This week’s Personal Column features: This week’s column… | UK inflation highest since June 2014 | Mortgage lending up despite political shakes: CML | Demand from firs-time buyers still going strong.

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This week’s Column…

This week’s top stories

This week, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced that wages grew faster than the rate of inflation towards the end of last year. However many experts believe this disparity will level out as inflation continues to rise. Meanwhile, the Bank of England are getting closer to their inflation rate target of 2% and mortgage lending increased in 2016 despite political shake-ups.

The inflation rate just keeps on rising! For the fourth consecutive month inflation has yet again risen, now standing at 1.8%. The Bank of England set an inflation target rate of 2% and they’ve since predicted the rate will further increase to 2.7% next year. But what’s causing the increase in the rate?   Read more..

After a turbulent 2016, mortgage lending was up by 7%. This is a boost to the mortgage market as home buyers borrowed £127.7 billion last year, up 3% on 2015. First-time buyers provided the most activity with remortgage and buy-to-let lending decreasing.  Read more..

The first set of local events for 2017 have been announced! Registration is now open for you to book a place at a Personal Touch Workshops near you. You can secure your place here. Click here to register.   Read more..

This week we heard some welcomed in the intermediary mortgage market. Figures show that there’s been an increase in uptake for high loan-to-value (LTV) mortgages. Could this spark a trend with more first-time buyers eager to get onto the housing ladder?  Read more..

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Whichever camp you fall into, we’re proposing something for everyone: an Inspiration Library.

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This would be a membership-wide effort, designed to involve businesses of all shapes and sizes. It’d be a place to display a variety of advertisements and ideas to inspire you and help you grow your business.

How can you get involved?
If you’re interested in sharing some of your inspiration, please e-mail

Finance News

UK inflation highest since June 2014

Inflation has reached its highest rate for two-and-a-half years, mainly as a result of the rising price of fuel.

Annual inflation as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) reached 1.8% last month, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said, up from a rate of 1.6% in December.

It’s the fourth consecutive month that the rate has risen and takes inflation to its highest since June 2014. Fuel prices hit a two-year high in early February, according to the RAC.

As well as fuel, the ONS said food prices also contributed to the rise in inflation, as prices were unchanged between December and January, having fallen a year ago.

Offsetting these factors, the prices of clothing and footwear fell by more than they did 12 months ago.

The increase in the inflation rate takes it closer to the Bank of England’s target rate of 2%, which was last seen in December 2013.

Inflation is widely expected to pick up this year as a result of the weaker pound, which is making imported goods more expensive.

Earlier this month, the Bank of England said it expected the inflation rate would hit 2.7% next year.

Separate ONS figures for producer prices showed that input prices – the amount paid for materials and fuel by UK manufacturers – rose at an annual rate of 20.5% in January, the fastest pace since September 2008, and a rapid pick up in pace from the 15.8% figure seen in December.

The prices of goods leaving factories were up 3.5%

ONS head of inflation Mike Prestwood said: “The costs of raw materials and goods leaving factories both rose significantly, mainly thanks to higher oil prices and the weakened pound.”

Chris Williamson, chief business economist at analysts IHS Markit, said: “While the further upturn in price pressures will fuel speculation that interest rates may start to rise later in 2017, the most likely scenario remains one of policy staying on hold over the next two years as the economy navigates through Brexit. Further upward pressure on prices looks inevitable in coming months as energy costs continue to climb and firms pass rising costs on to customers, pushing inflation up towards 3.0% in the second half of the year.

“Wage growth has crept up to 2.8%. However, our expectation is that it will slow, or at least remain muted, in 2017 as the labour market cools, providing the Bank of England with leeway to keep policy on hold.”

Consumer inflation as measured by the Retail Prices Index (RPI), which includes housing costs, rose to 2.6% in January from 2.5% the month before.

Read more..

Source: BBC News (published 14 February)

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Mortgage News

Mortgage lending up despite political shakes: CML

Mortgage lending was up by 7% in 2016, with first-time buyer activity particularly healthy, the Council of Mortgage Lenders has said.

Home buyers borrowed £127.7 billion in 2016. This came to 698,900 loans, up 3% on 2015.

First-time buyers borrowed £53.2 billion for home-owner house purchase in 2016, up 13% on 2015.

They borrowed more in 2016 than any other year since CML records began in 1974.

Remortgaging activity also reached historic levels following the Bank of England’s decision to lower interest rates in August, with activity up 14% by volume and 20% by value compared to 2015.

The number of remortgage loans was at its highest since 2009.

Gross buy-to-let also saw year-on-year increases, up 3% by volume and 7% by value.

Paul Smee, director general of the CML, said: “2016 could have been a potentially destabilising year of regulatory and political change, but the mortgage market has been resilient and adaptable.

“Home-owner house purchase lending increased, though the buy-to-let sector’s positive lending performance has been driven primarily by remortgaging.

“We don’t expect the market volumes to show a year-on-year increase in 2017 instead remain similar to that achieved in 2016.”

Strong activity among first-time buyers sustained the market at the end of last year, with remortgage and buy-to-let activity both down in December.

First-time buyers borrowed £5.1 billion in December, up 9% on November and 13% on December 2015.

Meanwhile home-owner remortgage activity was down 21% by volume and by value compared to November but was up 7% on the same month in 2015. Gross buy-to-let saw month-on-month decreases, down 15% by volume and 7% by value. Year-on-year, the number of loans decreased 21% and the value of these loans decreased 18%.

While buy-to-let lending was down, of the three quarters after the stamp duty changes in April, gross quarterly lending was at its highest by volume and by value in the final quarter of 2016.

Nearly two thirds of buy-to-let loans were remortgages rather than house purchase.

Read more..

Source: FT Adviser (published 14 February)

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Mortgage News

Precise Mortgages – Limited edition products

Precise Mortgages have launched a new limited edition buy-to-let five year fixed products with rates starting from 3.39%. The products will be available to both core and limited company (separate product codes) and will be available for all distribution.

Product Highlights:

These products are the lowest five year fixed rates within their buy-to-let range
Affordability calculated on pay rate, for five year fixed rates
These products are designed to provide an option for customers looking for higher loan sizes, with maximum loan size available to £2,000,000

Please remember that Precise Mortgages apply an ICR from 125%. Bespoke ICRs based on individual circumstances help you to maximise the loan size.

The product details are:

3.39% 5 Year Fixed
o 2.50% Fee
o 4.50% Revert Fee
o 4%, 4%, 3%, 3%, 3% ERC
o 3.39% Assessment Rate
o Minimum loan size £250,000
o Maximum loan size £2,000,000 (LTV limits apply)
o Available Tier 1
o Available in Core and Limited Company

3.49% 5 Year Fixed
o 2.00% Fee
o 4.50% Revert Fee
o 4%, 4%, 3%, 3%, 2% ERC
o 3.49% Assessment Rate
o Minimum loan size £250,000
o Maximum loan size £2,000,000 (LTV limits apply)
o Available Tier 1
o Available in Core and Limited Company

Source: Precise Mortgages e-newsletter (received 13 February)

Protection News

Review your clients at the click of a button

At AIG Life, they take being easy to do business with seriously.

Not only do they want to help your clients get the insurance they need quickly and efficiently, they also have made a series of improvements to their online system so you can review and updated your clients’ policies at the click of a button.

Read their latest blog to find out more about the new tools and how they can make your life easier

Source: AIG e-newsletter (received 13 February)

Protection News

AssetAdviser Platform rated for the second consecutive year

Aviva’s substantial investment in its platform capability has seen it achieve AdviserAsset’s Platinum Rating for a second consecutive year.

More than 1,000 firms with over 8,000 advisers participated in the annual AdviserAsset Platinum Ratings 2017, which found adviser confidence in platforms is strong and increasing. These ratings are unique as they are based on the results of the massive volume of charge comparisons and platform due diligence run by advisers using the AdviserAsset tools.

The findings of the study combine with the following criteria to determine ratings: price competitiveness; features and functionality; and quality of service.

Colin Turton, Director at AdviserAsset and MarketWatch said: “This gives us a unique empirical view of platform quality and price competitiveness in real-time. Each of this year’s Platinum platforms have now been awarded Platinum status two years in a row, providing a strong endorsement of the quality of their management teams and their propositions.”

Source: Aviva e-newsletter (received 13 February)

General Insurance

Household insurance claims statistics 2016

Legal & General are committed to be there for your clients when it matters most. Between January and August 2016, Legal & General made payments on over 74,350 claims registered. This is the equivalent of 333 claims a day with the average payout value of £1,288.

The most common claim areas for 2016 were:

  • Accidental Damage
  • Escape of Water
  • Theft
  • Storm
  • Personal Possessions.

Take a look at some of the ways Legal & General are there for your client in the moment of truth, learn more about their claim statistics in their infographic.

Source: Legal & General

Wealth News

Thousands feel trapped in investments

Thousands of investors are clueless about the value of their shares and are trapped in investments they don’t want, as research indicated many companies are failing to properly communicate with shareholders.

According to findings from peer-to-peer trading platform Asset Match, more than a quarter of UK shareholders do not know the current value of the shares they own.

The research, which was based on a survey of 2,000 British adults, also found that 9 per cent of investors feel unable to sell or trade the shares they own in a private company. According to Asset Match, this equates to more than 600,000 trapped and frustrated investors.

This sense of discontent among shareholders was largely a result of poor transparency and communication from private companies, with 10% of investors never being given the opportunity to discuss options about their shares since making their original investment. 

Stuart Lucas, co-chief executive of Asset Match, said the research uncovered a “concerning problem” being experienced by shareholders who he claimed are often ignored and pushed to one side.

“There are huge numbers of shareholders in the UK who want to sell their shares but cannot, don’t know how much their shares are actually worth, or wish to invest in other companies but are trapped in their current investments.

“Failure to address this issue will not only breed further discontent within Britain’s shareholder community, but also risks stunting the growth of the private sector by not enabling investors to sell shares and reinvest in the next generation of companies.”

The survey revealed that 16% of UK’s shareholders, which equates to more than a million people, would like to invest in high-growth businesses but cannot because they’re unable to sell their existing shares.

Despite the report painting a negative picture of private companies, Mr Lucas pointed out that confidence in the growth of the market appeared to be strong.

Recent findings from IW Capital indicated that 44% of British investors thought Brexit would have a positive impact on their investments.

Yet the Asset Match boss said the difficulty investors have when it comes to cashing in these shares could risk undermining this confidence because shareholders are unable to re-invest into other private businesses.

However, Dan Farrow, director of SBN Wealth Management, was critical about the report.

“So long as the underlying company is liquid, there is no reason why any investor should be ‘trapped’ in a share they don’t want.”

He also said there are no excuses to “moan” about disclosure requirements of companies, adding: “With the advent of the internet, there are few excuses for investor ignorance.”

Read more..

Source: FT Adviser (published 14 February)

Events News

Personal Touch Workshops 2017 – You’re invited

This year is all about taking control, seizing each and every opportunity and making 2017 your best year yet. Our next series of workshops echo this vision with a tailored agenda of sales and business growth inspired content from some leading market experts.

Take your first step towards making 2017 your best year yet and register today for a workshop near you…

Here’s a preview of what the events will bring:

  • How to grow your business through protection.
  • Meet some of our panel’s specialist lenders.
  • Updates on the upcoming Buy-to-Let changes.
  • Presentations by subject matter experts.
  • Buzz sessions giving insight into various hot topics.
  • Networking opportunities with the key Personal Touch staff, as well as other successful advisers.

Dates and Venues
The full list of dates and venues are:

  • Tuesday 07 March – North East (Wetherby Racecourse, Wetherby).
  • Thursday 09 March – North West (The Mere Golf Resort & Spa, Knutsford).
  • Tuesday 14 March – Scotland (Houstoun House Hotel, Livingstone).
  • Thursday 16 March – Midlands (Windmill Village, Coventry).
  • Tuesday 21 March – South (Apollo Hotel, Basingstoke)

Thursday 23 March – London (Victory Services Club, London)

Book today!

Source: Personal Touch Events Team

And Finally…

Demand from first-time buyers still going strong

The help-to-buy mortgage guarantee scheme may have come to an end, but that hasn’t dampened activity among first-time buyers. Instead, demand seems to be escalating, with figures from Yorkshire Building Society revealing a definite spike for high loan-to-value (LTV) mortgages in January, as increasing numbers sought to get on the housing ladder.

The mutual saw demand for 95% LTV mortgages rise by a whopping 91% year-on-year in January, suggesting that more were able to pull together a 5% deposit to take that first step. This follows increased demand across 2016 as a whole, with the mutual increasing its 95% LTV lending by more than 50% compared with 2015, so there’s no sign of the market losing its momentum.

“More and more first-time buyers are trying to get their first step on to the property ladder so the demand for 95% LTV mortgages shows no sign of slowing down,” commented Charles Mungroo at Yorkshire Building Society. “It’s positive to see that borrowers realise there are still options available across the market to those with smaller deposits, despite the disappearance of the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme.”

The figures follow our own research which revealed that the high-LTV market hasn’t disappeared as a result of the withdrawal of Government support – indeed, the number of 95% LTV mortgages available has risen by 38 on a monthly basis to stand at 248, as providers re-launched their 95% LTV deals as standard rather than Help to Buy offerings.

Read more..

Source: (published 14 February)

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