Slow Road to the Reformation of AU’s Banking and Financing Industries

It’s been 2 years since the Royal Commissioner Hayne submitted a report containing 76 recommendations of changes in the banking and financial services sectors. The changes are actually reforms that require legislation of laws to ensure that the culture of greed for profits, will no longer have precedence over the financial safety and wellbeing of Australian consumers.

The year-long hearings of the Royal Commission presided by Commissioner Kenneth Hayne unraveled billions of dollars worth of money stolen from consumers by way of unauthorized onerous charges and sale of millions of worthless products perpetuated through the participation of several banks and financial institutions.

Although it ended the careers of the board chairs and top executives of prominent Australian banks and financial companies like National Australia Bank, Westpac Banking Corporation and Australian Mutual Provident Society, just to name a few, little has been done to address the ill practices pervading in Australia’s financing systems.

While about a third of Commissioner Hayne’s recommendations are now supported with laws, most have been ignored and abandoned. Parliamentary action was supposed to have begun in 2020: but delays transpired as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In May of the said year, it was announced that legislations that would have addressed the problems that led to the financial scandals, will have to take a backseat. The parliament had to pass legislations for addressing the economic problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now that the country has moved on, consumer groups are calling attention to the slow progress of legislations that will put more teeth in Australia’s banking and credit laws. More so now that many of the country’s citizens are facing financial difficulties to which safe and affordable lending options are of utmost importance. Reports have it that there is currently a concerted effort by lobbyists of banking institutions to delay the implementation of Commissioner Hayne’s remaining recommendations.

According to Lenar Anderson, “most people think that the government has already addressed the problems in the banking and financing industries. Ms. Anderson, a consumer advocate who herself lost thousands of dollars resulting from unauthorized bank charges taken from her bank account said that the average Australian consumer thinks that the government has already instituted corrective solutions.

The general consensus among consumer groups is that many in the finance industry are still behaving badly.

Consumers are Advised to Enter Financing Deals Only with Licensed Dealers

Most of the malpractices discovered pertained to selling of products on finance, which were facilitated by retailers and dealers not licensed to offer credit facilities and car loans. Under Australia’s National Credit Policies, lenders and all those offering financing products and services are obligated to ensure that consumers entering into financing deals will not be put in conditions that will result in financial distress.

Inasmuch as finance brokers are likewise required to obtain an Australian Credit License when offering to broker financing deals on behalf of consumers, those looking to apply for a car loan should not readily agree to what car dealers are offering as financing facilities. To stay on the safe side, consumers should first determine other car loan options available to them.

National Loans Australia for one, has a free-to-use online Loan Pre-Approval tool at their website, https://nationalloans.com.au/car-loans/ . Those who would be interested to pursue plans of applying for a car loan as a means of buying a new car, would be better protected against unscrupulous lenders by taking on the financial services of National Loans Australia. This licensed team of financial experts gives assurance that they are committed to work in behalf and for the benefit of customers, and not in the interests of potential lenders

Economic Reports Indicate Signs of Recovery in UK’s Economy

The latest economic report of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that in February, the UK showed initial signs of recovery by way of a 0.4% growth. The securities and investment market is also manifesting positive results, as leading investment managing firm BlackRock, noted that UK investors have been driving growth in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), which are securities that rely on price performances of a particular commodity, sector or a particular asset.

Sectors that Exhibited Growth in February 2021

The ONS February 2021 economic report released only this April, indicated that even as the UK is still in the grips of a national lockdown, some sectors demonstrated resilience.

The construction industry exhibited the highest improvement, to which new projects, as well as job contracts for repairs and maintenance yielded a 1.6% increase. The services sector, mostly in consumer-facing services, reported growth of 0.2% but at an amount that is still a little below pre-pandemic figures.

The country’s GDP output though, remained at 7.8% below the value reported in February last year, since wholesale and retail sales growth was minimal. Nonetheless, the production sector posted growth of 1%, as manufacturing companies contributed a 1.6% increase.

Why Investors are Shifting to ETFs

According to BlackRock, the ETF’s indexing approach to investing helped their clients build portfolios that are more efficient and nimble. At a time when businesses in the country were challenged by regulations, fee compression and centralisation of business models, ETFs remained steadfast as lucrative investments.

The resiliency of ETFs was tested by the market turmoil created by the 2020 pandemic crisis, giving wealth investors more reasons to increase, if not shift some of their investments into ETFs. Moreover, the number of ETFa listed in the London Stock Exchange has increased to as many as 1,200, providing investors with a broad selection of choices with which to build their portfolio.

How Can Digital Wealth Management Companies Help UK Investors

Today, those who have less time to constantly review and monitor price trends and product performances are using the services of digital wealth management companies known as robo advisors. In addition to their expert financial advisers, these companies provide their clients a platform that enables them to gain access to a wealth of information about the diverse range of investment assets available in the financial markets. However, not all robo advisors have uniform fees, as well as have similar approaches in providing their financial services.

If by chance, you are one who is currently looking for a technology-enhanced wealth management service provider, Ask Trader dot com, through a team of analysts, provides a review of financial services providers who offer trading advice, investment management services and automated platforms specializing in stocks, ETFs, forex, and cryptocurrency.

A good example is the website’s Net Wealth review, which checked out as an FCA licensed digital wealth management company. However, a closer loof by the Ask Trader Team of Analysts shows that the downside to using the financial services of this robo advisor is that clients cannot trade or manage their own portfolio. Moreover, unless a client’s fund is part of the Netwealth Network, the minimum investment required per investor is £50,000.

Thailand Continues to Rely on Tourism for Economic Recovery

Even if Thailand was able to effectively prevent the virus from, the country is still at risk of experiencing a record-high economic decline due to travel and tourism disruptions. While a proposal for legalization of online gambling was put forward as a fresh source of revenue, the country’s economic recovery program remains focused on travel and tourism.

Since October 08, 2020, Thailand re-opened its doors to international tourism to which new Special Tourist visas are being issued. The visas are special because they will enable visitors to stay up to nine months. Acceptance of online applications begun last October 01 and will be ongoing up to September 2021.

Initially, approved Special Tourist visas will be valid for 90 days, but are renewable and can be approved for extension twice — up to a maximum of nine months. However, international tourists have to observe quarantine measures by staying for 14 days in a state-accredited facility quarantine protocols before they can go sightseeing.

Who are Eligible to Apply for Thailand’s Special Tourist Visa?

Only foreign nationals of countries deemed as low risk territories are eligible to apply for the Special Tourist visa.

In addition, those with approved visas must be able to present a negative result from a coronavirus test taken within 72 hours before arrival in Thailand, as well as provide proof that they have booked accommodation. Moreover, visitors planning to enter the country can only do so by taking chartered air flights or private jets.

The Special Visa is different from the proposed ‘Safe and Sealed’ travel scheme that is still being considered. This proposal puts forward recommendations of allowing foreign visitors to fly directly to Phuket and take their 14-day quarantine period at a designated beach resort. The scheme though would still require the visitor to take a test before setting off for Thailand, and if negative would take another test after the 14-day quarantine before traveling around the island. Should the visitor/s desire to leave Phuket and continue their vacation in the mainlands, they would have to take another test.

Thai MPs Recommendation to Legalize Online Gambling Met with Orders for Crackdown

In the latter part of August, 2020, MP Mongkolkit Suksintharanon, leader of the Thai Civilised Party floated the idea of looking into the legalization of gambling as an alternative source of government revenue. The Thai politician rationalized that while there are many online gambling websites catering to Thais as online recreation, the government does not get to collect any revenue in the form of taxes, which the MP estimates could amount to as much as 5 to 6 million bahts annually.

MP Mongkolkit asserts that will take some time before it can fully bring the much needed revenue due to the worsening COVID-19 crisis. Whereas the online gambling operations poses as an untapped source of potential revenue that can speed up the country’s economic recovery.

However in September, as an apparent response to such proposal, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha ordered the Minister of Digital Economy and Society Minister to launch a crackdown on online gambling. As a result, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are now under orders to block the foreign gambling websites from accessing Thai’s local networks.

Most Thai gamblers are not as worried though because their favorite online casinos, like 918kiss, can be accessed by way of mobile application that works outside of a public network.