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Your Thoughts: UK Interest Rate Hike, Good or Bad News?

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Today reports indicate the FTSE closed on a record high yesterday, outperforming its already high record from Friday last week, following the Bank of England’s anticipated decision to raise interest rates from 0.25 to 0.5% last week.

The truth is, this changes a lot, from mortgages to bonds. Below Finance Monthly hears from many sources on Your Thoughts, how consumers should behave, how banking may evolve, how profits can change, what might happen to the pound in weeks to come and so forth.

Anthony Morrow, Co-Founder, evestor.co.uk:

In theory, the rise in the interest base rate should mean that consumers get higher interest rates on their savings. However, people shouldn’t get too excited about this. It often takes many months for the changes to be felt in savings accounts, and even then, the increases in savings rates can be marginal and may take years to build into noticeable rates of anything over 3%.

Consumers should also consider that the increase in base rate still means that their cash savings are playing catch-up. The past decade of interest-rate squeezes has meant that the value of cash savings have dropped instead of increasing in value.

The best course of action is for consumers to spread their savings and investments, and to look for alternatives to the traditional high street savings accounts and cash ISAs. It’s now easier than ever for consumers to invest money via the internet in stocks, shares and global investment funds that could generate average returns of between 5% – 7%. The key thing though is to ensure people get advice about what to do with their money before they part with their cash – this isn’t always readily available – and to check any charges that they’re likely to incur for making investments. In some cases, excessive fees can eat massively into the investment returns, sometimes by as much as half.

Gianluca Corradi, Head of Banking, Simon-Kucher:

Investors with shares in UK banks can cheer as the rate increase will boost the operating profits in the retail banking industry by £274 million over the next 12 months. This 3.1% increase in the operating profit of the banks will be positive news for the shareholders as the U.K. banks have had their profitability squeezed in a low rate environment despite numerous cost cuts and efficiency increase measures.

The gain for shareholders is expected to come as banks increase the lending rates immediately but deposit rates only gradually and by a lower amount. We can expect the banks to immediately increase the interest charged on new loans and those on variable rates by the full 25 basis points (bps), giving a boost of about £1.26 billion in their interest income for the coming year. Concurrently, the interest expense on deposits is likely to rise by just under £1 billion as the rates for savers rise over time.

Consumers can expect modest returns on their deposits as rates, though higher, will still be low in absolute terms. For instance, a saver who manages to get the entire 25bps increase on £10,000 of deposits, would stand to make an additional £25 over a year.

Paresh Raja, CEO, MFS:

In light of rising inflation and stagnating economic growth, the decision to increase interest rates for the first time in a decade comes as no surprise. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the rise in interest rates will place an added financial pressure on first-time buyers and buy-to-let investors needing to borrow money. While the impact on the UK property market may not be immediately obvious, there is no question that this month’s upcoming Autumn Budget now takes on greater significance as it must find ways of alleviating stress and providing support for property buyers. With the interest rate now sitting at 0.5%, this is a prime opportunity for the Government to address issues like real estate demand and Stamp Duty to ensure the market remains buoyant and readily accessible for homebuyers and investors alike.

Angus Dent, CEO, ArchOver:

This rate rise of 0.25% is largely symbolic. At the same time, it’s also a year too late. Dropping the interest rate below 0.5% was the wrong decision in the first place. The Bank should have pushed rates up to 0.75% as a show of strength that would have driven inflation down as the pound rose.

Although this rise is unlikely to have any major material effects, it is a return to the trajectory we should have been on for the past year, and a good sign for a bolder policy. For many, the move towards a higher interest rate will simply mean business as usual.

Following the financial crash, there is a hunger to make up for ten lost years and UK savers and investors are finally waking up to the realisation that they need to chase higher returns. With interest rates remaining below 1%, this means looking for opportunities to branch out beyond traditional vehicles and introduce greater diversity into portfolios to secure a higher yield.

Emmanuel Lumineau, CEO, BrickVest:

This announcement is momentous for the UK economy and should signal the start of a series of gradual increases. The Bank of England has decided that inflation is potentially getting out of control and the economy now requires higher borrowing costs. The decision also signals that the UK economy has not performed as weakly as the Bank predicted last year.

Increasing interest rates has a direct impact on real estate. Higher interest rates and rising inflation make borrowing and construction more expensive for owners, which can have a constraining effect on the market but can also lead to an increase in property prices. There has certainly been an abundance of international capital flowing into real estate, almost every major institutional investor globally has been increasing their portfolio allocation to real estate over the last five years mainly because of lack of alternatives.

We continue to see the highest level of volatility from the office sector as many international firms currently headquartered in the UK put decisions on hold over their long-term office space requirements. If the UK no longer gives businesses access to the European market, they may need to spread their staff across multiple locations to more efficiently access both the UK and European market. Indeed our recent research showed that 34% of institutional investors believe the biggest real estate investment opportunities will be found in the office sector and the same number in the hotel & hospitality industry over the next 12 months.

Uma Rajah, CEO, CapitalRise:

The Bank of England’s decision to raise its base rate of interest from 0.25% to 0.5% might superficially look like good news for savers, who have had to live with near non-existent returns on their deposits for some time. But in reality it is highly unlikely that banks will actually pass on much — if any — of the rate rise to their customers. It’s more likely they will act to increase their margins, focusing on improving their own profitability rather than doing what’s best for customers. Savers should take note and look for alternative, more lucrative, ways to grow their pot with minimal additional risk. While the base rate will continue to rise over the next 12 to 18 months, it could be some time before banks pass on the benefits.

Meanwhile, the rate rise is bad news for property developers and borrowers that are using banks to finance their loans. Banks charge based on a margin to LIBOR, which will go up in line with the base rate rises. Combine this with other longstanding challenges in securing finance from banks for real estate projects in the current climate, and property borrowers will be much better off looking at more innovative sources that can deliver finance more quickly and offer better value — particularly if the rate continues to rise over the next 12 to 18 months.

James Bentley, Trader, Learn to Trade:

Following the Bank of England’s announcement that interest rates are rising by 0.25%, the British central bank will hike borrowing costs for the first time in more than 10 years due to the recent surge in inflation.

Many economists have warned that the time is not right for a hike as recent data has painted a subdued picture of the economy while uncertainty over how Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union will play out remains. With Brexit negotiations still underway, British consumers should prepare themselves for further fluctuations to interest rates over the next year.

The pound has pushed higher against the dollar in early trade, while London’s FTSE100 searched for direction ahead of the announcement. Although the announcement has created uncertainty, we expect inflation to drop to 2.2% by 2020 – where the rate will stagnate and hold for a period of time.

Paul Davies, Director, Menzies LLP:

Even though the rate rise was well signposted by Mark Carney, it will bring hardship for businesses that rely on consumer spending.

Consumers are always wary of a rise in interest rates and we may see the retail industry experiencing a bumpy ride as UK shoppers tighten their purse strings. Businesses can defend against the effects of turbulence by ensuring cash management is a top priority, managing creditor payments and adapting to changes across the supply chain.

Consumers and businesses will be hoping that after the announcement, any further interest rate rises will be staved off until well into the New Year.

Mihir Kapadia, CEO and Founder, Sun Global Investments:

The Bank of England has given in to the rising inflation, which has been above their 2% target and peaking at 3%, by raising interest rates for the first time in a decade. While the interest rate hike bodes well to support the pound, it also increases the borrowing costs for consumers and business. It will mean an increased squeeze on consumers with loans and mortgages, thus nipping their spending and in turn affect the economy. It may well turn out to be a vicious loop, especially as Brexit woes continue to weigh down on the UK’s economy.

The last the time the Bank of England had increased the interest rates was in July 2007, when it pushed the cost of borrowing to 5.75% months before cutting them during the onset of the financial crash of 2008. This increase comes at a time when the economic framework has stabilised and careful credit scrutiny is in place to prevent another crash. The interest rate hike may well deter consumers from accessing cheap credit, which will bode well for the financial watchdogs.

The next interest rate hike may well take a while, until further clarity emerges on Brexit’s impact on the UK economy. Until then 0.5% is the only sword to battle 3% inflation, and curtail it from strengthening any further.

Frazer Fearnhead, Founder and CEO, The House Crowd:

I sincerely hope all the banks will have given as much thought and effort to increasing interest rates for investors as they will have given to helping people maintain their mortgage repayments and loan agreements”. He added “For the past decade investors have been forgotten and suffered derisory levels of returns on their savings. So, it is crucial that banks, increase interest rates on savings just as quickly as they increase interest charges to borrowers.

Gregg Davies, Company Director, IMA Financial Solutions:

We all talk about the winners and losers when Bank of England interest rates are mentioned. Of course, if you have savings on deposit in variable rate accounts, or a variable rate mortgage you could be affected directly.

Many are asking, will the rate rise make my mortgage more expensive? Most mortgage lenders offer fixed or variable rate mortgages, and many have already adjusted their fixed rate deals ahead of the speculation over an interest rate rise. Variable rates are either based on a lender’s own set variable rate or linked directly to the Bank of England – called trackers.

We have now had nearly eight years of unprecedently low rates – for a generation of first time buyers, low interest rates are all they have known.

Mortgage holders have taken the low rates on board, and today it is estimated that over 70% of mortgages are fixed rate deals – compared with a low of under 40% in 2001. On a day to day basis this is reflected in my own clients’ decisions.

Rob Douglas, VP of United Kingdom and Ireland, Adaptive Insights:

For many businesses across the UK, the rise in interest rates and subsequent fall of the pound will require action. Companies are operating in the midst of a volatile market, where the sterling went from being at its strongest since the Brexit vote, to taking an immediate tumble after the rise in interest rates was announced. This market instability can upend budgeting and forecasting, making it difficult for finance and management teams to devise an accurate financial plan and make business-critical decisions.

Economic and market volatility require businesses to be as agile and adaptable as possible to ensure their financial planning models reflect changing assumptions and conditions. To do this, companies must plan in real-time, with current data from across the organisation, so that they can mitigate potentially damaging consequences, such as a negative impact on profit margins. What’s more, businesses should prepare to be more responsive by running ‘what if’ scenarios in advance that will, for example, reveal the impact the rise in interest rates could have on their business, allowing them to make better, faster decisions.

Ultimately, it is the companies with sound financial planning processes in place that will have a better chance at success when volatility strikes.

Johan Rewilak, Economics Expert, Aston Business School:

Since the crisis of 2007, interest rates have been at record lows, and whilst this hike has only moved them back to pre-Brexit levels, the larger worry is about any future potential rises.

Since the decision has been made, Mark Carney and the MPC have already faced lengthy criticism about how the rate hike will impact the economy. There are those who believe recession is around the corner and that there was a desperate need to maintain interest rates at the 0.25% level to prevent this.

Those advocating the rise have done so by optimistically looking at data that shows unemployment has fallen to levels unseen since the 1970s and that the rate of underemployment (those working part-time who wish to work longer hours) has dropped. Nevertheless, wage growth (a metric of longer term inflation) has remained subdued.

My concern is and will be surrounding financial stability. Household indebtedness and mortgage to income ratios are at troublesome levels and any hikes in interest rates mean higher repayments. If the interest rate hikes lead to recession, this will only magnify these issues and have cataclysmic effects on the financial system as it did in 2007. Whilst, higher rates may put people off from future borrowing, there is a tricky trade-off surrounding those already highly indebted.

The upshot of this rate rise is that at least Mark Carney has two rolls of the dice if Brexit negotiations or the economy starts to sour before negative interest rates become a possibility. That being said, why would anyone raise interest rates that may create a recession just so they have the ability to lower interest rates and to try cure the problem

John William Gunn, Executive Chairman, SynerGIS Capital PLC:

This was widely anticipated by the wholesale markets following the language of the MPC’s September statement. The main question mark was over any Brexit-related outlook uncertainty. As the market had been positioned for this rise a failure to follow through could have caused the MPC credibility issues and sparked yet more speculation around Brexit headwinds to the economy.

For the general public, the good news is that more people are on fixed rate mortgages than ever so the effects for homeowners should be subdued. More people are renting and many households are lucky enough to be mortgage-free. As mentioned in the MPC statement, debt servicing costs paid by British households would remain “historically very low” despite this hike.

It’s not so great for first time homebuyers (many mortgage deals were withdrawn in anticipation of the BoE’s move) but attention now turns to whether the Chancellor can offer any stamp-duty concessions in the Budget on 22nd November.

It’s good news for neglected savers and the retired. While still low, retirees shopping around for annuities should already be seeing improved rates. Not all high street banks will be passing this rate rise onto their savers. Some committed ahead of the decision but they were in the minority.

As with the FOMC (the Federal Open Market Committee = equivalent of the MPC) in the US, the first interest rise is psychologically important, as it reminds borrowers that base rates for the last 10 years are not at “normal” levels. It should not be forgotten that for the U.K this is just a reversal of the post-Brexit-result emergency cut in Aug 2016. Any pre-Christmas consumer sentiment change may affect spending at high street retailers who have had mixed trading results recently. As with the U.S central bank guidance, we expect any rate rises over the coming years to be on a slow and gradual basis.

Given the modest growth forecasts issued by the MPC and their expectation that inflation with peak at 3.2% in the October CPI release, we do not anticipate any further tightening from the MPC until Q3 2018. The Brexit influence is unlikely to go away soon, as noted by the MPC in their statement.

Duncan Donald, CEO and Head of Trading, London Academy of Trading:

Last week we saw the UK MPC and Mark Carney deliver a rate hike in the UK to 0.5%, the first hike since the financial crisis in 2007.

It came as little surprise, with the market pricing in a 90% probability of this action prior to the announcement on “Super Thursday”. The act of hiking rates is perceived as ‘Hawkish’ and would typically drive the currency higher, but the price action reflected this was all but priced in.

The other positive element of the meeting, was the split of the voting members of the committee. The result was 7-2, showing that 7 members of the committee were in favour of the hike, with just 2 members dissenting. Forecasters had thought the split may be tighter, with a 6-3 or 5-4 majority to hike. These being the first two factors announced to the market, saw the pound appreciate half a cent against the dollar from 1.3220 to 1.3270. This move was sharply unwound as the market plunged over 2 cents to 1.3040.

The driver was the announcement that Mark Carney and his committee anticipates just two subsequent hikes, and not in the next year but over the next 3 years. This signified that in the short term we are very much looking at the ‘one and done’ scenario. The fears of Brexit and the unknown have perhaps rightly got the committee apprehensive of doing too much too soon. This was further underlined at the weekend, with comments from Mark Carney regarding fears of inflationary pressures that could be caused if we were to leave the EU without a deal.

Market traders and investors still question Carney’s ability to actually deliver what he says he will, in this case to raise interest rates. This was the market opinion in the UK and in his previous position in Canada. He delivered on the interest rate hike, but as the markets reflect, it was done in the most dovish of manners.

We would also love to hear more of Your Thoughts on this, so feel free to comment below and tell us what you think!

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