Banks have floors?
After a surprising final ruling by the European Union’s top court, some Spanish bank shares tumbled by as much as 10 percent recently. Spanish banks, including Banco Popular Espanol SA and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, may have to give back billions of Euros to mortgage customers.
Judges at the EU Court of Justice ruled in Luxembourg that borrowers who paid too much interest on home loans pre-dating May 2013 on so-called mortgage floors, are entitled to a refund from their banks. Banco Sabadell SA fell as much as 7.5 percent, while Banco Popular slipped as much as 10.5 percent, the largest decliner in Spain’s Ibex 35 benchmark.
The court said that a proposed time limit on the refunds is illegal and customers shouldn’t be bound by such unfair terms. Some banks are still making provisions for bad loans, which also adds pressure to profit.
The size of the problem
With €521 billion, home loans are one of the largest parts of Spanish bank lending business as they grew their real estate exposure during a construction boom in the country that burst at the end of the last decade.
BBVA estimated in July that the maximum impact from a negative ruling would be 1.2 billion Euros, while CaixaBank SA said at the time it would have to refund homeowners as much as 1.25 billion Euros. CaixaBank has already provisioned 515 million Euros, it said.
The EU court case comes as Spanish banks are under pressure from low interest rates and weak demand for credit, affecting their traditional business of lending.
The capital ratios of smaller lender Liberbank SA and CaixaBank will be hit hardest by the ruling, brokerage firm Renta 4 said in a note to clients. Liberbank will see a 75 basis points impact on its CET1 ratio, while CaixaBank will suffer a 40 basis points hit. Banco Popular will have a 36 basis points impact.
The ruling doesn’t affect the solvency of Spanish banks nor the strength of the mortgage market in the country, Spanish banking association CECA said in a statement. The Bank of Spain estimates the maximum amount of mortgage floors affected by the ruling is slightly above 4 billion Euros, an official said.
Common Reporting Standards
What is it and what does it mean?
Common Reporting Standards is also known as automatic exchange of information (AEI). It originated in May 2014 with 47 countries tentatively agreeing to share information on residents’ assets and incomes automatically as standard practice.
It is the Brainchild of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). Previously this information was shared at request, however this was not effective and largely unsuccessful. The main emphasis of this is to battle against tax evasion.
How will it work?
Countries will transfer all the relevant information automatically and systematically including:
- The name, address, TIN (Tax Identification Number) date and place of birth of each reportable person
- Account number
- Name and identifying number of the Reporting Financial Institution
- Account balance or value at end of calendar year, or if closed during that year
- Each country is allowed to determine which accounts are reportable
When will it start?
Most European countries will start reporting in 2017, including Spain and the UK. For note of interest, other countries will report in 2018 including Andorra.
Starting to report in 2017:
Anguilla, Argentina, Barbados, Belgium, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Croatia, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Montserrat, Netherlands, Niue, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Seychelles, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, United Kingdom
Starting to report in 2018:
Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Australia, Austria, The Bahamas, Belize, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Ghana, Grenada, Hong Kong (China), Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Marshall Islands, Macao (China), Malaysia, Mauritius, Monaco, Nauru, New Zealand, Qatar, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sint Maarten, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Vanuatu
What do I need to do?
Make sure you have ALL your assets:
- Reported correctly
- Tax compliant i.e. not in investments/properties that will mean you pay more in tax
- Understand your personal situation, and what your options are.
Planning for the yachting season ahead
You spend much of your professional lives working hard for other people; this season I want to challenge you to do one thing for you and your future every month.
MARCH (i.e. now):
Consolidate your bank accounts – you don’t need them all.Have an account in the currency in which you are paid and another in any other currency you regularly use. You don’t, need lots of accounts, but make sure your total balance is below the compensation limits for the jurisdiction in which you hold the account .
Don’t spend money just moving it around, open a currency broker account. If you need to move money from one currency to another, don’t use your bank, your currency broker can save you a small fortune on exchange rates and fees.
Invest in yourself! What are you going to do at the end of the season? Consider now what your next set of exams will be and when you can do them. Put money aside for fees and living costs. Check your visas and passports if you are crossing to the U.S. later in the year. And start a diary (see November…).
This is the really busy time; stop and consider your longer term future. How long do you want to stay in yachting? What do you want to do after yachting?What do you want to get from yachting (personally and financially)?
The season is calming down – are you really covered? Time to check exactly what health insurance you have on board and if there is any accidental injury or even death in service protection for you and your beneficiaries while you work. When you know, tell someone at home so they can claim on your behalf if necessary.
Cash is no longer king. At the end of your season you may have a pot of cash that you can’t get into your bank (due to strict money laundering rules). Negotiate to have tips paid directly with your salary into your bank account, keeping only the petty cash required. Many Captains will do this.
Tax residency is a matter of fact. Get organised and keep a diary of your travels. Yacht crew are “approached” by various tax authorities that believe you might be a resident. It’s not down to them to prove that you are a resident in their country, it’s down to you to prove you’re not. Understand the residency laws of the countries where you are most likely to become a resident, then keep a diary and flight ticket stubs, to support your case.
If you’ll be in the yachting industry for more than two or three years, seriously consider saving for your future, Your friends on land are paying tax and social security, which will give them something at retirement – are you? It’s up to all crew to put something aside (I suggest at least 25 percent of salary) while they’re in the industry to try and secure their financial wellbeing. The million dollar rule – to retire on an income of $/€3,OOO per month in 15 years, you will need approximately $/€1.1million in assets.
Don´t bank on low charges
Wouldn’t it be great if every time you were paid your pension or other income, you were paid a commission for receiving it? Then, each time you pay a bill, you receive a commission for paying it? You could make commission twice on the same money! Of course, this is not possible for us. It is for the banks though.
Let’s take an example based on real charges of a well-known Spanish bank and a couple selling a property in Spain for €300,000 and then re-purchasing a smaller property for €200,000 and investing €100,000 in an income paying bond.
On sale, their purchaser pays them €300,000 through a transfer to their bank. The bank charges 0.2% for receiving the money (€600). They then transfer the money to buy the next property and get charged 0.4% on €200,000 (€800). Finally, they transfer €100,000 to a Spanish compliant company based in another part of Europe for their investment. They are charged a further €400.
In total they will have paid €1,800 in bank charges for transactions other banks may not have charged anything for. The main aim is to choose a bank that does not charge. If high charges are the default, perhaps one should move to another bank. We can recommend a bank with no, or low, transfer charges along with no annual account fees.
One must also be aware that banks will probably earn a healthy chunk on currency exchange, selling the benefit that they do not charge a fee. With GBP falling back against the Euro, it is even more important to obtain a competitive rate. Whether it is for regular income payments, or one off lump sums, we can help you get the best deal.