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Wealthy millennials decline financial advisers’ services: survey

More than half the wealthiest young Americans do not use financial advisers, according to a survey released Thursday, and wealth managers may be missing opportunities to discuss health, family and financial values with those and other potential clients.

Just 47% of multimillionaires ages 18 to 34 reported using the services of a wealth manager, broker, financial planner or private banker.

The results came from an online survey of 640 US adults with more than $3 million in investible assets, excluding their primary residence. It was commissioned by US Trust, a wealth management unit of Bank of America Corp., which is based in Charlotte, NC

Leading lenders turn to debt collectors to keep retail non-performing loans …

Kasikornbank plans to hire private debt collectors and tighten its credit standard for unsecured loans in a bid to prevent rising non-performing loans (NPLs) among retail clients, said executive vice president Thawee Teerasoontornwong.

KBank has found that its current individual customers have more debt than those at other financial institutions, causing it to increase the frequency of credit record checks with the National Credit Bureau.

Overall, lower debt repayment among these customers also means the banks loan-loss reserve needs to be increased accordingly, he said.

KBank has also decided to tighten its lending conditions for credit card and personal loan customers who are late payers, in a bid to pressure them into developing financial discipline.

Credit card customers who are late payers will be limited to cash advances on their cards at 50 per cent of their credit limit, against 100 per cent currently, he said by way of example.

The banks approval rate for credit cards has dropped from 60 per cent to 50 per cent, while approvals for personal loans have fallen from 50 per cent to 35 per cent, he added.

NPLs among retail customers in the first quarter climbed to 1.8 per cent from 1.6-1.7 per cent at the end of last year, due mainly to rising bad debt among personal loan and mortgage customers.

Retail customers have a higher debt-service ratio, especially mid-income people with a monthly income of lower than Bt50,000 (S$2000).

The high debt-service ratio of this segment is reflected in the upward trend of overall household debt in Thailand, said the executive.

The rising debt-service ratio means now is not a good time for the bank to speed up its loan expansion, as it will have more expenses in collecting debt, as well as needing additional loan-loss provisioning, Thawee said, adding that KBank might consider lowering its loan-growth target for retail banking this year to cope with the situation.

In the first quarter, lending from retail customers posted flat growth due to the banks credit tightening.

KBank will instead shift its lending focus to upper-income people who have a monthly income of more than Bt50,000, he said.

Housing loans are safer for the bank because customers who buy a home will generally know their debt-repayment ability, especially those purchasing from leading property developers, he explained.

Meanwhile, Krungthai Card (KTC), a major player in unsecured loans, last week reported to the Stock Exchange of Thailand that it had hired an outsourcing company to collect debts, with the objective being to clear the expense of debt collection in compliance with Bank of Thailand requirements, said executive vice president Bucha Sirichumsang.

Although NPLs for credit card and personal loan customers at KTC are only 1.48 per cent and 1.3 per cent, respectively, lower than the market average, the company attaches increased importance to debt collection after seeing signs of a tighter financial situation among its retail customers, he said.

KTC this year is strongly promoting its personal lending – a category that poses a higher risk than credit cards – while the long holidays in April and May might increase the level of late repayment, he added.

The company must, therefore, closely monitor its customers behaviour and use debt collection to defend itself against bad debt, said the executive.

India a recovering, not surging economy: CEA

HYDERABAD: In view of the heightened expectations from the Indian government to deliver on the economic front, the governments chief economic advisor (CEA) Dr Arvind Subramanian sounded a note of caution saying that India must be seen as a recovering and not a surging economy.

The official estimate of growth for 2014-15 was 7.5% and in 2015-16, the growth will be higher by about half to one percentage point. So we are predicting about 8 to 8.5%. But India must be viewed as a recovering and not a surging economy, Subramanian said at a session on the economic survey at the University of Hyderabad here on Tuesday.

He pointed out that the expected GDP growth figures must be viewed with extreme caution as, on one hand, the macroeconomic outlook has improved, investors are upbeat and both inflation and interest rates have come down, but there are many other indicators -low tax receipts, weak credit growth and low industrial production – that do not inspire confidence. He also noted that the inflationary process has changed as rural wage growth has declined very rapidly last year and it will influence policy making in the coming days.

Unsecured loans: Easy credit, hard to repay?

A flurry of new attractive promotions for unsecured loans have hit the market ahead of new rules restricting loans to people with heavy debts.

From June 1, if you have total unsecured debts totalling more than 24 months of your monthly income for more than 90 days, you will not be granted more unsecured loans. These are loans which do not require collateral, unlike mortgages or car loans, for instance.

This means anyone in this category won’t be able to apply for new credit cards or withdraw money from an unsecured credit line, for instance.

The borrowing limit, however, does not apply to unsecured loans for medical, business and education needs, among other conditions.

The online portal of MoneySense, the national financial literacy programme, notes: “Most unsecured loans charge fixed interest rates whether they are term or revolving loans, unless promotional interest rates apply.”

While unsecured loans are a quick and easy way to get extra cash and fixed interest rates may seem attractive, experts that warn you should be careful and prudent.

The Sunday Invest looks at some promotions and tips on how to manage repayments.

Some new offers

What: Maybank’s CreditAble Term Loan

Promotional rate: 3.78 per cent year for a one-year term (effective interest rate is 10.5 per cent a year). If you borrow $10,000, for a repayment period of 12 months, the monthly instalment will be $865.

Take note: You must be an existing Maybank CreditAble customer to apply for this loan. A 2 per cent processing fee will be deducted from the loan amount disbursed.

What: Personal Loan on a Citibank credit card or Citibank Ready Credit

Promotional rate: 4.83 per cent a year (effective interest rate of 9 per cent a year) for a minimum loan amount of $5,000 on a 36-month tenor, so the instalment would work out to be $159 per month.

Take note: It is valid only for new Citibank customers who are applying for a Citibank Ready Credit account with the loan offer.

What: UOB CashPlus Personal Loan

Promotional rate: 7.6 per cent a year for at least $10,000, and 8 per cent a year for amounts of less than $10,000. The loan period ranges from 12 months to five years.

Take note: You need a minimum annual income of $30,000.

What: StanChart’s CashOne Personal Loan

Promotional rate: Flat rate of 6.88 per cent a year for a loan of $15,000 and above for a five-year tenor.

Take note: Customers can get a loan of up to four times their monthly income – subject to a maximum loan amount of $200,000 – upon approval if their annual income is $30,000 and above.

What: POSB Loan Assist

Promotional rate: From 5.18 per cent a year. For a $30,000 loan of three years, at a promotional rate of 5.18 per cent a year, the monthly instalment would be $963.

Take note: The rate is applicable to loans with terms of three to five years, with a minimum approved loan amount of $25,000.

The promotional rates, effective interest rates – the actual rate you have to pay – and terms and conditions of loans are not exhaustive, so you ought to check with the banks for more information before making any decision on such a loan.

Pros and cons of unsecured loans

Mr John Denhof, head of cards and personal loans at Citibank Singapore, says that Citibank’s offer allows customers to have a structured and convenient way to manage their finances by offering the flexibility of fixed repayment loan amounts with a choice of a loan term ranging from 12 months to five years.

Mr Choong Wai Hong, head of community financial services at Maybank Singapore, says one advantage of such loans is that customers are aware of their repayment commitments and are therefore able to manage their finances with more certainty.

Mr Anthony Seow, head of cards and unsecured loans of the consumer banking group at DBS Bank, also reminds consumers that the monthly instalment and repayment period are fixed once you have decided on the term of the loan, also known as the loan’s tenor.

Customers should take note of early settlement fees if the loan is cancelled before its term is completed.

Should you take out an unsecured loan?

Before you take the plunge, note that interest rates for such loans tend to be higher than rates for other loans. You need to think about what you are using the loan for.

Broadly speaking, debt comes in two forms – good and bad.

Good debt is defined as debt incurred to reap investment returns, and debt that you can afford to repay on time. Examples of good debt include mortgages, study and business loans.

Bad debt is often incurred for purchases that are useless or for depreciating assets that will not produce an income, such as a large-screen TV set, for instance.

SingCapital chief executive officer Alfred Chia says based on the firm’s financial advisory experience, many people get into the trap of excessive credit card debts owing to overspending, and they cannot differentiate between their needs and wants.

He explains: “You need a bag for daily usage, but not necessarily a bag costing a few thousand dollars that has the same function of one that costs tens of dollars. I’m sure many women would disagree with me on that, which is precisely the point.”

Never use credit for investing, adds Mr Chia, as that involves a tremendous amount of risk.

But you may consider unsecured loans if you have an emergency need such as medical treatment for loved ones who do not have appropriate insurance.

Loan specialists will evaluate your financial status and recommend a suitable loan amount, rate and tenor based on your financial needs and ability to repay the loan over time, says Ms Jacquelyn Tan, UOB’s head of cards and payments.

“This way, we make sure customers do not overextend themselves financially.”

How much debt can you shoulder?

Mr Christopher Tan, chief executive of financial advisory firm Providend, says from a financial planning perspective – regardless of secured or unsecured debt – the guideline is that you should not spend more than 15 per cent of your salary on non-mortgage debt.

How do you approach all the debt that you have?

Providend’s Mr Tan advises against buying items based on interest-free monthly instalments.

The interest-free clause “creates a false sense of underspending and you end up buying things that you can’t afford and shouldn’t buy in the first place”.

Once you lose control, the monthly instalments can accumulate to a large amount that will soon go beyond your ability to pay.

Mr Chia’s major tip is to make a higher minimum payment in order to pay off the debt more quickly.

He gives an example of someone who has a credit card balance of $10,000 based on 25 per cent interest a year, and compares three scenarios (see table).

The first scenario would be to make minimum monthly payments of 3 per cent or $50, whichever is higher.

The borrower would take 253 months – just over 21 years – to pay off the total interest and principal. Interest would be about $20,148, on top of the principal of $10,000, which is a total of $30,148.

Mr Chia says the next plan could be to make minimum monthly payments of 5 per cent or $50, whichever is higher.

The borrower would take a total of 104 months – eight years and eight months – to pay off the total interest and principal, with interest accumulating to about $6,736. So his total payment would be $16,736.

“That mere 2 per cent increase in minimum payments would reduce total interest by $13,412, the powerful effect of compounding interest,” notes Mr Chia.

If you choose to make flat monthly payments of $300, you would pay off your debt more quickly.

The debtor would now take 58 months – just under five years – to pay off the total interest and principal, with the interest adding up to about $7,251, so his total payment would be $17,251.

Mr Tan adds: ” It will be unwise to buy a big item using your credit card, or with two or three credit cards, without having the ability or intention to pay it off as the interest rates are high and the rolled-over amount will make it harder to pay.”

His view is that taking such loans to pay for things that you can’t afford, “seems to suggest that such persons may be buying things they don’t necessarily need with the money they do not have to impress people they don’t care about”.


This article was first published on Apr 26, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.

China Uncensored: China Creates Big Brother Rating System for Every Chinese …

So if you want to ensure your social credit rating, its best to live by the core socialist values, Chinese leader Xi Jinping is always talking about. Values like, democracy, harmony, freedom, equality, justice. Oh, and friendship. Dont forget about friendship. 

So what do you think of the Social Credit Ranking? Is it doubleplus good? Leave your comments below. And by that I mean leave a trail on social media so any government agencies looking will know where youve been.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Epoch Times.

Water-Logged And Getting Wetter Stock Of The Day: Springleaf Holdings (LEAF)

Editors Note: Any reference to TheStreet Ratings and its underlying recommendation does not reflect the opinion of TheStreet, Inc. or any of its contributors including Jim Cramer.

Trade-Ideas LLC identified
Springleaf Holdings (
LEAF) as a water-logged and getting wetter (weak stocks crossing below support with todays range greater than 200%) candidate. In addition to specific proprietary factors, Trade-Ideas identified Springleaf Holdings as such a stock due to the following factors:

  • LEAF has an average dollar-volume (as measured by average daily share volume multiplied by share price) of $96.2 million.
  • LEAF has traded 1.8 million shares today.
  • LEAF traded in a range 207% of the normal price range with a price range of $2.65.
  • LEAF traded below its daily resistance level (quality: 50 days, meaning that the stock is crossing a resistance level set by the last 50 calendar days. The resistance price is defined by the Price – $0.01 at the time of the signal).

Stocks matching the Water-Logged and Getting Wetter criteria are worthwhile stocks to watch for a variety of factors including historical back testing and volatility. Trade-Ideas targets these opportunities because the stock is exhibiting an unusual behavior while displaying negative price action. In this case, the stock crossed an important inflection point; namely, support while at the same time the range of the stocks movement in price is twice its normal size. This large range foreshadows a possible continuation as the stock moves lower.

EXCLUSIVE OFFER: Get the inside scoop on opportunities in LEAF with the Ticky from Trade-Ideas. See the FREE profile for LEAF NOW at Trade-Ideas

More details on LEAF:

Springleaf Holdings, Inc., through its subsidiaries, offers consumer finance and credit insurance products and services. It provides personal loans secured by consumer household goods, and other personal property; and unsecured loans. LEAF has a PE ratio of 11.6. Currently there are 2 analysts that rate Springleaf Holdings a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 4 rate it a hold.

The average volume for Springleaf Holdings has been 672,400 shares per day over the past 30 days. Springleaf has a market cap of $5.9 billion and is part of the financial sector and financial services industry. Shares are up 40.9% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

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TheStreetRatings.com Analysis:

TheStreet Quant Ratings rates Springleaf Holdings as a
sell. The companys weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its unimpressive growth in net income, generally high debt management risk, weak operating cash flow and feeble growth in its earnings per share.

Highlights from the ratings report include:

  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed when compared to that of the Samp;P 500 and the Consumer Finance industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 275.2% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $26.73 million to -$46.83 million.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio is very high at 4.14 and currently higher than the industry average, implying increased risk associated with the management of debt levels within the company.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly decreased to $64.82 million or 73.90% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite a decrease in cash flow SPRINGLEAF HOLDINGS INC is still fairing well by exceeding its industry average cash flow growth rate of -98.64%.
  • SPRINGLEAF HOLDINGS INC has experienced a steep decline in earnings per share in the most recent quarter in comparison to its performance from the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. We feel it is likely to report a decline in earnings in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, SPRINGLEAF HOLDINGS INC turned its bottom line around by earning $4.37 versus -$0.18 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 46.2% in earnings ($2.35 versus $4.37).
  • LEAF, with its decline in revenue, underperformed when compared the industry average of 8.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 27.6%. Weakness in the companys revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • You can view the full Springleaf Holdings Ratings Report.

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BHP’s Outlook Lowered to Negative by S&P as Rio Remains Stable

“Continued weakness in commodity prices, combined with BHP Billiton’s commitment to a progressive dividend payment, may weaken the company’s key financial metrics to below our expectations for the A+ rating without offsetting measures by the company,” Samp;P said in a statement Monday. “BHP Billiton is particularly exposed to iron ore prices and to some extent, oil prices.”

Rio Tinto

While Samp;P reckons the drop in iron ore prices will also hit Rio Tinto’s earnings and measures of creditworthiness, they are still in line with the company’s existing rating.

London-based Rio’s financial position, relatively low capital spending program and its competitive advantage in iron-ore production costs “should mitigate the pressure,” Samp;P said. The credit-ranking company said it sees further scope for BHP to cut operating and capital costs to conserve cash.

BHP spokeswoman Emil Perry reiterated previous statements that the company’s approach to capital management is unchanged, and it remains committed to a strong balance sheet and a solid A credit rating. Melbourne-based Rio Tinto spokesman Bruce Tobin declined to comment on Samp;P’s announcement.

The outlook shift on BHP follows Samp;P’s decisions to cut the ratings of other producers including Fortescue Metals Group Ltd., Vale SA and Anglo American Plc.

Samp;P’s assessments are based on iron ore averaging $45 a metric ton in 2015 and $50 in 2016, with an assumption that the Australian dollar will hold around 75 US cents over the same timeframe. Iron ore at the Chinese port of Qingdao was at $56.18 a ton last week, having fallen as low as $47.08 in April, while the Aussie dollar bought 78.23 US cents as of 3 pm on Monday in Sydney.

Openend unsecured loans

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How Marketplace Lending is Disrupting Consumer Loans in Canada

The consumer loan experience is getting an upgrade in Canada courtesy of some new players that are targeting the long waits and paperwork hassles of traditional loans and the high rates of alternative providers like payday loans.  Experience in other markets like the US and UK points to a coming wave of disruption to the benefit of customers, platforms and others and at the expense of the big banks.

Marketplace Lending to the Rescue

Two marketplace lending startups are using algorithms and sophisticated data analytics to enable consumers to apply for unsecured “personalized” loan quotes in minutes and to receive funds, as soon as the next day.  The funds are sourced from institutions and sophisticated investors without the traditional middlemen.

Often referenced to as P2P lending or Peer to peer lending, that term has become a misnomer as institutions and angels rush into the lucrative space.

GroupLend, based in Vancouver, offers loans of $1,000-$30,000 over a term of 3 years.  GroupLend launched 6 months ago and has seen significant market demand; claiming $50M in loan applications to date, double their initial expectations.

Borrowell, out of Toronto, provides loans of $1,000 to $35,000 over terms of 3 or 5 years.  Borrowell has already received 500 loan applications in less than one month in operation.  Clearly the consumer appetite for a lower cost, convenient, online loan platform appears strong.

For some consumers, it would seem that a revolving Line of Credit (LOC) would offer a much lower interest alternative, but Borrowell CEO Andrew Graham points out the benefit of “knowing the debt will be gone in 3 or 5 years” versus the interest only payments and ongoing costs of a LOC.

GroupLend looks at thousands of data points including recent banking transactions to better understand applicant’s ability to pay.  This informs approvals and personalizes the rates with an APR between 6.3%-17.5% for GroupLend.

Borrowell rates range from 5.9%-18%.

Over time, GroupLend CEO Kevin Sandhu noted “the algorithms get smarter, so that we have been able to reduce the rates charged already.”  While the data sets are small to date, the complexity and massive size of the consumer loan industry indicates the impact Big Data could have on informing new product models going forward.

The platforms then “sell off” the loans to the investors who earn an interest premium for the risk taken.  A growing lineup of institutional and angel investors have seen the massive success of this new product category in markets like the UK and US, both in terms of returns and the low default rates.

In the case of Borrowell, those investors include Equitable Bank and OakWest and high profile angels like John Bitove.  A Family Office and other Angels also back GroupLend.  The promise of better investment returns is getting marketplace lending noticed.  Smart money, for sure.

 Who is using these platforms?

Sandhu states that they have done business in all provinces and territories ex Saskatchewan, Quebec and Nova Scotia and Graham indicates initial interest has come from BC, Ontario and Alberta.

The average loan size at GroupLend is around $15,000.  The typical loan APR is in the 12-13% range, far cheaper than credit cards or payday loans but more than other financing options.  Sandhu points out that while credit consolidation has been the biggest category of applicants (~65%), the balance of apps are for other needs including weddings, home renovations and used cars.

The opportunities and challenges of Fintech or Altfi Startups

The two players are friendly with both seeing the benefit of legitimizing the sector and that there is enough market share to go around.  Another entrant Lendful, also based in Vancouver, is currently preparing for a 2015 launch.

Graham saw as a key challenge that “we were determined to go to market with credible investors” to build trust amongst their customer base.  He added, “Get started with a great team as handling funds is high stakes.  Push innovation while carefully adhering to regulations.”

Sandhu’s key challenge has been “making the right person aware of the product” as they are not a lender of last resort and that has been where some of the initial interest has been sourced.  He emphasized the considerable investment that has been made in technology and that the Canadian market still lacks credit data furthering the challenge of getting the risk profiles right.

While the challenges are significant, the opportunities in Alternative Finance (Altfi) and Financial Technology (Fintech) appear massive.  The huge gaps between investment returns and debt costs are a recipe for disintermediation.

Graham emphasized that the opportunity for other startups considering the space is considerable and that the Finance sector is about 5 years behind the Retail sector in the adoption of new models.  Sandhu’s advice is to beware applying other market models to Canada as the market and culture is unique and needs to be customized.  Still, he sees that the consumer lending space is on a precipice and startups like his are poised to “shake the banks up.”

 Where will the platforms be in 2 years?

“Our visions is to be a mainstream option for Canadians coast to coast looking to refinance high cost debt, states Graham.   Sandhu also anticipates exponential growth in market share through building awareness of this new option amongst their target market of credit-worthy middle class Canadians.

While looking into the crystal ball beyond that is very difficult, both see expansion into other lending categories such as student loans or small business and even other financial services like Investments.  Sandhu even foresees the participation of retail investors through bundled instruments like ETFs.

Lofty visions for sure.  What about the banks?

The Big Banks Have Noticed

RBC CEO Gord Nixon recently announced that tech firms pose a threat and that the bank is open to start-up partnerships.   The CEO of JPMorgan Chase, the largest retail bank in the US, announced, Silicon Valley is coming in his latest shareholder letter.  Citi Bank recently announced a partnership with Lending Club, the big dog in marketplace lending in the US.  Look for more partnerships with marketplace lenders, mobile payment providers and other technology players in the coming months.

And what about applications at Marketplace lenders hurting your credit score?  Sandhu provides assurance that a GroupLend application will not affect your score.  Looks like more consumer pain solved by Big Data…and entrepreneurial savvy.

The new players are young, entrepreneurial, enthusiastic, technology and finance savvy and nimble.  The big banks have deep pockets and long track records of success.  This disruption in lending space driven by Big Data startups will certainly be fun to watch.

What do you think?  Will marketplace lending get traction in Canada?  Would you use one of these platforms?  Why or Why not?  Please add a comment below.

Bret Conkin is the Founder of CrowdfundSuite, a Crowd investing and Crowdfunding Aggregator and Consultancy. CrowdfundSuite provides platform access and expert services to help organizations profit from the new Crowd Economy.  Bret is an Ambassador to the National Crowdfunding Association of Canada and a former executive with FundRazr.  He has founded and collaborated on multiple tech start-ups including Canadas first Crowdfunding platform Fundfindr launched in 2008.

Lawyer Wins $2 Million Verdict in RESPA Case Against Mortgage Servicer

The six (6) day federal trial concluded on April 20, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois at the Everett McKinley Dirksen United States Court House. The jury, after deliberating for approximately two hours, determined that RCS breached the loan modification agreement, violated RESPA for failing to adequately respond to Hammer’s Qualified Written Request, and committed both unfair and deceptive acts in violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act. Alena Hammer was awarded $500,000 in compensatory damages and $1,500,000 in punitive damages. Nicholas Heath Wooten, Esq., Ross Michael Zambon, Esq., and Mara Ann Baltabols, Esq. led the litigation team on behalf of Hammer. Each attorney is a student of the nationally renowned and esteemed North Carolina attorney, O. Max Gardner III, and each is a graduate of his highly acclaimed Consumer Bankruptcy and Litigation Boot Camps.

The outcome of this trial should come as good news to all consumers who have struggled with aggressive mortgage servicing tactics throughout the ongoing financial crisis. The litigation team was meticulous and methodical in its litigation approach, and was able to obtain a punitive damages award for Hammer and against RCS – an award that is meant to punish and deter future misconduct – under the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act.

SOURCE: Source: Sulaiman Law Group

Founded in 2005, Sulaiman Law Group Ltd. is a consumer litigation firm in Oak Brook, Illinois that focuses on foreclosure defense, bankruptcy, FDCPA, TCPA, FCRA, and other consumer fraud cases. (http://www.sulaimanlaw.com)

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