Archive for October, 2015

TEAM BLOG – INTRODUCING JOHN NELSON

John first came to Bell & Company as a placement student.  He has come on leaps and bounds and is a valuable member of the team.

John works in the resolution team and assists our clients directly but also doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty when some manual work is required in the office including building office furniture which has become a bit of a forte.

Name: John NelsonJOHN-NELSON1

Position: Resolution Case Manager

Time with Bell & Company: 2 years

What does your day to day role entail?:

I am typically the first point of contact for most clients once they have opted to sign up to our Resolution service. I oversee the achievement of shortfall sales on their behalf or advise them on the best option with regards to disposing of the Negative Equity asset.

I am becoming increasingly involved in the negotiation with the lenders, and/or their representatives, with regards to the shortfalls and I also assist with any day-today duties within the Resolution department to ensure that we are working as efficiently as possible.

What do you enjoy most about your position?:

I take great satisfaction knowing we are able to help individuals such as growing families who feel that they are trapped in their unsuitable property and have no way out. The majority of our clients are victims of circumstance who are in an incredibly unfortunate position to no fault of their own. I get great satisfaction from assisting these individuals in coming to an amicable conclusion to their situation and allowing them to move on with their lives.

I also enjoy the working with all of the team and we regularly group together to brainstorm to consider all alternatives to give our clients’ all of the options that are available.

What are main issues you are seeing for clients in your position?:

The areas affected most by the economic downturn in Northern Ireland were the rural areas, many of which are still only worth half of what their value was at the peak of the market. The unfortunate truth is that many of these properties may never reach their previous value. Sadly many borrowers are slight “deluded” and believe that values will come back to peak levels.

We are also aware in the Resolution team that many borrowers are going to find mortgage payments difficult to make when interest rates increase at some point in 2016.

Spare time activities:

I enjoy live music and regularly attend music nights across Belfast.

Also love to travel and this summer I was fortunate to go to Spain and Italy travelling for 2 weeks.

Contact Details: [email protected] 07938767197

 

THE CONSEQUENCES OF ULTRA-LOW INTEREST RATES

Following the latest Bank Of England Monetary Policy Committee Meeting rates remained, as expected, at 0.5%. The consensus is that in early 2016 we may see a rise to 0.75% with small increases occurring regularly.

Bell & Company are not the only ones focusing their attention on the issue of Interest Rate changes. Hamish McRae is one of Europe’s foremost economic speakers and journalist who specialises in global future trends – he is highly respected and recently published an article on the effects of the low interest rate period.

Mr McRae states that when circumstances seem to be in place for the US Federal Reserve and UK Bank of England to increase Interest Rates something turns up. These include the second Eurozone recession, inaccurate data on the UK economy, falling oil prices and the Chinese economic slowdown. All of these problems have been more or less non consequential. For example, Greece’s demise is a sideshow, UK economic growth has been steady, falling oil prices has seen a boost in consumption worldwide and a slowdown in China’s economic growth was expected and essential for the growth in the developed world.

As the issues the Bank of England highlighted above never arose to cause serious economic harm other issues have arisen due to the extended period of low Interest Rates:

  1. Wealth Inequality

There is a focus on income inequality but an issue under the radar has been the increase in wealth inequality. As asset prices in some areas have soared and those who have multiple assets have benefited massively.

  1. Property Prices Worldwide

A slightly London centric view point here but residential property price increases have been incredibly damaging. The same phenomenon has occurred in New York, Berlin and Mumbai. We all know the Northern Irish situation is different but nonetheless price increases are starting to occur albeit slowly.

  1. Pension Poverty

Pension funds are held in Government Bond Yields which have been held down for regulatory purposes – Pensioners have suffered a double hit.

  1. Cheating Unsophisticated Savers

Those who do not have access to specialist advice on getting a better return have failed to take the money out of the bank and putting it into a portfolio of performing assets.

  1. Encouraging Risk Takers

Savers are taking on ill-understood risks and overextending themselves on the basis Central Banks will keep rates low.

  1. Long-term damage to the financial system

This is hard to pin down as we won’t see the effects for years to come. But low rates mean people are avoiding Banks and this has a few consequences. The use of cash has risen sharply and it is hard to measure peer-to-peer transactions. But by reducing risk in the Banking sector the authorities are increasing it in other sectors as low returns encourages risky innovation.

The half a dozen points raised are already in effect but Mr McRae highlights another concern around the corner – inflation. Firstly, central banks have created asset inflation that resembles a price bubble which could burst. Furthermore, around the corner could be inflation in goods and services. Private sector wages are rising at the fastest rates in 15 years and this will fade into costs in the coming months as the effect of low oil prices wears off. When inflation turns up the Bank of England will have to react, but given their concerns of external factors out of their control highlighted earlier it may be too late to head off domestic inflation which was in their control. Due to delayed action to date when Interest Rates do rise they will have to at a faster rate than we expect.

Bell & Company are urging homeowners who are concerned about the effects a rise in Interest Rates in the future to get in contact NOW. Even if you are in negative equity we can assist. Furthermore, if you think it will be fine I can re-mortgage back onto a fixed rate product then think again. Following the Mortgage Market Review borrowers will find re-mortgaging a trying process and there is concern for the elderly or younger families with varying income could become mortgage prisoners.

Should you or anyone you know be concerned by the issues raised then please call the office on 02895 217 373 to arrange your free initial consultation. Our Negative Equity Resolution team will be able to discuss your scenario and tailor advice to ensure the matter can be resolved.

Terry Bell

 

BELL & COMPANY GRAND OPENING – THANKS FOR COMING

Last Thursday 8 October we formally opened our new office on Rosemary Street, Belfast. It was fantastic to see so many familiar faces in the building and we hope you had a chance to catch up with staff and meet some new contacts who you could potentially do business with. I want to offer my thanks to Stephen Ferris for taking the time to come down before the game at Windsor Park. We would all agree “Stevie” was a gentleman and took time to talk to as many people as possible during the evening, posing for pictures and signing his book for those who had a copy.

The real star of the show was Professor Neil Gibson who spoke incredibly well. His talk was captivating and gave a real insight into the current state of play in Northern Ireland. As I said when introducing Neil he really has a no “BS” approach and was to the point throughout. It was refreshing to see such a brilliant economist being so accurate and honest. From our perspective at Bell & Company the presentation demonstrated the great strides Northern Ireland has made but also that we have a long way to go until the country is on a sure economic footing.

The team at the office worked incredibly hard in organising the event. There was no outside help here and our brilliant team did everything for you that evening and I appreciate the round of applause given. Without our great team we would be unable to achieve the results we do on a regular basis so I once again thank them all for their continuing efforts.

If you missed out on the event, don’t worry we plan to host many more. Our theme is “Real Issues in today’s Financial World” and we shall keep this going. Please keep an eye on social media and posts online for our next event and be sure to confirm your attendance.

I think you’d agree the new office is fantastic and offers a welcoming environment. Should you ever be in the area and want to discuss anything then please get in touch. Furthermore, if you know anyone who could benefit from any of our services then please call us on 02895 217373 and we can discuss the outline of the case and look to assist.

Thanks again to those who attended and if you couldn’t make it we look forward to seeing you soon.

Regards

Terry Bell

 

Bell & Company Celebrate Grand Office Opening in prestigious new building

 

Grand Office Opening Event Ulster Tatler Coverage

Grand Office Opening Event Ulster Tatler Coverage

INTEREST RATES – ARE YOU READY FOR THE RISE

The Bank of England will soon need to rediscover its trigger finger and fire the gun on as interest rates rise in the near future. We have enjoyed 7 years of ultra-cheap rates and “cheap money”, however any rate change is set to have a significant impact.

Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee meets on 8 October and though they are expected to vote to keep rates at 0.5% there is a consensus one more member may vote in favour of a rise. Furthermore, members have conceded a rate rise in the near future is inevitable.

What the committee is weighing up is the sharp rise in disposable household income and the effect global uncertainty will have on the UK economy, this uncertainty is caused by the ongoing Eurozone crisis and China’s struggles. Mark Carney, Bank of England Governor, has said the rise in household disposable income is the next step towards a rate rise although economists have argued the economy may be unable to handle a rate rise come Spring and Summer 2016 due to global economic uncertainty.

When I research the interest topic the literature rarely focuses on Northern Ireland. The fact is a high proportion of borrowers here are “mortgage prisoners” and many simply will not be able to sustain mortgage payments. When you couple rising mortgage payments and increase in general in credit commitment payments many will find themselves in a dire financial position.

Bell & Company are advising borrowers concerned with mortgage payments to contact them today. It is important to “act” and not “react” to the proposed changes in interest rates. We cannot stress enough the inevitability of this rate rise, we have had our time utilising cheap credit and many will now feel the pinch. Even if you are in Negative Equity our expert team can assist. Please call the office on 02895 217373 to arrange your free initial consultation.

The team look forward to taking your call.

 

CERBERUS – WHATS NEW?

You may recall over the last month we have been placing a focus on Cerberus. In fact I took it upon myself to write a paper on the subject for my most recent MBA modules such is breadth of scope and detail regarding their acquisition of loan books both in Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland (Sad man but true!)

Whilst there has been a lot of bad news regarding their acquisition of Project Eagle from NAMA, with particular scrutiny placed on their debt collection techniques and also a government fixers fee, Bell & Company from the outset have advised their clients to work with Cerberus. At the end of the day we can only work with what is in front of us and understanding their protocol, as we do, can achieve excellent results. This is vindicated with Cerberus advising a Stormont committee of significant write downs.

Details of Cerberus’ action to date:

Bell & Company have long believed there to be a real opportunity for our clients to work with Cerberus and extricate themselves from non-performing default loans. When with NAMA or the Ulster Bank negotiations often become stagnated but with Cerberus we have found there to be a real proactive approach working out what is best for all parties.

Should you or anyone you know had your loan sold to Cerberus then please contact Karen in the office today on 028 9521 7373 to arrange your free initial consultation.

James Bell – London Office Manager.

 

 

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