5 tips on how to stay on top of your finance & mortgage

Knowledge is power – People are living increasingly hectic lifestyles and this lack of spare time means many mortgage-holders put reviewing their finances and mortgage. Keeping on top of your money matters should be a priority and doesn’t necessarily have to be a laborious, time consuming task. And, the reality is that circumstances change – interest rates fluctuate, commodity prices fluctuates, our personal situations change, such as jobs and family affairs – so being equipped with knowledge about the health of your finances and planning ahead is a necessity to overcome most financial challenges in life.

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How to review your finance and mortgage

  1. Check your current statement(s) – to see what you’re paying, when any special deal or contract ends, what happens at the end of your deal or contract and the balance left to pay.
  2. Check if you’re still on a good deal – compare like for like current market deals or contracts.
  3. Check if and when you can switch – to get a better deal if available.  It makes sense to start shopping around a few months before any special deals ends. Switching can cut down your monthly payments but you’ll need to weigh up theses monthly savings or other benefits against the costs of making the switch.
  4. Make a list of all your incomes and expenses – prioritise your mandatory expenses and work on maximising your disposable income by reducing where necessary your lifestyle expenses.
  5. Make saving a habit – save as much as you can not just money but energy and the environment. Remember the saying ‘if you fail to plan, you have already plan to fail’.

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BT pension scheme MEPC property developer sold to Hermes

Hermes Investment Management has acquired MEPC, the UK property developer owned by the BT Pension Scheme (BTPS).

Hermes, which was formerly owned by BTPS, and GE Real Estate took MEPC private in 2000 as each acquired 50% of the company. Three years later, Hermes bought GE’s stake.

 

In April 2018, Federated Investors acquired a majority interest in Hermes from BTPS.

Hermes said today it is acquiring MEPC in a deal that “enhances Hermes Real Estate’s proposition by adding specialist asset and development management expertise to its existing capabilities”.

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Chris Taylor, CEO of Hermes Real Estate, said: “There are many synergies between the two brands and an already long-lasting and successful relationship, which can now be built upon further.”

James Dipple, CEO of MEPC, said: “This is an exciting transaction for MEPC, allowing us to combine our long track record of success with a leading real estate investment manager.

“Our strategic ambitions for the future are fully aligned with those of Hermes and, therefore, a strong basis for the growth of MEPC.”

A spokesperson for Hermes and MEPC said: “Having Hermes as MEPC’s parent company provides a long-term basis for its future growth with little disruption to day-to-day business. Certain investments processes are already integrated with those of Hermes.

“This acquisition greatly enhances our real estate proposition by adding specialist asset and development management expertise.

“In particular, it supports our core strategy of creating urban regeneration schemes, which not only deliver attractive financial returns but will have a positive impact on the environment and communities in which they are located – a key market differentiator for the business ahead.”

Source: IPE Real Asset

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TPO looking for a new Property Ombudsman

The current Ombudsman, Katrine Sporle, is giving up the role in November after five years in the post.

The closing date for applicants is February 18

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Established in 1990, the Property Ombudsman (TPO) is a government approved scheme providing fair, free and independent redress in relation to disputes between consumers and property agents. Responding last year to nearly 30,000 enquiries, and instructing agents to pay over £2 million of awards, TPO is the primary source of industry standards and consumer redress in an industry with widespread consumer impact. 

TPO is proud of its reputation, its strong connections with policy makers and its focus on quality, rigour and reach. However, operating in a competitive landscape, and in a sector which touches the lives of millions of people, means that TPO is not an organisation that can ever afford to stand still.  The head of the current Ombudsman, Katrine Sporle, stepping down in 2020 after 5 years outstanding service, TPO are looking for an outstanding leader to fulfil this key leadership role, and continue to take the organisation forward.   

TPO’s new Ombudsman will play a critical role in raising the profile of the organisation and its work, improving its performance, impact and influence, and ensuring that it has the culture, partnerships and resources in place to be sustainable over the long term. They will nurture, develop and inspire TPO’s staff team, based predominantly at the Head Office in Salisbury, and represent TPO externally, including to sector leaders, policy makers, the media and a range of other cross-sector audiences.  

TPO would welcome applications for this role from people with strategic and operational leadership credentials, and a strong track record in external engagement roles and influencing policy. We need an Ombudsman with a confident and sensitive leadership style, who can motivate and energise our people and stakeholders. An understanding of redress and ombudsman services and/or of the property sector is highly desirable.  

Saxton Bampfylde Ltd is acting as an employment agency advisor to the Property Ombudsman on this appointment.  For further information about the role, including details about how to apply, please visit www.saxbam.com/appointments using reference QAQDB.  Alternatively telephone +44 (0)20 7227 0880(during office hours).  Applications should be received by noon on Tuesday 18 February 2020.

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LRG acquires Dunlop Heywood in a surprise move into commercial property

The Leaders Romans Group has extended its activities into the commercial world with the acquisition of chartered surveying company Dunlop Heywood.

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Dunlop Heywood – established in 2008 – specialises in business rates liability and advises a wide range of clients in the aviation, docks and harbours, energy and renewables, retail and leisure sectors.

Agency group makes surprise move into commercial propertyLRG chief executive Peter Kavanagh says: “This is a fantastic acquisition for LRG, which will further enhance the range of expert property services we can offer our clients. Dunlop Heywood has a very well established market reputation for providing expert rating advice, and I am confident … we will be able to grow the business in the coming years.”

Property owner fined £260k by HSE for worker falling from height

Sir Robert McAlpine has been fined £260,000 after a worker fell 4.8m through an unprotected opening at a property owned by a director of the firm.

Mark Smith, 36, was attaching straps to a water tank so it could be moved in order to paint flooring at Stone Gappe Hall in Bradford, which is owned by group director Richard McAlpine, when the incident occurred.

Smith was hospitalised for nine days after fracturing his leg, ankle, kneecap, eye socket and nose, cutting his face, injuring his ribs and sustaining a concussion.

He continues to suffer from the psychological effect of the incident and has not been able to return to work since, according to a statement by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

An HSE investigation found that he fell through an opening that did not have fixed-edge protection.

Sir Robert McAlpine of Eaton Court, Maylands Avenue, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, pleaded guilty to single breaches of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.

The company was fined £260,000 and ordered to pay £38,299 in costs.

HSE inspector Paul Thompson said: “Falls from height often result in life-changing or fatal injuries. In most cases, these incidents are needless and could be prevented by properly planning of the work to ensure that effective preventative and protective measures are in place such as edge protection or barriers built to the correct standard.

“This incident could have easily been prevented if the company had undertaken a thorough risk assessment and installed adequate edge protection around the opening to prevent falls.”

Source: Construction News

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Property funds remains closed despite M&G raising £70m

M&G has extended the suspension to dealing in its £2.5 billion Property Portfolio fund, which blocked investors from withdrawing their cash last month.

The fund group said it had raised £70 million after completing the sale of the Ravenside Retail Park in Edmonton and exchange contracts on the disposal of an office block in Staines. A further £67 million is in the pipeline from properties ‘either under offer or in solicitors’ hands’, the fund group said.

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‘The immediate priority is to raise cash levels in a controlled manner,’ the fund group said in an update to investors. ‘The fund managers and associated teams are working hard to increase the fund’s cash position.’

The total £138 million of sales would more than double the cash level in the fund, which stood at 4.8% of the fund at the end of November, or around £120 million.

But that would still be well below the heavy holdings of a number of rival property funds, of which some have more than a quarter of their assets in cash.

The Ravenside Retail Park sale will meanwhile chip away at the fund’s large weighting to the under-pressure retail sector, which amounted to 34% of the fund’s assets at the end of November, higher than that of most rivals.

M&G was forced to suspend dealing last month after suffering nearly £1 billion of withdrawals in the space of 12 months. The fund fell 8% over the last year and is kept off the bottom of the Investment Association’s UK Direct Property sector only by the Aberdeen UK Property fund.

Source: Citywire Funds insider

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Bank of England launches climate change stress test

The Bank of England has launched one of the most ambitious attempts to date to quantify the risk that climate change poses to the financial system.

Banks and insurers will face climate stress tests in a similar way to the financial stress tests they already do.

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It is a project that could ultimately result in banks and insurers having to hold more capital to do certain kinds of business.

And that could have profound effects on the way the economy is funded.

Bank officials told journalists that the value of every asset on the face of the planet will be affected by climate change. Where values change, there is financial risk and the bank wants to measure it – and then manage it.

Large banks and insurance groups will be asked to go through their balance sheets almost asset by asset to assess the risks posed by a range of climate scenarios.

The Bank of England recognises there are two types of financial risk posed by climate change. There are physical risks arising from weather related events – floods, droughts, fire, etc.

And then there are what it describes as transition risks. Things that happen as a result of adjusting to a low carbon economy – meat becoming more expensive, costs incurred in the mandatory insulation of homes.

Source: BBC News

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