Sterling rose after a Bloomberg article yesterday (28 October) reported that a Brexit deal was closer into view as talks progressed. Both sides were participating in an intensive round of negotiations in London, and, on Thursday, the talks will move to Brussels. If more progress is made by 3rd of November, the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will then have to negotiate a final agreement.

Today, though markets remain nervous ahead of the US GDP and ECB meeting as the escalating Covid-19 pandemic has triggered renewed fears of a double dip downturn. With a second lockdown in France and new restrictions about to be imposed in Germany, investors are on edge.

Pound rises on Brexit progress

European Union and UK negotiators managed to resolve “some of the biggest disagreements that have long bedevilled the Brexit talks, raising hopes that a deal could be reached by early November, according to people familiar with the discussions,” Bloomberg noted.

According to the article, sources said that the deadlock has been broken after seven months of negotiations, but traders will still need to see more solid evidence to be convinced of any progress. The sources reported that both sides are working on “the text of an agreement on the level competitive playing field and are close to finalizing a joint document covering state aid.” They have also “moved closer to deciding essential aspects of how any accord will be enforced,” the sources added.

The news pushed the pound higher against the Euro and the majority of its G10 peers. While markets remain cautious, some economists believe that there are positive signs for reaching a trade deal.

The Brexit news should offer support to a pound that has been very sensitive to Covid-19 developments, at a time where lockdowns are devastating economies. In the event of a second wave the pound will definitely remain sensitive and could weaken, and analysts say that positive Brexit news might not be enough to support the pound in the current volatile environment. In this respect the upside potential for the pound is seen to be limited, as many more issues remain to be resolved regarding the Brexit talks, despite recent news.

Despite the recent doom and gloom, there are potential business opportunities to be had with Brexit, “from fishermen to airlines and insurers,” according to an article.

Risks to the pound

Sterling has been sensitive to Covid-19 updates and Brexit news, and it will remain so. According to Pound Sterling Live, “An obvious risk for those watching Sterling exchange rates is that negative Brexit news - which would most likely be a stalemate on fishing - combines with 'risk off' market conditions to trigger substantial declines in value.” But the stimulus support from Central Banks might be enough to support world economies and protect from unexpected currency declines seen in the aftermath of the first wave of Covid-19.

Are you Transferring funds abroad?

With the British currency remaining sensitive to Brexit uncertainty, you should get professional assistance when transferring funds abroad. Whether you are importing or exporting goods, paying employees overseas, or managing regular payments abroad, you need to be prepared and protect your business or your family finances from market volatility. Get in touch with Universal Partners FX to find out about efficient risk management and tailored solutions to your business’ transfer needs.

 

Sustainability is a hot topic in the finance world, starting several years ago when many of the larger banks were pressured to move away from oil and gas and move towards the low-carbon economy. Having now seen the positive environmental impact that came from enforced COVID-19 lockdowns, there is now a call for sustainability to be a key component of the economic recovery. Transferring billions internationally on behalf of our clients, we have noticed a shift in where this money is going and what it is facilitating to suggest that a greener economy is achievable. As always, exchange rates can play a pivotal role in the growth of new industries that rely on international investment or global supply networks,

Solar Energy

Prior to 2008, solar cells and panels were mostly sourced from Europe, but since the market became more saturated the majority are now imported from China, Malaysia and Taiwan. These countries have notable world-leading solar farm projects, but a lot of the new projects are taking place in developing countries in Asia, South America and Africa.

As well as importing the technology and components, developing countries also rely on overseas investment from larger economies like the US to kick start projects. However, the risk associated to a certain currency may affect the confidence of the investor, therefore currency hedging becomes a crucial factor in the planning stage to ensure the investor is protected. In 2013, the sharp decline of the Indian Rupee meant that US investors lost significant profits on renewable energy projects.

Since 2016, we have seen a growing number of new clients being involved in renewable energy projects around the world, not to mention the emergence of flat-pack homes which are designed with solar panels. It was even suggested recently that flat-pack homes could be the answer to the affordable housing shortage in the UK. With developments like these we expect to see a continuation of the trend In the last 4 years, where the percentage of total FX volume attributed to renewable energy and sustainability projects has risen five fold, resulting in FX volume of over £137 million.

The Lithium Age

At the start of 2019 the growth of Electric Vehicles (EV) was highly anticipated. New climate agreements and legislation seemingly pointed towards the EV revolution. As the batteries in electric vehicles rely on lithium, this led to a surge in production ready for sales of EV to kick-off and even had some people asking 'Is lithium the new gold?' However, it didn't quite materialise as the slow-down of the EV market led to over-production and depreciation. Now, midway through 2020 it seems that lithium could be back in the spotlight.

Chile and Argentina - with their salt plane brine deposits - are two of the biggest Lithium producers in the world, alongside Australia and of course China, who rely heavily on Lithium for their vast electronics manufacturing operations. Since the start of the year we have taken on a number of clients who are directly or indirectly involved in importing lithium to the UK or producing the batteries for EV. We have seen over £20 million this year already, which is more than the whole of 2019.

UPFX and our pride in sustainability

With a passion for what we do, we not only want to help our clients but we also want to leave a positive impact on the world in general. With some of the largest banks starting to take a lead on sustainability, we also want to do our bit to ensure that the transition to a greener economy can continue apace. Along with thorough money laundering checks, our team also like to know that the transfer meets our sustainability requirements.

To get live exchange rates for your international transfer click here

 

The British Pound has remained under pressure on Friday, especially after Thursday’s losses due to disappointing news that the Brexit negotiations have hit an impasse. Today’s (24/07/2020) better than expected retail sales did not help push the pound higher against its major rivals.

Brexit and Covid-19

Despite positive macroeconomic data, the coronavirus pandemic and concerns about the state of the Brexit trade negotiations have weighed on the pound. As the Guardian reported, on Friday morning the release of “the retail figures are doing little to support UK stocks with the FTSE 100 down 1.36% and the more domestically focused FTSE 350 down 0.6%.”

Positive Retail Sales’ Numbers

The easing of lockdown in mid-June helped UK retail sales beat forecasts in June. The Office for National Statistics has reported a 13.9% month-on-month rise in UK retail sales last month, marking an 8% uptick. Even for former Bank of England policymaker Andrew Sentence, the figures highlighted that the UK was on its recovery since the Covid-19 outbreak. The retail sales’ increase was the result of consumers spending for DIY and home improvement products due to the lockdown, with shops selling hardware, furniture and appliances doing particularly well, and reaching near-pre-lockdown sale levels.

With the easing of lockdown measures, consumers preferred real physical shops rather than online shopping, as the ONS noted that the proportion of online sales retreated from its record peak in May. Online spending, however, remained at 31.8%, higher than February’s 20%. UK total retail sales are now just 0.6% lower than February before the lockdown.

ONS deputy national statistician Jonathan Athow said:

“Retail continued to recover from the sharp falls seen in April, with overall sales now almost back to pre-pandemic levels. But there are some dramatic differences in sales across the retail industry. Food sales continue above their pre-pandemic levels due to the closure of cafes, restaurants and pubs. Online sales have risen to record levels, and now count for £3 in every £10 spent. On the other hand, clothing sales remain depressed and across the high street sales in non-food stores are down by around one-third on pre-pandemic levels. The latest three months as a whole still saw the weakest quarterly growth on record.”

With the exclusion of fuel sales, due to the lockdown and limited travelling, the level of sales was 2.4% higher than in February. According to figures, Britain’s economy shrank by more than a quarter in March and April and recovered slightly in May.

Is the UK economy recovering?

Former Bank of England policymaker Andrew Sentence said that the figures highlighted the UK was on its recovery since the Covid-19 outbreak. The Bank of England’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, has also pointed to a V-shaped recovery with the economy growing by around 1% a week, something that many of his colleagues have questioned. The British Retail Consortium said that spending among large high-street chains was 3.4% higher this June than last year.

As investors await the release of more figures to confirm expectations of a sustained economic recovery, the pound will remain under stress with Brexit as well as the growing number of deaths from Covid-19. If you are buying a home overseas or want to transfer funds to family and friends living abroad, get in touch with our friendly  Universal Partners FX team. UPFX’s dedicated foreign exchange specialists can help you access the most competitive exchange rates and make your currency transfers stress-free.

Buying property overseas can be a stressful experience especially after the spread of the coronavirus and European countries’ lockdowns. However, you might not need to postpone your dream of buying a house abroad, as agents, notaries and lawyers have found new ways to respond to the situation.

Viewing a property

While you cannot be present materially to view your dream home, as countries such as Spain and France are on a state of emergency, many agencies continue to serve their clients through virtual tours and other online materials as an article in the Financial Times has pointed out. French agency Leggett Immobilier  state on their website that are open for business but can’t offer property visits. What they do offer, though, for the moment, is “a mix of videos, virtual tours, floor plans and additional photos.” They say that their agents are available to speak with clients through the telephone or video conference, and vendors willing “to do facetime or skype visits with you online.”

Proof of ID

While many viewings might have been postponed due to travel bans, agents and notaries are completing most paperwork online with the use of digital signatures, scanning and emailing documents or customers giving power of attorney (POA) to their lawyers. As the French agency says, their clients can give a “power of attorney” so they “don’t need to be physically present at either exchange or completion” when they purchase a property. While individual notaries might “have different interpretations of what is currently acceptable,” they note that clients’ agents will be able to clarify the current status of any purchase they have made.

According to Leggett, purchases continue with notaries accepting proof of ID by e-sign software such as web portals DocuSign and Yousign, without needing certification by a notary in the UK. The use of video conference and video links can also be used so that the notary can see the clients in real time signing the documents.

It is believed that the use of electronic signature in signing contracts remotely will continue and become more widespread over the coming weeks, especially when clients have already viewed the property and have already agreed on a price prior to the lockdown.

Flexible Dates

If you have already found your home and are in the middle of completing the purchase, then using a flexible completion date can ensure that the sale still progresses smoothly for both parties. Solicitor at My Lawyer in Spain Alex Radford says that they are suggesting a future completion date of at least two months which should be included when signing the documents. “There needs to be a clause inserted that states ‘completion will be by ‘x’ date or earlier by agreement or later if the parties or their legal representatives cannot attend completion due to Covid-19 crisis,’” he says. Radford clarifies that only documents of an urgent nature are signed, while other legal work is postponed, according to the notary’s criteria.

Agreeing on a flexible date is important, as this will guarantee securing your funds and progressing with the purchase. The FT article notes that having a “‘safety-net’ clause that allows buyers to pull out if they cannot secure a mortgage,” or extending target days will protect buyers as well as sellers who fear that their property might be devalued after the coronavirus.

If you are in the process of buying your dream home, there is no reason to panic. Jacqui Reddin, Head of Sales Development at Beaux Villages, says that staying in touch with your agent and remaining informed is the best way to move forward. She clarifies that they “are still actively dealing with ongoing sales and even have new ones since lockdown. The buying process is bound to take a bit longer, but if we all stay connected things will start to flow more smoothly.”

In regards to financial concerns over transferring your money abroad or currency exchange, keeping in touch with your currency specialist such as Universal Partners FX can give you peace of mind and help you navigate the unexpected volatility of currency markets. If you want to schedule ahead and safeguard your funds, talk to one of their foreign exchange experts today.

Nowadays, currencies seem to be hitting all-time highs and all-time lows more often than ever before. Exchange rates are constantly fluctuating, causing somewhat of a headache for frequent travellers and international businesses around the world. But why do currencies fluctuate so often? The answer is relatively simple; supply and demand. The definition of supply and demand is ‘the amount of a commodity, product, or service available and the desire of buyers for it, considered as factors regulating its price.’ Simply put, the cost of something depends on how much is available against how many people want to buy it.

The majority of the world’s currencies are bought and sold based on flexible exchange rates, meaning their prices fluctuate based on the supply and demand in the foreign exchange market. Increased demand for a particular currency or a shortage in its availability will result in a price increase. A decreased demand or an influx in supply will lower its price. The supply and demand of currency are connected to several interrelated factors, including monetary policy, inflation rates and the conditions involved with the political and economic environment. So, let’s take a look at these individually.

Monetary Policy

Through monetary policy, a country is able to stimulate its economy. Central banks attempt to control the demand for currencies by increasing or decreasing the money supply and/or benchmark interest rates. The money supply is pretty self-explanatory; this is the amount of money that is in circulation within a country. As money supply increases and the accessibility to a currency rises, the cost of borrowing money decreases. The interest rate is the price at which money can be borrowed. With low-interest rates, people are businesses are more willing and able to borrow money. With more money being borrowed and ultimately spent, the economy begins to grow. However, if the amount of money in the economy is too high and the supply of good and services do not match, prices of these goods and services may begin to inflate.

Inflation Rates

Another factor which has a huge bearing on the fluctuations of currencies is the rate of inflation. The inflation rate is defined as ‘the rate at which the general price of goods and services is increasing.’ A small amount of inflation generally indicates good economic growth, however, too much of an increase can cause the economy to become unstable, leading to depreciation and decline in value of a currency.

The interest and inflation rates of a country have a huge influence on a country’s economy. If the inflation rate gets too high, the central bank may counteract the issue by increasing interest rates. The encourages people to stop spending and save their money instead as well as stimulating foreign investment and increasing the amount of capital entering the marketplace, which results in an increased demand for a currency. Therefore, an increase in interest rates can lead to an increase in the value of a currency. Similarly, a decrease in interest rates can result in a reduction in the value of a currency.

The Political & Economic Environment

The political and economic environment of a country is the final factor that can impact fluctuations of currency. Despite investors enjoy high interest rates, they also appreciate the predictability of an investment. This is why currencies from countries that are politically stable and have a solid economy tend to have a higher demand, which results in higher exchange rates.

Markets are constantly monitoring the current and predicted economic conditions of a country. As well as money supply, interest and inflation rates, other key economic indicators such as GDP, housing, unemployment rates and trade all have an influence on the economy of a country. If these factors show a strong and growing economy, its currency will tend to rise in value as demand increases.

Political conditions also have a resounding impact on the value of a currency. If a country is in the middle of political unrest or global tensions, take Brexit for example, the currencies of that country become less attractive and demand falls. On the other hand, if a market sees the introduction of a new government that shows signs of strong economic growth, a value of the currency may grow as people begin to buy based on the good news. It can be confusing though. Many would assume that the recent resignation of Sajid Javid as Chancellor would have negatively affected the pound. A key figure and supposed close ally of the Prime Minister would surely show the world that the UK is in yet more chaos and would affect confidence. However, the pound was given a boost by this, as the expected result is that Boris Johnson will have more control over spending, and the indications is that the budget will show higher spending than previous years.

 

In the end, there is not one single factor that can answer the question ‘why do currencies fluctuate?’ Instead, a host of factors related to demand and supply affect the values of currency and with more knowledge regarding these factors and their implications for fluctuations, the more accurate the predictions of value become.

With Universal Partners FX, however, you limit the risk of currency fluctuations massively thanks to our innovative online money platform. Here, you are able to select your chosen currency and lock in an exchange rate that suits you, so you never have to worry about losing out on your money further down the line. Simply sign-up to a personal or business account to begin and one of our currency specialists can help you the rest of the way.

Personal Account >         Business Account >

 

For more information on how Universal Partners FX can help you with your online money transfers, be sure to get in touch with us today.

Life after Brexit might seem uncertain, but for many Brits the decision to buy property in Spain is a certain fact. While there might be certain changes in terms of British citizens’ rights with perhaps more documentation and bureaucratic controls, the promise of a sunnier climate and a richer lifestyle is definitely a key factor when moving to Spain.

UK nationals living in the European Union

As the government notes, continuing to live and work in the EU after Brexit would be influenced by each country’s rules and regulations. If you are a resident in Spain, you should register as one, as well as register for healthcare. You should also check if your passport is still valid for travelling and exchange your UK driving licence for a Spanish one.

Buying property in Spain

Buying property can be a very hard decision and a very complicated process. But if you have done your research and sought out the right people to offer support and guidance, you will easily navigate all the complexities and be prepared for any unexpected changes. For one, getting legal advice from an independent lawyer who had good knowledge of Spanish land law (urbanismo), will help you when dealing with developers or estate agents. In this respect, you will be protected from fraud and you will safeguard your interests and finances. While you might be very excited buying or building your own home abroad, being careful with the individual agents and lawyers, and always looking after your own interests is very wise in order to avoid disappointment.

The same goes with the Spanish notary public who will offer legal advice, prepare the contract and issue the public deeds. You might prefer to work with a British estate agent but ensure that they are reliable and registered with the Law Society in the UK. If you are looking for a lawyer or translator the government’s website has qualified professionals on their website.

If you need more assistance with the language and communication, especially when signing a contract, you will need to get an independent translator by checking the Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs website.

Things to do before transferring money to purchase the property

Before you buy the property, make sure you check the land registry extract (nota simple), so you know that the sellers are the same with the registered owner(s) of the property and land. It will be wise to check that there are no debts or charges, including a mortgage or any legal proceedings against the particular property. Documents such as the planning permissions and the property itself should have all licences and permissions.

In any case, having the property surveyed by a chartered surveyor would be the best route when you want to have everything in order without worrying. When you purchase the property you will pay tax, so you should know the cadastral value of the property and how much purchase tax will be due.

Check important documents:

First, make sure that the previous owner paid the owner’s annual property tax (IBI), by seeing the receipt. The town hall should provide a certificate proving that there are no unpaid rates from previous years.

You will need to get the cadastral certificate (with boundaries and size of your plot) that must correspond to the Land Registry records. You will need a habitation certificate to connect the electricity and water companies, as well as a receipt to prove all utility bills have been paid. You might also need a certificate signed by the President of the Community of Property Owners stating that there are no outstanding debts.

From 1 June 2013, all homes for sale or to let in Spain need an energy efficiency certificate, so ensure that the seller has this certificate. Once you get all documents, you should register the property in your name with the Land Registry.

Transferring funds

When you have all the papers in order, you would start thinking about transferring your funds from a UK bank account to a Spanish account to pay for the property. Transferring large amounts of money can be stressful, so getting in touch with a reliable foreign exchange specialist such as Universal Partners FX will protect your funds and save you time and money. UPFX have many years of experience in the currency market and can provide the best tailored solution for your money. Get in touch with them today and find out how they can help you make the most of your money.