Interest rate hedging products - Financial Conduct Authority

Interest rate hedging products

In 2012, we identified failings in the way that some banks sold structured collars, swaps, simple collars and cap products, which we collectively refer to as IRHPs. The banks involved agreed to review their sales of IRHPs1 made to unsophisticated customers2 since 2001. The full review started in May 2013 and the banks have now sent a redress determination letter to all of the 17,000 businesses that are in the review. So far, £1.8 billion has been paid in redress, including £365 million to deal with consequential losses.

The nine banks that are reviewing their sales of IRHPs are:

Allied Irish Bank (UK) Bank of Ireland Barclays
Clydesdale & Yorkshire Banks Co-operative Bank HSBC
Lloyds Banking Group Royal Bank of Scotland Santander UK

 

The voluntary agreements establishing the IRHP scheme are supported by independent reviewers appointed under s.166 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. Every case is overseen and verified by an independent reviewer.

The banks sought to identify eligible customers who were sold structured collars, swaps, or simple collars and invited them into the review. All such claims have now been determined and offers of basic redress made where appropriate. Of the 18,000 customers identified, 16,000 chose to join the review, and 2,000 have chosen not to participate. At 89%, customer engagement has been high. As we explain below, the IRHP review deals with sales of cap products in a different way.

Customers who purchased caps3

Customers who purchased cap products were contacted by the banks and advised that these sales would only be included in the review if they proactively complain to their bank. We remind customers who have yet to do so that they should contact their bank if they want these sales will be included in the review. To make a complaint to their bank, contact details can be found on the banks’ websites, or alternatively, customers can raise their concerns with their banking relationship manager.

So far, 1,000 out of 7,000 customers have complained to their banks about their cap products.

The level of complaints from customers who purchased caps has now fallen to a level (100 in the last six months) where it is appropriate for the banks to resume dealing with new complaints through their usual complaints handling processes. Therefore, for those customers who purchased caps, the final date when complaints will be considered within the IRHP review will be 31 March 2015.

After this date customers still have the following options (subject to time limits for making a complaint or bringing a claim):

  1. To complain about the sale of their IRHPs through the banks’ usual complaints handling processes;
  2. To refer their complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service. Generally customers who are private individuals can bring complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service, as can businesses that are 'micro enterprises' (an EU term covering smaller businesses) as long as they have an annual turnover of less than two million euros, or approximately 1.59 million pounds, and fewer than ten employees;
  3. To pursue their case through the courts.

If you have purchased a cap product and wish to complain, we urge you to do it as soon as possible and in any event before 31 March 2015.

The review so far

All nine banks have now completed their sales reviews and have delivered redress letters to all but a handful of these customers.

The banks have sent 17,000 redress determinations to customers, 14,000 of which include a cash redress offer, and 3,000 confirm that the IRHP sale complied with our rules or that the customer suffered no loss.

To date, around 11,000 customers have accepted a redress offer and £1.8 billion is being paid out, including more than £365 million to cover consequential losses. This means that, so far, 80% of offers have been accepted. For those banks who got their letters out earlier, the acceptance rates are around 90%.

In addition to the £1.8 billion of redress payable to customers, the banks have set aside money to cover the costs of having to terminate customers’ IRHPs early (the banks bear the cost of IRHP payments that customers would have made in the future), the costs of employing more than 3,000 people to carry out the review exercise, and the costs of engaging independent reviewers to look at every case.

The charts and tables below summarise the banks’ progress and the position at the end of June:

Next steps

Ongoing complaints

For those customers who have received an offer and are considering whether or not to accept it, the banks will continue to hold meetings, during which customers can obtain a more detailed explanation of the decision, ask questions and, if appropriate, provide additional information. The banks and independent reviewers will carefully consider any points that are raised by customers.

Consequential loss claims

The banks and independent reviewers will also continue to assess customers’ claims for consequential losses. Every redress offer has 8% simple interest per year added which is intended to compensate customers for the lost opportunity cost of being deprived of their money (e.g. lost interest or profits). Customers who can demonstrate that the losses caused by their IRHP exceeded 8% per year can submit a consequential loss claim.

We expect the banks and independent reviewers to complete their work by Summer 2015. We will continue to provide close oversight of the IRHP review and will provide quarterly updates, including information about the progress of consequential loss claims.

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1For these purposes, we mean IRHPs that are derivatives which are separate to a lending arrangement and are for the purpose of managing interest rate fluctuations.

2That is, customers classified under our rules as either ‘private customers’ (in relation to sales made on or before 31 October 2007) or ‘retail clients’ (for sales made on or after 1 November 2007), and assessed as being eligible for the review under the ‘sophistication test’.

3A cap is a separate contract to the underlying loan agreement that can have the effect of limiting increases in a customer’s loan repayments if interest rates rise. A customer typically pays an upfront fee and/or an ongoing premium for a cap. The lower the agreed interest rate, the higher the premium. As interest rates fluctuate, a customer’s loan repayments will fluctuate. If base rates are above the agreed interest rate, the customer receives a payment from the bank that can be set against the increased loan repayments. If interest rates are below the cap, then no payment is made.