Banks urge small firms to prepare for Brexit
The banking industry and business groups are set to join forces to urge business owners to make contingency plans for Brexit. The Times reports that UK Finance is working with groups including the Federation of Small Businesses, the British Chambers of Commerce and the CBI on an initiative to urge SMEs to “plan ahead”, despite the lack of clarity about Britain’s trading position after March 29. The groups are expected to issue guidance this week recommending that companies consider how customers and suppliers could be affected by Brexit and what their financial needs might be should they suffer cashflow problems. The advice is likely to come in the form of an online guide, as well as via regional events. Yesterday Barclays said that it would host 100 Brexit "clinics" around the country next month to provide support for its customers. It said that the clinics would be hosted by its relationship managers and would take place in branches, as well as in its Eagle Labs-branded co-working spaces.
Barclays shareholder ditches stake
A leading Barclays shareholder has ditched its £600m stake in the bank. US hedge fund Tiger Global owned 2.5% of Barclays, making it one of the bank’s largest shareholders. Its decision to pull out comes as activist investor Edward Bramson continues to campaign for a major overhaul at Barclays. Chris Ralph, chief investment officer at St James's Place Wealth Management, said Tiger’s decision: “weakens Jes Staley's position as chief executive and means the discussion they will be having with Bramson will be more challenging.”
Lloyds pays small shopkeepers to offer cashback
Lloyds Banking Group is to pay small shopkeepers to offer cashback to customers in areas where ATMs are disappearing. The scheme, which marks the first time a bank will pay small stores to offer cashback, is in partnership with Visa and will be available to customers of all banks, not just those with a Lloyds account. Meanwhile, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, has become the first large town in Britain to lose all its free cashpoints. The only ATMs left in the area - which has a population of 24,000 - charge between 95p and £3.50 for withdrawals.
Police and UK Finance prevent record losses in 2018
A record £94m of losses were prevented last year by an anti-fraud police unit backed by UK Finance. The City of London Police’s Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU) arrested 164 suspects in 2018, securing 48 convictions in the process. It brings the unit’s total fraud activity savings to £600m since it was launched in 2002.
Revolut recruits hackers to improve security
Fintech start-up Revolut is to recruit a team of five hackers to bolster its own cyber defences. Revolut's chief information security officer Paul Heffernan said the so-called "white-hat" cyber experts will monitor the bank's security operations and surf the dark web to look for potential threats.
Mambu raises €30m
Banking tech startup Mambu has raised €30m (£26.3m) from Bessemer Venture Partners. Mambu, which provides banking mechanisms to the likes of N26 and OakNorth, said it will use the funding to invest in its sales and product teams across its offices in London, the US, Europe, Singapore and Australia.
Savings accounts catch up with base rate rise
According to analysis by Moneyfacts.co.uk, the interest rates on 72% of savings deals, including Isas, now beat the current base rate of 0.75% - six months after it came into effect.
Chapter ends for Pearson
Pearson has sold its US school textbook business to Nexus Capital for £193m.
Eurozone banks unprepared for crisis, academics warn
Dr Gunther Schnabl, professor for economic policy and international economics at Leipzig University, and Thomas Stratmann, professor of economics and law at George Mason University, write that European Central Bank funding is keeping a "growing number of zombie banks and enterprises afloat" in the southern euro area - leaving many Eurozone banks unprepared for the upcoming crisis. "It is no wonder that euro area governments are becoming increasingly nervous, planning mergers and capital injections," they caution.
Falcon flees UK
Switzerland's Falcon Private Bank is to cease operations in the UK and sell the assets of its London-based Falcon Private Wealth unit to Dolfin Financial (UK) Ltd.
Handelsbanken names Carina Akerstrom as first female CEO
Sweden’s Handelsbanken has named Carina Akerstrom as its new chief executive. She will succeed Anders Bouvin at the end of March.
Citigroup chief expects machines to replace thousands of call centre jobs
Citigroup chief executive Mike Corbat has indicated that tens of thousands of the bank’s US call centre employees could be replaced by machines to boost efficiencies.
Honda set to close Swindon plant
Honda is set to announce the closure of its Swindon car plant in 2022, with the loss of about 3,500 jobs. The Japanese company is expected to move production back to Japan, partly because a new trade deal between Japan and the EU will eventually guarantee tariff-free car exports to the EU. Honda made 160,000 Civics in Swindon last year, of which some 90% were exported to the EU.
Laing O’Rourke not threatened by Brexit
Laing O’Rourke has said a no-deal Brexit would pose a minimal risk, if any, to its present projects as it reports a £46.5m post-tax loss for its latest financial year. Britain’s largest private construction company is filing its annual results today, more than four months after they were due.
UK clearing houses given no-deal Brexit access
The European Securities and Markets Authority has granted European banks permission to use British-based clearing houses for 12 months in the event of a no-deal Brexit. London Clearing House, ICE Clear Europe and the London Metal Exchange will be given formal recognition from March 29 if Britain does not secure a deal, the regulator said. Catherine McGuinness, policy chair at the City of London Corporation, welcomed the news but stressed that the City still needed reassurances over data transfers and contract continuity.
GoCardless secures $75m
British payments start-up GoCardless has raised $75m from major tech investors to fund its global expansion. The funding, from investors including Alphabet and Salesforce, will help GoCardless launch in the US and Spain later this year.
Swiss Re completes 1bn Swiss franc share buyback
Swiss Re has completed a 1bn Swiss franc (£771m) share buyback programme, ahead of announcing its 2018 financial results this week. The insurer said it had bought 11.2m shares, equivalent to 3.21% of its outstanding shares, at an average price of 89.17 francs per share.
CAB exits City
Crown Agents Bank (CAB) has moved out of the City after 185 years to new headquarters in Sutton. The move reflects CAB’s expansion into a market leader in digital, FX and transaction banking services in developing countries.
London workers value lifestyle over pay
Nearly three quarters of London-based professionals would strongly consider relocating job roles if it led to a better lifestyle, according to research by Robert Walters and CV-Library. Only 13% of workers in London said securing a substantial pay rise was their current career priority.
Consumer confidence hits lowest point in a year
IHS Markit’s household finance index (HFI) - based on consumer’s financial wellbeing - has dropped to its lowest level since March 2018. The survey also revealed that job security perceptions deteriorated for a fourth consecutive month despite unemployment at 40-year lows.