REGULATORY

Discussion paper on approach to SMEs as users of financial services

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published a discussion paper (DP15/7) on their approach tosmall and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) as users of financial services. This reviews the way that SMEs are treated by FCA rules and considers evidence of poor outcomes experienced by these businesses. There is discussion of the dilemma about increasing standards for SMEs against imposing additional costs on financial service providers that may in turn limit the availability of services. Comments can be submitted on the paper until 18 March 2016.

FCA, 27 November 2015

FCA consults on PPI complaints handling

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published its long awaited consultation paper (CP15/39) on payment protection insurance (PPI) complaints in the light of the Supreme Court decision in Plevin v Paragon Personal Finance Limited [2014] UKSC 61. The FCA is consulting on a number of matters arising out of the handling of PPI complaints generally: (1) setting a long stop date, (2) a communications campaign and (3) complaints handling and the calculation of compensation where there are unfair relationships under the Consumer Credit Act 1974. The consultation closes on 26 February 2016 with a Policy Statement and final rules in the Spring.

FCA, 26 November 2015

FCA November "Regulation round-up" newsletter

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published its Regulation round-up newsletter for November. It includes a "hot topics" article on firms applying to operate an electronic platform in relation to lending. To date the FCA has authorised six P2P firms, of which two held an interim permission having previously been licensed by the Office of Fair Trading.

FCA, 26 November 2015

FCA Dear CEO letter on expectations of debt management firms

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published a "Dear CEO" letter sent to debt management firms setting out their expectations when customers or information is transferred. As well as ensuring that any transfer is lawful and in accordance with the Data Protection Act, firms must comply with the FCA's rules and principles. Under the Consumer Credit sourcebook (CONC), they should ensure all advice and actions have regard to the customers’ best interests, are based on reasonable and reliable assessments of the customers’ financial position and circumstances, and that advice is provided in a durable medium.

FCA, 26 November 2015

FCA Occasional Paper - methods for analysing mortgage markets

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published a paper presenting three different affordability metrics that were constructed as part of the cost benefit analysis of the 2012 Mortgage Market Reviewaffordability assessment rules. The FCA intends that the methodological insights offered will be of value to others researching issues concerning mortgage affordability.

FCA, 24 November 2015

UK

Small and Medium Sized Business Regulations

The Small and Medium Sized Business (Credit Information) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/1945) and the Small and Medium Sized Business (Finance Platforms) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/1946) were made on 26 November 2015. They come into force on 1 January 2016. They aim to make it easier for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to obtain finance from challenger banks and alternative finance providers. The Credit Information Regulations require designated banks to share information on their SME customers with designated credit reference agencies, which must provide equal access to that data to finance providers. The government intends to designate Experian, Equifax and CreditSafe. The Finance Platforms Regulations require designated banks to refer rejected SME customers to finance platforms which can match the SME with designated alternative finance providers.

Legislation.gov.uk, 30 November 2015

Autumn Statement and Spending Review 2015

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has made his Autumn Statement, which included announcements on the designation of credit reference agencies with regard to credit for small and medium sized business(see above). Higher rates of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) were announced and will be charged on purchases of additional residential properties including buy-to-let properties and second homes from 1 April 2016. This will amount to 3 percentage points above the current SDLT rates. The government will also consult on changing the scope of the bank levy to UK operations from 1 January 2021.

HM Treasury, 25 November 2015

Building societies share 27% of total mortgage market

Data published by the Building Societies Association has found building societies approved over 103,000 mortgages between July and September 2015. 

Building Societies Association, 24 November 2015

CML and Which? publish final report on mortgage fees and charges transparency review

The Council of Mortgage Lenders and Which? have published their final report on their transparency review of mortgage fees and charges. The report contains "solutions" which have been agreed by lenders participating in the review around better information to customers about fees and charges. These include a standardised industry tariff of mortgage fees and charges with common terminology to aid shopping around, together with placing additional information on websites with this objective in mind. The report was indorsed by the Government in the Autumn Statement.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders, November 2015