NatWest to launch 'virtual assistant'
NatWest is planning to launch a virtual personal assistant that will allow users to switch insurance, subscription and energy deals through their bank for the first time. The “Mimo” app will use new technology made possible by Open Banking. A spokesman for NatWest explained that customers would get a prompt stating that, for example, a better energy deal was available, and asking them whether they would like to switch. The app will also aim to help users budget, remind them of tasks and provide analysis of their spending habits.
Ex-Barclays traders jailed over Euribor rate-rigging
Two traders have been jailed after being convicted of conspiring to rig the Euribor global interest rate. Colin Bermingham, 62, and Carlo Palombo, 40, both former Barclays traders, were convicted of conspiracy to defraud. Mr Bermingham received a five year jail term, while Mr Palombo was jailed for four years. Another trader, Sisse Bohart, was acquitted.
Bank whistleblowers say complaints not being ‘heard’
A review by the Banking Standards Board reveals only 41% of bankers who raise concerns about bad practices or personal worries feel their employers listen to the complaints. The survey of more than 72,000 employees from 26 banks also reveals that 28% of investment bankers said work was having a negative impact on their health.
Banks keep options open and hold fire on Brexit exodus
Research by the FT shows London’s top 15 international banks have cut fewer than 3,500 jobs in the capital in total since the Brexit vote in June 2016.
Police failing to investigate fraud cases
A police watchdog has warned that forces are failing to investigate fraud cases, even when there is compelling evidence. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services found officers are seeking reasons to drop inquiries into bank scams because fraud does not “bang, bleed or shout.”
Record results for Cambridge & Counties
Cambridge & Counties Bank has announced record results for 2018 after deposit and lending levels reached all-time highs. Total assets rose above £1bn to end the year at £1.03bn, up 17% year-on-year.
Director departs Metro
Metro Bank non-executive director Keith Carby, 71, is stepping down after nine years on the board.
BBVA loan links interest rate to digital milestones
Spanish Bank BBVA's has issued a loan whose interest rate will decline should the borrower progress against pre-agreed digital development targets, including improvements in governance, supply chains and cyber security.
Sweden will not investigate Swedbank claims
The Swedish Economic Crime Authority (EBM) has decided not to investigate Swedbank over money-laundering claims made by UK hedge fund boss Bill Browder.
Rising tide of lawsuits against company directors hits insurers
Legal action against public companies by shareholders is squeezing insurers, with more than 400 federal securities actions in the US in both 2017 and 2018, according to Cornerstone Research.
US extends StanChart deferred prosecution agreement
Standard Chartered is understood to be nearing a resolution with the US DoJ over alleged sanctions violations, after it agreed a 10-day extension to a 2012 deferred prosecution agreement.
Brexit turbulence hits EasyJet
Easyjet has warned that the continuing Brexit uncertainty has forced a more “cautious” approach to the second half of its financial year. Its loss for the six months to March will be £275m, as previously expected, but the airline is facing a combined £45m higher fuel bills and weakened currency headwind.
FCA faces probe over LCF collapse
The Financial Conduct Authority is facing a government probe into its oversight of London Capital & Finance (LCF), after customers of the firm lost thousands of pounds in investments. It follows concerns the FCA was too slow to protect consumers before LCF went into administration last month. Some 11,605 people invested a total of £236m with LCF, but only about 20% of this money may end up being recovered. The Treasury, which will run the probe, said it was "incredibly concerning". The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, said: "By ordering this investigation, we will better understand the circumstances around the collapse and make sure we are properly protecting those who invest their money in the future."
Financial services compliance could be run by AI
The Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority are jointly developing computer programs to make financial reporting more accurate and efficient, raising the prospect of compliance in the financial services industry being overseen by artificial intelligence. The technology will translate rules into code that can automatically find the required data in company databases. The Bank and the FCA hope that improving the quality of data will allow regulators to spend more time on analysis.
FCA contacted by Revolut whistleblower in 2016
The Financial Conduct Authority has made enquiries into Revolut after being contacted by a whistleblower. The ex-employee told the FCA in 2016 about concerns they had over compliance and the conduct of the currency transfer firm's chief executive, Nikolay Storonsky. The FCA informed the whistleblower via email that "our investigation is now coming to a close", a year later.
Asset management’s gender pay gap above average
Asset management firms in Britain have a median pay gap of 31% on average, according to the Investment Association. The Times notes this is higher than the UK average of 10% and greater than the median pay gap in the wider financial and insurance industry of 23.5%.
Network International prices London float at £2.3bn
Payments processing firm Network International will float on the London Stock Exchange at a valuation of up to £2.3bn. The Dubai-headquartered company confirmed an offer price of between 395p and 495p yesterday, valuing it at between £1.9bn and £2.3bn.
Canaccord blames 'uncertainty' for job cuts
Canaccord Genuity has indicated that it will be making “significant” job cuts due to the “uncertainty looming over the country.” Though its wealth management arm will be unaffected, the job losses will cost it $12m (£9m) this quarter.
Oxford Nanopore staff due windfall
Scientists and staff at biotech pioneer Oxford Nanopore are in line for at least £100m, as part of an employee share scheme, ahead of a potential stock market debut. The Oxford University spin-off was valued at £1.5bn last year and recently authored a deal with Guys and St Thomas' NHS trust for it use Oxford Nanopore's technology in clinical trials for the first time.
Factories rush to stockpile for Brexit
Firms stockpiling ahead of Brexit took Britain's manufacturing output reading to 55.1 in March, according to IHS Markit, up from 52.1 in February and its highest level in over a year.
Shares slump at Low & Bonar
Materials firm Low & Bonar endured a near 25% slump in shares on Monday morning after a profit warning. Inefficiencies and weaker revenues weighed on profitability to the end of March.
MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT
BBC takes over at UKTV
BBC Studios is to take control of seven UKTV channels, including Dave, Gold and Yesterday, as part of its deal with US media giant Discovery that will see the launch of a new on-demand video service for BBC nature programmes. The BBC will pay £173m for the channels, including £70m of debt.
Homeowners unlock £1bn through equity release plans
The number of consumers opting for equity release plans rose by 23% in the second half of last year, to almost 44,000. The plans helped customers to access more than £1bn by unlocking the value of their homes, according to the Equity Release Council. Drawdown lifetime mortgages accounted for 64% of new customers, while 36% of customers opted for lump-sum plans.
Schroders moves to block Ashley's Findel takeover
Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley’s £140m attempted takeover of Findel faces a fresh hurdle after the retailer’s second-biggest shareholder rejected his offer. Schroders told Findel’s board it backed the company’s existing management and considered Ashley’s bid as “significantly undervaluing” the business.
Brexit uncertainty ‘costing UK £600m per week’
The UK's vote to leave the European Union has cost the country £600m per week since the June 2016 referendum, according to a Goldman Sachs report. The bank estimates that almost 2.5% has been knocked off economic growth amid a lack of clarity surrounding Britain's departure from the EU. Separately, the British Chambers of Commerce has warned that Brexit-related uncertainty means the number of companies planning to invest in their operations is at its lowest level in eight years.
Banks could field MEP candidates to protect interests
It has been suggested that some of the UK's biggest banks may field candidates in next month's European Parliament elections. City AM quotes an uncited source who claimed "politicians have completely failed the City and good lobbyists are hard to come by, so it's a logical step to send bankers to the European Parliament from where they can keep a close eye on our interests."