10 May 2018 Research by Yolt, the money app backed by ING, claims that 70% of UK consumers now use a financial app to manage their finances – a figure which rises to 89% of millennials.

A marked increase from 2016 research which, showed nearly 40% of adults used apps to manage their money.

The Yolt research also found that nearly half of over-55s use an app to manage their money.  This increased interest in financial apps comes alongside the introduction of Open Banking, which promises to change the way the nation banks.

Consumers using a financial app to manage their finances have already seen benefits from Open Banking, according to the Yolt survey.  6% think there is now more competition between banks and financial service providers since Open Banking was introduced and 20% of respondents said that they are now able to see their different accounts in one place.

However, there is still a lot of work to do before all financial app consumers are aware of the potential benefits of Open Banking. Although 22% of respondents are aware of Open Banking, the majority of consumers haven’t yet seen any changes to the way they manage their money.  60% of consumers said their main bank hadn’t yet communicated the Open Banking changes to them and 22% didn’t know if they’d had any information about Open Banking from their bank.

Leon Muis, from Yolt, said:

“The UK is switched on to the benefits of money apps, from managing their finances, making payments, comparing products and much more.  Nearly three quarters of Brits are now using some kind of app to manage their money.

09 May 2018 New research by wealth management group Tilney reveals the extent to which many peoples’ retirement preparations are in disarray, with nearly one in five UK adults admitting they have lost track of at least one pension pot.

This is a problem exacerbated by changes in the employment market with few people now sticking to one job for life, meaning most of us end up with multiple pension plans. According to Tilney’s research, the average person has worked for 5.8 employers by the time they are over 55 but this is set to rise significantly as 18-34 year olds have already had, on average, over 4 jobs and even small businesses are now required under law to auto-enrol new staff into a workplace pension. Projections by the Department of Work & Pensions estimate that the average person will have 11 employers over their working lives.

Tilney’s research has found that nearly 1 in 5 admit they have lost track of a pension at some point, the main reasons being they have “never kept an interest”, “lost paperwork” or “forgotten to notify providers of address changes”. Of those who have moved home, 13% admit they have never notified their pension providers of their change of address and a further 12% confess they are unsure. When asked how they would go about finding a lost pension, most (32%) would contact their previous employer but a fifth (20%) said they would have no idea how to find it.

One solution to this mess would be to consolidate scattered pensions into a single plan. This allows for simpler administration and oversight and the pension could then be taken from job to job, providing the employer agrees to pay into the scheme instead of their own. Most individuals (72%) have never consolidated plans and the key reasons people are they’ve never thought about it (23%) and don’t know how (20%).

The research also highlights just how disengaged much of the British public are with their retirement plans, despite the importance these assets are going to be in financing their future lifestyles. One in five respondents admit they have never checked their current workplace pension, 13% have no idea as to what their pension is worth, and a quarter of those asked were unable to differentiate whether their current pension is a defined contribution or defined benefit scheme.

Further, 47% of men and 62% of women with pension plans admit they do not know where their pension is invested and 38% don’t even know which company are managing their current plan. 62% have no idea what the annual pension allowance is, while 67% admit they find the language of pensions confusing – especially women (75%).

Andy James, Head of Retirement planning at Tilney, commented: “The research shows the worrying level to which the private pensions of millions of Britons are in complete disarray. Alongside property, pensions represent one of the largest forms of private wealth in the UK and for most people these are going to be critical in funding their lifestyles in later life. Despite this, many UK adults are not sufficiently in control of these important financial assets, which are often scattered across multiple plans, forgotten about entirely or the paperwork has disappeared down the back of a sofa. This is a problem set to worsen materially as the employment market evolves and people will end up with an increasing number of pension pots.

“It is all too easy to lose track of a pension due to a combination of inertia, disinterest fuelled by excessive technical jargon and absent minded administration. Tracking down missing workplace pensions can be particularly problematic where a previous employer from many years past has been acquired or gone bust, moved or re-branded. But it really is vital to track down these pots of assets and to determine whether they remain fit for purpose.

“One place to start when trying to track down missing pension is the UK Government’s Pensions Tracing Service,” explained James. “This is an online database which provides current contact details for past and present pension schemes and it therefore requires the individual to know the name of their former employer, pension scheme or provider. The Department of Work & Pensions is also working with the pensions industry, regulators and technology firms with a view to launching Pensions Dashboards – the aim of which is to provide a consolidated view of all pensions owned by a saver alongside the State pension. Such a development is urgently needed, however there are serious concerns about whether this will be able to be achieved by the targeted launch date of April 2019.

01 May 2018 An army of have-a-go builders is expected to cause damage to their properties, wallets and potentially themselves as Brits get serious about ‘Do-it-Yourself’ this May Day.

A national poll commissioned by Nationwide Current Accounts reveals that May 7 could be an expensive time for DIY enthusiasts, with the research pointing towards bodged jobs, accidents, and repeated visits to the store as the nation struggles to get jobs right first time.

The survey of more than 2,000 UK adults shows that six in ten are planning home improvements next week, and for a variety of reasons too. More than a third (34%) say it’s the only time they get to do things, while just under a fifth say the three-day weekend gives them time to correct if they get it wrong.

Nationwide data reveals customers made a million transactions across the big four home improvement stores* on the last May Day Bank Holiday – one of the most popular times to do home improvements. The average spend across debt and credit cards was £40.29 per transaction, with 76 per cent more transactions than a regular Monday in May.

Costly disasters:

DIY jobs often end in disaster, with more than one in five (23%) stating they resorted to professional help in order to rectify a bungled job, with the average cost of repair being £166.76. More than one in ten (10%) have called on experts on multiple occasions.

Londoners are much more likely to suffer a disaster according to the research, with just under a fifth (18%) paying for a professional compared to just six per cent in Yorkshire and the Humber.  Equally, some 19 per cent of those aged 16-24 received help compared to four per cent of those aged 55-plus.

Of those who have experienced home improvement disasters, the top calamities include:

  • Short circuit/ electricity problems: 34% have experienced
  • Plaster fell off wall: 28%
  • Blown a fuse/ broke appliance: 26%
  • Flooding from damaged water pipe: 19%
  • Fell through the ceiling: 12%
  • Ruined structure of the house: 10%
  • Caused a fire in the home: 9%

Despite more than half of Brits believing men and women are equal when it comes to DIY, more than a third (35%) believe men are typically more proficient, versus 10 per cent for women. However, the poll shows women are around half as likely as men to have an accident or bodge a job, at 16 per cent versus 30 per cent.

A poor worker blames their tools:

It is perhaps little wonder that DIY jobs are often calamitous. A quarter (25%) of respondents say they attempt jobs using whatever they can find lying around rather than go to the shops. Lack of preparation is also higher when younger according to the poll, with more than a third (35%) of those aged 16-24 using whatever they can find compared to a fifth (20%) of those aged 55 and above.

A further 20% of people fail to properly ‘cost’ a job, making repeated trips to the shop because they always forget something.

When it comes to jobs, Brits are willing to give most things a go. The top ten jobs that the nation feels comfortable doing themselves include:

  1. Change a lightbulb: 76% comfortable
  2. Hanging pictures: 71%
  3. Painting and decorating: 69%
  4. Change a plug: 60%
  5. Putting up shelves: 54%
  6. Bleed a radiator: 53%
  7. Lay carpet: 24%
  8. Woodwork: 23%
  9. Hanging doors: 23%
  10. Laminate/ wooden flooring: 22%

Carl Burke, Nationwide’s Head of Product Management, Current Accounts, said: “Do-it-yourself is as much a part of a May Bank Holiday as going to the seaside or getting stuck in traffic. As a nation we spend millions of pounds on tools and materials across Britain’s home improvement stores and online, with our data showing the average spend as slightly over £40.

“But as our research shows, the actual costs could be much higher, particularly as we often misjudge routine jobs around the house. Luckily it’s easier than ever to pay for goods, with contactless and online payments, which is just as well given that a fifth of us end up dashing to the stores multiple times because we’ve forgot that all important screw or spanner.

“Whatever the project, plan for the cost accordingly and ensure you are confident of not only attempting the job but also that it will be done properly and to budget.”

 

30 Apr 2018 With the 2018 wedding season upon us, new research from American Express reveals that approximately a third (32%) of Brits will attend at least one wedding this year, spending an average of £303 on each event.

These costs can soon stack up, and with UK adults planning to attend on average three weddings in 2018, this could result in a national wedding guest bill of £15 billion. In fact, the total cost of being a guest this season (£909) will amount to more than the average amount a couple spends on their wedding rings (£809).

The largest expense for guests this year will be the wedding gift (average spend of £57), followed by hotels (£54), outfits (£50) and travel (£42). More than two thirds of guests (68%) say they will wear the same outfit instead of buying new ones, while over half (52%) will shop for an outfit in the sales, and take advantage of hotel deals (52%).

However, the research shows that guests are reigning in their wedding spending this year, cutting back by £129 compared to 2017 when guests spent an average of £432 watching couples tie the knot.

Top wedding costs for guests in 2018:

Item Average spend per wedding
Gift £57
Hotel £54
Outfit £50
Travel £42
Hen/stag do £42
Drinks £36
Hair and beauty £22
TOTAL £303


Ushers spend more than bridesmaids across the board 
The study also reveals that bridesmaids and ushers will also be some of the biggest wedding spenders this year. Bridesmaids will spend over £450 for each wedding, with the hen do being the priciest outlay (£96). Ushers spend over £100 more than bridesmaids (£553) to attend each wedding, outlaying more on travel (£128 versus £75) and hotels (£101 versus £93).

Bridesmaid and usher spend per wedding:

Items Average spend – Usher Average spend – Bridesmaids
Travel £128 £75
Hotel £101 £93
Gifts £87 £74
Hen/stag do £83 £96
Pre-wedding celebrations £81 £68
Drinks £73 £57
TOTAL £553 £462

 

25 Apr 2018 Findings across a sample of 2004 holidaymakers commissioned by peer-to-peer travel money provider WeSwap found that a whopping 2.5billion in holiday cash is withdrawn once Brits land – one of the most expensive spots to do so – meaning £125 million is charged at the convenient yet costly hole in the wall abroad.

With UK debit cards deducting up to around 3% in non-sterling transaction fees, in Aadittion to 2% overseas ATM fee based on the amount you take out, once totalled up, we’re charged at a conservative estimate a colossal £125,000,000 in ATM fees abroad.

This doesn’t include any charges by the overseas ATM itself or any fees lost by a common practice called DCC – dynamic currency conversion – where the ATM marks up the rate again at a cost to the consumer, so WeSwap estimates that the true cost could be much higher.

The nationally representative data finds 31% of UK holidaymakers – just over 14 million Brits – withdraw cash for their holidays upon arrival at their destination, roughly taking out £169.78. Across the nation, this tots up to a staggering 2.4bn in holiday spend withdrawn once we land.

The 5% ATM top-up cranks the average withdrawal up to £178 pounds. With a minimum of £9 in fees lost per take-out, WeSwap have done the maths on a few alternatives of what you could have bagged with the excess currency collected over ten transactions:

– A day trip to France
–  Once there you could buy 188 croissants
– A high-end six course wild-boar dinner in Krakow
– Hop over to Spain and purchase yourself ten litres of Sangria
– Ten pizzas in Rome perhaps
– Over to Berlin for 20 portions of Currywurst
– Or back to France where you could bag yourself 30 crepes

19 Apr 2018 Research from Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Insurance reveals that one third (34%) of UK adults have plans to go on a package holiday in 2018, with some who already having jetted off. 15 per cent have already booked a packaged trip, a further 14 per cent are thinking about it and four per cent have already been away on one this year.

Of those who are planning, or have been on a package break, a quarter (23%) also bought their travel insurance from their holiday provider. For those aged 18-34, this rises to over a third .  Worryingly one in ten of those going on a packaged break won’t buy any travel insurance for their trip.

Karen Hogg of Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Insurance, commented: “Just because you’ve picked the ease and security of a package holiday with its many perks including airport transfers and local representatives, it doesn’t mean you can forgo travel insurance. Good quality travel insurance is imperative should you or one of your party become ill. It will also cover loss or theft of personal belongings.”

Of those who will opt for their holiday provider’s insurance package, over half  do so as they trust their holiday provider and prefer to have everything done with the same company. A quarter also mention that their holiday provider was offering the most competitive rate, while.  17 per cent don’t have time to shop around and find the most competitive deal.

Karen continued: “Not all travel insurance policies are the same so shop around for the best policy for you and make sure that it covers all of your needs so you’ll have peace of mind if anything unexpected happens.”

The research found that three in ten (30%) going on a packaged trip will look around for the most competitive quote from a third party insurance company and purchase a single trip policy, a fifth purchase an annual policy from the most competitive provider each year while one in eight have an annual policy they renew each year without shopping around.

Sainsbury’s Bank offers single trip and annual multi-trip policies at different levels of cover, Silver, Gold or Platinum. Holiday makers can also choose optional add-ons such as winter sports cover. Kids go free with single trip and annual multi-trip cover, although pre-existing medical conditions may be extra. And a 20% discount is applied when a valid Nectar card number is quoted.

18 Apr 2018  New analysis from Direct Line Insurance reveals. In the last year alone, there were 93,571 bicycle thefts in the UK and 257,000 over the past three years.

Incidents of bicycle theft across the UK have increased by 17 per cent in the past three years. Annual insurance claims for bike theft are estimated at over £7.5 million, with Brits having claimed over £22 million worth of stolen bikes since 2015.

The most common types of bikes targeted by thieves are mountain bikes, making up nearly half (48 per cent) of all thefts in the past three years. Hybrid bicycles are the next most popular for criminals, accounting for just under a third (30 per cent) of thefts, followed by road bikes (18 per cent).

Tips for keeping your bike safe

  • Registration – There are bike schemes available, such as BikeRegister which are free to sign up for and provide security marking kits and warning signs to deter thieves
  • Parking – Keep your bike parked in a well lit public area where it’s busy throughout the day
  • Lock it up – Ensure that you always keep your bike locked when unattended. D-locks are the most secure and it will pay in the long run to invest in a high-quality lock
  • Home – Even when your bike is kept in your garage or shed, be sure to lock it up and consider investing in a ground lock or secure wall mount so you know it is safe when out of sight
  • Insurance – Check with your insurance provider that your bike is covered. Some insurers offer an add-on to their usual cover which is always worth investing in. If you have a high-value bike it is also worth reading the terms and conditions to be sure your bike value is covered
  • Photograph – When purchasing a new bike, it is always recommended to take photographs of the bike and capturing frame numbers and any unique features

13 Apr 2018  Friday 13th is upon us and despite Brits being cautions of the unlucky day, data from Policy Expert has found that they actually take more care.

Claims data shows that are fewer insurance claims made on Friday 13th, with the total claim costs also lower, compared to an average day in the month. In fact, Policy Expert has witnessed this pattern for the last nine consecutive dates, stretching back to 2013. Most recently, October Friday 13th saw the average insurance claim costs down by £69, January Friday 13th saw claims drop by £373 and prior to that, May Friday 13th saw a drop of £118.

Despite Brits taking more care, Policy Expert has also lifted the lid on Brits’ spooky superstitions. The research found that almost a quarter of Brits say walking under ladders will bring bad luck, whilst one in five are wary of smashed mirrors and a fifth wouldn’t leave new shoes on the table.

Brits’ top ten spooky superstitions revealed:

1.     Walking under a ladder

2.     Breaking a mirror

3.     Leaving new shoes on the table

4.     Opening an umbrella inside

5.     Spilling salt and not throwing it over your shoulder

6.     The number 13

7.     Black cats crossing your path

8.     Walking over three drains in a row

9.     Crossing a knife and a fork on a dinner table

10.   Leaving your purse/wallet on the floor 

Adam Powell, Head of Operations at Policy Expert commented: “Friday 13th is renowned for being unlucky, and our figures show Brits are as superstitious as ever. In fact, the nation is taking so much care on the luckless date that claims tend to fall. That being said, if you’re one of the millions of people watching your step this Friday 13th, make sure your home insurance policy is up to date and you’ve checked the small print to avoid any nasty surprises should you encounter a black cat, smashed mirror or the number 13.”

11 Apr 2018 Sky TV customers face the biggest battle among pay-TV subscribers when it comes to escaping contracts, according to research from free satellite TV provider Freesat.

Standard Sky TV contracts come with a minimum length of 18 months – as long, or longer, than any other TV provider. Sky TV customers who cancel their contract early are also required to pay a termination charge of £13.40 for each month of the contract they have remaining – higher than any other TV provider. This means that a Sky customer on a standard 18 month contract who wishes to leave after six months would have to pay £161 to do so.

In comparison, customers with Virgin Media’s Player Bundle are locked into contracts of just 12 months and must pay £3 for each month they have remaining on their minimum contract term, while BT TV customers are hit with early termination charges of £5.50 a month, but must enter contracts of 18 months.

Freesat also carried out a study of more than 2,000 TV viewers and found that 41% of those who had cancelled a contract with Sky, Virgin, BT TV or Talk Talk in the last 12 months had encountered difficulty when doing so. Respondents were also asked how likely they were to switch service in the next 12 months. BT TV subscribers were most likely to jump ship (19%), followed by Sky TV (15%), Virgin (13%) and Talk Talk (10%).

The respondents were then asked whether they thought their chosen service was good value for money. Sky ranked lowest in this department, with two thirds (65%) of their customers stating that the service isn’t good value for money. The most common reasons Sky TV customers gave for this was that they think the service is overpriced and that they don’t watch many of the channels. Sky’s premium TV bundle comes at £80 a month, or £960 a year. Faring narrowly better than Sky, 62% of Virgin Media customers called their service poor value for money.

Freesat spokesperson Guy Southam said: “With long contract terms and high early termination charges, people are feeling trapped and discouraged from cancelling their PayTV subscription.

“Our research has shown that 99% of the most watched shows of Sky customers are available on free-to-air channels, so it’s understandable that customers are asking themselves if their subscription is really necessary.

“They could instead switch to free-to-air and top up with a service like Netflix or Amazon which might offer better value for money without the long term commitment.”

To find out how much you could save by switching from Sky to Freesat, click here.

11 Apr 2018 Almost three quarters of Brits who are investing say they get a buzz when seeing a return on their money, which outshines the buzz they get when losing weight (62%). In fact, one in ten investors (14%) say making a return gives them a “massive” buzz. Furthermore, when asked to pinpoint an experience that gives them a similar buzz to making a return, investors likened it to bagging a bargain (32%), going on holiday (20%), being promoted at work (14%) or losing weight (11%).

New research from Wealthify, the online investment service, reveals there are emotional as well as the obvious financial benefits when it comes to investing – making those Brits already investing feel in control (36%), satisfied (35%) and secure (31%), as well as confident (20%) and excited (15%) about their finances.

Yet despite the financial benefits of investing and the buzz it gives when making a return on hard-earned cash, almost two thirds (62%) of Brits haven’t tried investing yet, and only 2% of Brits claim to have invested in a Stocks & Shares ISA for the first time in the last twelve months.

Surprisingly, when looking at the top item on Brits’ to-do lists, managing finances (paying bills, tax returns etc) is the number one priority for a quarter (24%) of the UK. Despite this, starting a Stocks & Shares ISA – one of the easiest and quickest ways to join the investing world – is the top priority for only 2% of the nation, behind a trip to the dentist (5th place) and doing household chores (2nd place)3 on people’s to-do lists. Only 1% of non-investors say starting an investment ISA is the number one item on their to-do lists. Looking at different age-groups, 4% of 18-34-year olds and 2% of people aged between 35-54 say this is the top priority.

Many misconceptions are holding people back from giving investing a go.  When it comes to starting a Stocks and Shares ISA, 30% of Brits are held back by the belief that they don’t have enough money to invest, while 19% think investing is too risky and 16% think they need to understand more about investing before trying it.

Michelle Pearce, co-founder and CIO of Wealthify, commented: “In today’s low interest and high inflation environment, it is encouraging to see that over a third (35%) of Brits invest. However, with just 2% saying they’ve put money into a Stocks & Shares ISA for the first time in the last twelve months, there’s clearly still much to do to persuade Brits to open their eyes to the opportunities investing can provide. It is surprising, for instance, that one in five people think investing is too risky. This suggests they don’t realise that not all types of investing are high-risk and they can choose a risk level that suits them.