08 Jan 2019 The 8th of January marks the most popular day of the year for people in the UK to begin legal proceedings to dissolve marriages. Sometimes things just aren’t working and a low point at the start of the year is enough to push a marriage over the edge. So why are people more likely to make this life-changing move than they are to change banking provider? It’s considerably easier to break up with your bank, picking up a new card or current account, and in many cases people still don’t act on their dissatisfaction.

Myths and the power of habit are stopping people from getting the best deals, with a bit of shopping around and research you can get so much more from your money. With the 7-day switch guarantee consumers can also be assured that they will be with their new provider within a week and will not be without access to their financial products for more than 48 hours.

Matt Ford, Product Director at Tandem Bank, says “The incumbent banks are still profiting from the myths that surround switching banks. It seems that no matter how many difficulties you have with your banking service, you stick with it, even more so than you would with a struggling marriage. In reality, switching provider has never been easier and there are so many products on the market that offer tangible benefits and a better banking experience.”

Thanks to Open Banking a wealth of opportunities have opened up for both the banking sector and consumers. Open Banking allows consumers to connect a range of financial products, pulling together a banking experience from all corners of the industry that is personal to them.  Apps like Tandem’s pull all of these tools into one place, curating third-party services and gathering insights on your financial life to help you spend, save and manage your credit better.

Matt Ford, adds, “The market has never been so diverse and the one-size-fits-all approach to banking is broken. Seek out the best from the market for your individual needs. ‘Changing banks’ doesn’t have to mean switching every banking product. You could just opt for a better rate on your savings or a credit card that doesn’t sting you with fees when you spend abroad. It is remarkable that you are more likely to get divorced than to change your bank – it’s time we change that.”

08 Jan 2019 More than half of savers (53%) still intend to rely on ISAs to protect interest on their nest egg from the tax man, according to new research by Leeds Building Society.

The national survey also found most people (66%) chose an ISA because they knew their interest would be tax-free.

The Society has continued to see strong demand for its ISAs, particularly fixed rate products, despite a marked decline in the tax-free savings market following the introduction of the Personal Savings Allowance (PSA).

Since the PSA came into force in April 2016 the first £1,000 in savings interest earned by basic rate taxpayers is tax-free (£500 for higher rate taxpayers), a benefit which applies to the majority of UK savers.

However, one in four of those surveyed (24%) was unaware of the PSA.

“We carried out this national research to find out what savers thought about tax-free saving and better understand what type of products they were seeking,” said Matt Bartle, Leeds Building Society’s Director of Products.

“We believe ISAs are still important to tax-efficient saving in the longer term – consistent saving in tax-free products can build up a substantial nest egg over time and all the interest on that investment is protected from the taxman.

“While the PSA benefits the majority of savers, it was surprising a significant number of people were either unaware of it or unsure of how it affected them.

“Successive Governments have implemented different measures to incentivise saving – the fact that savings accounts with tax-free status have been around for nearly 30 years acknowledges the importance of this type of product and its value to consumers.”

The Society has refreshed its ISA range for the New Year and offers a choice of variable and fixed rate products, available across different channels including branch and online.

Highlights include:

·         1.80% Two Year Fixed Rate ISA, which is market-leading on the high street

·         1.38% Limited Issue Online Access ISA

The maximum investment for the current tax year (2018/2019) is £20,000, less any amount invested in a Stocks and Shares ISA in the same tax year.

02 Jan 2019 As the nation goes back to work, new data reveals Britons are also heading online for mortgage advice.

The research, conducted by free online mortgage broker, Habito, looked at Google trend data from the last five years across mortgage-related search terms such as ‘mortgage deals’ and ‘best buy mortgages’. 27th December onwards is when internet searches pick up, with 10-15 per cent more traffic than at the start of the month. But, the real search volume hike begins on 2nd January with up to 60 per cent more people looking online for a mortgage deal than start of December.

Long-term financial planning is the flavour of the month in January with searches in categories related to pensions or insurance up significantly by 30 per cent month on month. Web searches relating to shorter-term products such as credit cards or banking services remain consistent.

Daniel Hegarty, CEO at Habito, the free online mortgage broker said: “Christmas costs the average family more than £700, so it’s no wonder homeowners are using the first few weeks of 2019 to look online for where they can make long-term savings.

“With Brexit uncertainty still ongoing, this January looks set to be busier than ever before. The good news is that with interest rates still relatively low and competition between the banks so strong, there are cheap deals to be had – even on longer-term fixed mortgages. We’ve seen a surge in buyers choosing 5+ year fixes since the Autumn, as they try to future-proof their mortgage and lock in the same rate until 2023.”

“But, the biggest savings come from being mortgage-free quicker. If you are in a financial position to do so, you can remortgage to get on a lower rate, but tell your bank you want to keep your monthly payments the same. Effectively, this means your overpayments now count towards lowering your overall balance and you could wipe years and tens of thousands of pounds off your total repayment bill.

Research from the University of Manchester for Habito found that 55 per cent of all British homeowners could save an average of £294 every month by switching their mortgage away from their lender’s standard variable rate – or a huge £3,500 a year.

According to Habito, on a typical £200k mortgage of 25 years, paying 2.5 per cent interest, if you overpaid every month by their suggested savings (£294) you would pay off your mortgage 7 years and 9 months earlier, saving you a whopping £22,803 in interest payments over that time.

02 Jan 2019 There is thought to be somewhere between £15bn and £77bn in unclaimed money sitting in forgotten investments, pensions, bank accounts and a whole range of other places in the UK. So, how can you go about finding out if any of it is yours? Carl Drummond, senior wealth planner at Sanlam UK reveals 7 top tips for reclaiming forgotten money.

1. Pensions

There is more than £5bn in forgotten pension schemes in the UK, according to the Pension Tracing Service. We have, on average, 11 jobs during our working lives and because of this it’s easy to lose track of employee pensions. Personal pensions can get lost when you move house, change your name or neglect to update your personal details.

But there are ways you can track this money down. The Pension Tracing Service is free and impartial, and you can start the process online, although you will then be sent documents which you need to sign in order for it to search on your behalf. Alternatively, you could try the Pensions Advisory Service, which is another free service providing lots of useful tips, advice and search tools.

2 .Investments

If you think you might hold shares in a company, but you have no record of them and cannot find the share certificates, you can check by applying direct to any or all of the three main company registrars – Capita, Computershare and Equiniti. They will search their records for free but will charge you a fee for issuing a replacement certificate. Alternatively, the Investment Association or the Association of Investment Companies might be able to help.

3. Old bank and building society accounts

According to the Money Advice Service there is £850m sitting unclaimed in British accounts. These days we tend to be less loyal to banks and building societies than was the case for our parents’ or grandparents’ generations, and this has increased the likelihood of losing money as we switch.

Fortunately, it’s easy to check using a free online service called My Lost Account. It covers over 30 banks and all 44 UK building societies and it will help you trace any lost personal accounts. It is particularly useful in instances where a bank or building society has closed or merged. Banks and building societies say they aim to respond within three months.

4. Premium Bonds

NS&I reports that there are more than 1.5 million unclaimed prizes worth more than £60m. The My Lost Account service can tell you if you hold any Premium Bonds which you may not have been aware of. That in itself is useful information, but most people will want to know if those missing Premium Bonds have won a prize over the years. Stage two is to find out whether you hold a prize-winning number by visiting NS&I and filling in the online form. NS&I says it will respond within one month. Note that any Bonds bought more than 30 years ago are likely to be individually numbered – to get a bond holder’s number you will need to write to NS&I at Glasgow, G58 1SB.

5. Lost insurance policies

You can hold a life insurance policy for many years and because of this they are easily forgotten. Unclaimed Assets UK, which helps to trace lost money, estimates there is £2bn languishing in unclaimed life insurance. To find out if a deceased person had a life insurance policy, it can be helpful to go through old bank statements or cancelled cheques to see if any premiums were paid. You could also contact the people who dealt with their legal or financial matters and even past employers.

6. Lottery wins

In September, there were almost £12m in unclaimed National Lottery prizes, but all prizes have to be claimed within 180 days. To check whether you have won an unclaimed lottery prize, go to the National Lottery website, click on the ‘Check results’ tab and you will find a section on unclaimed prizes. This lists any large unclaimed prizes and the site allows you to input numbers for Lotto, EuroMillions, ThunderBall, Lotto HotPicks and EuroMillions HotPicks. After 180 days, any unclaimed prizes go to fund National Lottery Projects.

7. Child Trust Funds

Tax-free Child Trust Funds saw children born between 2002 and 2011 given a government bonus of £250 each, but over one million such bonuses were classified as ‘addressee gone away’, meaning they have not been claimed. According to The Share Centre, as of June this year, as much as £1bn could be lost. To find out if you, or more accurately your child, might be one of them, simply submit a request via GOV.UK – you’ll need a Government Gateway ID, which you will already have if you submit a tax return.

02 Jan 2019 New research from The Nottingham Building Society (The Nottingham) reveals that 39% of retired people in the UK claim that they are having the best time of their lives since they stopped working. Although YOLO (you only live once) is a phrase and attitude associated with Millennials, older generations are adopting some of the YOLO personality traits later in life instead.

One of the key reasons that so many retired people feel so positive about life after work is that 46% claim to have more disposable income than ever before thanks to being a generation of frugal young savers.

The Nottingham believes this is, in part, down to this generation saving earlier on in their lives.  One in ten claims they started saving for their retirement when they were 18 and 45% did this when they were 30 or younger.  Despite this, 45% wish they had actually started saving earlier than they did – with just over one in four (26%) saying they would have started saving 10 years earlier if they had their time again.

Tina Hayton Banks, Director of Member services at The Nottingham said: “Younger generations can learn a lot from their parents and grandparents, and this is particularly true when it comes to saving.  Our research shows that many people from older generations started saving much earlier in their lives than those in their twenties and thirties do today which has helped them enjoy their retirement to the fullest. However, we recognise this can be more challenging for younger people today who have more debts from studying, face higher house prices and have less-favourable state pension schemes.”

“To live like YOLO pensioners, today’s generation will need to start a savings habit as early as possible.  If they start saving and investing smartly over a long enough period, they can build up a tidy nest egg to fund their lifestyle when they stop working. This is why we did this research because although it seems like a long way off, younger people need to envisage the sort of lifestyle they want in later life and understand how soon they need to start making allowances to enable that.”

The life of ‘YOLO pensioners’

In taking a closer look at life in retirement, 90% of those in retirement claim to eat out at least once a month, with 7% doing this seven times or more.  46% say they have active social lives, with one in 50 saying it’s the best it has ever been. Over one in three (36%) claim to holiday at least three times a year.

Some 17% belong to private members clubs and 21% say they still have active sex lives.

In terms of their retirement pots, 39% have fully adopted the ‘YOLO’ attitude of younger generations and intend to spend all of their money whilst alive. Half (51%) of those who responded said they still intend to leave an inheritance.

The life of a YOLO pensioner Percentage of retired people who say this
Having the best time of your life in retirement 39%
More disposable income than ever before 46%
An active social life 46%
An active sex life 21%
Holiday at least three times a year 36%
Spend all their money whilst alive 39%

Hayton-Banks continued; “As a modern mutual, we feel a responsibility to help people prepare financially for later life and it helps to understand what this looks like for so many brits. Products such as the Lifetime ISA are perfect for helping younger generations get into the savings habit earlier and start thinking and planning for the later life they want, before it’s too late to make a difference.”

The Nottingham is one of just three providers to offer the Cash LISA, and the only provider that allows customers to open the account face-to-face via one of its 67 branches.

The account was created for those aged 18-39, who are either saving for their first home or retirement. Account holders can save up to £4,000 every year, with a 25% state bonus being paid monthly, on funds deposited in the previous month, until the account holder turns 50, when they will no longer be able to make deposits, but interest will continue to accrue.

27 Dec 2018 When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, pets and their human counterparts have the same goals for the New Year. Health-related commitments top the list for both UK adults and their four-legged companions in 2019, according to new research from Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance.

A third of pet owners (35%) say their pet will have a New Year’s resolution in 2019, while over half (55%) of UK adults will also have at least one.

Dog and cat owners and those planning to buy these pets are even more likely to have a New Year’s resolution. For example, almost two thirds of dog owners (64%) have made a New Year’s resolution, 9% more than the national average.

According to dog and cat owners, the most popular resolutions  for pets are to do more exercise (14%), followed by eating more healthily (11%) and losing weight (10%).

The most common New Year’s resolutions for pets and UK adults(1)

Pets’ New Year’s resolutions UK adults’ New Year’s resolutions
Do more exercise (14%) Exercise more (26%)
Eating more healthily (11%) Lose weight (24%)
Losing weight (10%) Eat more healthily (22%)

Worryingly, the research also showed that a fifth (20%) of dog and cat owners say they either could not identify if their pet had become overweight or were uncertain about it. However once they establish their pet is overweight, owners are most likely to put them on a diet or feed them less (65%), take them for more walks (42%) or give them specialist pet food (38%).

Karen Hogg, head of Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance, said: “It’s great to see that many pet owners are responsible when it comes to the health of their dogs and cats. The New Year is a good time not only for people to hit the reset button on their own health, but also to ensure a good quality of life for their four-legged friends.

“Being aware of the healthy weight range for a cat or dog, monitoring their own pet and adjusting their diets accordingly can help owners protect their pets from developing health complications such as diabetes. Pet owners should also ensure they have suitable Pet Insurance in case of accidents or health conditions that are not pre-existing.”

Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance is currently offering 12 months for 9, available to new Pet Insurance customers who buy online. New customers with a Nectar card can receive up to a 12.5% discount as well as double Nectar points on Sainsbury’s shopping and fuel.

Five tips for keeping your pet healthy:

  • Nutritional diet:  While you may be tempted to indulge your pet with leftovers from the festive season, remember if it’s not good for you, then it’s not good for your furry friend either. Some foods that are suitable for humans could also potentially be poisonous to cats and dogs. In general, make sure you familiarise yourself with your pet’s dietary requirements and portion sizes, as this may differ depending on the breed and their age.
  • Get into a routine: Try to schedule activities for the same time each day, such as meal times, or taking your dog for a walk, or playtime with your cat. This will help establish good habits.
  • Social exercise isn’t just for humans:  Regular exercise is important to keep your pet healthy. If you have a dog, why not join a dog walking group – that way both you and your pet will have friends to socialise with, and you will forget you’re doing exercise at all! If you have a cat, make sure you schedule time to play with them to get them moving, or set some fun challenges for them around the house, such as a treasure hunt for their favourite treats.
  • Check in on vaccinations: The New Year is a good time to get your house in order, and that includes checking if your pet is due for any vaccinations. You can keep ailments at bay by having your pet regularly checked out.
  • Emotional intelligence: Your pet can’t tell you if they feel unwell, so make sure you look out for any warning signs, such as aggression, loss of appetite, restlessness or anything else that is out of character.

24 Dec 2018 Car insurance price cuts are slowing down but drivers are still benefiting from falls of 8.5% in the past year, new analysis from insurance data analytics expert Consumer Intelligence shows.

Its data shows average car insurance bills dropped to £757 with black box technology – so-called telematics – which rewards customers who drive more safely by making a major contribution to keeping costs under control.

There are signs however that premiums are starting to edge up – average prices rose 0.3% in the past three months for all drivers and by 1.3% for the over-50s. Bills across the market are 20.6% higher than five years ago when Consumer Intelligence first started collecting data.

Premiums are still falling for the under-25s and they can expect quotes 14.7% lower than last year although they pay the highest bills at £1,544. The over-50s pay the lowest average bills at £395 although prices have only fallen by 6.2% over the last year.

Across the market 20% of the top five cheapest quotes came from telematics providers with the under-25s the most likely to benefit. Around 59% of the most competitive policies for them are telematics compared with 13% for drivers aged 25 to 49 and 5% for over-50s.

Across the country the biggest price cuts are in the North West at 12.6% but they pay the second highest bills at £915. Only drivers in London pay more at £1,155 while motorists in the South West have the cheapest deals at £519 marginally ahead of the Scots on £538.

John Blevins, Consumer Intelligence pricing expert said: “The past three months have seen a slowdown in price cuts and premiums have even started rising slightly across most regions.

“Telematics is making a major contribution to keeping prices under control and particularly for the under-25s who are benefiting from more bespoke pricing based on good driving behaviour.

“If the older age groups want to take more control over premiums and to avoid broad-brush price rises based on their age, they could take a look at telematics policies.”

21 Dec 2018 Christmas morning is a time we associate with opening presents and getting started on the much-anticipated Christmas lunch, but for over 10 million UK adults it will mean strapping on seat belts for a car journey. New research from Sainsbury’s Bank Car Insurance reveals 10.7 million drivers will be setting off on a Christmas car journey, almost one in five across the total population.

From picking up food to seeing pantomimes, the hectic holiday period also means UK adults who drive will be making more journeys than usual. More than seven million car owners (7.3 million) say they will be driving more during the festive period than they would in a typical week. Of this figure, three million will be breaking their normal driving habits and putting in over 30 miles during the Christmas period, which is fewer than they would in a typical week.

It seems the majority of UK drivers may be more preoccupied with parking than presents. Over half of UK drivers (53%) will undertake car journeys on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day and drivers estimate they spend an additional £56 on fuel on average in December.

Karen Hogg, Head of Insurance at Sainsbury’s Bank, said: “The Christmas period is a busy time and it means there are more reasons for people to jump in the car, whether it is collecting the turkey, heading to a carol service or picking up family to spend the holidays with.

“Our research shows Christmas day is a peak time for car journeys so it is even more important that drivers have the right kind of cover in case they have any problems or accidents. Drivers who buy their insurance from Sainsbury’s Bank can enjoy a range of benefits and rewards which will no doubt be very welcome at the start of the new year.”

Every driver needs to be insured and Sainsbury’s Bank offers customers exclusive rewards and discounts on car insurance if you have a Nectar Card. Customers can find out more onlinehttps://www.sainsburysbank.co.uk/car-insurance/index,  get a quote and pick the right cover for them.

19 Dec 2018 New research from Charter Savings Bank reveals that one in eight (12%) regular savers usually take money out of their accounts every month – and the number of savings raiders is set to grow as festive spending puts finances under strain.

Despite their best intentions, 12% of savers – the equivalent of six million people across the UK – dip into their savings every month, and over two thirds of adults (72%) say they make a withdrawal from their saving accounts at some point during the year.

Over the course of a year, savers estimate they withdraw about a third (32%) of their cash, although one in five (21%) admit to taking out at least half of their total savings. Just one in eleven (9%) say they never touch their savings.

But while we are almost all savings raiders to some extent, the study found we do at least try to put the money back. Just one in five (18%) of those who take cash out of their savings pot always replace it, while 43% try to do so.  Around 15 per cent admit they replace cash rarely at best.

The average amount saved over a year is £2,906 and the average amount withdrawn over this time is £924. Men are able to save more over a year than women (£3,344 compared to £2,476), and just over a fifth (21%) of men will always replace their savings compared to one in six (16%) of women.

Charter Savings Bank’s study found interesting differences in the reasons driving people to withdraw money from their savings, with some only doing so when they need cash for a big-ticket item like a holiday or car (30%), while others say they mainly take money out when they need it for unexpected bills (27%) or in an emergency (25%).

Main reasons people raid their savings

Event Percentage of people who take out savings due to this reason
When I need money for a big-ticket item like a holiday or car 30%
Whenever I have unexpected bills like home or car repairs 27%
Only in an emergency 25%
Usually each month when I run out of money 12%
When I have reached my savings goal 6%

Paul Whitlock, Director of Savings, Charter Savings Bank, said: “There are many different types of savers in the UK and there is no right or wrong way to save. Anyone able to set aside some money each month, whether they are saving up for a specific item or just in case of emergency, is doing well.

“Saving as much as you can afford to is extremely worthwhile. It may seem pointless putting small amounts of money aside but it is extremely satisfying to see your savings grow. Christmas is an expensive time of year but a good time to start thinking about your savings goals for 2019.”

18 Dec 2018 A staggering 81% of Brits believe their mortgage providers “quietly hope” they will slip onto their Standard Variable Rate (SVR) at the end of their fixed rate period, a YouGov survey on behalf of ‘always-on’ mortgage switching platform, Dashly, revealed today.

Worryingly, a significant percentage do precisely that: the survey found that nearly 4 in 10 (38%) British borrowers have been on their mortgage lender’s SVR at some point in the past. Of these people:

  • 17% said they have been on their lender’s SVR for up to 12 months
  • 21% said they have been on their lender’s SVR for 12 months or more

Less than half (45%) of respondents could confirm they had never been on their lender’s SVR, while 18% had no idea whether they had or not.

Nearly half of those polled (47%) said they do not believe their current mortgage provider would care if they moved to another lender — a reflection of the dysfunctional relationship between UK borrowers and lenders.

Only 38% of people felt their mortgage provider would care if they took their business elsewhere while 15% said they didn’t know whether their lender would care or not.

Ross Boyd, Founder, Dashly, commented: 

“That the vast majority of borrowers believe their mortgage providers quietly hope they’ll slip onto their SVR should be a serious wake-up call to UK lenders. It suggests the relationship they have with borrowers is transactional at best and dysfunctional at worst. What’s crystal clear is that very few people believe lenders have their best interests at heart but are in it purely for themselves.

“More worrying still, borrower apathy or a simple lack of awareness has seen nearly four in 10 people spend time on their lender’s much more expensive Standard Variable Rate at the end of their fixed rate period. Each month this happens people will be spending potentially hundreds of pounds or more unnecessarily.

“We live in an increasingly customer-centric age and, believe it or not, many banks don’t actually want customers to default onto SVRs. It’s these progressive lenders that are much more in sync with where the customer relationship is heading.”