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Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Opinion article on Interest Rate Swaps

In partnership with various websites, we would be carrying opinion articles on financial news and products from various websites. This is kindly contributed by 

Light at the end of the tunnel after interest rate swaps
The Financial Services Authority has ordered banks to compensate victims of interest rate mis-selling. It’s said that the banks employed underhand tactics when encouraging small businesses to sign up for financial services such as interest rate swaps, which have led to some of their customers being forced to pay out thousands to the banks as a result of falling interest rates.  Some of the products that the banks are accused of mis-selling involved extremely complex terms that the FSA says it wouldn’t expect most customers to be able to grasp easily.

Unfair and immoral?
The banks targeted many small to medium enterprises when selling interest rate swap loans to their customers. Many businesses have been expected to continue to fund the hedges even after the loans have been repaid, often on the basis that the banks expected customers to take out further loans after initial funds were repaid. Many businesses have been hit hard by these complex arrangements and have found that cancellation fees have been marked at around 50% of the original loan, making it not realistic to exit the contracts. Loans and swaps are usually two different products in reality, which is forcing customers to continue to fund the swaps after loans are paid off.

Businesses hit hard
Customers can take on the banks on their own when applying for compensation but there are many firms in existence that can negotiate on their behalf. It’s said that customers may be liable to seriously underestimate the amount of money that is owed to them. Outsourcing negotiations to an expert outside firm may well enable customers to recoup a higher sum. There are a wide range of products that fall under the umbrella term of ‘interest rate swaps’. Some of these are known as ‘caps’ or ‘collars’. An interest rate collar is usually put in place to limit the range in which an interest rate can fluctuate but many customers have been caught out nonetheless by these products.

Left in the dark
The banks sold the products to their customers on the basis that no matter how high interest rates rose to, they would be protected from them by being paid funds that would offset the extra money generated by them. However, the historic fall in interest rates was unforeseen and led to customers having to pay out vast sums of cash back to the banks in order to offset the money that the banks would lose due to falling interest rates. It’s said that the banks did not do enough to explain the risks involved to many of their customers.

A fresh start
It’s said that it’s important that small to medium enterprises affected by interest rate mis-selling are permitted to be freed from the terms and conditions that have been forced on to them as it is these businesses that are being relied upon to get the economic climate back on track. Companies like Lamport Bassitt solicitors have specialist teams for dealing with swap mis-selling claims. The situation is comparable to the scandal of Payment Protection Insurance, yet it’s said that the effects of interest rate swaps are much more cataclysmic than those of PPI.


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