Archive for May, 2016

Harrington Brooks buys Debt Lifeboat business

Harrington Brooks, the leading debt management firm and IVA provider, is pleased to announce the acquisition of Debt Lifeboat’s customers after the company’s decision to withdraw from the IVA market.

The acquisition reinforces Harrington Brooks’ existing successful insolvency practice, which has been an active service provider in the market for over 10 years. The firm currently supervises over 23,000 IVAs to help customers manage and get out of debt.

1,000 of Debt Lifeboat’s customers and their IVA agreements have been transferred to be managed by Harrington Brooks. The process of notifying Debt Lifeboat customers is underway, to inform them of the transfer and to reassure them that the transfer will not affect their IVA. As customers are welcomed they will also receive a full review to ensure their agreements are fully up to date and appropriate.

Harrington Brooks’ Customer Support Team will contact the new customers over the forthcoming weeks to introduce themselves and answer any queries they may have about the transfer of their arrangements.

All new customers will also benefit from Harrington Brooks’ free legal advice and benefit checking services, which last year amounted to £1.6m of free advice.

Commenting on the acquisition, Matthew Cheetham, CEO, said:

“At Harrington Brooks we understand that people fall into money problems for a whole variety of reasons and, often, there isn’t a one size fits all solution to the unique underlying reasons for indebtedness. We put our customers first, and we will ensure that Debt Lifeboat’s customers are protected as we honour the terms of their existing IVAs.

This important acquisition demonstrates the strength of our business and our offering to customers, and marks the latest step in the growth of Harrington Brooks’ customer base.”

Harrington Brooks IVA is a trading style of One Advice Ltd. A wholly owned company of the One Advice Group Ltd.

The One Advice Group rolls out financial education game across local schools

The One Advice Group (OAG) has developed a financial education game to engage students of a variety of ages about financial responsibility, as the Group continues with its commitment to Financial Education for Future Generations and its programme with local schools.

Financial Education for Future Generations is about helping students to be money wise and to understand the consequences of lending and spending so that they can make positive financial choices as they get older.

Employees from across the Group came together and used some of their 2 hours per month Continuous Personal and Professional Development time (CPD) to devise a board game, PayDay, which introduces to the students “real life” financial scenarios. These include managing a monthly salary, paying bills, making choices about the affordability of leisure activities, calculating interest on loans, dealing with unforeseen expenses, savings options and managing windfalls.

Every time they pass go, players are given a monthly salary of £1,600 each, and as they travel around the board they are faced with different financial situations to manage, requiring them to also solve problems and use their maths skills in a fun and engaging way. The winner is the one with the most money left at the end of the game.

Head of Marketing for the Group and Septembers Mosaic Mentor of the Month – September, Jodi Hamilton commented;

“Colleagues wanted to use the expertise and support they offer customers every day to create material for the financial education programme and as a result they also developed their team working, communication, problem solving and collaborative skills. It’s provided the perfect opportunity to offer learning and development for colleagues whilst we fulfil our commitment as a responsible business to the local community”.

In support of Manchester Airport Group (MAG) and BW3 Numbers at Work initiative, the game has been played at Sandilands Primary School and St John Fisher / Thomas More Primary School. The feedback was so encouraging that the One Advice Group has been invited to roll it out to more local schools in the Manchester area.

Then in the Business in the Community, Mosaic mentoring programme; Newall Green High School sixth form students played PayDay, forming part of the programme developed by the Prince’s Trust to prepare young people for the world of work.

Furthermore, children at Benchill Primary School also showcased the game at the Creditor Conference, organised by Harrington Brooks, part of the One Advice Group, so that representatives from the creditor world had the chance to see the value of financial education in action. The conference took place on March 24th at the Renaissance Manchester City Centre Hotel.

The next PayDay session will be Business in the Community’s nationwide Give & Gain Day on 20 May when another 100 students will play the game supported by volunteers from the Group.

Matthew Cheetham, Chief Executive of the One Advice Group, said:

“The One Advice Group is committed to helping young people to think about their own financial wellbeing. We have already supported a variety of schools with their financial education programme, and we hope that this PayDay game goes one step further in helping school children understand about the need for effective money management. We look forward to working with more schools and local organisations to roll this game out further.”

Google to ban online payday loan adverts

google-bans-payday-loan-adverts

Google have announced they are banning adverts for short term loans and finance on their search engine.

The announcement was made on their blog and is due to take effect from July 2016.

“This change is designed to protect our users from deceptive or harmful financial products and will not affect companies offering loans such as Mortgages, Car Loans, Student Loans, Commercial loans, Revolving Lines of Credit (e.g. Credit Cards).”

David Graff, Director, Google Global Product Policy

At the moment there is no indication if other search engines, such as Microsoft’s Bing, will follow suit in Google’s footsteps.

While unrelated the announcement comes two years after the FCA began to regulate the consumer credit sector. Recommendations which included changes to lending criteria, operating procedures and being more TCF-centric were just some of the what was conveyed to firms in this domain.

Graff mentioned further:

“Ads for financial services are a particular area of vigilance given how core they are to people’s livelihood and well being.”

In addition to the cull on short term loan adverts there was also mention of a ban on products that advertise an APR of 36% or above. This policy change will eventually be executed globally according to Graff.

“In the U.S., we are also banning ads for loans with an APR of 36% or higher. When reviewing our policies, research has shown that these loans can result in unaffordable payment and high default rates for users so we will be updating our policies globally to reflect that.”

As yet there has been no official response from any of the major short term lenders such as Wonga, Amigo Loans and Sunny on Google’s proposed change. The plausible next move could see an increase in advertising on other online mediums such as facebook and twitter.

“While Google may be closed to payday lenders these firms will probably look at advertising on alternative channels together with increased spending in other areas such as TV or radio. As these firms have already built up a brand, using TV and ironically online advertising, customers looking for payday loans will still know where to go.”

Matt Cheetham, CEO, One Advice Group

The announcement in full can be found on the Google public policy blog.