Consumed by abuse, Labour faces deepening divisions with leadership contest

LONDON (Reuters) – Death threats, a brick through a window and one lawmaker even installing a panic room in her office; less than a year after Britain’s Labour elected socialist Jeremy Corbyn leader on a promise of ‘kinder politics’ the party is mired in civil war.

from Reuters: Top News

UK resists Chinese pressure over nuclear deal but still wants close ties

LONDON/BEIJING (Reuters) – Britain said on Monday that it wanted closer ties with China but resisted pressure from Beijing to sign off on a $24 billion nuclear power project that was delayed at the last minute by Prime Minister Theresa May.

from Reuters: Top News

Man who stabbed London passenger ‘for Syria’ jailed for life

LONDON (Reuters) – A man who stabbed a passenger at a London underground train station in December while shouting that he was acting for Syria was jailed for life at a London court on Monday.

from Reuters: Top News

Cameron in cronyism storm over resignation honours

LONDON (Reuters) – David Cameron faced accusations of cronyism and rewarding failure on Monday over a leaked list of names put forward to receive some of Britain’s highest honours following his resignation as prime minister.

from Reuters: Top News

The Gender Gap in the financial services sector – How financial institutions are bridging financial exclusion

It is a shocking statistic that in today’s society, a world full of technology and gadgets, there are more than 1 billion women who do not have any access to even the most basic of financial products. So concerned are financial institutions worldwide, that they are looking into effective ways in which they can assist in bridging this financial exclusion.

In 2014 65% of men worldwide owned bank accounts compared to just 58% of women. Amongst developing economies like South Asia, for example, the figures show that 55% of men had accounts compared to only 37% of women, a staggering discrepancy of 18%. In contrast in the Middle East in 2014 where this difference was calculated to be around 10%.


There are 26 financial institutions that are dedicated to bridging this gender gap, as listed on the 2016 Bloomberg Financial Services Gender-Equality Index Member Firms:


American Express

Banco Santander

Bank of America

Bank of Montreal


BNP Paribas

BNY Mellon



Credit Suisse

Deutsche Bank

Franklin Templeton



JPMorgan Chase



Old Mutual

Prudential PLC

Standard Chartered

State Street

The Hartford



Bloomberg is planning to build on the findings of their initial list, making the survey public and expanding the index to other sectors including consumer products and technology in the near future. This is an expansion that Women’s World Banking is looking forward to, not least because gender diversity in financial institutions is a critical step towards achieving their mission of bringing financial services to low-income women all over the world.

If these financial institutions are to begin the process of bridging the gender gap, then they need to ensure that their own staff choices also reflect the diversity of gender they are seeking. These inclusion efforts should include not just statistics on gender but also details of any company policies that relate to gender, such as maternity leave, product offering and community engagements; a firms support for those organisations that are focused on legislation aimed towards gender equality.

In addition, when it comes to bridging the gender gap it seems that banks in particular need to step up in respect of their investment management in an effort to entice more women into realising the value of the very many financial products that the financial services sector has to offer.

MasterCard Survey

MasterCard recently conducted a survey, the results of which were published in June this year. They polled over 10,000 consumers spread across 10 European countries, including Germany, UK, Sweden, Poland and France. The survey revealed that 49% of those polled, less than half believe there to be a high level of financial inclusion in their own country. 80% do not, however, agree that Europe is the most financially inclusive region in the word. It is, in fact, disconcerting to discover that the vast majority of Europeans, more than 80%, believe that men have a higher degree of both financial and digital inclusion than women, less than 47%, however, believe that access to better financial and digital product education would assist with inclusion.  

When the reality of distrust in the banking system in the UK is that two million Britons remain unbanked then perhaps the financial institutions are right in feeling that financial exclusion needs to be bridged. Not least since these are the kind of figures we would expect to see for areas such as Africa and Asia.

Access to banking

Studies have shown, especially in developing countries, that access to banking can be of particular importance to women, with control of the money they tend to make decisions that are better for their families. When a woman has some direct say over how household money is spent it is more likely that families will have nutritious meals. It also gives them an opportunity to establish autonomy, without access to banking accounts women may be forced to give vital money to their husbands or a male relative as they have no way of keeping it safe. Access to bank accounts doesn’t just give women a sense of financial security for themselves but also for their children.

It is these women that financial institutions need to reach out to the most if they are hoping to bridge the gender gap.


from Finance Girl

New for Investment Planners: Will Brexit See a Rise in VAT?

Britain’s decision to leave the EU on June 23rd has potentially huge ramifications, both politically and economically. Since the decision, Britain has gained a new Prime Minister, but uncertainty remains on when the UK will actually leave the EU, and what impact this will have on their international trade deals.

What is VAT?

One area where many Brits are concerned is VAT. Currently at 20%, VAT stands for Value Added Tax and is applied to all goods that are not deemed as ‘essential’. As a result, a small change in VAT can add a large amount of money to the value of a family’s weekly shop.

Why Will this be Affected by Brexit?

Now, Withers Worldwide are reporting that Brexit may have large ramifications on VAT, with the recent decision expected to have legal consequences for VAT. This is because, unless an alternative agreement is negotiated with the EU, both imports and exports to and from the UK will become liable to VAT and duties. This means that the UK will lose its preferential terms of export. This is because this only exists between EU and non-EU countries.

VAT is currently responsible for 18% of all UK tax revenue, and this means that it is highly unlikely that the UK will abolish the VAT system in its entirety. However, with Brexit looking set to increase compliance obligations for companies both inside and outside the EU, it’s likely that the system may need a complete overhaul.

Will the Rate Rise?

When the UK officially leaves the European Union, it will have no obligation to maintain a VAT system. However, as we said, it provides almost a fifth of the UK’s tax revenue, and the Treasury would find this almost impossible to replace.

However, if the UK ran its own version of VAT, then it’s also important to note that decisions made on VAT by the European Court would no longer be binding in the UK, as the UK’s VAT rate would run separately to the EU’s.

At present, EU law states that the minimum rate of VAT is 15%, but this would no longer apply to the UK. Theoretically, although it’s highly unlikely, the UK’s rate could fall below this level.

Instead, some believe that the VAT rate will rise instead, possibly as high as 25%. However, until the UK begins to negotiate an exit of the EU, it’s impossible to know for certain, so watch this space.

from Finance Girl