Skip to Content
Skip to Main Menu

Daily News Roundup: Tuesday, 5th April 2022

Posted: 5th April 2022


Most banks narrow UK gender pay gaps

New analysis has found that most British financial companies collectively narrowed their gender pay gaps last year, but some went into reverse gear, including UBS and Deutsche Bank. Reuters collated pay gap data from 21 major financial institutions and found an average mean gender pay gap of 32.1% - slightly more than 1% narrower than the previous year's average. Despite the improvement, the gap is much wider than the average for all UK employers, which stood at 14.9% in the year to April 2020. Goldman Sachs accounted for the industry's widest gender pay gap among the firms surveyed, with men working for the bank in Britain getting 51.3% more in pay per hour than women on average. Insurer Admiral was the only financial firm to have a pay gap below the UK average, at 14.4%, although this widened from 12.8%. The analysis also included Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, NatWest, Standard Chartered, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, PGMS, abrdn, Schroder Investment Management, St James's Place, Legal & General and Prudential. Several of those surveyed also voluntarily disclosed ethnicity pay gap figures for the year to April 2021. UBS, NatWest, Lloyds and M&G showed ethnic minority staff were paid less on average than white colleagues, Aviva showed the reverse, while HSBC and Barclays' data showed close to parity.

Zopa hits profitability

Zopa hit profitability for the first time ever last year. The Softbank-backed digital lender has previously set out consistent profitability as one of the benchmarks needed for floating on the public markets. Boss Jaidev Janardana said turning a profit having only been granted a full banking licence in the summer of 2020 “makes Zopa one of the fastest digital banks to achieve profitability ever and reinforces our thesis on the importance of sustainable growth as a catalyst for accelerated product and market expansion.”


Insurers set to increase private equity investments

A Goldman Sachs Asset Management survey shows that insurers intend to put more money into private equity in the next 12 months, with 40% planning to do so. Michael Siegel, Goldman’s global head of insurance asset management, said: “Against a complex macroeconomic and geo-political environment, demand for yield remains high, and we expect to see insurers continue to build positions in private asset classes as well as inflation hedges.” The poll of 328 executives also showed that 11% of American insurers said they are invested in or are considering investing in cryptocurrencies. It was also found that global insurers see rising inflation and tighter monetary policy as the largest threats to their portfolios, while 92% of investors consider ESG factors throughout the investment process, marking an almost three-fold increase from 2017.


SEC chair wants watchdogs to collaborate on crypto oversight

Securities and Exchange Commission chair Gary Gensler said his agency and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the US’ top derivatives regulator, should work together to rein in cryptocurrency exchanges. Mr Gensler wants the SEC to collaborate with the CFTC to develop a way to oversee platforms trading tokens that are a mix of securities and commodities, saying: “I've asked staff to consider how best to register and regulate platforms where the trading of securities and non-securities is intertwined.”

India's HDFC Bank to merge with housing finance parent

India's largest private sector bank, HDFC Bank, and its biggest mortgage provider, Housing Development Financing Corporation, are set to merge in a $40bn deal, creating an entity with a market capitalisation of $185bn.


Housebuilders boost FTSE after cladding turnaround

The UK's housebuilders helped to lift London's top index yesterday, following a flurry of trading. Reports have emerged that the Government has dropped its demand that housebuilders stump up the cash to help leaseholders trapped with unsafe cladding on their buildings. The news that the companies might not have to contribute towards the £4bn remediation fund saw traders keen to pile into Barratt Developments, Persimmon, Berkeley and Taylor Wimpey. Rightmove also got a bump on the day. “ Housebuilders have been in the doldrums since the start of the year despite a supercharged housing market as investors priced in the cost of making repairs,” said AJ Bell financial analyst Danni Hewson.


Bank of England and FCA to probe nickel trading suspension

The Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have launched an investigation into the suspension of nickel trading by the London Metal Exchange (LME) in March, with the City watchdog saying it plans to "review the LME’s approach to managing the suspension and resumption" of the market. The PRA will review the LME’s clearing house "to determine whether any lessons might be learned in relation to its governance and risk management." Regulators say the LME has already “agreed the benefits of appointing additional independent directors to strengthen its governance”. The LME was forced to freeze nickel contracts and cancel a day's worth of trading in early March after the invasion of Ukraine resulted in "disorderly conducts". It said a price spike had pushed several smaller members of the exchange to the brink of failure, with the value of the metal – which is produced by Russia and utilised in batteries - jumping 50% in a matter of hours. In a joint statement, LME chief executive Matthew Chamberlain and Adrian Farnham, boss of LME Clear - which oversees the settlement of trades, said  that the market “welcomes” the review and announced an independent review of its own.

Talent hunt sees rise in visa sponsorship

Home Office figures show that City firms are sponsoring overseas recruits at the fastest rate since before Brexit, with around 200 foreign-based workers a week being hired by British banks, fund managers, insurers and other City firms. Over the past five quarters, the number of visa sponsorships by UK-based financial services firms has climbed from 722 to 2,192 in the fourth quarter of 2021. While the numbers do not break down the employees by country of origin, a large portion are thought to be from EU countries.

Aviva names RSA’s Jones as new CFO

Insurance group Aviva has named RSA finance boss Charlotte Jones as its new chief financial officer. She will take up the role in September, replacing Jason Windsor who has been CFO since 2019 but is leaving to join housebuilder Persimmon in the same role in June. The appointment means Aviva will become just the second FTSE 100 company to have a female chief executive and chief financial officer, following NatWest Group.


C4 privatisation looms

The Government is set to go ahead with plans to privatise Channel 4. Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said Government ownership is “holding Channel 4 back from competing against streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon,” adding that a change of ownership will give the broadcaster “the tools and freedom to flourish and thrive as a public service broadcaster long into the future."


Value of serviced office providers’ portfolios down £1.4bn

The largest serviced office providers have seen the value of their estates drop to £24.3bn from £25.7bn in the previous year, according to law firm Boodle Hatfield. Since 2017, the value of office space providers has leaped more than 300%, up from just £5.9bn five years ago. The advent of working from home requirements during the pandemic saw demand for space plummet, with many businesses unable to keep their heads above water. The £1.4bn drop is largely down to serviced office operators divesting of long leasehold property, Boodle Hatfield suggested.

Landlords hit by higher costs as banks hike rates

Private landlords face soaring mortgage costs each year as they shoulder the burden of higher interest charges from banks. Mortgage brokers have reported a “significant increase” in buy-to-let mortgage costs since the Bank of England raised official interest rates from 0.5% to 0.75% last month. The best available two-year fixed rate has risen by 0.5 percentage points, double the increase to the Bank Rate, while the cheapest five-year fixed deal has climbed by 0.22 percentage points, according to the broker Private Finance.


Ted Baker launches formal sale process

Ted Baker has launched a formal sale process after revealing it had received more than one unsolicited offer from third parties in addition to three bids from US private equity group Sycamore Partners. The retailer said that as a result of the expressions of interest it had “decided to conduct an orderly process to establish whether there is a bidder prepared to offer a value that the board considers attractive relative to the standalone prospects of Ted Baker as a listed company”. Ted Baker is inviting interested parties to submit indicative offers to its advisers Evercore and Blackdown Partners. A number of bids will then be selected to participate in a second phase.

Morrisons’ new owners plan to sell £500m worth of property

Morrisons’ new owners have given the go-ahead for plans to sell a £500m property portfolio including manufacturing and distribution facilities. The supermarket is reportedly preparing to appoint advisers to oversee the disposal of certain sites across the country. It comes just months after Clayton Dubilier & Rice took over the grocer in a £7bn takeover.


Discretionary spending expected to fall by 6.5%

Discretionary spending is set to fall by an average of £430, or 6.5%, in 2022, according to analysis by Retail Economics and HyperJar, a digital wallet and savings app. This equates to a £12bn fall in non-essential spending. The report adds that for the least affluent households, the decline will be £850, or 19.5%. Richard Lim, chief executive of Retail Economics, said: “We’re likely to see recessionary behaviours kick-in for many households, who will cut back on the nice-to-haves and will prioritise low costs to make their budgets stretch that little bit further.” He added that a “more cost-conscious consumer will emerge in the coming months.”

Close Menu