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MORE PARENTS ARE HELPING FIRST-TIME BUYER KIDS STEP ONTO THE PROPERTY LADDER THAN EVER BEFORE

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MORE PARENTS ARE HELPING FIRST-TIME BUYER KIDS STEP ONTO THE PROPERTY LADDER THAN EVER BEFORE
  • Buyers today are paying £172 more per square foot than they did five years ago
  • Property prices in the UK up by 5.1% compared to last year
  • Bank of Mum and Dad on par with the UK’s 9th largest mortgage lender 

With property prices outstripping average wage growth, the reality is that first-time homeowners simply can’t save as quickly as the property price increases year on year.

Just last month, data from Douglas and Gordon revealed that average flat prices are up by 19.2% and that buyers are paying £172 more per square foot today than they did five years ago.

“Considering the rise in house prices across the UK over the last few years, including a dramatic increase in the capital, it’s no surprise that more first-time property buyers than ever before are relying on their parents for help with a deposit”,says Alice Ramsey, Marketing Executive at Douglas and Gordon and a first-time buyer who discussed the impact of the budget with the BBC last month.

Douglas and Gordon have compiled information surrounding the issue through research from various sources, including Gov.uk and Legal and General.

They have found that parents are set to lend a massive £6.5 billion in 2017, meaning the Bank of Mum and Dad is virtually on par with the UK’s 9th largest mortgage lender.

The Bank of Mum and Dad

Around 29% of first-time buyers have help from friends and family when buying property. According to the research, between 2015 and 2016,a staggering 654,000 households took the leap to become first-time buyers in the UK. Of these, 66% were couple households, where two people go in for a mortgage together. With low-interest rates, most can afford repayments, yet 69% of them say that without the help of their parents for a deposit, they would have been unlikely to have made their purchase in the first place.

In addition to low-interest rates and assistance from parents, there is a growing trend among first-time buyers towards longer mortgage terms, according to a 2017 press release from Halifax bank. In 2006, only 35% opted for mortgages taken over 25-years compared to 60% today. In addition, the average age of people entering the UK property market for the first time has increased to 30 years-old and is highest in London at 32 years-old.

“The good news is the recent abolishing of Stamp Duty for first-time buyers on properties up to £300,000. This also applies to the first £300,000 on properties of up to £500,000 – excellent news for first-time buyers that came with the release of the Autumn Budget Proposal.

This means someone buying a property for £500,000 who would have paid £15,000 SDLT previously, now oonly hasto pay £10,000 – a £5,000 saving.

It’s a significant and permanent action, rather than a tax holiday, to help increase transactions, and is also recognition that there is no sharp drop to London property prices on its way – the opposite, in fact: London remains a highly attractive place to live and work!” 

How to Get on the Property Ladder: 5 Ways Parents Are Helping First-Time Buyer Kids

Parents considering gifting money for a house deposit to their kids have various options. According to trends, about two-thirds of all first-time buyers in the UK pay a deposit of up to 20% of the purchase price, and this is nearly £50,000 higher in London.

Equity Release

According to research, one in 79 homeowners in Britain is now considered a millionaire due to surging house prices. That means the number of people sitting on equity they can use to help their kids has increased. Many parents are unlocking cash on their own properties to help their kids buy theirs.

According to research, more than 53% of parents are planning on gifting money for a house deposit to their kids and of these, 22% plan on releasing equity from their home to do so. For parents over the age of 55, this is one of the easiest ways to access cash tied up in their homes.

Two main equity release options include:

Lifetime mortgage – a popular option which means that parents don’t have to make any repayments while they’re alive. Interest is simply added to the loan, which is repaid when the home is eventually sold. This enables withdrawals of small sums of cash or one large lump sum.

Home reversion – a less popular option that enables parents to sell some of or their entire home to a reversion provider and receive between 20 and 60% of the market value in one lump sum, or in regular payments.

As with any loan, there are various factors to consider, such as arrangement fees, the amount of interest and how it will impact inheritance, early repayment charges, and the effect that releasing equity could have on retirement plans.

Downsizing

Parents considering downsizing are less concerned with property size and more concerned with suitability. As a result, many homeowners are looking to this method as a way of helping their kids get onto the property ladder.

The Retirement Confidence Index shows that 48% of pensioners are considering moving to smaller homes or would be encouraged to do so with a stamp duty exception. By 2036, the estimated equity release via downsizing could total £877 billion.

Gifting Money for a House Deposit

The data found shows that 56% of parents choose to gift money for a house deposit, while 21% provide it as an interest-free loan and 2% offer it as a loan with interest.

When gifting money to children for a house deposit, inheritance tax (IHT) needs to be taken into account. Donors must live for seven years after giving the gift to remain exempt from IHT, however there are strict rules on the size of monetary gifts that can be given in a lifetime and careful planning is required to ensure that children get the most value from this kind of help.

Usually, parents will be required to sign a ‘gift of deposit’ form which confirms the details of the gift and waivers any rights to the property being purchased.

Lending Money

When providing money as a loan, mortgage lenders need to be made aware of the terms of repayment as this impacts the overall affordability of buying a home.

Parents and children are required to draw up a document which details a repayment schedule including interest payable, as well as what will happen in the event of a death.

Guarantor Mortgages

When applying for a standard mortgage, parents can help their kids borrow more by standing as a guarantor, enabling their income to be considered. This also makes them liable for repayments or outstanding debt should any difficulties occur.

The most important thing for parents to consider when providing this kind of support is whether they’d be able to cover the full cost of the repayments if the need arose.

Finding a Trusted Advisor

With so many ways available for parents to help their kids become first-time homeowners, it’s important to choose a trusted partner that can assist with finding the best possible outcome.

Parents-Helping-First-Time-

Finance

The Psychology Behind a Strong Security Culture in the Financial Sector

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The Psychology Behind a Strong Security Culture in the Financial Sector 1

By Javvad Malik, Security Awareness Advocate at KnowBe4

Banks and financial industries are quite literally where the money is, positioning them as prominent targets for cybercriminals worldwide. Unfortunately, regardless of investments made in the latest technologies, the Achilles heel of these institutions is their employees. Often times, a human blunder is found to be a contributing factor of a security breach, if not the direct source. Indeed, in the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, miscellaneous errors were found vying closely with web application attacks for the top cause of breaches affecting the financial and insurance sector. A secretary may forward an email to the wrong recipient or a system administrator may misconfigure firewall settings. Perhaps, a user clicks on a malicious link. Whatever the case, the outcome is equally dire.

Having grown acutely aware of the role that people play in cybersecurity, business leaders are scrambling to establish a strong security culture within their own organisations. In fact, for many leaders across the globe, realising a strong security culture is of increasing importance, not solely for fear of a breach, but as fundamental to the overall success of their organisations – be it to create customer trust or enhance brand value. Yet, the term lacks a universal definition, and its interpretation varies depending on the individual. In one survey of 1,161 IT decision makers, 758 unique definitions were offered, falling into five distinct categories. While all important, these categories taken apart only feature one aspect of the wider notion of security culture.

With an incomplete understanding of the term, many organisations find themselves inadvertently overconfident in their actual capabilities to fend off cyberthreats. This speaks to the importance of building a single, clear and common definition from which organisations can learn from one another, benchmark their standing and construct a comprehensive security programme.

Defining Security Culture: The Seven Dimensions

In an effort to measure security culture through an objective, scientific method, the term can be broken down into seven key dimensions:

  • Attitudes: Formed over time and through experiences, attitudes are learned opinions reflecting the preferences an individual has in favour or against security protocols and issues.
  • Behaviours: The physical actions and decisions that employees make which impact the security of an organisation.
  • Cognition: The understanding, knowledge and awareness of security threats and issues.
  • Communication: Channels adopted to share relevant security-related information in a timely manner, while encouraging and supporting employees as they tackle security issues.
  • Compliance: Written security policies and the extent that employees adhere to them.
  • Norms: Unwritten rules of conduct in an organisation.
  • Responsibilities: The extent to which employees recognise their role in sustaining or endangering their company’s security.

All of these dimensions are inextricably interlinked; should one falter so too would the others.

The Bearing of Banks and Financial Institutions

Collecting data from over 120,000 employees in 1,107 organisations across 24 countries, KnowBe4’s ‘Security Culture Report 2020’ found that the banking and financial sectors were among the best performers on the security culture front, with a score of 76 out of a 100. This comes as no surprise seeing as they manage highly confidential data and have thus adopted a long tradition of risk management as well as extensive regulatory oversight.

Indeed, the security culture posture is reflected in the sector’s well-oiled communication channels. As cyberthreats constantly and rapidly evolve, it is crucial that effective communication processes are implemented. This allows employees to receive accurate and relevant information with ease; having an impact on the organisation’s ability to prevent as well as respond to a security breach. In IBM’s 2020 Cost of a Data Breach study, the average reported response time to detect a data breach is 207 days with an additional 73 days to resolve the situation. This is in comparison to the financial industry’s 177 and 56 days.

Moreover, with better communication follows better attitude – both banking and financial services scored 80 and 79 in this department, respectively. Good communication is integral to facilitating collaboration between departments and offering a reminder that security is not achieved solely within the IT department; rather, it is a team effort. It is also a means of boosting morale and inspiring greater employee engagement. As earlier mentioned, attitudes are evaluations, or learned opinions. Therefore, by keeping employees informed as well as motivated, they are more likely to view security best practices favourably, adopting them voluntarily.

Predictably, the industry ticks the box on compliance as well. The hefty fines issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the past year alone, including Capital One’s $80 million penalty, probably play a part in keeping financial institutions on their toes.

Nevertheless, there continues to be room for improvement. As it stands, the overall score of 76 is within the ‘moderate’ classification, falling a long way short of the desired 90-100 range. So, what needs fixing?

Towards Achieving Excellence

There is often the misconception that banks and financial institutions are well-versed in security-related information due to their extensive exposure to the cyber domain. However, as the cognition score demonstrates, this is not the case – dawdling in the low 70s. This illustrates an urgent need for improved security awareness programmes within the sector. More importantly, employees should be trained to understand how this knowledge is applied. This can be achieved through practical exercises such as simulated phishing, for example. In addition, training should be tailored to the learning styles as well as the needs of each individual. In other words, a bank clerk would need a completely different curriculum to IT staff working on the backend of servers.

By building on cognition, financial institutions can instigate a sense of responsibility among employees as they begin to recognise the impact that their behaviour might have on the company. In cybersecurity, success is achieved when breaches are avoided. In a way, this negative result removes the incentive that typically keeps employees engaged with an outcome. Training methods need to take this into consideration.

Then there are norms and behaviours, found to have strong correlations with one another. Norms are the compass from which individuals refer to when making decisions and negotiating everyday activities. The key is recognising that norms have two facets, one social and the other personal. The former is informed by social interactions, while the latter is grounded in the individual’s values. For instance, an accountant may connect to the VPN when working outside of the office to avoid disciplinary measures, as opposed to believing it is the right thing to do. Organisations should aim to internalise norms to generate consistent adherence to best practices irrespective of any immediate external pressures. When these norms improve, behavioural changes will reform in tandem.

Building a robust security culture is no easy task. However, the unrelenting efforts of cybercriminals to infiltrate our systems obliges us to press on. While financial institutions are leading the way for other industries, much still needs to be done. Fortunately, every step counts -every improvement made in one dimension has a domino effect in others.

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Finance

Has lockdown marked the end of cash as we know it?

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Has lockdown marked the end of cash as we know it? 2

By James Booth, VP of Payment Partnerships EMEA, PPRO

Since the start of the pandemic, businesses around the world have drastically changed their operations to protect employees and customers. One significant shift has been the discouragement of the use of cash in favour of digital and contactless payment methods. On the surface, moving away from cash seems like the safe, obvious thing to do to curb the spread of the virus. But, the idea of being propelled towards an innovative, digital-first, cashless society is also compelling.

Has cashless gone viral?

Recent months have forced the world online, leading to a surge in e-commerce with UK online sales seeing a rise of 168% in May and steady growth ever since. In fact, PPRO’s transaction engine, has seen online purchases across the globe increase dramatically in 2020: purchases of women’s clothing are up 311%, food and beverage by 285%, and healthcare and cosmetics by 160%.

Alongside a shift to online shopping, a recent report revealed 7.4 million in the UK are now living an almost cashless life – claiming changing payment habits has left Britons better prepared for life in lockdown. In fact, according to recent research from PPRO, 45% of UK consumers think cash will be a thing of the past in just five years. And this UK figure reflects a global trend. For example, 46% of Americans have turned to cashless payments in the wake of COVID-19. And in Italy, the volume of cashless transactions has skyrocketed by more than 80%.

More choice than ever before

Whilst the pandemic and restrictions surrounding cash have certainly accelerated the UK towards a cashless society, the proliferation of local payment methods (LPMs) in the UK, such as PayPal, Klarna and digital wallets, have also been a key driver. Today, 31% of UK consumers report they are confident using mobile wallets, such as Apple Pay. Those in Generation Z are particularly keen, with 68% expressing confidence using them[1].

As LPM usage continues to accelerate, the use of credit and debit cards are likely to decline in the coming years. Whilst older generations show an affinity with plastic, younger consumers feel less secure around its usage. 96% of Baby Boomers and Generation X confirmed they feel confident using credit/debit cards, compared to just 75% of Generation Z[2].

Does social distancing mean financial exclusion?

As we hurtle into a digital age, leaving cash in the rearview, there are ramifications of going completely cashless to consider. We must take into consideration how removing cash could disenfranchise over a quarter of our society; 26% of the global population doesn’t have a traditional bank account. Across Latin America, 38% of shoppers are unbanked, and nearly 1 in 5 online transactions are completed with cash. While in Africa and the Middle East, only 50% of consumers are banked in the traditional sense, and 12% have access to a credit card. Even here in the UK, approximately 1.3 million UK adults are classed as unbanked, exposing the large number of consumers affected by any ban on cash.

Even when shopping online – many consumers rely on cash-based payments. At the checkout page, consumers are provided with a barcode for their order. They take this barcode (either printed or on their mobile device) to a local convenience store or bank and pay in cash. At that point, the goods are shipped.

There are also older generations to consider. Following the closure of one in eight banks and cashpoints during Coronavirus, the government faced calls to act swiftly to protect access to cash, as pensioners struggled to access their savings. Despite the direction society is headed, there are a significant number of older people that still rely on cash – they have grown up using it. With an estimated two million people in the UK relying on cash for day to day spending, it is important that it does not disappear in its entirety.

Supporting the transition away from cash

Cashless protocols not only restrict access to goods and services for consumers but also limit revenue opportunity for merchants. While 2020 has provided the global economy with one great reason to reduce the acceptance of cash, the payments industry has billions of reasons to offer multiple options that cater to the needs of every kind of shopper around the world.

Whilst it seems younger generations are driving LPM adoption, it is important that older generations aren’t forgotten. If online shops fail to offer a variety of preferred payment methods, consumers will not hesitate to shop elsewhere. With 44% of consumers reporting they would stop a purchase online if their favourite payment method wasn’t available – this is something merchants need to address to attract and retain loyal customers.

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Finance

UnionPay increases online acceptance across Europe and worldwide with Online Travel Agencies

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UnionPay increases online acceptance across Europe and worldwide with Online Travel Agencies 3
  • UnionPay International today announces that two of Europe’s leading travel companies, Logitravel and Destinia, have started accepting UnionPay.
  • This acceptance will enable users of the groups’ travel websites to make purchases using UnionPay payment methods.

The acceptance partnerships between the OTAs and UnionPay began in July 2020 for customers across 13 European countries and another 90 countries and regions worldwide.  The European countries covered by the agreements include the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary and Ireland.  The brands covered by these acceptances include Logitravel.com and Destinia.com which together deliver more than 8.5 million worldwide travel bookings each year covering flights, hotels, holidays, car hire and other experiences.

With over 8.4 billion cards issued in 61 countries and regions worldwide, UnionPay has the world’s largest cardholder base and is the preferred payment brand for many Chinese and Asian expatriates and students based in Europe, as well as an increasing number of global customers. These cardholders are also particularly attractive to the two OTAs.  Despite the impact of Covid-19, Logitravel and Destinia expect to see the demand for travel across the European continent as well as that between Europe and Asia return to growth in the coming years. They are now placing significant focus on offering more payment options and smoother payment services to meet this demand.

The partnerships incorporate UnionPay’s ExpressPay and SecurePlus technology, which will ensure seamless transactions for the customers, contained within a single process through the relevant websites.  UnionPay’s technology also provides for the requirement to authenticate transactions under the EU regulation Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) ensuring that sites will be compliant as soon as the relevant countries apply the requirements.

Wei Zhihong, UnionPay International’s Market Director, said: “This is a major partnership with two of Europe’s leading online travel companies.  Logitravel and Destinia are brands which have been at the forefront of e-commerce for many years and we are very excited to be working with them to extend their reach to new audiences. This highlights the work that we have carried out in ensuring that our technology provides effective solutions for the biggest e-commerce sites both in Europe and around the world. We look forward to announcing many more similar agreements in the near future.”

Jesús Pons, Chief Financial Officer at Logitravel Group said: “UnionPay has always been on our radar, and since travel has become a crucial part of its development, Logitravel felt it important to develop this important partnership. It really was an obvious decision for Logitravel since both companies share a passion for e-commerce and emphasising the payment experience for their customers.”

Ricardo Fernández, Managing Director at Destinia Group said: “We believe that this is the beginning of a really strong relationship.  Our discussions with UnionPay in reaching this partnership have demonstrated their understanding of the needs of major online merchants and their ability to deliver the highest quality systems.  We look forward to working together on further partnership as we move forward.”

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