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Harpenden appoints new chairman

Roger Smith, chairman of Harpenden has retired, with vice chairman Michael Willis taking his place at the mutual.

Paul Marsden, chief executive at Harpenden, says: “Roger has been a director of HBS since 1981 and chairman since 1999. Since he joined the society we have seen its assets rise from around £8m then to approaching £160m today. He leaves HBS with strong foundations to further develop.”

Willis joined the HBS board in 1993 and was appointed vice chairman in 2000.


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AMI praises government plans

Chris Cummings, director general of the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries says while it thinks the government could do more, its proposals today are a positive and balanced response to the mortgage market’s difficulties.

Government proposals are negligent

Last week the government unveiled a package of measures to rescue the housing market. The Stamp Duty threshold has been raised from £125,000 to £175,000 for one year. Housing associations can now buy homes from borrowers facing repossession and rent them back. They can offer shared ownership deals too.

Too little, too late

Cluttons says the package is too little, too late but that the proposed £300m shared equity scheme will help the building trade.

Budget flight cuts won’t hit prices

The reduction in the number of low-cost flights to property hotspots poses no threat to the value of overseas property, says Conti Financial Services.The rising cost of fuel has forced Ryanair to cut back on the number of flights to several popular destinations. It has temporarily suspended its operations in Poland and Palma. And Easyjet […]

Strong dollar can be a powerful driver of UK dividend growth in 2015

By Robin Geffen, fund manager and CEO 

This year threatens to be a challenging one for UK dividend hunters. Last year saw an all-time record amount paid out in UK dividends — some £97.4bn, according to research from Capita Dividend Monitor. Yet as Capita also pointed out, out the biggest single factor driving the growth in the fourth quarter of last year was easy to identify: the rising US dollar. 

In our view, this trend is much more than simply a one-quarter phenomenon. It is actually the most profound issue to get right as a UK equity income investor in 2015. We believe that the US dollar will continue to strengthen significantly from its current level. This is due more to the US economy’s demonstrable de-coupling from the rest of the world than to a view on the UK. The US has a strong chance of tightening monetary conditions this year without jeopardising growth or de-stabilising its housing market. The same can unfortunately not be said about the UK.

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