Consumers Need Protection From Payment Protection Insurance

A year after the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) began investigating the widespread mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI), the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has, for the first time, fined a mortgage broker for selling the policies to customers who either did not need them, or on which they could not claim.

The FSA judged in the landmark case that many of those who were sold PPI policies would be likely to have their claims excluded due to pre-existing medical conditions, or already had cover in place from previous mortgages or life insurance. The FSA concluded that the Bournemouth based Regency, which specialises in selling “right-to-buy” mortgages to customers who usually find it difficult to obtain standard credit, did not make sufficient checks on its customers’ full circumstances in order to make a suitable sale. This meant that customers had been sold policies that would never be able pay out, regardless of future events, thus making them worthless as protection for the policy holders.

The OFT started their investigation following a ‘super complaint’ by the Citizens’ Advice into the PPI industry which a year ago had an estimated 20 million policies in force and was producing an annual revenue that was in excess of £5 billion. According to Citizens’ Advice Director of Policy, Teresa Perchard:

“People buy payment protection insurance because they are looking for peace of mind. Given the scale of borrowing in the UK and the amount of money consumers spend on PPI, it is vitally important that they get a product that gives them this and meets their needs at a fair price.”

Citizens’ Advice put forward the complaint believing the mis-selling of PPI was endemic throughout the finance industry, with policies being too expensive and often not providing appropriate cover to those most vulnerable. In its investigations, the FSA found that a third of the firms surveyed were indeed mis-selling this type of cover, prompting the OFT to launch its own formal investigation in April 2006.

5 Best Android Tablet Finance Apps

For Android tablets, the common reason for buying them may be for entertainment and leisure. Did you know that Android tablets are also proven useful in the financial world? Android has offered so many finance apps in the market which are very much relevant and useful to your every day financial needs. Whether you want the latest finance news or you need to make monetary computations, finance-related Android apps have got it all for you. Here is a list of the five best Android finance apps in the market:

1. Finance

Ever wanted to have a personal financial planner but you just can’t afford to pay for one? Simply called Finance, Android has come up with a powerful app which strips you of the need to hire a personal planner. Finance is an app which is capable of providing you with the most recent updates about the stock market. The best feature of this app is that it provides you with stock quotes which are very much reliable because they are quoted real-time. This app also syncs well with your stock portfolios which are loaded in Google Finance.

2. Real Estate Droid

If it is your dream to be a real-estate businessman someday or to be a licensed real estate broker, then this finance app is the best deal for you. Real Estate Droid comes with features which can, for one, search houses for sale. Once you find a catch, you can search information about its neighborhood with real-time updates. With this app, you can also check out mortgage quotes made by real lenders and compute for mortgage loans. You can always take advantage of the built-in loan calculator.

3. Financisto

Financisto is a finance app that is very much capable of doing many things. For one, it lets you add multiple types of bank accounts and even a multiple number of accounts per type. This means that you can add checking and savings accounts together into your file manager. For both types, you can add more than one account. With Financisto, you can also monitor which among your payments are recurring. Once you see the pattern, you can schedule them to make sure you don’t lag with your payments. This app can also help you create either a short-term or long-term budget.

4. Karl’s Mortgage Calculator

If Real Estate Droid is not enough for your mortgage needs, then you can always opt for a more specialized finance app, which is Karl’s Mortgage Calculator. By using this app, you can calculate how much mortgage you should be paying in the future and you can even visually see the results with its easy-to-read charts and graphs. This app can help you compute for your future payments, given the principal loan amounts, interest rate and terms. Karl’s Mortgage Calculator, however, is limited to supporting interest-only amortization and Canadian computations.

5. PayPal

Almost everybody knows of PayPal now. With the PayPal Android app offered in the market, you can do all things you normally do on your PayPal account. The bonus point here is that apart from being able to pay an item, you can also help hasten its delivery process. So, if you’re dying to take hold of that most recent Victoria Secret scent, then you don’t have to wait for the normal number of shipping days just to have it. You can always make it two or three days earlier with this app. With PayPal app at your reach, you can always access your PayPal account anytime you want.

Where to Find Car Loan Low Interest Finance

You may be surprised to learn how much you will be able to save when you take out car loan low interest finance. If you have been working hard to negotiate the best sale price on your new car, you certainly won’t want to negate the savings you make by paying dearly for finance. There are many companies around who can offer you a good deal on an auto loan and, when looking for car finance, you should aim to pay the lowest rate you can.

When looking for car loan low interest finance you should ensure that you consider all options available to you. A lot of people feel more comfortable sticking with their own financial institutions or the larger bank lenders as they seem to think they will be able to provide the best loans at the best rates. This is not always the case. These days there are a large number of non-bank lenders who provide car loan low interest finance.

Probably the best place to start looking for car loan low interest finance is on the internet. The majority of non-bank loan providers operate solely online as it is an easy way to set up their business without having to outlay a lot of capital. These companies also have minimal running costs, so they can afford to offer car loan low interest finance and still make a reasonable profit.

It is important, when searching for car loan low interest finance, that you realize that interest rates can vary considerably between lenders these days. Ensure that you take the time to shop around and get as many quotes as possible, as you may never know when you will come across the perfect auto loan at the lowest price around. It is only by approaching as many lenders as you can that you will have any success in finding car loan low interest finance.

Looking for car loan low interest rate financing is quick and easy when you do it online. Not only can you compare lenders at a time that is convenient for you, but you will only need to enter your details once in order to receive multiple quotes. The other great thing about getting car loan low interest finance online is that the application process is incredibly straight forward. Once you have found a great rate from a reliable lender, you will be able to apply for your loan online by completing a standard application form. Your application will be submitted to your lender immediately and so the processing of your application is a lot faster.

One thing that you will need to be cautious about when getting car loan low interest finance online is that you will need to ensure that the lender you go with is legitimate and reputable. Sometimes a company that offers ridiculously low rates may not be the most trustworthy, so always take the time to find out more about a lender before signing on the dotted line. You can check out the business ratings of various lenders online through the Better Business Bureau or through auto finance review sites.

Top Budget and Personal Finance Apps

Let’s face it, there are some extreme couponers, thrifters, and smart consumers out there always trying to save money and get the best deals. With budgets that much more tight in these tough economic times, it’s okay to get a little help from none other than our smartphone apps. I mean, why not, right? We have our smartphones with us nearly every minute of the day, so this kind of smart budgeting is accessible to anyone. Keep track of your monthly spending, set limits on each category of goodies you purchase, save money, and look up investment ideas and accounts has never been easier. Read on to see how you can always control and be on top of your personal finances. We’ll reveal the top budgeting and smart spending apps for you thrifty shoppers out there!

For one, there are so many budget tracking apps out there, but a really useful one would come with a budget tracker tool that will allow you to view your yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily purchases. You can further categorize them and see visually and through charts and notifications how much you spend exactly in each category. There is also a rollover option for you to transfer leftover funds from previous months or weeks to roll over and won’t mess up your budgeting. Of course, you can always opt out of this option and have a set number of expenses every month.

Another useful app gives you control to add new transactions over your allotted sum of money and spending finances. Pre-setting an overall budget for the entire month, and thereby deducing every time you make a purchase gives you instant updates on the money you have and the money you are losing. These transactions are totally customizable. Currency converters may also be useful if you plan on spending your money in a foreign country. We all get carried away when we travel, but this app makes it easy to stay focused on the budget, even when you’re not familiar with the currency exchange.

Another great app gives you total control over importing your finances onto your phone from an external memory device – your laptop, desktop, or anything with wireless. You can also set a password to manage your personal finances with utmost privacy. Charts and graphs give you short and easy to read summaries of your account activity. You can share these things in the form of PDF, Excel spreadsheet, or import to Google Documents in order to share with your family, business collegiate, execs, or co-workers.

If you are comfortable, some apps may even connect directly to your bank account and give you automatic categorized notifications of your spending. It will constantly update your spending profile and read instant in depth overviews. Any suspicious activity will be announced. Budget tracking is that easy!

In fact, budget tracking has made it easier to keep track of your credit scores, and credit score reports. Why not try to improve your credit score while you are managing your personal finances? If you use the right app, your personal finances will be in a much better place.

Property Investment Opportunities in Mongolia – Sheer Madness, or is it?

I attended recently a terribly smart cocktail party in a Belgravia Embassy. I hovered contentiously, as I usually do, near the bar and the exit of the kitchens.

As I reached discreetly for my 10th little foie gras toast in nearly so many seconds, I was addressed abruptly by a very distinguished but firm Lady in a large (and quite silly) hat.

She addressed me; chin up, with a chilly “now young man, what are you doing with yourself these days”.

Her question had the tone of a sarcastic demand full of contempt for a young man who wasted his life so well.

I recovered from the embarrassment of dropping the foie gras toast, and, only slightly put off, answered in my most polite voice that I was indeed selling flats in Mongolia.

My distinguished interlocutor visibly stiffened, in a sudden jerk, brought her handbag closer to her chest, and remained thus startled in a state fit for Madame Tussauds.

“It’s very exciting you know! Very interesting market out there.” Finally she declared, in utmost frustration in a barely controlled high pitched voice “MONGOLIA!! What on earth for!! Never heard such nonsense!!!” long pause… “I didn’t even know they had flats!”

With this declaration she did an abrupt about turn and went off muttering something to the likes of “silly little man, what gibberish, Mongolia…”

I was not in the least disturbed by this incident but instead found it rather amusing as this was not the first time I had a similar reaction, usually bewilderment.

Mongolia is not a country which people would associate with investments of any kind, neither did I until recently.

When I think of Mongolia the image of Genghis and his fierce warriors come to mind, I expect most people think alike.

I recently went there and was surprised, if slightly shocked, to find a country in a full economic expansion.

I had epic and romantic visions of proud horseman wondering around a city of tents; instead I was greeted by a large full scale soviet city complete with international restaurants, traffic lights and jams, bars and trendy nightclubs.

I enquired as to the reason for that incredible sight; here is what I learned:

In the past 18 months or so, Mongolia has enjoyed a kind of delayed post-Soviet boom, as years of gradual reform (and U.S. aid) finally begin to pay off. While other former satellites, including Ukraine and Belarus, never fully recovered from a post-Soviet economic depression, Mongolia has regained its Soviet-era income level ($500 per capita) and is not looking back.

The economy has grown at a rate of 10.6% for 2004 but is expected to stabilise around 8.5% for 2005. Mongolia cleared off its debt to Russia for assistance received during soviet times in 2003. Inflation is reducing every year and was only 5% in 2005 compared to the 53% seen in 1995 while its external debt is equally decreasing and has reached 1.1 billion USD. “Mongolia has made great progress towards its transition to a market based system since the early 1990′s” (IMF, letter of intent on Mongolia, 2003)

In 2004 large deposits of gold and other minerals such as copper, molybdenum, tin, tungsten, iron and ore were found; this is expected to create an incredible growth in the economy. A number of British and American Mining companies have moved in and will start extracting soon, this means a lot of foreign investment and a considerable expatriate community will develop from it.

Foreign investment is increasing every year and so are the numbers of tourists and expats. Political corruption is very low for the region and the government is stable and democratically elected.

Sadly the picture for the Mongolian economy is not all rosy, they export copper, apparel, livestock, animal products, cashmere, wool, hides, fluorspar, other nonferrous metals but everything else has to be imported. Unemployment is decreasing but is still at 6.7%. “This is a rough neighbourhood, with rough neighbours,” says a Western diplomat in Ulan Bator. “No former Soviet state has come so far, and no former communist country in Asia has shown as much commitment to reform as Mongolia.”

The Real Estate market is possibly the most interesting part of the economy. The numbers of apartments approved by the city has increased by about 20% every year for the past three and the rental yields are some of the highest in Asia at about 18%. It has been calculated that demand so far outstrips supply that it will not be equilibrated before 2015. There are an increasing amount of developers such as the American entrepreneur Mr Lee Cashell who make the most of this situation by developing large luxury residential projects in the heart of Ulaan Bataar as an investment opportunity for European Investors.

Mr Cashell has barely completed a very successful residential complex called the Park View Residence that he is already in Europe selling his new property to British investors and agents: the Regency Residence. This promises to be the most luxurious and attractive development in Mongolia.

What makes the Regency Residence so unique in Ulaanbaatar is that there are very few modern, new build apartment blocks. Especially ones built to a luxurious Western European standard. Other apartments in the city date back from the Soviet era and most could do with some serious renovation work. This makes new apartments like the ones at the Regency Residence extremely sought after, particularly as demand outstrips supply.

High interest cost, lack of investment capital and low equity financing is hampering the developer’s ability to build large scale luxury apartments and thus meet the large demand.

In the coming years it is expected that developer will be able to increase capacity and produce more apartments however the scarcity factor is expected to remain for years to come.

UB is one of the only cities in the world where half of its residents are not living in apartments as many citizens remain in the traditional dwellings in the hillside surrounding the city