Browsing "Commentary / Editorial"

The Slippery World of Advertising: Who’s In Charge of What?

May 10, 2013   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Commentary / Editorial, Personal Debt  //  1 Comment

You have to hand it to them – payday loans companies don’t miss too many tricks. And we’ve grown familiar with plenty of them.

Last year, lest we forget, Wonga was caught out targeting its extortionate rate loans towards students. In its defence, Wonga said that the page in question was out-dated and ‘gave rise to misunderstandings’. I challenge you to try and misconstrue the plain English.

Now, a television advert featuring that paragon of financial prudence, Kerry Katona, has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority for luring customers into high-cost loans – over three months after it launched across 26 channels.

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A Throwback to Google: Why News Matters

Apr 30, 2013   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Commentary / Editorial  //  Comments Off on A Throwback to Google: Why News Matters

Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam team and an influential name in cyberspace, has inadvertently waded deep into the muddy waters of content strategy by suggesting that we should give up news.

Cutts revealed that by axing news, social media, and unnecessary emails for 30 days, his productivity increased massively. Additionally, he was able to read more for pleasure and to filter his email inbox more effectively.

My first response to this is one of mild sarcasm. That’s just great, Matt. Good for you. It’s a shame that it’s not always practical for the rest of us to undertake an exodus. We’re not all chief Kingmakers.

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Barclays: Is Self-Recrimination the Way Forward?

Apr 5, 2013   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Commentary / Editorial  //  Comments Off on Barclays: Is Self-Recrimination the Way Forward?

Barclays Branch

It’s interesting to note that the latest condemning report on Barclays was commissioned and paid for by the bank itself. This looks to be a stark public relations advantage over the likes of HBOS, whose former bosses were targeted and condemned by the Banking Standards Commission.

Anthony Salz, City lawyer and vice president of Rothschild, penned the damning report on Barclays which criticised the “winning at all costs” mentality at the bank. He suggests that investment bankers considered themselves exempt from normal rules and lost all sense of proportion.

You would think we’re already well aware of this. The bank has dominated financial headlines over the last few months for all sorts of negative reasons, most of which date back to the profligate Bob Diamond era.

But Barclays is attempting to martyr itself somewhat – becoming complicit in the battering of its own reputation for past sins. Through this, it can differentiate the new regime from that ‘old’ culture which current boss Antony Jenkins hopes to dissolve.

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The Bank of England Needs to Stop its Crusade Against Savers

Mar 6, 2013   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Banking and Savings Accounts, Commentary / Editorial  //  Comments Off on The Bank of England Needs to Stop its Crusade Against Savers

Twenty Note

This time last year, there was a cautious air of excitement over the coming ISA season and the competition it was generating between lenders.

Rates were heading upwards – as anachronistic as the thought may be – offering a little optimism for savers. Now, though, the market for savings accounts, ISAs and bonds is a pitiful reflection of the extent to which savers have been wholeheartedly neglected by the Bank of England’s ossified solution to get the economy moving.

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Are AgriBank’s Market-Leading Fixed-Rate Bonds Worth the Risk?

Feb 21, 2013   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Banking and Savings Accounts, Commentary / Editorial  //  1 Comment

AgriBankNot long ago, I described the market for savings accounts as in crisis. The brutal truth is that there appears to be no immediate sign of this changing.

In the opening six weeks of 2013, there have been over 200 tweaks and changes to savings accounts, according to analysts Moneyfacts, as banks draw the noose ever tighter around savers.

Only a small handful of accounts now exceed the current rate of inflation. These include a 60 Day Notice ISA from Coventry BS (2.80%); a cash ISA from First Direct returning 3% for balances of £40,000 or more; and a few regular saver accounts.

The best of these is Cheshire’s Platinum Monthly Saver Issue 6, which pays 5% gross on maximum monthly deposits of £500. But you’ll have to visit a branch to open this account, and the term only runs until next January.

While the Funding for Lending Scheme has had clear benefits for the mortgage market (fixed-rate deals have now hit record lows), lending to businesses remains poor, and returns on savings accounts have tumbled.

Recently, we highlighted a new and vibrant crowd-funding operation designed to address the funding gap for small businesses thought to be worth up to £191 billion over the next four years.

Now another operation has emerged, which hopes to solve both two problems in one.

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“Suspending Judgement”: Barclays Faces Banking Standards Panel

Feb 8, 2013   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Commentary / Editorial  //  Comments Off on “Suspending Judgement”: Barclays Faces Banking Standards Panel

Banking Standards Committee: Barclays

It’s difficult to know which was the more remarkable precedent set at the Banking Standards Committee on Tuesday morning: that which came at the beginning or at the end.

At the beginning of the session featuring Barclays’ CEO Antony Jenkins and chairman Sir David Walker, the latter agreed – contrary to most of the banking industry – that powers should be in place that would allow banks to be broken up.

This was in reference to George Osborne’s new Banking Reform Bill, which has been roundly criticised by the British Bankers Association as a disastrous “step too far”.

But at the end of the near three hour session, proceedings had turned somewhat frosty as the subject repeatedly turned towards pay.

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