015 was a €1.4 billion (£1 billion) loan to Transport for London to finance the upgrading of existing lines and stations on the London Underground, as well as the construction of a network of cycle paths in the capital. Other UK-based investment from the EIB has targeted a variety of sectors across the UK, including:

• Research, development and innovation (RDI) including support to Rolls Royce for the development of their new line of aero engines;
• Over €1.5 billion of loans to the UK water sector for improvements to water supply and waste water collection;
• Campus investment and expansion at Oxford University – the largest ever single loan by the EIB to a university for investment;
• Construction of several hospitals including a new acute inpatient services hospital near Birmingham and a new children’s hospital in Edinburgh;
• School building projects including a series of loans worth in total £247 million to the Priority Schools Building Programme, a government programme to rebuild 261 of England’s schools in the worst condition and;
• Energy efficiency projects throughout the UK, including the largest EFSI-backed loan to-date (€510 million) to support the installation of c. 7 million smart meters for British Gas customers throughout Great Britain.

Signature Bank Ranks among Top 10 on Best Banks in America List for Sixth Consecutive Year
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Signature Bank Ranks among Top 10 on Best Banks in America List for Sixth Consecutive Year

Signature Bank is one of only three banks in the nation to rank in the top 10 in each of the past six years. The annual ranking of Forbes’ America’s Best and Worst Banks 2016 were released on January 7, 2016 on
Joseph J. DePaolo, President and Chief Executive Officer at Signature Bank said:

“The changing face of America’s banking and financial landscape prompted Forbes to adjust the metrics they routinely used over the past several years when evaluating America’s best and worst banks this year. Based on the overall statistics, Forbes noted that while credit quality seemed to improve on the whole, growth and profitability exhibited mixed results. However, Signature Bank’s growth and profitability has continued to set records since our founding in 2001, and we maintain strong credit quality. The Bank’s inclusion in the Forbes list yet again is evidence of the broader acceptance of our relationship-based, depositor-focused model.”

“All our colleagues continue to put forth efforts that consistently contribute to the accolades we earned through this Forbes ranking, and we appreciate their dedication along with the unwavering loyalty demonstrated by our clients. This third-party recognition by Forbes is demonstrative of the strength and success of our proven client-centric model coupled with the single-point-of-contact founding philosophy upon which Signature Bank was built,” DePaolo added.

The data used by Forbes to create the list was supplied by Charlottesville, Va.-based SNL Financial while the rankings were compiled by Forbes. Ten metrics were evaluated this year including, among others, asset quality, capital adequacy, growth and profitability. A new methodology was applied to this year’s listing to better reflect the current state of America’s banking environment. Three new metrics were added, including return on average tangible common equity; net charge-offs as a percent of total loans and efficiency ratio.

Other metrics were removed from this year’s formula, such as return on average equity and nonperforming loans (NPLs) as a percentage of loans. Other metrics used include net interest margin; nonperforming assets as a percent of assets; reserves as a percent of NPLs, two capital ratios (Tier 1 and risk-based); and, revenue growth over the past 12 months. All data was based on regulatory filings for the period ending September 30, 2015. Each of the 10 metrics used were weighted equally in Forbes’ final rankings.

Global ATM Market Report: 2016 Report Revealed
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Global ATM Market Report: 2016 Report Revealed

An ATM is one of the most important self-service channel of the retail banking sector that connect the banks or financial institutions and their customers. Over a long period of time, the services offered by ATM have evolved tremendously from a role of just being a cash dispenser to a multi-utility service provider. ATM serves as a key element in branch transformation of the banks with continuous innovation in line with internet and mobile banking channel.

As per the Global ATM Market Report, the market growth potential lies majorly in Asia-Pacific region with China and India being the most potential targets for the industry due to growing banking population and demand for cash. Moreover, despite the considerate decline in ATM installed base in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, the worldwide ATM market is expected to escalate.

The key factors driving the market growth apart from generic macro-economic factors include ATM growth in developing nations and increase in issuance of banknotes. Some of the noteworthy trends observed in the industry are rise of electronic transactions, technological advancements in ATMs, entrepreneurs investing in Bitcoin ATMs and branch transformation and developments such as Bitcoin ATMs, solar ATMs and mobile ATMs. However, the industry remains exposed to certain challenges such as increase of non-cash transactions, high costs of operating a retail ATM business and significant breaches associated with it.

The report also provides a comprehensive study of ATM market globally, covering regional markets as well. The industry is concentrated with a few large players such as NCR Corp., Diebold, Inc. and Wincor Nixdorf. All these companies have been profiled in the present report highlighting their key financials and business strategies for growth.

Key Topics covered are:
• Overview;
• ATM Market Analysis;
• Market Dynamics;
• Competitive Landscape;
• Company Profiles;
• Market Outlook .

For more information, visit here.

The Increasing Investment in Fast-Growth Hybrid Businesses
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

The Increasing Investment in Fast-Growth Hybrid Businesses

How to Spot Investment Opportunities in Hybrid Businesses
With the rise of hybrid companies shaking up a range of different industries, there are increasing opportunities for investment in fast-growth businesses with potential for rapid expansion. From food delivery services like Deliveroo and collection models, to services previously confined to the high street, the hybrid model offers new avenues for progression and in turn possibilities for investors. For those looking to capitalise on this trend, the most promising hybrid businesses offer one – or more – of the following three distinguishers.

Opening Up New Markets
Some of the most exciting hybrid businesses don’t just disrupt a market but open up a new one entirely. While takeaway platforms like JustEat connects hungry customers to restaurants which in turn deliver the takeaway, their service is purely digital. Such websites are an online marketplace: an introduction service, a facilitator and a system through which easy card payments can be made. Its employees power the website – they don’t power the deliveries themselves, which are left to the restaurants.

Hybrid businesses, however, are now taking cities by storm. Deliveroo, and Dinein are all fusion models which bring takeaway to the doors of consumers, but these businesses actually use their own couriers to collect and drop off the food. This hybrid model means that customers can access some more upmarket restaurants and smaller independent eateries that wouldn’t usually deliver. This ‘intermediary’ model is powering huge expansion outside of the capital, with some of these start-ups now operating in cities across the country.

The incredibly fast growth of such a business has clear potential for investors. Deliveroo, for example, rounded up $25 million in Series B funding in January.

Hybrid companies are often also intermediaries – they sit between the customer and the service or product. Businesses like JustEat and Deliveroo don’t just own the customer’s card details and the transaction platform to make life easy for their users. They also own the customer relationship, having slotted themselves neatly between the manufacturer or service provider and the customer. The relationship between the intermediary and each party is stronger than that between the customer and the company creating the product or service itself, so that the intermediary is always the ‘go to’ and front of mind of the customer.

As well as creating new markets, hybrid businesses often have the power to grow existing markets beyond their traditional limits. In San Francisco, Uber has caused the same people to take more taxi rides than previously, because of the convenience they offer. The brand now makes over three times the revenue of the taxi industry in the region.
It is the hybrid model that enables each of these new starters to offer a win-win service, a goldmine for investors. The fusion of online and real life services is opening up markets that purely digital or purely physical businesses struggle to tap into, and growing others beyond their traditional limits.

Convenience and Customer Service
It’s not just reaching new markets that can drive rapid growth in hybrid businesses. Providing a far more sophisticated and convenient service is a key success point for companies that combine online and offline offerings.

The consumer market across the board is becoming increasingly 24/7. It’s a buyer’s world, with customers demanding instant choices, instant availability and instant delivery. If your service isn’t bending over backwards to accommodate your consumers, you’d better expect to be left behind. Hybrid businesses have the capability to do this thanks to their 24/7 availability and by making convenience a central focus.

It is this fear of being left behind that has caused conflicts between traditional and hybrid businesses. The rise of Uber has led to thousands of taxi drivers staging protests across London, Paris, Madrid, Milan and Berlin in opposition to the company. Ironically, last year’s London protest by black cab drivers pushed Uber registrations up 850 per cent. Uber is a far more convenient alternative to a long-standing, dated service. The effort of finding a cab or waiting for a requested taxi to arrive, exacerbated by the nuisance of finding a cash machine before getting into a cab, means that millennials are flocking to Uber for its ability to accommodate customers’ needs.

Customer service is an important part of making sure that the interests of the consumer are at the very centre of all your operations. People place more trust in a company when they can deal with a representative face-to-face, a difficulty for purely digital services. A hybrid model, however, combines their online convenience with people on the ground who can interact with consumers day to day. Giving your business this human face goes a long way in building customer loyalty.

One start-up offering sophisticated customer service is on-demand shipping provider Weengs, an app which will dispatch one of their couriers to you within 15 minutes of you sending them a photo of the item you want shipping. They’ll package your item up for you, take it to their central warehouse and then calculate the most affordable shipping option. The digital platform works in tandem with Weengs’ couriers to ensure that the customer experience is seamless and as convenient as possible. Speed and availability are key, and hybrid businesses have the capabilities to offer both.

It is constant availability that a hybrid model facilitates so well, while still ensuring consumers receive a ‘real-life’ service from people on the ground. Speed and availability are key, and hybrid businesses have the capabilities to offer both.

Undercutting On Price
One of the clearest ways in which the combination of on and offline services is disrupting the market is in these companies’ ability to drastically undercut costs. A hybrid model can often provide all the vital services of their traditional competitors, but without some of the biggest overheads usually involved.

With the combination of ‘on the ground’ and digital resources, many of the costs of the service provided can be eliminated by moving some operations online. For example, expensive high street premises, favoured by restaurants, shops and estate agents, can be avoided altogether. Moving bricks and mortar operations online is especially profitable for those aspects of services which are in any case more convenient, effective or efficient for customers when offered online. Passing this cost saving on to the consumer means that many hybrid companies are disrupting long established markets by offering a service that traditional competitors cannot beat on price.

An alternative to getting rid of expensive premises is to utilise your necessary premises to cut costs in other ways. For example, removing the delivery element of certain consumer shops can save money, instead offering convenient click-and-collect solutions. The delivery process is easier for the company, it can be a convenient option for consumers who don’t want to wait in all day for a package, and the cost saving can also be passed on. Combining digital and physical services can in this way be create double or triple benefits for all involved.

Investing in a digital-based business that can flex its cost base when it needs to is a great advantage – especially in cyclical markets – compared to investing into a bricks and mortar operation where a business can be locked into expensive leases for a long period.

What can your business do?
To summarise, the businesses which will likely attract investment are those which are opening up new markets, offering next-level convenience and customer service and drastically undercutting competitors on price – just three indicators that a hybrid business may be heading for the stars. Businesses hungry for recognition in crowded markets should take a step back, look at the wider industry and consider, what needs improving? What could be made simpler or more consumer-friendly?

If you look hard enough, existing models will lend themselves to the latest technology, and can be fused together to form revolutionary concepts. But at the same time, people remain key, and the winners will be those companies who successfully adopt the latest technologies without disrupting the vital human element, to ensure customer service remains top of the priority list. As these hybrid companies develop and more enter the arena, the opportunities for investment are only set to grow.

The Challenger Bank Revolution
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

The Challenger Bank Revolution

By Bhanu Choudhrie, founder of C & C Alpha Group

Fast forward to 2015, however, and there are 26 challengers applying for banking licences in a bid to transform a staid landscape dominated by the “Big Four” – Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland – which control 77 per cent of the current account market and 85 per cent of small business banking. Fidor, the German community-based bank, which crowd-sources ideas for financial products, became the latest UK entrant when it launched in September.

Not all these challengers will make it to the start line – just eight banking licences were granted by regulators between 2010 and 2015 and a mere 20 have been granted in the last 40 years. However, in the last 18 months, five challengers have listed on the London Stock Exchange, raising more than £350m of new capital.

Chancellor George Osborne says he wants to see at least 15 licences approved during the lifetime of this Parliament. The Competition and Markets Authority is currently investigating the banking sector and its study of the current account and small business banking markets could lead to a shake-up, loosening the stranglehold of the UK’s banking giants.

However, the flip side is the Chancellor’s 8% corporation tax surcharge on bank profits and parallel scaling back of the bank levy, which was announced in July’s Budget and is due to take effect in 2016. Challenger banks are lobbying fiercely against the move, claiming it will make it harder to take on their bigger rivals.

So, how realistic is the challenge from the new generation of challengers? Can they succeed where their predecessors have failed? Are they worth backing?

I have an unusual perspective on this. I live in London, where my private equity business C & C Alpha Group is headquartered, but sit on the board of two American banks, Atlantic Coast Bank and Customers Bank. It has always surprised me that the UK market has been so resistant to change.
Customers Bank has enjoyed six years of stellar growth; back in 2009, it had assets of $250m; four years later, it was welcomed on to the NASDAQ stock market; today, it’s quoted on the New York Stock Exchange and has assets of $7.1bn.

How have we successfully disrupted the market? Technology is the answer. After ten months of testing we launched an entirely new brand this year, Bank Mobile, a virtual bank targeted at millenials.

It takes just five minutes to open an account – you simply photograph your ID – there are no fees and the Bank Mobile app, powered by Malauzai software, contains a number of innovations designed to make customers’ lives easier. To pay a bill, you can just photograph it; you can turn your debit card on and off for security reasons, and when you make a direct deposit you get free access to our financial advisors. We have already created an app for the Apple Watch.

We encourage our customers to drive innovation. “Build your own bank”, we call it. Our aim is to rewrite the banking business model by simplifying the mobile experience; we think of ourselves not as a bank but as a tech company with a banking charter. We want to be the Uber of banking. “We are getting back to be a bank people can love,” is the way our CEO Jay Sidhu puts it.

We are targeting recent college graduates, a generation which expects a straightforward, convenient customer experience. We aim to sign up 250,000 in five years.

The UK’s banking sector is still dominated by legacy institutions with creaking infrastructure designed for a pre-electronic age. Earlier this year, RBS suffered its latest IT meltdown when 600,000 customer payments and direct debits disappeared, with all the chaos that entailed.

In the twenty-first century, customers do not expect to be told it will take three days to put that right. But archaic technology systems mean this won’t be the last IT disaster to inflict the industry.

Many of the UK’s challenger banks are promising digital-only propositions. Anne Boden, chief executive of Starling Bank, which is seeking to launch in 2016, has been in the industry for more than 30 years – most recently as Chief Operating Officer at Allied Irish Bank – and she is specifically targeting the current account market. A computer science graduate, she is promising to create a banking app aimed at customers aged 20 to 40 who will be given a unique personalised insight into their finances – how much they are spending on clothes every month, for example – and an experience every bit as efficient as that delivered by Apple or Amazon.

Rivals, such as Mondo – whose founders defected from Starling – and Open Bank, the brainchild of Ricky Knox, co-founder of money transfer service Azimo, are also promising digital-only propositions. Atom, which has already received a licence and will launch next year, will be primarily digital, using the Post Office to deliver physical services.

They have all received substantial backing. Atom, which is raising tens of millions, has attracted star investor Neil Woodford. Among Mondo’s supporters is Eileen Burbridge, of Passion Capital, the queen of the fin tech investment sector. Open Bank raised £10m in its initial funding round and has a target of £100m. Starling is announcing a second round of funding.
Not all will get regulatory approval, let alone succeed if they do. But the experience of recent entrants is broadly positive. In 2014, the challenger bank sector as a whole achieved an average return on equity of 3.8% compared to 2.8% amongst the five biggest banks.

Breaking the figures down further, the smaller challengers, such as Metro Bank, One Savings Bank and Shawbrook, achieved 18.2% but the bigger challengers, personified by Virgin Money and TSB, achieved just 2.1%. The cost to income ratio among the smaller challengers was 53% in 2014 compared to 64% for the larger challengers.

Warren Mead, head of challenger banking at KPMG, expects challengers to outperform the market in terms of pure financial results. He cites their lack of legacy as an advantage, enabling them to build a distinctive brand identity. Delivering simplicity, transparency and a niche offering are the keys to success.

Lending to small and medium-sized enterprises is a £160bn market, but certain areas are under-served. In some of the sectors where C & C Alpha Group has a wealth of experience – such as healthcare, real estate and agriculture – smaller businesses have specific needs which are not always addressed.

By contrast, in the US, smaller banks are encouraged to commit to small businesses, which are the backbone of the US economy – more than 50% of Americans either own or work for a small company.

I have met American businessman Vernon Hill and discussed his dreams and aspirations for Metro Bank. It has 36 branches and aims eventually to grow to 200, but its customer base of 360,000 pales in comparison with Barclays’ 16.7 million. That indicates the scale of the challenge.

Customers in the UK remain staunchly conservative; even after the introduction of new rules in 2013, allowing customers to change banks within seven days, take-up has been slow, with 1.2m customers using the service last year.

But there is no doubt a banking revolution is under way and establishing a high street presence is no longer a necessary route to success. The number of customers going into branches has fallen by 30% in three years. Customers will use mobile devices to check their current accounts 895 million times in 2015 while there will be just 705 million interactions with their bank branches. They will move £32.9 billion a week using banking apps.

The message I can deliver from my experience in the United States is not simply that the future of banking is mobile. The future is already here. Challenger banks, which are daring, disruptive and digital can transform our banking landscape but only if they put innovation at the heart of their story.

Mijin to Reduce Banking System Costs by up to 1
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Mijin to Reduce Banking System Costs by up to 1,000% by End of 2018

The goal of Mijin, is to allow financial institutions to reduce infrastructure costs by up to 1000% by 2018.

The father of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, bestowed blockchain technology on the world. Mijin is the platform to let anyone set up a blockchain on a peer-to-peer network easily.

Within a single company or between partners, a permissioned blockchain is often desired, not only to realize zero downtime, but also to improve security and performance, at low cost.

Mijin blockchains can replace traditional databases to easily create point systems, payment services, online games, airline mile programs, logistics, insurance, financial systems, and even governance systems.

CEO Takao Asayama commented that, “If a Mijin blockchain is used, security can increase and at the same time the need for redundant, durable, and explicitly backed-up systems, will be removed. Our mission is to allow financial institutions to reduce infrastructure costs to 10% of the current costs by the end of 2018.”

The legal adviser to Tech Bureau from Mori, Hamada Matsumoto Legal Office, Masujima said that, “A key difference compared to Bitcoin is that Mijin will allow private blockchains. This is profoundly interesting because of the potential to completely change financial, logistics, and governance systems.”

Mijin will provide an initial capacity of up to 25 tx/sec by the end of 2015 with geographically distributed nodes, with the goal to improve throughput up to 100 tx/sec by the end of 2016.

Within a private network, Mijin will provide a robust capacity of up to several thousand tx/sec. This will put performance on par with what credit card processors require, while keeping infrastructure costs low.
Chief Blockchain Officer at Tech Bureau and core developer of Bitcoin 2.0 project, NEM, Makoto Takemiya, added that, “NEM has been in development from scratch for 18 months and the NEM team has the expertise and experience to make Mijin the best private blockchain system in the world.”

Starting in 2016, Mijin will start a private beta testing phase with partner companies, with the goal of releasing an open source version of the project in the Spring.

Also, within 2016, it is planned to be able to execute smart contracts across Mijin blockchains, by communicating via the main NEM chain.

ARK Invest Becomes First Public Fund Manager to Invest in Bitcoin
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

ARK Invest Becomes First Public Fund Manager to Invest in Bitcoin

ARK has made its investment for ARK Web x.0 ETF through the purchase of publicly traded shares of Grayscale’s Bitcoin Investment Trust.

ARK believes that bitcoin, a digital currency, could disrupt the $500 billion intermediary payment platform industry which includes credit cards, electronic payments and remittances, and might empower the creation of a new group of companies and industries. As a burgeoning form of payment, it has received acceptance from major companies such as Dell, Overstock and Expedia.

“We’re believers in bitcoin, the currency, and Bitcoin, the technology platform. We also believe that current prices present an attractive entry point for our investors,”

said ARK’s Founder and Chief Investment Officer Cathie Wood.

“Bitcoin is a disruptive innovation and while still in its infancy, interest has been growing rapidly in Silicon Valley, Wall Street and Washington, D.C.”

The ARK Web x.0 ETF invests in disruptive companies transforming all sectors of the economy. These changes are accelerating thanks to Internet-enabled mobile and local technological breakthroughs, which are revolutionizing consumer and business behaviour.

“We’re excited to receive an investment into the Bitcoin Investment Trust from an innovative firm like ARK,” said Grayscale Founder Barry Silbert. “ARK, a pioneer in the investment community, is in good company. Recent news has highlighted Goldman Sachs, UBS and Citi for their initiatives in the digital currency space.”

ARK Web x.0 ETF is the first ETF on a U.S. exchange to invest in bitcoin. ARK’s investment in publicly traded shares of the Bitcoin Investment Trust (OTCQX: GBTC) will be valued each day at 4:00 PM ET at their then current daily market price.

“Grayscale is a leader in the bitcoin ecosystem, bridging the gap between digital currency and the broader investment community,” said ARK’s Chief Operations Officer Jane Kanter. “Our investment philosophy is to invest in innovative companies, and we’re glad to be making our own innovative mark within the ETF community.”

Murray Aims for Investment Grand Slam
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Murray Aims for Investment Grand Slam

London-based, healthier eating chain Tossed has now exceeded its £750,000 target, as part of their Seedrs round, and is currently in overfunding. Tossed is on a mission to show that healthy eating isn’t boring with a range of fresh made-to-order salads, wraps, smoothies and hot food.

Murray has also made investments in Trillenium, a leading builder of 3D virtual reality shops, which has been backed by UK success story ASOS and has raised over £225,000 on Seedrs so far; and the Fuel Ventures Fund, founded by award-winning entrepreneur Mark Pearson of which raised £549,900 on Seedrs as part of their overall £30million venture fund.

Murray said about these investments, “I’m excited to be investing in these driven entrepreneurs and their businesses on Seedrs. It’s important to me that I back people who I believe have the same dedication, hunger and professional standards as myself and always strive to be their best.”

“The three businesses I’ve chosen to kick off my crowdfunding investment portfolio are all in areas of industry I find interesting. Healthy eating is something I have to be passionate about as a sportsman, so Tossed was immediately one to consider, and the other two businesses are really pushing the boundaries of technology. I’m hoping that I can learn something from how they are edging ahead of the competition and take that vision onto the court with me. I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for these businesses and continuing to work closely with Seedrs.”

Murray was the first major public figure to team up with an equity crowdfunding platform in this way. The Seedrs strategic partnership adds to Murray’s off court interests, which also include his management company, 77, and luxury Scottish hotel, Cromlix.

Jeff Lynn, CEO and co-founder of Seedrs, said, “It’s great to see Andy already taking such an active interest in the businesses on Seedrs. The fact he has decided to make multiple investments in hungry entrepreneurs shows his commitment to building a dynamic portfolio of early-stage businesses. Andy has already brought a lot of value to the Seedrs Advisory Board over the past few months and we welcome his continued support.”

Global Investors Urged to Avoid a ‘Doomsday Prepper’ Mindset
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Global Investors Urged to Avoid a ‘Doomsday Prepper’ Mindset

 Nigel Green, CEO, de Vere

These commets, from deVere CEO Nigel Green, come as share and oil prices around the world slide against a backdrop of global economic woes.

Mr Green affirms: “There are many, and legitimate, contributing factors to the global economic slowdown narrative. These include China-related issues, such as the recent devaluation of its currency, the stock market’s boom and bust in recent months, and slower GDP growth. Elsewhere, weaker commodity prices (reflecting weaker than expected demand from China), is causing problems for commodity-exporting emerging markets. The growing anticipation of rising UK and U.S. interest rates adds to investor uncertainty, particularly given high valuations on many of the major stock and bond markets.

“Investors are spooked and stock markets are tumbling in response.”

He continues: “I believe that this volatility is likely to remain with us, at least until the end of the year. By then we will have a clearer view as to the risk of a China economic ‘hard landing’, and the degree to which capital markets are prepared to absorb higher U.S. interest rates.

“But for most long term investors, fears of a near-term financial apocalypse are overdone. They should concentrate instead on investing for the longer-term and ensuring that their portfolios are well diversified –geographically and by different asset classes. This of course includes maintaining a healthy exposure towards equities, which financial history shows easily outperform bonds and cash over the type of long investment periods that are typical of our clients.

“Failure to diversify a portfolio is widely regarded as one of the most common investment pitfalls – and history teaches us that diversification in these times of rising market volatility is even more essential.”

Mr Green adds: ‘Besides, China may yet be a positive theme for investors next year.

“China’s devaluation will make their exports cheaper and this will help its fragile economy recover. Also, as I have seen on recent trips to China, consumption in China’s powerhouse cities is buoyant, which is good news for global businesses wanting to take advantage.

“Other causes for optimism include that the Euro is undervalued and this will help boost a Eurozone recovery; I believe any U.S. rate rise will be later than most expect and smaller; and oil prices are very low and, again, this will contribute to more global growth.

“But until this good news starts to challenge the current market nervousness, investors are advised to sit still and ensure their portfolios are well-diversified.”

Ns&I Reduces Interest Rate on Direct Isa
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Ns&I Reduces Interest Rate on Direct Isa

NS&I today announced that it is reducing the interest rate on its Direct ISA by 0.25% to 1.25% tax-free/AER. This change will come into effect from 16 November 2015. NS&I will be notifying customers affected by the interest rate reduction at least sixty days in advance of it taking place.

NS&I sets its interest rates to balance the interests of its savers, taxpayers and the stability of the broader financial services sector. It has taken the decision to reduce the interest rate on Direct ISA following its regular review of the savings market, which includes the interest rates payable on products comparable to Direct ISA.

Jane Platt, NS&I Chief Executive, said: “Interest rates in the easy access ISA market have been in decline over the year and our Direct ISA rate has stood out at the top of the best buy tables for some time. To ensure that we continue to strike a balance between the needs of our savers, taxpayers and the stability of the broader financial services sector, we have taken the difficult decision to reduce the rate on our Direct ISA. However customers continue to benefit from a competitive rate, and 100% security on all their deposits”

Backbase Named a Leader in Omni-Channel Banking Solutions
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Backbase Named a Leader in Omni-Channel Banking Solutions

Backbase today announced the company has been recognized as a leader in The Forrester Wave™: Omni-Channel Banking Solutions Q3, 2015 (September 2015) report. Backbase was among a group of select vendors that Forrester invited to participate in the report. The Backbase Digital Banking Platform received the highest score in the Current Offering category.

“Backbase offers broad business capabilities, rich support of customer experience, and very solid technology and architecture,” stated Forrester in the report, furthermore it reads: “With Backbase being a pure-play vendor, it is not a surprise that its commitment to its omnichannel banking solution is high.”

“We believe that being named a leader in the Forrester Wave™ gives the market yet another validation of Backbase being at the forefront of digital innovation,” said Jouk Pleiter, CEO & Founder of Backbase. “We are very happy with this recognition and are energized to help our customers accelerate their digital transformation. Our software is used by leading banks around the world and we are 100% committed to enabling them to create superior digital customer experiences, anytime, anyplace, any device.”

Backbase is used by many of the world’s leading financial institutions including ABN AMRO Bank, Barclays, CheBanca!, Fidelity, Hiscox, Key Bank, Metro Bank, Sberbank, WestPac, and more.

A complimentary copy of the ‘The Forrester Wave™: Omni-Channel Banking Solutions, Q3 2015’ report is available for download HERE.

Bank of Canada lowers overnight rate target to 1/2 per cent
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Bank of Canada lowers overnight rate target to 1/2 per cent

Total CPI inflation in Canada has been around 1 per cent in recent months, reflecting year-over-year price declines for consumer energy products. Core inflation has been close to 2 per cent, with disinflationary pressures from economic slack being offset by transitory effects of the past depreciation of the Canadian dollar and some sector-specific factors. Setting aside these transitory effects, the Bank judges that the underlying trend in inflation is about 1.5 to 1.7 per cent.

Global growth faltered in early 2015, principally in the United States and China. Recent indicators suggest a rebound in the U.S. economy in the second half of this year, and growth is expected to be solid through the projection. In contrast,
China is slowing amid an ongoing process of rebalancing to a more sustainable growth path. This has pulled down prices of certain commodities that are important to Canada’s exports. Financial conditions in major economies remain
very accommodative and continue to provide much-needed support to economic activity. Global growth is expected to strengthen over the second half of 2015, averaging about 3 per cent for the year, and accelerate to around 3 1/2 per
cent in 2016 and 2017.

The Bank’s estimate of growth in Canada in 2015 has been marked down considerably from its April projection. The downward revision reflects further downgrades of business investment plans in the energy sector, as well as weaker-than-expected exports of non-energy commodities and non-commodities. Real GDP is now projected to have contracted modestly in the first half of the year, resulting in higher excess capacity and additional downward pressure on inflation.

The Bank expects growth to resume in the third quarter and begin to exceed potential again in the fourth quarter, led by the non-resource sectors of Canada’s economy. Outside the energy-producing regions, consumer confidence remains high and labour markets continue to improve. This will support consumption, which will also receive a fiscal boost. Recent evidence suggests a pickup in activity and rising capacity pressures among manufacturers, particularly those exporters that are most sensitive to movements in the Canadian dollar. Financial conditions for households and
businesses remain very stimulative.

The Bank now projects Canada’s real GDP will grow by just over 1 per cent in 2015 and about 2 1/2 per cent in 2016 and 2017. With this revised growth profile, the output gap is significantly larger than was expected in April, and closes somewhat later. The Bank anticipates that the economy will return to full capacity and inflation to 2 per cent on a sustained basis in the first half of 2017.

The lower outlook for Canadian growth has increased the downside risks to inflation. While vulnerabilities associated with household imbalances remain elevated and could edge higher, Canada’s economy is undergoing a significant and complex adjustment. Additional monetary stimulus is required at this time to help return the economy to full capacity and
inflation sustainably to target.

Meltzer Bank Announces New Tech
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Meltzer Bank Announces New Tech

The new platform will provide Metzler Bank, which ranks as one of the leading family-owned banks in Germany, with a comprehensive trading and execution solution covering pre-trade risk management, algorithmic trading and smart order routing capabilities for equities, as well as complete European market connectivity (including BATS / Chi-X, Turquoise).

The bank’s announcement also stated that later this year Metzler will continue with the implementation of its order management and client connectivity improvement program.

The technology provided for the bank by Quod Financial, an adaptive trading technologies firms specialising in the financial community, will be a hybrid solution whereby connectivity to the market will be provided via a combination of QuodNet, Quod Financial’s Software as a Service environment and the Enterprise delivery mode. 

Meltzer bank’s Head of Equity Trading, Sven Knauer, emphasised that the partnership between the two firms was going to enable the technology to benefit their customers.

‘Metzler is focused on providing sophisticated solutions tailored to meet our clients’ needs and with Quod Financial’s
technology we believe this mission can be achieved. International expertise of Quod together with Metzler’s strong experience on German market will allow our clients to receive the best possible services.’

Ali Pichvai, CEO of Quod Financial, echoed these sentiments in his comments. ‘We are pleased to have Metzler Bank, the oldest private bank in Germany with an unbroken tradition of family ownership, as a client. Being an independent privately owned company, Quod Financial shares values which Metzler holds and puts clients’ interests on the first place. We hope to provide both bank and its customers with an excellent technology to support their continuous growth.’

May - Good for Investor Confidence
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

May – Good for Investor Confidence

The Global ICI increased to 120.8, up 7.0 points from April’s revised reading of 113.8. Confidence among North American investors increased with the North American ICI rising 8.0 points to 129.4, up from April’s revised reading of 121.4. Meanwhile, the Asia ICI rose by 7.4 points to 98.6. However, the European ICI fell 5.5 points to 103.8.

The Investor Confidence Index was developed by Kenneth Froot and Paul O’Connell at State Street Associates, State Street Global Exchange’s research and advisory services business. It measures investor confidence or risk appetite quantitatively by analyzing the actual buying and selling patterns of institutional investors.

The index assigns a precise meaning to changes in investor risk appetite: the greater the percentage allocation to equities, the higher risk appetite or confidence. A reading of 100 is neutral; it is the level at which investors are neither increasing nor decreasing their long-term allocations to risky assets. The index differs from survey-based measures in that it is based on the actual trades, as opposed to opinions, of institutional investors.

“A lower dollar, stabilizing energy prices, and reduced expectations of an imminent rate hike provided tail winds to North America sentiment,” commented Froot. “Investors must now wait and see whether a rebound in second quarter growth will lead to more hawkish statements from the Federal Reserve.”

“In Europe, a rising euro, increased sovereign yields, and the continued Greek funding drama helped contribute to the decline in European confidence by 5.5 points,” added Jessica Donohue, executive vice president and chief innovative officer, State Street Global Exchange. “However, the front-loading of sovereign bond purchases by the ECB before the summer months may help reverse recent trends. Meanwhile, in Asia, policy maneuvers in China helped boost investor confidence by 7.4 points.”

About the State Street Investor Confidence Index®
The index is released globally at 10 a.m. Eastern time in Boston on the last Tuesday of each month. More information on the State Street Investor Confidence Index is available at

How Banks can Remain Profitable & Adhere to New Regulation
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

How Banks can Remain Profitable & Adhere to New Regulation

The whitepaper, “Basel III and Retail Deposits Management,” answers key questions:

• Why was Basel III introduced and how does it treat deposits?
• How prepared are banks for incorporating Basel III into their deposits businesses?
• What is the best strategy to remain profitable and adhere to the new regulatory environment?

As banks emerge from a long period of survival, repair and future-proofing, they are refocusing to ensure long-term stability, enhanced value propositions, more transparent operations and tighter control of their destinies. Leaders in the banking industry have to simultaneously meet rapidly changing consumer demands and more stringent regulations. As the Basel III framework is implemented in full over the coming years, the impact on day-to-day strategies and operations is fast becoming a reality.

In Nomis Solutions’ new whitepaper, Nomis VP of Banking Damian Young outlines 5 key strategies for maintaining and growing profitability as Basel III is implemented. Banks should:
1. Understand customer behaviours through deep data analytics to ensure that product design aligns with customer behaviours while satisfying Basel III measures.
2. Use data to inform business strategies and optimise pricing points based on Basel III.
3. Create an internal customer deposits function that is responsible for ensuring that all activities related to taking deposits, including pricing differentials, product differentials, and volume objectives, are aligned.
4. Devise deposit strategies with non-retail sources to generate the largest initial impact.
5. Rationalise and simplify the retail book: make it easy for the channels, easy for the customers, and transparent for the regulators.

Damian Young, Vice President of Banking for Nomis Solutions, commented:
“Adhering to new regulations while remaining profitable is no mean feat for banks. The best strategy is for banks to have a detailed understanding of their customers and to price based on this understanding. Using this method, banks can be unashamedly profitable while treating customers fairly. A price optimisation technology solution like the Nomis Price Optimisation Suite can also help provide evidence that the bank is adhering to new regulations. As leaders in the industry, Nomis helps banks tap into the wealth of data available to them. We have had excellent results with some of the biggest banks in the world.”

Investors Urged to Invest Overseas
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Investors Urged to Invest Overseas

deVere Group’s founder and chief executive, Nigel Green, also urges the Tories to be bolder with taxation policy and to leave pensions alone.

Mr Green comments: “I suspect David Cameron’s slender majority in the Commons outcome will be met with an immediate sigh of relief by investors.

“However, this might be the calm before the storm.”

He continues: “The prospect of an in-out referendum of Britain’s EU membership has gone from risk to a reality. Since this is likely to take place in several years’ time, this could lead to numerous years of ongoing uncertainty – something the markets are allergic to – and, in response, investors need to take precautions against a fall in the value of UK assets.

“They can do this by increasing their exposure to overseas investments.

“With many UK investors lacking geographical diversification, favouring a home bias, this should be a wake-up call to start a much-needed rebalancing to increase their exposure to international stocks, bonds and maybe property. Now is certainly the time to think more globally.”

Be bold on tax
Mr Green affirms: “I would urge the PM and his colleagues to be bolder with taxation policy.

“Cutting income tax, as has been promised, is a step in the right direction as hardworking people will get to keep more of their money to provide for their families. It reduces a barrier to aspiration.

“Similarly, it must now keep its pledge on inheritance tax – which was meant to only ever be paid by the wealthiest in our society and which has been pulling more and more of the already ‘Squeezed Middle’ into its net.

“IHT is universally regarded as one of the most despised taxes as it is, essentially, a form of double taxation, and passing on a decent legacy to our loved ones is a very human instinct.

“However, in an increasingly globalised world, more must now be done to remain tax competitive in the world of business.

“This is perhaps particularly true within the financial services sector. The government must be aware of a real and present threat of endless current and proposed fiscal raids. After eight increases in four years of the bank levy introduced by George Osborne, the bank bashing must end.”

Stop tinkering with pensions
On pensions, Nigel Green, deVere Group’s CEO says: “It can be expected that there will be a temptation by the newly elected MPs to ‘review’ the pensions landscape. As contributions are subsidised by taxpayers, politicians think that they have an inherent right to continually tinker with pensions.

“This must not happen. Pensions must now be left alone. More changes will do more harm than good as it could add further layers of complexities and further impede the appetite for saving.

“In short, if pensions once again become a political football, the move could undermine what should be a relatively simple concept: saving for one’s retirement. This would affect both individuals’ retirement ambitions and the country’s long-term, sustainable economic growth.

“In the last five years, savers, retirees and the pension industry have seen mammoth changes to the state pension, public sector pensions and company pensions, with the recently rolled out pension reforms capping off a monumental amount of change.”

Core Banking Software Market Shows Signs of Recovery at Last
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Core Banking Software Market Shows Signs of Recovery at Last

At long last there are signs of a modest upturn in the global core banking software market. However, like the economic upturn as a whole, not everyone is benefiting, with those in the ascendancy being relatively few.

In the three main categories – universal banking, treasury and capital markets, and private banking – there are now between one and three clear market leaders, picking up the bulk of the deals. Unsurprisingly, virtually all of these are focused companies with one flagship core product. Meanwhile, the many other systems that have been brought under single roofs by market consolidation are mostly falling away.

Martin Whybrow, managing director, IBS Intelligence, comments: “It all adds up to a fragmented picture, with some causes for optimism, a still tough market, and only a relatively small number of suppliers that are buoyant. Nevertheless, that’s a happier conclusion than for the previous few years. The majority of the deals in 2014 were in the lower end space, but a number of the top end banks have started analysis, once more, of core systems. It seems a next wave might be on the way.”

Tanya Andreasyan, senior editor, IBS Intelligence says: “We have seen a renaissance for some of the smaller, local and regional suppliers. They seem to be gaining from the more piecemeal approach to core system renewal by some of the large, international banks. Many such banks have given up on their grand plans of past years to standardise all international operations on a single core. In part through painful experience, they are increasingly opting instead for a more pragmatic approach of picking the best system for the local market and, sometimes, giving autonomy back to the country operation for selecting this.”

For over two decades, IBS Intelligence has been charting the core banking software market activity across the globe, with the results collated in its annual Sales League Table. It is compiled each year from submissions from banking system suppliers with details of the names of the banks and financial institutions that have bought their systems in the calendar year. IBS Intelligence then verifies each submission and counts new-name deals in the core banking/back office software space (front office deals, licence renewals and extensions to the systems and geographies at an existing customer are excluded).

This information is distilled into the Core Banking Systems Market Dynamics Report 2015. Covering the years 2009 to 2014 inclusive, it analyses the market by year, by continent, by country and by vendor, thereby highlighting the trends, the winners and the losers. The comprehensive data is provided in tables and graphs, with expert country-by-county commentary. It covers well over 1800 deals in 160+ countries and provides a complete picture of what has been going on.

Leading Global Investment Bank Rebrands As InvestBank
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Leading Global Investment Bank Rebrands As InvestBank

Investment banking leader Reliance Partners, Inc. has rebranded itself as InvestBank Corp. The name InvestBank more accurately describes the business activities of the established global investment bank. As the investment bank continues to expand its global reach, its new, differentiated brand identity will allow it to create significant brand awareness.

Reliance Partners was established in 2003. The investment bank has since grown into one of the leading independent investment banks. InvestBank Corp., formerly and d/b/a Reliance Partners, Inc., has a vast geographic presence. InvestBank has approximately 35 independent advisors and branches in its global advisory network. These advisors service North and South America, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Russia, Australia, and Africa.

InvestBank is an opportunistic firm which engages select clients and represents institutional sources of capital. The firm’s global advisory network provides the investment bank with many of its target opportunities. The firm is currently evaluating close to USD 2.0 billion in potential financing engagements and has approximately USD 630 million in projects and financings under contract.

InvestBank has access to diverse sources of capital through its global investor network, which is mainly comprised of institutional capital sources. These capital sources allow the firm to operate in a generalistic manner and give the firm the ability to service clients in diverse industry sectors and in diverse geographic locations. InvestBank is able to generate international attention for its clients’ transactional needs. The firm is known for delivering creative and flexible financing options.

While Reliance Partners is and was an established brand in the global financial community with an impeccable industry reputation, the name Reliance Partners is appropriate for any company which renders professional services. The strategic corporate rebranding of Reliance Partners, Inc. as InvestBank Corp. allows the global investment bank to better position itself to take advantage of new opportunities and to create extensive brand awareness. InvestBank aims to become the undisputed leader amongst independent investment banks through unparalleled brand recognition and through the high caliber investment banking advisory services it provides.

Global Money Transfer Trends Revealed
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Global Money Transfer Trends Revealed


World Money Transfer Day is the brainchild of serial fintech entrepreneur Michael Kent and former British government minister Dame Tessa Jowell MP, who has been campaigning to cut the cost to Londoners of sending money abroad and launched a petition at

Azimo enables users to send money online from across the UK and EU to over 190 countries and has pledged that it’ll reduce all fees to every country to £0 fees on World Money Transfer Day (15 March 2015), as well as 0 per cent commission on exchange rates.

What is ‘Fair’?

85 per cent of people using money transfers would not be willing to pay more than £4 to send money abroad while they deemed to be a ‘fair’ fee to be around 2.4 per cent.

However, global corporations such as Western Union, MoneyGram and high street banks who dominate the industry, currently charge on average 8-10 per cent on money transfers and in some corridors over 20 per cent.

18-24s moving online

The most popular methods of sending money overseas are through a bank (31 per cent), a high street money transfer provider (14 per cent) and online (19 per cent). Amongst 18 – 34 year olds banks remained the most popular method (36 per cent), followed by online (26 per cent).

Mobile emerging as player

Almost one in ten 18 – 24 year olds (eight per cent) have sent money via a mobile phone or app, compared to less than one in a hundred over 55s.

Data from Azimo’s online service shows that the percentage of transactions sent from a mobile device more than doubled in the previous 12 months to January 2015.

Cash Pick Up rivals direct to bank amongst migrants

Migrant customers are increasingly looking for multiple options for collecting their money. Around 40 per cent would like to be able to pick-up cash; a similar number would like to send money to a bank account while only five per cent are interested in receiving money using a mobile wallet on a smartphone.

Money transfers continue to support the welfare of millions

According to The World Bank, money transfers support the welfare of an estimated 700 million people globally. Azimo data shows that family support remains the number one reason for customer sending money (over 70 per cent). Other notable reasons were Education, up from 3 per cent in January 2014 to 8 per cent in 2015 and Charitable Donations, which rose from 2 per cent to 5 per cent over the same period.


Michael Kent, CEO of Azimo, commented on the data: “It’s no surprise that the younger generation are using technology to send money overseas: online and mobile payments are only going to become more popular as people become more aware that they’re super easy, low cost, fast and secure. We want to help our customers of all ages become more savvy about how they send money abroad and prevent them from being ripped off by the traditional high-street players.”

Tessa Jowell has pledged her support to the campaign: “Millions of people in London and across the world send money overseas to people they love, but today too many are paying too much in exorbitant fees and charges to support their families.

“This Mother’s Day, participating money transfer companies will operate on a ‘No fee, No margin’ basis, and the countdown to World Money Transfer Day will see a range of events aimed at spreading a simple message – people don’t have to be ripped off.”

Is It the Best Time Ever to Switch Your Bank?
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Is It the Best Time Ever to Switch Your Bank?

Increase in incentives on offer- earn up to £150

There have been a number of new switching incentives in 2015 aimed at attracting new current account customers, with Yorkshire and Clydesdale Bank’s launching the latest today, offering £150 cashback for anyone using its dedicated switching service.

Halifax recently upped its cash switching incentive to £125 for new Reward Current Account customers. In addition, the account credits customers with a £5 reward per month – amounting to £185 in a year as long as they deposit a minimum of £750 into the account each month. It also offers up to 15 per cent cash back on debit card purchases through selected retailers.

Regular M&S shoppers looking to change their account can earn £125 to spend in store simply by switching before the end of this month. Furthermore, unlike many others, the account does not require any minimum funding per month.

Maximise your savings with in-credit interest

You can also earn extra just by keeping a certain amount of money in your account. Santander’s 123 account pays a higher interest rate than any savings account on the market – three per cent AER – on balances between £3,000 and £20,000 for a monthly fee of just £2, provided that it is funded with £500 each month. On top of this, it also pays you up to three per cent cashback on a variety of essential bills, such as utility, council tax and mobile and home phone bills.

Nationwide currently offers an even higher 5 per cent AER on balances up to £2,500, as well as a 0 per cent EAR on overdrafts for the first year, as long as £1,000 is paid into the FlexDirect account monthly.

Kevin Mountford, head of banking at MoneySuperMarket, said: “Many providers are taking advantage of the poor savings rates at the moment and ramping up their offers and benefits on current accounts to entice customers. Savvy consumers should make the most of this, and cash in on the tempting incentives if they aren’t satisfied with their current deal. Several current accounts now pay better rates than some savings accounts, so it’s worth assessing whether you can get more for your money.

“Now that you can earn as much as £150 just for switching, it’s madness not to shop around for a better deal. By spending in the right places, you can also rack up a lot of money in cashback so you can make money by spending money – as long as you don’t start spending just for the sake of it! It’s easier than ever before to change your account with the process taking just seven days, and your new provider sorting everything out for you. However, don’t just be tempted by the offers on these accounts – consider how you will use the account day-to-day and double check any fees and charges to make sure you won’t be paying over the odds, especially if you are likely to go overdrawn.”

Contactless Smart Card Market to See 30% CAGR to 2019
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Contactless Smart Card Market to See 30% CAGR to 2019

The report covers the present scenario and the growth prospects of the Global Contactless Smart Card market for the period 2015-2019. To calculate the market size, the report considers revenue generated from the sales of contactless smart cards. The report also covers the global shipment details of contactless smart cards.

A smart card is a pocket-sized card, made of plastic, which is embedded with integrated circuits or microchips. It is used for authentication, identification, data storage, and application processing.

Smart cards are classified into two types: contact-based and contactless. Contactless smart cards are embedded with integrated circuits that process and store data and communicate with a terminal via radio frequencies. These cards are used by employing a radio frequency between the card and the reader that needs no physical insertion of the card. Therefore, contactless smart cards have faster applications and are user-friendly. Contactless smart cards are widely accepted and used by major sectors such as BFSI, Government, Transportation, Healthcare, and Defense.

According to the latest report, the number of fraud and forgery cases has increased as technology progresses. Contactless smart cards can provide a one-stop solution to the issue, as these cards are accessed with the help of a PIN and are not easy to decode. Because the information is stored on a parent system, this PIN becomes exceptionally difficult to interpret.

Several government organizations are making contactless smart card technology mandatory for passports and driver’s licenses, as it reduces the risk of data theft or identity duplication.

Furthermore, the latest report emphasizes the increased adoption of smart cards in developing countries, which is expected to support market growth. Government agencies in countries like India are increasingly adopting these cards for use as driver’s licenses, e-passports, identity cards and voter ID.

Many developing countries are also launching twin smart cards, which are a combination of contactless and contact interfaces and are very easy to handle.

To view the full report, click here.

Banks Determined to Give Customers the Best Support in Tough Times
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Banks Determined to Give Customers the Best Support in Tough Times

“Banks are determined to give people who are going through difficult times the best possible service. The prevailing emphasis has shifted from developing dedicated products to focussing on much more empathetic standards of service. But this isn’t always an easy issue to get right. For example, some people do not feel very comfortable talking about very personal issues like illnesses with people they don’t know well – and sometimes a bank’s best intentions can come across as intrusive. That is why we’ve been working with charities, consumer groups and experts to understand what needs to improve.

“The momentum behind this new approach to customers who find themselves in vulnerable circumstances is growing. Just last week we launched new guidance for banks to help staff identify and assist people with health conditions to manage their finances, at the same time a dedicated ATM card for the visually impaired was launched and in the past few weeks guidance on how to delegate payments was published by the Payments Council.

“Having helped the FCA to understand the underlying issues as they compiled their recent report, we look forward to working further with them to build on the changes we’ve made to make banking work for the people and families who need help the most.”

Bank Cyber-Attacks Highlight the Need to Simulate 'War Games'
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Bank Cyber-Attacks Highlight the Need to Simulate ‘War Games’, Says KPMG

“These attacks were unique in terms of the organisation it took to execute them,” said Konrads Smelkovs of KPMG’s cyber security team. “However, the tools used by these cyber-crime gangs weren’t particularly sophisticated. It was the persistence and cautious approach of the criminals that netted them the prize. The banks targeted – primarily in Russia and Ukraine – suggest a selective operation in areas where tracking transactions is more complex.

“Financial institutions need to take more of a pre-emptive approach to such attacks. Playing ‘war games’ is one effective way of highlighting potential weak spots where attacks are simulated. Each organisation should also look to have someone committed to defending their network, rather than someone who merely adheres to prescribed standards. The continued investment towards anti-malware technology and internal network monitoring tools remains crucial to being a step ahead of cyber criminals.”

2015 Marks New Year of Rocketing Growth for Fee-Only Registered Investment Advisors
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

2015 Marks New Year of Rocketing Growth for Fee-Only Registered Investment Advisors

It will mark the seventh consecutive year of growth for RIAs, according to industry statistics. Between 2007 and 2013, RIAs have increased their assets under management by 82 percent, according to the independent research firm, Aite Group LLC. As one of the fastest growing RIAs in the country, The Mather Group exemplifies this trend. Launched in 2011, after breaking away from Morgan Stanley, The Mather Group has seen their assets under management quadruple to over $700 million while their staff has doubled.

“Our growth is driven by honest and genuine conversations,” says Stewart Mather, CFP, CIMA, the head of the firm. “People want to work with a fiduciary firm that is 100 percent accountable. Our only form of compensation is a transparent fee for our advice; there are no commissions and no conflicts of interest.”

Fee-only independent advisories such as The Mather Group are held to the highest fiduciary standard by law, requiring that they always offer guidance and make recommendations that are in the best interest of their clients. This isn’t true for broker-dealers who are paid commissions for selling investment products, resulting in potential conflicts of interest.

“The financial crisis really opened peoples’ eyes to the conflicts of interest Wall Street brokerage houses and banks present,” said Mather. The problem is so epidemic that Congress introduced The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010 in part to address this issue. Unfortunately, nothing yet has been done to hold Wall Street advisors to a uniform fiduciary standard which would go far to help protect investors.

Fortunately, the millions of baby boomers preparing for retirement have gotten wiser. The RIA channel is the fastest growing, set to control 28 percent of the wealth management market by 2018 with $2.4 trillion in assets, according to research firm Cerulli Associates. “Investors are definitely getting wiser,” says Mather, “This is especially true for high net-worth investors, who are scouting the best options to not only preserve but expand their wealth as they prepare to retire.”

Mather predicts the growth of the RIA channel will continue to accelerate over the next five years as awareness continues to grow among consumers about the importance of the fiduciary standard. He also anticipates that lawmakers in Washington will continue to drag their feet when it comes to applying that same standard to broker-dealers.

“There’s simply too much lobbying against it by the big banks and brokerage houses,” Mather notes. “Ultimately, the lack of action confuses and hurts investors.”

The Mather Group is a fee-only Registered Investment Advisor focused on guiding corporate executives into successful retirement. Services offered include investment management, retirement planning, tax and estate planning. The firm has offices in Oak Brook Terrace, IL and Houston, TX.

Barclays Strengthens Corporate Banking Insurance and Financial Intermediaries Team With Two New Hires
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Barclays Strengthens Corporate Banking Insurance and Financial Intermediaries Team With Two New Hires

Andrew joins as a Director within the Insurance team and will be responsible for further developing Barclays’ proposition across Europe for both life and non-life markets. Prior to joining Barclays he led the insurance team at National Australia Bank in London, with responsibility for UK and Europe, as well as coverage of parts of the Bermudan market. He has significant experience working with large multinational insurance clients across a number of regions, with a focus on the life insurance and global reinsurance markets.

Scott joins as a Director within the Financial Intermediaries team and will be responsible for structuring solutions for clients in the broker dealer and securitisation sectors. Scott has held a number of senior positions across the financial services and advisory market, and will bring significant expertise to this new position.

Commenting on the appointments, Carl Boulton said: “Andrew and Scott both bring a wealth of experience of their respective markets to the team. Their appointment underscores our commitment to the sector, and to continuing to develop the range of relevant, quality products and services we offer to our insurance and financial intermediary clients worldwide.”

KPMG Named A Leader In Consulting Services For Banking
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

KPMG Named A Leader In Consulting Services For Banking, Capital Markets, And Insurance Industries

KPMG International has been recognized as a Leader in the IDC MarketScapes for the banking, capital markets, and insurance industries.

The IDC MarketScape studies assess the capability and business strategy of business consulting firms with global scale, positioning them according to IDC MarketScape analysis and buyer perceptions.

Relative to other consulting firms evaluated, the IDC MarketScape assessments found KPMG firms to be consistently viewed as the strongest or most capable in a number of areas for each of the industries, including:

-Directly improving clients’ overall commercial performance.
-Delivering value-creating innovation.
-Maximizing the value of a project.
-Challenging corporate culture.

“We are very pleased to be named as a leader in business consulting to the financial services industry by the IDC MarketScape,” said Jeremy Anderson, Chairman, Global Financial Services, KPMG International. “In all of the sectors assessed by the IDC MarketScape – banking, capital markets, and insurance – meeting the needs of clients requires a broad range of disciplines, with innovative thinking around use of data and technology, as well as expertise in understanding organizations, culture change, and training. These are areas KPMG professionals are focused on with clients across the financial services industry.”

According to IDC, a significant component of the IDC MarketScape assessment model is the inclusion of business consulting buyers’ perception of both the key characteristics and capabilities of the consulting providers. “As one would expect of a market leader, KPMG performed very well on this assessment,” noted the IDC MarketScape.

“We find the IDC MarketScape assessment to be very consistent with what we hear from clients,” said David Sayer, Global Sector Leader, Banking, KPMG International. “All of the areas identified in the assessment are extremely important, and being highly perceived in helping clients comply with regulations is especially gratifying. The rapidly changing regulatory landscape is at the top of the agenda for the banking sector.”

Capital Markets

“The IDC MarketScape assessment reflects the critical ways KPMG firms support clients in the capital markets, with not only deep insight into their business operations and capabilities in areas such as big data, but also with the important ability to provide industry insights, transfer knowledge, and provide the necessary spectrum of services, working effectively with the client’s teams,” said Michael Conover, Global Sector Lead, Capital Markets, KPMG International.

“The IDC MarketScape assessment positions KPMG in the ‘Leaders’ category in terms of capabilities for the insurance industry,” noted Gary Reader, Global Sector Lead, Insurance, KPMG International. “It reinforces our strategy of focusing on innovation and the disruptive forces impacting the sector, and engaging with leading insurance companies as they respond to market changes that are transforming their businesses.”

Barclays Appoints Group Chief Operating Officer
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Barclays Appoints Group Chief Operating Officer

Barclays has appointed Jonathan Moulds to the newly created role of Group Chief Operating Officer. Mr Moulds will join the Executive Committee of Barclays and report directly to the Group Chief Executive Antony Jenkins.

In this role Mr Moulds will lead major change programmes across Barclays and is charged with accelerating delivery of the Group’s strategic plan, Transform. He will have accountability for the Structural Reform Programme, which includes the implementation of the Ring-Fenced Bank in the UK and the Intermediate Holding Company in the US, and will oversee the Strategy and Corporate Development Team. Mr Moulds will also establish and chair a Group Operating Committee which will ensure that the organisation is executing Barclays’ strategy in an aligned and efficient way.

Mr Moulds will take up his post on 2 February 2015.

Commenting on the appointment, Antony Jenkins, Group Chief Executive, said:

“The progress we have made over the past two years in terms of operational, financial, and cultural transformation at Barclays has been enormous.

“My decision to create a Group Chief Operating Officer role at this time is specifically intended to ensure we continue to deliver on our strategy, but more importantly to accelerate execution where possible. There are multiple major change programmes in flight across the Group, designed to achieve our ambitious goals, and which will in turn help to drive the sustainable returns our shareholders deserve. A Group COO will give us additional leadership bandwidth and capability to make that happen.

“Jonathan Moulds has a huge wealth of relevant industry experience to bring to Barclays and to this role. Before leaving the organisation at the end of 2012, he spent over 15 years at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in a variety of senior leadership roles, latterly as CEO of Merrill Lynch International and Head of BoAML Europe. I am delighted to welcome such a seasoned and able leader to Barclays, and I look forward to working with him to accelerate progress towards becoming the ‘Go-To’ Bank.”

Jonathan Moulds, Group Chief Operating Officer designate, said:

“This is a period of profound change for Barclays as the Group builds momentum in the implementation of its strategy and deals with external forces including structural reform. Playing a part in leading the transformation of Barclays represents a hugely exciting professional challenge for me. I am looking forward to taking up my new post and to working with Antony and my colleagues on the Executive Committee in helping the bank realise its full potential.”

Standard Bank Wins 2014 IFM Award for 'Best Managed Bank
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Standard Bank Wins 2014 IFM Award for ‘Best Managed Bank, Angola’

London-based International Finance Magazine has conferred the 2014 award for ‘Best Managed Bank’ in Angola to Standard Bank. The award was presented on November 18 by the honourable Lord Sheikh, Baron Sheikh of Cornhill, House of Lords; Sheikh Bilal Khan, UK Catalyst at UKTI and Co-Chairman of Dome Advisory and Peter Meyer, CEO, Middle East Association at a gala dinner in the ball room of the Jumeirah Carlton Tower in London.

Standard Bank has a 152-year history in South Africa and started building a franchise in the rest of Africa in the early 1990s. The bank currently operates in 20 countries on the African continent, including South Africa, as well as in other selected emerging markets.

Standard Bank Angola, on receiving the award, said: “It is with great pleasure that we receive such an award. This award represents the effort and dedication the Angolan team has put in order to guarantee what is today a successful organisation with motivated employees and satisfied clients.”

UK Government to Sell Part of Remaining Shareholding in Lloyds
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

UK Government to Sell Part of Remaining Shareholding in Lloyds

The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has today set out the next stage in the government’s plan to return Lloyds Banking Group to private ownership and get taxpayers’ money back, by announcing that the government will sell part of its remaining shareholding in the firm through a trading plan.

The government received advice from UK Financial Investments today that it would be appropriate to sell another part of the government’s shareholding in Lloyds through a trading plan. The government agrees with that advice and has authorised the plan to be put in place.

The government remains committed to restoring Lloyds to private ownership in a way which gets the best value for the taxpayer, building on the success of previous share sales which have so far raised £7.4 billion. Shares will only be sold where this objective is met.

Osborne said: “I can confirm today that the government is taking the next step in returning Lloyds Banking Group to private ownership.”

“The trading plan I’m initiating today is made possible by our long term economic plan which is delivering a more secure and resilient economy. It is another step in reducing our national debt and in getting taxpayers’ money back.”

A trading plan involves gradually selling shares in the market over time, in an orderly and measured way. The trading plan has been initiated today and sales may commence in the coming days. The plan will be in place for approximately six months.

Shares will not be sold below the average price the previous government paid for them, which was 73.6p. The previous sales of the government’s shares in Lloyds have raised £7.4bn, reducing the government’s stake in the bank from around 40% to just under 25%.

Morgan Stanley will act as broker on behalf of HM Treasury to execute the trading plan.


BankingTransactional and Investment Banking


“The European Central Bank today announced that it has allotted €129.8 billion in lending to the real economy, through its second targeted longer-term refinancing operation (TLTRO). This exceeds the €82.6 billion lent through the first such programme, but does not make significant inroads into the demand and deflation problems faced by the currency bloc.

The TLTRO provides cheap finance to Eurozone banks on the condition they lend to the real economy. The ECB intended to lend €400 billion across two rounds, but ended up reaching just half that. The programme is supposedly targeted at real-economy activity in order to tackle the central problem of weak demand, rather than inflating asset-price bubbles in financial and property markets, which many suspect of quantitative easing in the UK and US. However, TLTROs only work if real-economy investors believe the demand will be there for the production they invest in. And the demand is only there if consumers and businesses feel more confident, meaning that raising prices in asset markets such as property can actually be an effective, if inefficient solution: while it does not tackle the root cause, at least its effects are powerful.

The results of this operation are crucial in determining whether or not the ECB will carry out full quantitative easing in the new year. So far, it has used other unconventional measures such as negative interest rates, asset-backed securities purchases and TLTROs to avoid the difficulties inherent in agreeing a government bond buying programme between 18 central banks with different agendas. Waiting for the results has bought the ECB stalling time before launching QE – during which the problem has become far worse, with inflation falling further and growth forecasts being revised down. Today’s data make full QE significantly more likely: the ECB would like to increase its balance sheet to €3 trillion, but reaching that target will be difficult if not impossible without expanding the range of instruments available to it.

We expect some extension of corporate and eventually sovereign bond purchases. However, a new sticking-point is the return of the Greek crisis: with a strong likelihood of a debt haircut should the left-wing Syriza party take power, the ECB as a key creditor will find government bond purchases less palatable. Some workaround may, then, be necessary. Harder to predict is whether QE will have an appreciable effect on demand. Cebr does not expect it to solve the weak demand problems alone. Necessary accompaniments will include structural reforms and a measure of fiscal loosening by those states that can afford it – however, Germany has just published its budget, which is now balanced and therefore tighter than it has been so far. Some may argue therefore that the ECB has done more than its share already. However, its critics are unlikely to be appeased unless it takes the big step.”