Coronavirus – Property rental market

The UK market is just one of the many industries hugely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, as uncertainty grows over the future of housing. Virtual viewings have been initiated to maintain social distancing standards while searching for a property, meaning potential renters and buyers can now view flats. This provides the option of staying within your own home as you view and inspect different dwellings of your choice.

How could renting be affected by COVID-19?

The concept of virtual viewing is not as new as people may think. However, the idea that virtual viewing may become the ‘norm’ of the near future is realistic. According to the CEO of Movebubble.com, the UK’s first video rental app, there has been a huge shift in the way people are choosing to view rental properties.

“Before the pandemic, we already knew from our 700,000 strong databases of renters that they wanted a simpler and more convenient way to search and secure their next home. We found an overwhelming demand from people wanting to virtually view or transact online and avoid viewing a property in person.”

It is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift in consumer behaviour as people are looking to their phones to make them accessible to a lot more thing rather than being in places in real life.

Will virtual viewing have a positive effect?

In short, yes. The use of mobile phones and limiting the need to actually visit properties can only serve as a bonus. It saves time for a lot of people and gets things done a lot more efficiently. Obviously there will be a few cons in not being present at the property, however, the hassle-free way for renters to find a home will prove to be a huge incentive.

Car insurance and finance firms to help drivers

Car insurance and car finance customers are eligible to receive discounts, refunds and payment holidays under the new guidance from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The FCA has urged firms to support customers who are facing financial difficulty with a range of measures introduced. The revisions mean some customers from some firms will receive refunds on policies or the option to join a payment plan to spread costs more easily.

Help regarding the covering of vehicle finance was issued a few weeks ago but fresh guidance for insurance firms was revealed late last week.

Car insurance customers

The FCA recommends car insurance firms to consider actions to support customers who may be in financial trouble due to a loss of income. This is the case for various people and the acknowledgment of this would be highly appreciated by many. This could be when a customer contacts the firm because they are having difficulty making repayments or wishes to reduce the level of cover.

Some have even been told to defer payments up to three months of the original date. This allows customers experiencing difficulty to freeze any car insurance payments without running the risk of losing their policy.

Car finance customers

The FCA has confirmed firms should offer a three months payment freeze for customers who are struggling financially due to the outbreak. Agencies have also said that companies should not end an agreement or repossess vehicles if customers cannot pay their charges.

Companies have also been urged to work alongside customers who wish to keep their vehicles at the end of their contract to find a solution. This is aimed to stop firms repossessing vehicles or refinancing balloon payments which could catch out motorists with low budgets. It evens out the field and allows those who are heavily affected to cope.

Sunday Times Rich List 2020

Name – Worth – Source of Wealth

Sir James Dyson and family – £16.2bn – Household goods and Technology

Sri and Gopi Hinduja and family – £16bn – Industry and Finance

David and Simon Reuben – £16bn – Property and Internet

Sir Leonard Blavatnik – £15.78bn – Investment and Music and Media

Sir Jim Ratcliffe – £12.15bn – Chemicals

Kirsten and Jorn Rausing – £12.1bn – Inheritance and Investment

Alisher Usmanov – £11.68bn – Mining and Investment

Guy, George and Galen Jr Weston and family – £10.53bn – Retailing

Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken and Michel de Carvalho – £10.3 bn – Inheritance and Brewing and Banking

The Duke of Westminster and the Grosvenor family – £10.3bn – Property

Mikhail Fridman – £10.23bn – Industry

Roman Abramovich – £10.16bn – Oil and Industry

Marit Rausing and family – £9.59bn – Packaging

Ernesto and Kirsty Bertarelli – £9.2bn – Pharmaceuticals

Anil Agarwal – £8.5bn – Mining

Denise, John and Peter Coates – £7.17bn – Gambling

Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay – £7bn – Property and Media and Internet retailing

Earl Cadogan and family – £6.82bn – Property

Lakshmi Mittal and family – £6.78bn – Steel

John Fredriksen and family – £6.63bn – Shipping and Oil services

François-Henri Pinault and Salma Hayek – £6.59bn – Fashion and Films

John Grayken – £5.69bn – Property and Investment

Nicky Oppenheimer and family – £5.6bn – Diamonds and Mining

Michael Platt – £4.86bn – Hedge fund

Barnaby and Merlin Swire and family – £4.8bn – Industry and Transport and Property

Anders Povlsen – £4.73bn – Fashion

Lord Bamford and family – £4.7bn – Construction equipment

Baroness Howard de Walden and family – £4.32bn – Property

Stephen Rubin and family – £4.23bn – Sportswear

Andy Currie – £4.1bn – Chemicals

John Reece – £4.1bn – Chemicals

Tom Morris and family – £4.1bn – Discount stores

Sir Henry Keswick and family – £4bn – Property and Retailing and Hotels

Joe Lewis – £3.99bn – Foreign exchange and Investment

Leonie Schroder and family – £3.98bn – Finance

Ian and Richard Livingstone – £3.9bn – Property

Laurence and Francois Graff – £3.79bn – Diamonds

Teddy Sagi – £3.67bn – Software and Property

Nathan Kirsh – £3.66bn – Cash and carry and Property and Investment

Sir Richard Branson and family – £3.63bn – Transport and Finance and Fitness clubs

British Airways to Make Substantial Cuts

Contract Amendments

According to a letter seen exclusively by The Sun newspaper, British Airways will be making substantial cuts to the airline’s staff contracts. According to the shock revelation, British Airways will be slashing cabin crew wages, in some cases, by up to £30,000. In the letter, the airline plans to move almost 15,000 cabin crew members onto new contracts, forcing them to work both short haul and long haul flights. According to The Sun, the letter adds that staff who refuse to accept the new contracts will be dismissed or made redundant. Furthermore, these new contracts will include a provision being made allowing the airline to temporarily lay off workers.

Job Cuts

News of the contract changes, which will affect all of the airline’s 42,000-strong workforce, comes after a recent announcement in which British Airways declared they will be axing 12,000 workers. Among the figure, a quarter of pilots will also be made redundant, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic which have crippled the travel industry.

Since the United Kingdom entered lockdown on 23rd March, nine out of ten British Airways flights have been grounded. The owners of British Airways, IAG, announced a thirteen per cent reduction in revenue, in the first quarter of this year.

Chief Executive’s Warnings

News of the contract amendments and job cuts follow stark warnings from the airline’s executives. British Airways chief executive Alex Cruz wrote to staff, “In the last few weeks, the outlook for the aviation industry has worsened further and we must take action now. We are a strong, well-managed business that has faced into, and overcome, many crises in our hundred-year history. We must overcome this crisis ourselves, too. There is no government bailout standing by for BA and we cannot expect the taxpayer to offset salaries indefinitely. We will see some airlines go out of business.”

Coronavirus and the Stock Market: How will an economic downturn compare to the greatest stock market crashes of all time?

In a world of uncertainty as most countries grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, thoughts are turning to a bleak and dark economic downturn. With industry suspended and airlines already making cuts, the forecast for the stock market is not good. In a series of articles, Insurance Finance Talk will take a look back at some of the greatest stock market crashes of all time.

The Wall Street Crash (1929)

On 24 October 1929 the Wall Street Crash hit the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Considered to be the most famous crash of the twentieth century, the Wall Street Crash has become the benchmark for measuring economic downturns and stock market crashes. After a period of unrivalled economic growth and industrial production, during the 1920s, traders became greedy. Pouring millions into the market, the value of stocks and shares became artificially inflated. Further speculation causes share prices to grow beyond their real value. As investors observed this development, on 24 October, known as ‘Black Thursday,’ investors offered up 12.8 million shares for sale. This sent the market into haywire, leading to a shock crash and a ten-year long recession which came to be known as ‘the Great Depression.’

Black Monday (1987)

Since 1982, a combination of factors had caused share values to rise excessively. This was driven by an overvalued dollar, increasing interest rates and considerable speculation on the stock market. On Monday 19 October 1987, the Dow Jones stock index buckled, losing 22% of its value in the short space of a few hours. With a knock-on effect on markets across Europe and Asia, a global crash was triggered. As the crash played out, the US Federal Reserve stepped in to help avoid a crisis like the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Slashing interest rates and increasing lending, the Fed helped to reduce the damage. Within two years, the Dow Jones index returned to the levels it was at prior to the crash, leaving growth barely affected.

Greater Manchester Insurance Fraud Detectives Make it to the Big Screen

In what has been promised to be a cross between “Mission Impossible, James Bond and Luther,” Greater Manchester-based fraud detectives Ravenstone UK are set to appear on the big screen. Having started life in 1991, as independent insurance claims consultants, Ravenstone UK grew to become one of the largest in the country. With unabated successes, serving the UK’s leading insurers and clawing back millions from fraud cheats, Ravenstone UK expanded their operations to pursue all manner of fraudsters. For almost thirty years, Ravenstone UK have occupied a respected position in the sector, while remaining relatively unknown.

However, the tax fraud empire orchestrated by Manchester financial firm One Formula Projects LLP has brought Ravenstone UK to greater public prominence. The tax fraud empire became the subject of a BBC One documentary series exploring tax fraud and the efforts of HMRC to combat the phenomenon.

Produced by Manchester F1 Productions, the series followed HM Revenue and Customs investigators as they poured over One Formula’s financial records and assets. One by one the dominoes fell, bringing down the tax fraud empire on primetime television. With the documentary series focussing primarily on the role of HMRC investigators, the producers behind the popular show promised a cinematic sequel.

Referred to by investigators as ‘the tax fraud of the century,’ the case of One Formula immediately captured the public’s imagination. “We drew up plans for a movie sequel to the show after witnessing its success and to shed further light on the intricacies of the case,” an executive at F1 Productions told Insurance Finance Talk. “For editorial reasons and with plans for the movie sequel already in mind, we left out the central and pivotal role played by Ravenstone UK, who were working alongside HMRC on the One Formula tax fraud investigation,” the source at F1 Productions added.

5 of the best current accounts

Switching accounts is something that puts many people off, with a third of customers sticking with the same bank we first opened our accounts with, despite any bad services we may have endured, hefty fees and little reward for our loyalty. But moving to a better deal could help bring your finances back on track in 2020. Switching may seem like a chore at first but it is quite easy, meaning there is no excuse staying put if you can switch to a better situation. You can find out your favourite accounts and how to switch hassle-free below.

NatWest

The best account for providing rewards for its customers is NatWest. NatWest and its partner RBS revamped their reward accounts. Now, they are able to pay a maximum of £5 a month in reward, so £60 a year. The account also offers 1 per cent cash back reward at certain partner retailers when you use the debit card for paying for things.

Santander

Santander’s 123 accounts is not the generous deal it once was, however it could still be the best in-credit interest account for those with a large balance. The 123 account will pay an AER of 1.5 per cent on up to £20,000 – earning a yearly income of around £300. The interest is clocked up on a daily basis and will depend on what you have in your account that day.

Starling

Starling Bank’s current account is a decent option, offering some interest on your balance, a cheap overdraft and best of all no fees for using your debit card abroad. It’s only disadvantage would be that it is an app-only bank; however, the customer service has been reviewed by customers to be top-tier.  Fee-free spending and withdrawals is available all over the world with these guys – a perk that is not readily available.