Friday, 16 August 2013

Socially Useless Banking Regulation

Ardent socialist, co-founder of the London School of economics, novelist and playwright George Bernard Shaw once said, “Until the men of action clear out the talkers, we who have social consciences are at the mercy of those who have none” and true to form, the talkers would have us believe austerity measures along with the reform of banking regulation have put both the heartache and the economic implications of the banking scandal firmly behind us.

Keen to keep us all abreast of the good news we are told;
However, for the  99% of us who occupy the real world, the picture remains significantly less rosy;
  • The long overdue FSA/FCA investigative report into the collapse of HBOS is to be delayed until next year.
  • “Economic recovery has been restricted to those at the is not recovery for most people” Labour spokesman to Reuters 
  • “A significant cohort of UK borrowers could experience financial difficulties if interest rates were to rise during a period of subdued income growth,” Financial Stability Report
  •  Living standards in the UK are lower than they have been for a decade because inflation is still outstripping wage increases Reuters
  •  Barclays and Lloyds have set aside a further 450 million to compensate people they have defrauded and Lloyds have used delaying tactics to encourage complainants to give up on their claims. 
In addition to these far from comforting social truths,  
  • The recently published bi-annual Financial Stability Report states, the banks Financial Policy Committee relaxed the regulations for the UK’s big four lenders to allow them to "reduce their capital requirements by 20%"  and in so doing has provided them with a further 70 billion of cunningly disguised bailout.
Meanwhile, trapped between the legacy of widespread and hitherto unpunished banking avarice and the greed of my landlord, my family and I wait, without patience, for;
  • HBOS to supply me with information I require to progress my case of complaint to the FOS
  • The FOS to respond to my 1 August request that they ask HBOS to supply me with the information I have been awaiting for eight long months
  • My landlord's builders to finish their noisy decimation of the Grade 2 listed property I have called home for the past five years
  •  A letter from my landlord’s solicitor to advise me he wishes to increase my rent by a staggering 50% as a result of the installation of an extremely expensive, entirely unsolicited, sustainably fuelled heating system.
In October 2012, Any Haldene, Executive Director of Financial Stability and member of the Financial Policy Committee, made a speech to Occupy Economics to advocate socially useful banking. He said “concrete, practical proposals for change” would be delivered by way of banking reforms which addressed the five “c’s” (culture, capital, compensation, credit and competition) and further stated, “We know too that the costs of crises are felt disproportionately by the worst-off in society whose living standards tend to fall not just relatively but absolutely”. Yet, five arduous years on since my family and I lost our home, our livelihood and our financial futures, the talk continues while, for the 99%, the painful consequences of the crisis remain unchanged.

Stoic philosopher, inspirational master of equanimity and the last of the five good emperors of Rome, Marcus Aurelius, once said, “The guest at the lower end of the middle couch...who is digging in his big mouth with a toothpick is a fraud. He has no teeth” and while I wait, without mercy for the toothless Financial Ombudsman Service, to progress my miss selling complaint against HBOS, I can only conclude both the talkers, the bankers and the regulators are precisely the same.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Lest We Forget

Canadian born writer and theologian William Paul Young once said, “Forgiving is not about forgetting but it is about letting go of another persons’ throat” and having spent the past five years within the strangle hold of our creditors, I am thankful the vast majority of them have chosen to forgive.  However, I have returned home from a very welcome break with my family to be greeted by some correspondence which clearly  illustrates letting go of our throats is the last thing the Halifax Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group have in mind.

It has been six months since the Financial Ombudsman Service both ruled in my favour and awarded compensation for the distress and inconvenience that Lloyds Banking Group’s miss-handling of my husband’s credit card debt caused. Since then Lloyds have not only sold the debt twice but ignored both the income and expenditure form I completed as well the offer of settlement I made.  I am now faced with compiling yet another Financial Ombudsman Service Complaint at further cost to both myself and the tax payer.

I had hoped, as a result of my four letters to the HBOS Data Subject Access team, I would be returning to the missing documents pertaining to my miss sold mortgage.  Instead, I have received a letter which the reveals  the following:

       HBOS’s internal credit check document does not list the extent of the borrowing which was outstanding at the time of my mortgage application
       HBOS do not hold any accountants evidence to support my mortgage application
       HBOS do not hold a financial fact find of our circumstances in support our mortgage application
       HBOS continue to be unsuccessful in their endeavours to obtain information from their in house solicitor or surveyor
       HBOS are unprepared to disclose the reasons why my broker was removed from their panel during the underwriting of my mortgage
       HBOS are unprepared to send me their compliance check list on grounds it is not my personal information

This was my response;

Dear HBOS Data Subject Access Team,
Ref: *******
Thank for your letter dated 23 July 2013 and the further copies of information I requested along with your comments.

However, I have some further requests.

1.     Please may I ask you to confirm the credit reference summary is an external credit check document carried out to establish the level of financial commitment a customer already has at the time of application and not just an in house list of HBOS borrowings based on internal information and details supplied by the broker. If it is not, please supply me with copies of the external credit check carried out at the time of underwriting my mortgage.

2.     Please may I ask you to supply me with copies of the letters the DSAR team have sent to both Colleys Surveyors and Pathway Residential Lawyers requesting complete copies of my files.

3.     I would like to draw your attention to the Liberty Guide to the Human Rights Act 1998 in which it states, ““if information about you is held by your doctor, by your bank, by a credit reference agency, by your employer or by the tax-man, the likelihood is that it will be [available to you under the rules of a Data Subject Access Request because it is deemed to be] your personal data”. [This extends to] “personal data where it is processed to learn or record something about that individual or where the processing of that information has impact on that individual”. In the light that removing my broker from your panel may have had an adverse effect on the underwriting of my mortgage and your internal compliance checklist may well prove inadequate checks at the underwriting stage of my mortgage application have impacted on me personally, I would like to, once again, request that you supply me with the following;

  •        Documentation which explains to the reasons my broker was removed from your panel.
  •        The name of the department or the person responsible for overseeing my mortgage in the light that my broker was no longer at liberty to oversee it.
  •       The internal regulatory checklist which complies with the FSA rules for the responsible underwriting of residential re-mortgages.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Yours sincerely

Soon after I sent this letter I was asked the following two questions by an Associated Press journalist. In the light of my ongoing battle and my recently received communications from both the Lloyds Banking Group and Halifax Bank of Scotland, I stand by the following answers.

Q. Do I feel the banks can now be trusted?

A. I have never enjoyed blind faith in the banking industry but, coming from a financial services background myself, I expected the banking fraternity to abide by the law, operate within regulatory guidelines and, as professionals, exercise a duty of care towards their clients in all their transaction. I believed they would follow a strict regime of client fact finding to establish which loans, investments and life policies were appropriate for their customers and I assumed them would pursue a responsible and ethical approach to the underwriting of anything they sold. I now know, as a result of my own experience, this has been far from the case and because of this I no longer trust them in any shape of form. Neither do I believe they possess the integrity or the incentives to address the cultural issues which have supported their long standing penchant for profiting from their customers by miss selling and manipulation. Despite the economic crisis and widespread hardship their actions have caused, they have suffered little consequence for their fraudulent behavior. No heads have rolled (other than those of their victims) and fines which bare little relation to the amount they have successfully procured and kept by way of ill gotten gains, only pay lip service to their empty promises of change. 

 Q.Would I consider taking out a mortgage or investing with them again?

 Because of a banking system which continues to reward dishonesty and avarice, I and my family lost our home, our livelihood and our financial future so there is little chance I will ever secure another mortgage and I no longer enjoy a level of remuneration which allows me to save. However, should I, by some wild stretch of the imagination one day be eligible for a mortgage, I would never agree to using a lenders in-house solicitor to convey my mortgage nor would I allow their in- house surveyors to value my property. I shall never ever again permit a mortgage broker to submit an online mortgage application in my name. Furthermore, I would not take out a joint and severally liable mortgage without written agreement from the lender confirming they would contact me separately from my co borrower (even if he is my husband) about every aspect of my mortgage application, its underwriting and its administration throughout its term. In the unlikely event I might one day have money to invest, I would not touch the banks with a barge pole.

William Paul Young also said, “Forgiveness does not create a relationship. Unless people speak the truth about what they have done and change their mind and behavior, a relationship of trust is not possible” and although I hope one day I might be able to forgive those bankers who have chosen to keep their hands firmly around my throat for the past five long years, I most definitely will not be forgetting their names.