Second charge repossessions fall to a record low in 2019

New figures released today by the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) show that the number of second charge mortgage repossessions in Q4 2019 was 25, 10.7% lower than in Q4 2018. The annual total of repossessions in this market fell to a record low of 98 in 2019.

The rate of second charge mortgage repossessions (as a percentage of outstanding agreements) was 0.06% in the twelve months to December 2019.

Commenting on the figures, Fiona Hoyle, Head of Consumer and Mortgage Finance at the FLA, said: “Second charge mortgage providers are committed to helping consumers in financial difficulty, which is borne out by the low number of repossessions last year.

“Any customer worried about meeting payments should speak to their lender as soon as possible to find a solution.”

UK Finance and MoJ statistics point to rise in mortgage possession activity – comment

The latest UK Finance and MoJ statistics have both pointed to a rise in mortgage possession activity. Mark Pilling, Spicerhaart Corporate Sales managing director, says “The latest UK Finance figures show that the long-term trend for increased mortgage possession activity is continuing. Although this is from a low base, it is still a sign that the uncertainty and low economic growth of recent years is catching up with household finances.

“According to Ministry of Justice figures, also released this morning, in the last three months of 2019 there were an average of 68 claims for possession every day, with the total of 6,258 representing an 11 per cent increase on the same period in 2018. Possession orders have increased by nearly a quarter (24 per cent) and repossessions by 9 per cent.

“The data also points to an ongoing regional divide, with the three highest rates of repossessions all in the North-East of England. Interestingly, this is where many of the Conservatives’ recent electoral gains came from so it is clear they will be under pressure to deliver on their talk of ‘levelling up’ regional economies.

“At the same time, regulatory changes are coming into force which, although well-intentioned, may have the short-term impact of making life more difficult for many people already struggling to make ends meet. People being required to step up repayments on credit cards and potentially pay more for authorised overdrafts will put even greater pressure on household finances.

“Repossession should always be the last resort and lenders should always look to find another option if it is available. The lenders we work with all have a clear strategy in place to identify borrowers who are at risk of falling behind with payments and engage with them deliver the best possible customer outcome.”

Sujit Unni joins Paysafe as Chief Technology Officer

Specialised payments platform, Paysafe, announces it has further strengthened its technology leadership team with the appointment of Sujit Unni as Chief Technology Officer (CTO).
Unni is responsible for driving the technology strategy and the design and architecture of Paysafe’s end to end technology landscape and is based in Paysafe’s London office reporting to Roy Aston, Group Chief Information Officer (CIO).

Unni joins Paysafe from Barclays where he most recently served as Managing Director in the Retail and Business Lending Platforms UK business where he was responsible for product development, technology, strategy and engineering for the firm’s lending and partner finance business. Prior to Barclays, Unni held senior positions at Vantiv, JP Morgan, Travelex and HSBC.

Roy Aston, Group CIO of Paysafe, commented: “I am delighted to welcome Sujit to Paysafe at such an exciting time in our growth journey and I’m confident he will be a real asset to our technology leadership team as we drive forward our vision of being the world’s leading specialised payments platform. Sujit’s wealth of experience in the payments industry and strong technical knowledge will bring huge value to the team.”

Unni added: “Paysafe has a really clear technology vision and I’m really looking forward to working with Roy and the whole team to drive it forward.”

Esker Integrates Stripe Connect to Offer Secure Online Payment Capabilities to Its Customers

Esker, a worldwide leader in AI-driven process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, today announced the integration of Stripe Connect, the technology infrastructure powering the world’s most ambitious platforms, to its core product. This integration will expand Esker’s order-to-cash (O2C) solution by offering secure online payment capabilities globally and help businesses get paid faster.

Stripe Connect seamlessly integrates with Esker’s solution, giving Esker customers the convenience of working with a single payment provider across the globe, instead of having to pick from different local providers. Esker customers can now collect payment on their invoices using credit and debit cards (e.g., Visa, Mastercard or American Express) and direct debit methods (e.g., ACH, SEPA) in more than 40 countries and 135 currencies within Europe, the U.S., Canada, Latin America and Asia.

“As the most innovative player in financial technology, Stripe was the clear choice for us. Stripe’s PCI Service Provider Level 1 certified solution offers the stringent payment protection our customers worldwide expect,” said Jean-Michel Bérard, CEO at Esker. “By enriching our O2C solution with online payment, we increase businesses’ operating efficiencies and help them get paid faster, particularly in the collections process. This will also accelerate the launch of new Esker products and simplify the onboarding of our customers.”

“We’re proud to support the global ambition of Esker,” said Guillaume Princen, Stripe General Manager for Continental Europe. “By integrating with Stripe, Esker will move much faster, provide better customer experience and develop their business across the world. This is exactly what Stripe is about: giving time back to its customers so they can focus on what they do best.”

Fiduciam loan allows client to settle HMRC debt

Fiduciam has put in place a £973,000 loan to refinance a varied portfolio of seven properties, held across nine titles, after the borrower was hit with a large, unexpected, tax bill.

Previous poor advice had resulted in the borrower, an experienced operator of pubs and restaurants, purchasing various properties under the wrong legal entity, leaving him liable for an HMRC demand in excess of £350,000.

Due to the varied nature of the portfolio, which includes an owner-occupied commercial unit, a restaurant and bars, other lenders were unwilling to offer terms. The borrower’s ongoing position in relation to HMRC was also a significant barrier.

Fiduciam specialises in complex cases of this nature particularly around business lending. Fiduciam’s flexible approach, combined with its understanding of the client’s business position, enabled it to offer a two-year facility to allow the client to restructure his portfolio, settle the tax position and increase both turnover and profit of his trading businesses. Although the legal process was inevitably complicated, all parties worked together to deliver a solution for the client so that he could respond to HMRC’s demands in a timely manner.

The 62% LTV loan was offered on a retained-interest basis for the first three months, and serviced thereafter, at a rate of 0.8% pcm.

Commenting on the deal, Chris Parr, business development manager at Fiduciam’s Manchester office, said: “The client needed us to move quickly in order to be able to meet his tax bill promptly. Although the nature of his portfolio meant that a complicated legal process was involved, we worked with the broker to keep the deal moving and provide the finance he needed. Our experience of handling complex deals enabled us to take on the client’s case when other lenders were unable to consider it.”

Adele Turton, Co-founder of Sirius Property Finance, added “We approached Fidiciam, having taken advice from accountants and tax advisers, with a client looking to restructure his property portfolio and deal with an outstanding tax matter. Fidiciam quickly understood every aspect and were able to facilitate matters efficiently. The process was smooth and proactive and the lender’s solicitors were extremely helpful and knowledgeable when advising on requirements as well as creating workable solutions throughout.

“My confidence in Fiduciam as a partner, when dealing with transactions most lenders would not have attempted or even considered, is very high.”

Spratt Endicott Solicitors brings in debt recovery specialist to bolster client relations

Oxfordshire based Spratt Endicott Solicitors has welcomed a new specialist to its debt recovery team, who’ll be tasked with supporting the growth of the department by building new client relationships and extending existing ones.

Heather Jackson joins the firm as Business Development Manager in the firm’s Debt Recovery practice, thanks to her extensive background in financial services, where she developed a keen understanding of the pressures faced by those in the industry as she initially worked as a credit controller before moving in to client relationship management.

Spratt Endicott’s Debt Recovery department is ranked amongst the Top Tier in the Legal 500 UK – the client’s guide to the best law firms in the country. Its debt recovery services cover a broad swathe of industries and sectors, from financial institutions, to multinationals, sole traders and local authorities. Clients are based throughout the UK, while the department also employs international debt recovery services on a global scale.

Heather will be tasked with driving the department forward, helping to secure new accounts and maintaining strong working relationships.

Richard Gwynne, Director of Commercial Recoveries at Spratt Endicott, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Heather to the team. The ability to form genuine relationships with our clients is something that sets us apart in the industry. Consequently, we need someone who is well versed in this aspect to help welcome new clients on board, properly conveying our capabilities, while also ensuring we deliver on their requirements and match their expectations. Heather’s background sees her well placed to deliver on this, and we’re excited to see what she brings to the department.”

Spratt Endicott is a Top Tier Legal 500 Law Firm with offices across Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire. It won Best Regional Firm, South & South West at the LFS Awards in 2019 and was also shortlisted for Conveyancing Firm of the Year, South of England at the Modern Law Conveyancing Awards and People & Engagement Award at the LPM Practice Excellence Awards.

Introducing AJJB Law

AJJB Law – The Debt Recovery Law Firm – is delighted to announce that it has been Authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

We’re open for Business!

AJJB Law is a modern legal practice specialising in all aspects of financial debt recovery litigation and operates from the same location as its parent company CRS.

Our Debt collection roots enable us to deliver a fresh approach in providing both practical and commercially viable litigation solutions to UK businesses.

Caroline Burston, Managing Director said, “We are extremely proud that AJJB Law has completed its setup and regulatory authorisation in a relatively short time frame. The new management team and I are looking forward to the exciting opportunities that await AJJB Law.”

John-Paul Murphy, Legal Director said, “It is fantastic to be finally getting started with AJJB Law following our authorisation and approval process with the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

“It is an exciting opportunity for me with my expertise in financial debt litigation to work with a dynamic and entrepreneurial firm to now offer a broad range of recoveries solutions which now encompasses legal.”

Arren Khan, Business Development Director at AJJB Law said, ‘Its exciting times for AJJB Law now that we are fully authorised. Everyone’s hard work has paid off and we can push on with our ambitious plans.

“I am looking forward to helping create a thriving business that delivers a superior end to end legal solution for clients.”

Fintech startup EasyEuro raises US$4 million funding to launch a Neobank for cross-border SME traders between Europe and Asia

Paris and Shenzhen based Fintech startup, EasyEuro, offering digital banking services to SME trading between Europe and Asia – with initial focus on China, has announced the completion of a US$4 million pre-A funding round. This round of financing is mainly to be used to accelerate company growth in product development, talent recruitment and market expansion.

China and Europe are the largest trading partners in the world. Import and Export volume between China and Europe from SME businesses reached US$323 Billion in 2018 covering goods such as textiles, furnitures, toys,foods,wine, cosmetics etc. and online eCommerce via Amazon, Shopify, France’s Cdiscount etc. is over US$100 Billion in 2018. These SME businesses, mostly located in as many as dozen European countries, lack the ability to easily receive and disburse payments in currency of their choice. Chinese SME also has a difficult time of conforming to European banking practices.

EasyEuro aims to provide their SME clients with a digital mobile wallet which comes with a multi currency banking account to send and receive cross-border payments in the currency of their choice. Clients can apply for a MasterCard linked with their EasyEuro account that can be used worldwide. The digital wallet supports most major payment acquiring methods such as Visa, MasterCard, WeChatPay, Alipay and UnionPay and allowing customers to benefit not only quick and simple remittance but also favorable exchange rates that can be protected during the trading process to avoid exchange losses.

EasyEuro has built a suite of open APIs for their strategic institutional payment partners such as Geoswift and SwiftPass, enabling key functions such as collect, convert, remit and pay, all in the currency of choice, which will cover the entire business flow of international trading from China to Europe.

After completing the seed funding of CNY ¥5 million in September 2018, EasyEuro has raised US$4 million in Q4 2019. This round is led by Shanghai based Ally Capital, and followed by seed investors SwiftPass, Geoswift, Shanghai based Fintech specialist Huashan Capital and Unity Assets.

EasyEuro is founded by a team of Chinese entrepreneurs living and working in Europe in November 2017. It’s led by Dr Ryan Li, a Phd from Aix-Marseille University whom lived in France for 8 years with entrepreneurial experience in tourism, as CEO; and Densen Xue, the ex-Chief Architect of Huawei mobile payment wallet which is deployed as M-Pesa in Africa, bKash, TCash, JazzCash, etc. in Asia, as it’s CTO.

EasyEuro has kick started it’s payment business in Europe in 2018 with several hundreds merchants online and offline. It is an authorized e-Money Institution under UK FCA, and permitted to operate in the European Economic Area including France, Germany, Netherlands,Italy, Spain, etc.

Comments on Insolvency Service data on IVA outcomes

Last week the Insolvency Service released data showing that the number of IVAs failing in their first year has increased from 4.1% for arrangements started in 2013, to 8.4% for those that started in 2018.

Given the significant rise in first year failures and the concerns of the whole sector around IVA advice and outcomes, Freeman Jones is calling for increased transparency and can report that our first-year failure rate for IVAs that started in 2018 is 2.5%.

IVAs can be an excellent debt solution for the right customers: key to this is the advice process. Freeman Jones is part of a wider group that offers customers free, impartial debt advice so we are able to offer customers access to the full range of debt solutions available, as well as budgeting advice and signposting, where an IVA isn’t a suitable solution.

Customers must be made fully aware of the details of the solution that they are signing up to, the restrictions and rules that apply whilst they are bound by it, and the support provided to help them stay on track with their arrangement. It is vital to get a detailed understanding of customers’ income and expenditure and what payment is realistic and sustainable for them, whilst also ensuring that the proposal covers any expected change of circumstances.

Head of Insolvency Catherine McNeill commented: “Across the whole debt advice sector, we’d like to see more transparency and debate about customer outcomes. For example, in Scotland the Accountant in Bankruptcy publishes Trust Deed success rates split by provider. Our sister firm, Wilson Andrews, saw 90% of its customers successfully complete their Trust Deed in 2018-19, whilst some of the largest providers in the sector are seeing up to 30% failure rates. If all firms had to publish their failure and completion rates, or if they were published by the regulator on an industry body, this would drive better outcomes for customers sector wide.

“For the right customers, IVAs can be an excellent way to clear their debts. We work hard to provide customers a high level of support right from the very start of their IVA journey and throughout the term of their arrangement. For our vulnerable customers our Extra Support Team provides additional and personalised help when they need it too. Our aim is to give all customers the best possible chance of completing their IVA and becoming debt free.

“In fact, in 2019 5,400 Freeman Jones customers successfully completed their IVA and had £80m of their debt written off by creditors, leaving them debt free. Over the same period we returned £30m to creditors.”

Statement from R3 on the Breathing Space impact assessment

The Treasury has published an impact assessment of its forthcoming ‘breathing space’ scheme to help people in debt by giving them 60 days free from creditor contact in which to talk over their options with a professional debt advisor. 700,000 people are expected to take part in the scheme in its first year, and 1.2 million by the end of its first decade. The scheme is due to be introduced in 2021.

Mark Sands, Chair of insolvency trade body R3’s Personal Insolvency Committee, said: “The breathing space scheme is something we have campaigned for and supported for many years. Giving people in debt time to talk over their options with a professional advisor will help them to choose the right way forward for them, without additional stress or pressure.

“The Government’s prediction that many hundreds of thousands of people will benefit from the scheme in the first year that it is introduced shows the crying need for breathing space, and we eagerly await more detail on its introduction date and how it will be implemented.”