What Subprime Auto Lenders Have to Do with the 2016 Democratic Primary

Toward the middle of Elizabeth Warrens 2014 memoir, A Fighting Chance, the Massachusetts senator remembers one of the losses of the fight for a Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. Overall, the story of the CFPB is a triumph-reviewers made a note ofWarrens confidence that a well-organized citizen movement could overcome lobbyist pressure, especially if their idea was popular. YetWarren recounts how Representative Barney Frank was stymied by an industry that jumped into the gap between congressional intent and expertise.

In the final flurry of negotiations that took place that fall, one assault on the consumer agency came on swiftly, and Barney and the consumer advocates couldnt beat it back. Car dealers wanted their auto loans to be exempt from the agencys oversight. I immediately remember Jason and how hed been cheated. The thought of allowing that to happen again (and again and again) to other people made me want to smash my fist through a wall. But there were car dealers in every congressional district in the country, and they were riled up about the agency. Once the car dealers started calling Washington, members of Congress started caving, one after another. Barney did everything he could to fight them off, but in the end, the car dealers got their way.

What did that? New York Times readers found out in todays post-Christmas edition, when Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Michael Corkery published a lengthy report on how car title loans became thehome equity loansof subprime auto. The loans, largely unregulated, are sources of perfect horror stories: quick cash followed by steep interest hikes followed by repossession. Efforts to cap the interest rates have been reversed, generally, under Republican control of state legislatures. (New Hampshires caps, for example, were limited by a Democratic legislature in 2008 but undone four years later by a Tea Party-powered majority.)

NewDominion CEO retires after overseeing turnaround

When Charlotte#x2019;s NewDominion Bank approached John Hipp four years ago to turn the lender around as it faltered after the real estate bubble burst, Hipp#x2019;s first reaction was #x201C;not interested.#x201D;

#x201C;Even my friends said, #x2018;There#x2019;s no way. You can#x2019;t save it. It#x2019;s impossible,#x2019;#x201D; Hipp said.

Now Hipp, who eventually accepted the CEO job for the community lender based in Charlotte#x2019;s midtown area, says the bank is on strong financial footing as he prepares to step down this week.

#x201C;Our guys have done pretty much what everybody said was impossible,#x201D; said Hipp, 63, who announced his retirement from the bank and its board earlier this year. #x201C;Everything is coming together like we had planned.#x201D;

His retirement, which is official Friday, marks a change in leadership at one of the handful of remaining community banks headquartered in Charlotte.

Here and elsewhere, community banks have dwindled in number as a result of years of industry consolidation. In 2007, before the recession, the city was headquarters to seven community banks. That figure is now at three, not counting Ballantyne-based Carolina Premier Bank because its holding company is in Washington, DC

#x201C;We#x2019;re almost the last true community bank in Charlotte,#x201D; Hipp said.

NewDominion#x2019;s recovery is ongoing. It remains under a consent order that state and federal regulators imposed in 2010, the year Hipp became CEO.

Hipp said the bank needs about $10million in additional capital to fully satisfy the order. As long as the bank is under the order, it faces certain restrictions, such as how much loan growth it can have.

Hipp said NewDominion is in compliance with every aspect of the order except for the need for additional capital. He expects the bank to fully satisfy the order over the next 12 months or so.

Under Hipp, the bank has boosted its capital levels significantly. In a campaign that ended last year, the bank raised more than $10million in capital from hundreds of individual investors, most of them in the Charlotte area.

Also under Hipp, the bank has been able to greatly narrow its annual losses. Last year, the bank posted a loss of $2.4million. In 2010, it lost $24million.

Starting at the bottom

Hipp grew up in a family that moved all over the Southeast because of his father#x2019;s career with retailers Sears and Montgomery Ward Co.

After he got out of the Army, Hipp also tried his hand at retail, going to work for drugstore chain Eckerd in Charlotte.

Hipp didn#x2019;t care for that job, so he decided to give banking a try, joining Wachovia Corp. in the 1970s.

He started at the bottom with Wachovia, going door to door collecting payments and repossessing vehicles from Charlotteans who had fallen behind on their auto loans. It wasn#x2019;t his dream job, but Hipp said he learned an important banking lesson from it.

#x201C;It#x2019;s the best training in the world, because you see what happens when (loans) go bad,#x201D; he said.

Hipp worked his way up in Wachovia, and in the 1990s he was brought on to help turn around the troubled Rock Hill National Bank. It was his first job as CEO and first time being asked to fix a teetering lender.

#x201C;One of the things you learn is in a challenged bank #x2026; it is always worse than what you think,#x201D; he said.

Hipp said that when turning around a company, it#x2019;s important for its leaders to celebrate the small victories. #x201C;You#x2019;ve got to give people something to believe in.#x201D;

NewDominion calls

NewDominion was Hipp#x2019;s second opportunity to help a bank in turmoil.

At the time, he was living in Columbia and had recently retired as an executive for a Georgia bank. Hipp was doing some consulting work but had little interest in the intensive work required to fix a bank. Earlier that year, Hipp had undergone surgery for prostate cancer. After the treatment, doctors gave him a clean bill of health, he said.

He changed his mind about the NewDominion job after giving it more thought.

#x201C;I had this gut feeling #x2026; that if we could last two years, that we could turn it around,#x201D; he said.

Under Hipp, the lender convinced Greensboro-based NewBridge Bank to convert $10million in debt into preferred equity in NewDominion. Hipp said that move bought NewDominion two years to raise capital.

To raise capital, NewDominion representatives initially spoke with private equity investors. But those large investors were interested only in banks that were bigger and had fewer distressed loans, Hipp said.

Hipp and other leaders at the bank decided to raise capital from small, individual investors instead. The yearlong effort, launched in the summer of 2012, involved the bank#x2019;s leaders traveling across the Carolinas, making pitches to hundreds of investors gathered at country clubs, restaurants and elsewhere.

Over the course of the effort, 250 investors put about $10.6million in the bank, at an average investment of about $40,000.

It#x2019;s the most money raised from individual investors by a bank in the Southeast, Hipp said. Raising the money was not easy at a time when the economy was still recovering and banking was not a popular industry, he said. Also, Hipp had never had to raise capital before in prior CEO roles.

Tony Plath, a finance professor at UNC Charlotte, called the accomplishment #x201C;remarkable.#x201D;

#x201C;John really does need to be recognized as salesman of the year,#x201D; Plath said.

What advice would Hipp give other companies planning to raise capital in the same way? Have a compelling story to tell investors, he said.

#x201C;Not just some blue sky or hokey pokey,#x201D; he said. #x201C;I#x2019;m talking about a story that people can believe in. Our story was: #x2018;Look at (our) management, look at Charlotte. #x2026; Isn#x2019;t there a place for a successful community bank?#x2019; Your story has to be credible, believable and also defendable.#x201D;

New leadership

NewDominion#x2019;s chief financial officer, Blaine Jackson, will succeed Hipp as CEO.

Jackson will oversee a bank that has ambitions to expand by opening additional branches in the Charlotte region, such as in Ballantyne. NewDominion, founded in 2005, currently has only two branches: one at its midtown headquarters, the other in Lake Norman.

Hipp said NewDominion will need to raise more capital to fulfill its expansion plans.

Plath, the UNCC professor, said NewDominion faces other challenges that community banks elsewhere are coping with.

With community banks#x2019; service charges typically lower than those of bigger banks, it remains unclear whether community banks can keep their customers if they charge them more to cover rising regulatory costs, build their capital base and provide a satisfactory return for investors, Plath said.

Hipp said NewDominion sold the 250 investors shares at 50 cents each. According to a third-party analysis conducted for the bank, the shares were worth 74 cents each around the beginning of 2014, he said.

Hipp, who bought a Rock Hill home this year, said it will remain his primary residence. He#x2019;ll also spend some of his retirement on his 100-acre farm outside of Columbia, where he plans to plant corn in the spring.

He said it#x2019;s hard to say whether he#x2019;ll take on other work, such as consulting for banks.

#x201C;I#x2019;ve retired several times,#x201D; he said. #x201C;Unsuccessfully.#x201D;

P2P: Social media on steriods?

At the recent AOBP AGM, a question from the floor sparked debate upon whether the P2P market is only here for the short-term and whether investors are fully aware of the risks. Other industry figures have since given their own opinions, where one stated that the P2P offering is used by investors as a form of social media on steroids.

The P2P market has enjoyed exponential success since its arrival. However, professionals are now coming to question whether everyday investors who invest money into schemes are aware of the risks involved.

When asked whether he believes the P2P market poses risks, Russell Martin of Finance 4 Business stated that he does, adding that the market and appetite to invest is largely driven by the reported low delinquency rates.

My opinion is that the market is not mature enough to really know what the true delinquency rates will be and with the number of lsquo;investors in each loan – I would imagine the collections process being very difficult.

It is hard to say what the longevity will be. The mechanism will certainly continue to grow whilst the banks are still sorting out their balance sheets and starving SMEs of working capital.

I see some lsquo;investors using P2P as a type of social media on steroids, he added.

James Bloom of Regentsmead believes that the P2P market is here to stay for the time being, as it is relatively new and has a long way to run. This might change in the next financial crisis however, he added.

James commented that there are substantial risks for the average non-informed investor who does not realise the dangers of the investment they are involved in.

For an extra 2-3 per cent, people are sometimes taking massive additional risks which they do not understand. Like any new market, the problems will only become evident when the market collapses, and this could be the next financial scandal to hit the market.

Certain companies like LendInvest are doing things in the right way but there are plenty of others who are not!

On the other hand, Shoaib Bux of Mayfair Bridging disagreed that the P2P market will be short-lived. I think the demand from investors will soften if there are copious amounts of defaults happening. This may put people off, but platforms are now being structured with safeguards which is bringing more investor confidence.

Shoaib also added that this risk is reduced by platforms spreading investor monies over multiple borrowers and/or securing over property.

There needs to be some regulation but the FCA should be careful not to over-regulate.

Harry Cloke of Imperial Blue Finance also agreed that P2P lending is a long term innovative development in the property finance market, adding that like with any new market, P2P is facing teething problems.

Harry added that while already competitive on price, it will take longer to develop a more streamlined model to compete on getting more quickly to drawdown.

Mobeen Chishti of Total Money Management commented that P2P has been created by the lack of lending via banks, however when rates go up, it will be safer to stick to traditional savings accounts via banks and Building societies.

Peer to Peer lending will still exist but will need to adapt to changes, he said, adding that the fallout of these types of loans is an unknown, meaning that it is in fact too early to comment.

Concluding his thoughts, he added: I still believe there is a strong argument that high street banks should be lending more, but also, we as brokers need to be going all out for our clients and optimising the way we present our cases.

Buy Auto Insurance Near Christmas And Find Good Prices!

PR Web

(PRWEB) December 22, 2014

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Clients can now find affordable auto insurance plans by visiting an insurance brokerage website: http://autocarsinsurancetips.com/ . The winter sales can help clients find low cost plans. The website gathers all the best offers and displays car insurance quotes from top agencies.

Christmas can be a good time to find good auto insurance plans. Clients should compare policies and purchase coverage now, when the prices are low. Having proper insurance is very important for the financial security of a vehicle.

There are several types of auto insurance plans available. Drivers can choose liability, collision and even comprehensive coverage for the best financial protection. By reading the newly released blog post, clients can find more information.

Autocarsinsurancetips.com is an online provider of life, home, health, and auto insurance quotes. This website is unique because it does not simply stick to one kind of insurance provider, but brings the clients the best deals from many different online insurance carriers. In this way, clients have access to offers from multiple carriers all in one place: this website. On this site, customers have access to quotes for insurance plans from various agencies, such as local or nationwide agencies, brand names insurance companies, etc.

Autocarsinsurancetips.com is owned by Internet Marketing Company.

For more information, please visit http://autocarsinsurancetips.com/ .

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/freecarinsurancequotes/autoinsurancequotes/prweb12411224.htm

Jailed advisor banned

The FCA has publicly banned a former Investment Advisor at HHPG Limited.

On the 15th October this year, Michael Stanley Hirst, currently a prisoner at HMP Parc in Mid-Glamorgan, was given a warning notice by the FCA, followed by a decision notice on the 6th November, prohibiting him from performing any function relating to regulated activities carried out by an authorised person, exempt person or exempt professional firm.

In May this year, Mr Hirst was convicted of 13 counts of theft, for which he was sentenced to three years in prison for each offence, to be run concurrently.

It was deemed by the regulator that he was not a fit and proper person to perform any functions as his conduct demonstrates a lack of honesty and integrity.

According to the Financial Services Register, Mr Hirst most recently acted as a Customer at HHPG Limited, and before that an Investment Advisor at the Margham-based insurance mediation firm, which trades in property finance, during 2007. He previously acted as an Investment Advisor at a range of institutions from 2001.

A cached version of HHPGs website said that the company have a team of advisers who share the firms ethos of helping our clients accomplish financial objectives rather than trying to sell them products.

The order took effect from the 12th December 2014, where the regulator publicised its notice on the same day.

Intermediaries remain the most popular choice for buy to let investors

UK landlords sourcing buy to let finance from intermediaries has increased as they regard it as the best way to secure a good deal, new research suggests.

There has been a 6% increase in landlords who prefer get property finance from intermediaries and large scale landlords more likely to make exclusive use of intermediaries, according to the latest report from specialist buy to let firm Paragon Mortgages.

The Private Rented Sector Trends survey, which has been tracking landlord confidence and views on the buy to let market for 20 years, also shows that 60% of landlords agree intermediaries are valuable in finding the best buy to let deals.

More than a third, 36%, of landlords in the fourth quarter of the year preferred to source buy to let finance exclusively via intermediaries, a 6% increase over the past three months, up from 30% of landlords in the third quarter.

In comparison, 23% of landlords in the last quarter of 2014 preferred to source buy to let finance directly from lenders, and 23% sourced through a mix of intermediaries and lenders, which reduced from 28% in the third quarter.

Large scale landlords, those with five or more properties, were more likely to prefer to source all their buy to let finance via intermediaries at 40% compared with 23% of small scale landlords.

Ipswich-based property finance broker CFBUK lands national award

Ipswich-based property finance broker CFBUK lands national award

Ralph Black, chief executive of Ipswich-based Commercial Finance Brokers UK (CFBUK).

Sunday, December 21, 2014

1:00 PM

Bank Nizwa’s tenth branch opened in Barka

Barka: Bank Nizwa, Omans first Islamic bank, has opened its 10th full-fledged branch in the Sultanate, achieving its two-year expansion target on schedule.

The new Barka branch in South Al Batinah governorate is the banks latest step towards offering Sharia-compliant products and services within the convenience of their own communities.

The branch was officially inaugurated by Sheikh Hilal bin Said Al Hajri, governor of South Al Batinah and will provide customers with a wide portfolio of personal banking products and services including transactional and investment accounts, as well as finance and investment products such as auto finance, property finance and Mudharaba Investments to name a few. In addition, Bank Nizwa will offer tailored-made products for corporations and government institutions.

Over the course of our journey, Bank Nizwa has progressed with consistent and positive growth across all operations. Our achievements have been in synergy with our strategy which focuses on the development of three key areas: the introduction of novel banking products and services, the expansion of our customer base and branch network, and raising awareness on Islamic banking. It is through this roadmap that we have become the partner of choice for customers seeking an alternative to conventional banking in Oman, said Jamil El Jaroudi, chief executive officer of Bank Nizwa.

There are clear correlations between the development of Islamic banking in the Sultanate and the continuous growth of Bank Nizwa. We are experiencing considerable conversion trends from traditional to Sharia-compliant financing, while government legislation is becoming increasingly accommodative. Our robust banking framework is what propels Islamic finance in Oman, creating a base upon which we can increase the industrys market share and further contribute to the national economy, he added.

Profitability
Bank Nizwa, which has an asset base of OMR257 million, will become profitable in 2015, said Jamil El Jaroudi, the banks chief executive officer.

As a start-up, the first two or three years, you will have losses. We are minimising our losses every month to reach the break-even point, and after that, it will become profitable during 2015, El Jaroudi told reporters during the inauguration ceremony of the banks new branch in Barka on Sunday.

Major achievements
According to the information provided by the bank to Times of Oman, till the end of December 2013, Bank Nizwas total assets reached OMR196 million, with a paid-up capital of OMR152 million, net financing of OMR31 million and customer deposits of OMR28 million.

The bank, which is Omans first dedicated Islamic bank, had 13,000 customers in 2013. Bank Nizwa enhanced its performance and activities during 2014, which has been reflected in the latest statistics.
In 2014, the banks total assets reached OMR257 million, with a paid-up capital of OMR152 million, net financing of OMR135 million and customer deposits worth OMR95 million. The number of Bank Nizwas customer accounts has also more than doubled, reaching 32,000.

Expansion plans
Bank Nizwa, which started operation in January 2013, has expanded its reach and now has ten branches across Oman in Muscat, Ghoubra, Al Khoud, Barka, Nizwa, Samail, Sohar, Ibra, Sur and Salalah. Its shares are also traded on the Muscat Securities Market.

The official said that the bank plans to open a branch in Al Buraimi in the first quarter of 2015 in line with its expansion plans, part of which will be geographical and part of which will be in the form of alternative channels to reach out to the clients.

Islamic banking growth
The banks chief executive officer also said that Islamic banking in the Sultanate is set for more growth. The conventional banking is growing, and the Islamic banking is catching up. According to industry reports, Islamic banking has the potential to reach OMR5 billion in assets by 2018, with the Sharia-compliant segment comprising at least 10 per cent of the market, he said.

El Jaroudi added that the sector currently represent around 5 per cent of Omans total banking assets.

Mobile banking app
In addition, he noted that the bank will continue to develop innovative products next year and will launch a mobile banking application in the first half of 2015.

According to him, Bank Nizwa has already developed an Internet banking system, which can be accessed through phones as well.

To contact this reporter: elham@timesofoman.com

Appointments: Team grows as investment landscape looks up

The firm, which has offices in Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester, has recruited associate Jonathan Yates and solicitor Joe Phelan as demand for its specialist expertise in the property finance field continues to rise.

Jonathan deals with all aspects of property transactions with a particular emphasis on acting for commercial lending institutions on property finance transactions.

He advises a range of high-street lenders as well as borrowers ranging from private individuals to plc companies.

Recent transactions include acting on behalf of funder clients in relation to taking security over a £14m portfolio of garden centres, an office building with a market value of £16m and a £13m distribution centre.

Joe Phelan specialises in property finance, commercial property and landlord and tenant work and acts for clients ranging from individuals to plc banks.

He has advised on a wide range of matters including the refinancing of residential and commercial property portfolios, the refinancing of an industrial estate, retail development financing and lease arrangements.

Simon Errington, partner and head of property services at Ward Hadaway, said: “It is terrific to be able to welcome Jonathan and Joe on board.

“Their experience and expertise will add further strength in depth to the property finance team as instructions and inquiries continue to rise from clients as the revival in the property industry continues.

“We have seen a marked rise in work from both lenders and borrowers in the property finance sphere as the appetite for investment and development rises and the recruitment of Jonathan and Joe will be of great benefit to our clients going forward.”

The recruitment marks further expansion in the wider property team at Ward Hadaway.

Since the start of 2014, the firm has recruited five associates, two solicitors and two newly-qualified solicitors to its property ranks.

Neil Robson, partner and head of property at Ward Hadaway, said: “This year has witnessed a real ramping-up in the property sector and we have responded in kind by expanding our team across a range of different specialist areas.

“This is the latest example of our continuing investment in talented legal personnel and further evidence of our promise to offer a truly comprehensive service to clients in the property field.”

Ward Hadaway is a major North law firm with offices in Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester. It is a Northern law firm for national business.

One of the UK’s Top 100 law firms, it employs more than 400 staff, including many nationally-recognised legal experts.

It is among the top-ranked law firms in the UK according to independent legal guides Chambers amp; Partners 2015 and Legal 500 2014. The firm’s expertise spans a wide range of sectors including banking and finance, company commercial, corporate finance, tax, commercial property, planning, social housing, dispute resolution, technology, intellectual property, creative industries, healthcare, employment, construction, licensing, debt recovery, corporate recovery and business restructuring and services for the private client, including family and matrimonial and wills and trusts.

Your digest of the week in business

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Success

When OC Robotics was chosen to feature in the Business is Great festive calendar, the Bristol firm had the perfect candidate to open the door.

The firm, based in Filton, builds snake arm robots used to tackle tricky and dangerous tasks in a range of industries including defence and nuclear, so the calendar door was a doddle in comparison.

The calendar features 24 diverse and innovative small businesses from across the country.

Adam Mallion, pictured, from OC Robotics, said: The team is very proud of the business we have all built. We are excited to celebrate our successes by being part of the Business is Great advent calendar. Here we join 23 other businesses across the country highlighting the organisations and people doing great things for small businesses, and the government support that has made some of it possible.

All businesses involved in the calendar have received government support or used its services, from help with exporting to new markets and tax relief for innovation, to hiring apprentices to grow their teams. They are backing the advent calendar to let other businesses know about the advice and support available to them.

The latest trade statistics released by HM Revenue amp; Customs reveal that in the 12 months to September 2014, annual exports from the South West increased by pound;116 million to pound;13.7 billion. The total annual value of exports from the region in the year ending September 2014 rose by 0.9 per cent.

The South West witnessed an increase (0.7 per cent) in the number of exporting businesses in the last quarter, with 3,820 active exporters.

Machinery, transport equipment and manufactured goods are the key export commodities for the South West. Germany, France and the USA represent the top markets.

Warmley brewer Bath Ales has been shortlisted in The Publican Morning Advertiser Awards recognising quality and innovation in the pub trade.

Bath Ales is a finalist in the Best Food Offer (2 50 sites) as well as Best Operations Team (10-50 sites) categories. In last years awards, Bath Ales won the coveted national award for Best Managed Pub Company (2-50 sites).

Managing director Robin Couling said: To be in with a real chance to win such highly-regarded awards for the pub industry is such a great achievement for us and reflects how hard the team work.

Places

The next big office development in the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone has secured planning permission.

The pound;40 million 3 Glass Wharf has been given the go-ahead, subject to sorting out Section 106 agreements the money which goes back the public purse to support local improvements to roads and other amenities.

Salmon Harvester Properties, a joint venture between Salmon Developments and NFU Mutual, has secured approval just as it nears the end of building 2 Glasswharf next door. Three Glasswharf will include 109,255 sq ft (10,150 sq m) of offices with retail and leisure on the ground floor, plus basement car parking.

Rorie Henderson, development director at Salmon Harvester Properties, said: This is fantastic news and we are delighted with how well the planning committee received our application, particularly the design and scope of the building.

Discussions are now under way to finalise the infrastructure and public realm under a 106 agreement and we anticipate a start on site in the second half of next year, with completion scheduled for the first quarter of 2017.

Is it air hockey tables in reception, break out igloos or just a nice view? A Bristol business wants to find out what makes a happy workplace and is launching a competition to find the happiest office in the South West.

Workplace and interior design consultancy Wylde IA holding the contest to mark its coming of age as the business turns 18.

It launched the competition with a party at Bristols Avery Wine Vaults.

Director Maxine Bennett says: The economy is on the up, companies are employing once again and attention is turning to working environments and how best to use the space they have to inspire employees. We want to uncover the most innovative workplaces and look at how these amazing spaces encourage productivity and thinking.

Entrants can tweet pictures of their desks and work spaces @WyldeLife using the hashtag #wyldehappyoffice.

People

Burges Salmon is continuing the expansion of its pensions team with four new appointments. Crispin Freeman, Charlotte Osmond, Amy Davies and Stacey Yon have joined the practice

Crispin joins as a senior associate from Wragge Lawrence Graham amp; Co. Charlotte trained at Linklaters and joins as a newly qualified solicitor. Amy and Stacey have qualified into the team having completed their training contracts with Burges Salmon.

Their arrival follows the appointments earlier this year of Eve Wallace (senior associate) and Zoe Dhenin (solicitor).

Head of pensions Richard Knight said: We are delighted to have grown the team so substantially this year. Our 40 pensions lawyers now act for over 700 pensions clients and our new recruits will help us continue to provide a top quality service and to grow further.

Law firm DAC Beachcroft has boosted its intellectual property and technology team by recruiting Andrew Allan-Jones as a partner together with IP associate Kate Loxton.

The pair joins from Bond Dickinson where Andrew was a partner having previously been head of IP at legacy firm, Bond Pearce.

Bristol partner John Williams said: We are delighted to welcome lawyers of Andrew and Kates expertise and calibre to the firm. They are an excellent addition to our existing capability advising clients across our key sectors on brand and media work.

Ashfords LLP welcomes Nicholas Lykke Dahn, right, to its real estate team.

He joins the law firms Bristol office having previously been at BrookStreet des Roches and Linklaters specialising in commercial real estate and property finance.

Partner and head of real estateTim Heal said: Nicholas experience will add valued depth and strength to our team and we look forward to continuing to provide excellent service to our clients.

An apprentice from the City of Bristol College has impressed the bosses at one of the citys leading four-star hotels so much, shes now been fast-tracked to become a full-time member of staff.

Leonie Jacks, is currently studying Business and Administration Level 2 at City of Bristol College while gaining hands on experience at DoubleTree by Hilton, Bristol on Redcliffe Way.

Having only started in January, the management now want Leonie to become a permanent team member.

Leonie said: When I started out on my apprenticeship I never really thought that it would lead to a full-time job so soon. Im absolutely thrilled and cant wait.

Property consultancy Alder King has made two further appointments to its Bristol office to strengthen its residential development and planning teams.

Ben St Quintin has joined as a senior surveyor in the residential development team after five years with JLL in Bristol.

Ben is the current vice-President of the Bristol Junior Chamber and will assume the role of President in April 2015.

Rose Fox has joined Alder Kings planning team as a graduate planner after two years with Crest Nicholson in Bristol.

She brings valuable experience in the management and coordination of residential planning applications.