With the recent Budget having announced plans to consult on allowing UK retirees who have already purchased an annuity to cash-in their policy, new research has revealed that a large proportion of existing annuity holders will consider selling their guaranteed incomes for a cash lump sum.

The Tilney Bestinvest survey, carried out by YouGov amongst over 1,800 GB adults who had already purchased an annuity, found that 17% of respondents agreed with the statement ‘I would personally consider selling the annuity I have already purchased for a cash lump sum’.* Of the remaining respondents, 33% said they ‘would not personally consider selling the annuity I have already purchased for a cash lump sum’, and 50% said they didn’t know.

A spokesman for Tilney Bestinvest said: “While this announcement certainly grabbed the headlines and is likely to be popular with some retirees for whom “annuities” has become an almost dirty word as a result of the depressed gilt-yields that have driven annuity rates, the practicalities of implementing the policy are far from straightforward. Indeed, those looking to receive their original annuity investment minus what they have already taken from their annuity will likely be severely disappointed for several reasons.

“It has been announced that insurance companies who currently provide annuities will not be able to enter the market, and therefore the function of selling annuities will be carried out by third party brokers. This cost, coupled with the fees involved in medical underwriting which will be required to carry out the encashment, means that the overall fees for selling an annuity are likely to be substantial. These are on top of the tax which would need to be paid when receiving the cash, payable at your highest tax rate as well as any financial advice taken.

“As it is more likely that those with smaller annuity pots will be the ones most tempted into selling them due to the low levels of income received, the combination of these costs will have a considerable impact, perhaps even prohibiting the sale.

The number of current account customers who switched banks in the last 12 months has jumped by 7%,with Barclays experiencing the biggest net loss of customers.

The latest figures from the Payments Council reveal that 1.14 million customers switched bank up to 31 March, compared to 1.06 million the previous year, taking advantage of new, faster switching rules.

Between July and September, the most popular banks to switch to were Santander and Halifax, with a respective net gain of 43,312 and 53,624 customers. The only other providers to make net gains were Nationwide (6,608 customers) and Tesco Bank (2,467).

But Barclays saw the biggest net loss of 31,331, with HSBC, Lloyds and NatWest all suffering losses too.

Personal finance expert Andrew Hagger of MoneyComms said customers should attempt to shop around to get the best deal, though the “confusing array” of tariffs, overdrafts charges and interest payments, makes it a “minefield” for those looking for the best offer.

“The figures show that although more people are voting with their feet and looking for a more suitable banking relationship, the vast majority are refusing to budge from their existing provider despite the array of enticing up front cash incentives on offer,” he said.

Many RBS and NatWest customers face paying higher agreed overdraft charges after being automatically switched to current accounts with higher overdraft interest rates.

Approximately 140,000 customers with money in seven old accounts that the bank no longer offers will be moved to its standard Select account, which has an overdraft rate of 19.89% EAR.

NatWest charges a £6 monthly fee for authorised overdraft usage plus interest at 19.89% EAR. First Direct’s charging structure is 15.9% EAR but the first £250 of overdraft used is interest free.

The bank said it expects the switch to mean around a third of affected customers will see their overdrafts charges increase.

Those affected are customers with NatWest’s Personal Current and Gold Plus accounts and RBS’ Personal Current, Gold Cheque, Private and Private Banking current accounts and the Child &Co current account.

Personal Finance expert Andrew Hagger said: “There are plenty of cheaper overdraft options out there – this is a perfect example of why people should shop around.

“The cost of an agreed overdraft varies greatly between the main banks and building societies and because of the different types of charging tariff they use it’s a tricky job for consumers to fathom out the cheapest deal.”

Barclays is to launch a paid-for new rewards scheme on Monday 20 April, called Barclays Blue Rewards.

For a fee of £3 a month, customers who sign up will get monthly fixed cash rewards up to £15 depending on which Barclays products they hold.

Blue Rewards members will also be eligible for cashback of up to 6% when spending with selected outlets.

Customers signing up to the Monthly Loyalty Reward scheme will receive £7 a month paid into a digital wallet connected to a Barclays current account of their choice, meaning they will be £4 up after the £3 fee. Mortgage customers will receive £5 a month , and home insurance customers £3 a month.

Experts warned that such reward schemes shouldn’t tempt you to switch your financial products to a provider without checking to see if there are cheaper alternatives elsewhere.

Andrew Hagger from Moneycomms.co.uk said”Although it may be convenient to have all your financial products under one roof, you could end up paying over the odds by not shopping around. By buying these products elsewhere you may be able to save more than the £60 and £36 you’ll receive each year for keeping your mortgage and home insurance respectively with Barclays.”

Hagger added: “It looks as if Barclays has realised it needs to be more competitive to maintain its share of the current account market.

Retirement savers are targeting an average annual income of £13,100 from their private pension funds despite currently having just £59,000 in their fund, research from specialist over-55s provider Key Retirement shows.

Its study shows the average over-45 retirement saver could be left disappointed – someone expecting a £13,100 income from their private pension savings would need a fund of around £267,000 in today’s money to earn that much from an annuity.

And even if they factor in the State Pension they will still be a long way short, Key warns. The current maximum basic state pension of £6,029** would still leave them needing a fund of more than £118,000 – double the £59,000 they currently have saved.

But the study shows they have other substantial assets which could play a major role in delivering retirement income – the average over-45 has total assets including property, savings and investments worth nearly £219,000.

Key believes the launch of pension freedoms will trigger a surge in interest in new approaches to accessing retirement wealth including equity release.

A spokesman from Key Retirement said: “Pension freedoms will open up a wide range of options for savers to use all their wealth to deliver a retirement income and people need to look beyond pension funds.

“It is clear that savers have unrealistic expectations of how much their pension savings will deliver but at the same time have built up substantial wealth in other assets including their homes.

“By looking at assets in the round, people can achieve the comfortable retirement they are looking for. Attitudes will shift as retirement savers recognise their property investment, if used wisely, can provide a major boost to their lifestyle in retirement.”

The figures show a substantial gap between male and female retirement savings – the average man has nearly £69,000 saved while women have £21,200. Their income expectations vary widely too – men are targeting £16,100 a year and women £9,350.

The findings show that a fifth (21%) expect to receive less than £10,000 per year from their pension pot and around a quarter (24%) are expecting more than that. Worryingly, over half (55%) said they didn’t know how much they will receive.

Anyone looking to release equity from their home can get Key’s independent guide to equity release by visiting www.keyretirement.co.uk/equity-release/free-guide/

Peer-to-peer lending platform Zopa  announced today that it has returned a total of over £50m in interest to UK consumers since launch in the same week it also passes £800m in total lifetime lending.

Zopa has consistently delivered higher returns to consumers since it was set up 10 years ago with rates averaging 5.6% (after fees and losses from bad debts) and was voted Best Consumer Peer to Peer Loan Provider in the 2015 Moneynet awards.

It has continually outperformed rates offered by bank deposit accounts and even the UK housing market between 2005 and 2015.

Over a third (37%; £18.5m) of that £50m interest has been returned to lenders in the last year alone. Zopa, which pioneered P2P lending in 2005, expects to reach £1bn in total lending later this summer with the UK P2P industry set to reach £3bn in total lending by the end of 2015.

Giles Andrews, Zopa’s CEO and co-founder, said: “Delivering on our promise to return our lenders’ money with a total of £50m interest over the past 10 years is a testament to Zopa and P2P lending as an asset class.”

“This has been made possible because our customers trust us to match their money to the UK’s most responsible borrowers. Reaching £50m in interest is further proof that Zopa & P2P lending is becoming a mainstream and trusted way for thousands of consumers to grow their money and get a better deal by side-stepping the banks.”

The sector is growing at a rapid rate and has the backing of government: the Treasury recently included P2P lending in the personal savings tax allowance due in April 2016, and is set to confirm how peer-to-peer lending will sit within ISAs later this summer.


A new Age UK survey has found that 53 per cent of older people (aged 65+) believe they’ve been targeted by fraudsters, and that while many do not respond, of those who do 70 per cent of people of all age groups said that they had personally lost money. The research suggests that a third of older people who responded to a scam may have lost £1,000 or more.

The survey, carried out by Populus on behalf of the Charity, shows the extent of the issue as it is revealed that over half of those over 65 have received some form of communication – a phone call, text, email, post – they believe to have been a scam, with 60 per cent never reporting it. 12 per cent of participants of all ages also said that a friend or relative had lost money through a scam in the past two years.

These alarming findings come as the Charity publishes a new report highlighting the prevalence of fraud being committed across the UK – Only the tip of the iceberg: fraud against older people.

With the new pension freedoms coming into force this week, the Charity is warning that people over 55, who will now have access to large pots of pension savings, are likely to be increasingly targeted by fraudsters carrying out a whole range of scams.

The report from Age UK highlights the tactics used by fraudsters, including befriending or `grooming’ potential victims and isolating them from friends and family, the use of seemingly professional documentation and official-looking websites, impersonating a bank or the police and even threats and intimidation.

The Charity also wants to raise awareness of the effects of being a victim of scams, which can have serious consequences for people’s physical and mental health, as well as their relationships and finances.  Some victims’ health deteriorates quickly after a scam and in the worst cases has even resulted in older people losing their independence and needing residential care.

Age UK also wants to increase awareness of the crime and the levels of sophistication involved so that people feel equipped to challenge and report a potential scam. The Charity has also created a list of top tips to help older people to spot a fraudster and avoid being scammed. The tips can be found here: www.ageuk.org.uk/scams

People looking for advice can also order a copy of Age UK’s free, information guide Staying safe, which can be downloaded from www.ageuk.org.uk or ordered from the Age UK Advice Line on 0800 169 65 65.


New research from M&S  Bank reveals  that nearly a quarter of people with  a garden shed admit to leaving it unlocked, with more than one in ten saying  they  never  secure  it, despite the contents of a typical shed being valued at more than £570

Nearly a fifth of respondents revealed that their shed contained more than £1,000 worth of gardening goods and equipment.

More  than  a  quarter  of shed owners say either they and/or someone  they  know has fallen victim to theft or damage to items stored in their  shed;  rising to 36 per cent for those in the North. Nearly half said items stored in their shed either weren’t covered by their home  insurance, or they didn’t know/hadn’t checked their current policy to see if they were covered.

It  isn’t just sheds that are targeted by thieves or vandals; more than one in ten say either they and/or someone they know, has had their garden greenery damaged or stolen.

Despite  the  average garden containing £419 worth of plants, bushes, trees and  shrubs, it’s perhaps surprising that two thirds of  garden  owners  didn’t know or haven’t checked whether  their  garden  is insured.

In addition, 23 per cent of those with a garden estimate that  they  typically  spend  between  two  and  four hours per week on its up-keep  during  the spring and summer months (March to August). One in ten spend  upwards  of  ten hours per week maintaining their garden during this period.

A spokesman for M&S Bank, said: “The value of items in the garden,  whether  it’s in the shed or the garden itself, is often more than people  realise and can very quickly mount up. The time that many invest in the  up-keep  and  maintenance  of  their  garden  can  also  be  extremely

The recent move by Virgin Money offering a 0% balance transfer card for 36 months has triggered the expected response from its competitors.

Halifax and Lloyds Bank both increased interest free terms from 34 to 35 months with balance transfer fees of 2.80% and 3.00% whilst Sainsbury’s Bank upped its game to 34 months and 2.89% fee.

The latest move came from MBNA last week with an improved 35 month deal and 2.79% fee putting it within touching distance of the top.

With the Financial Conduct Authority in the middle of a study of the UK credit Card market amid concerns that it isn’t working in the best interests of consumers, these interest free offers may not be around for ever.

If you’ve got a squeaky clean credit record and are financially disciplined then zero per cent plastic can be a smart way to borrow.

However too many people sign up only to end up being late with a monthly payment.

As a result their interest rate is immediately hiked from 0% to 18.9%, so ensure you play by the rules or you could pay a heavy price for a minor slip up.

With the tax year ending at midnight this Sunday, investment service provider Willis Owen is expecting its busiest weekend of annual ISA sales as savers rush to beat the deadline. This is despite major pension freedoms coming into effect on Monday and the upcoming General Election prompting some retail investors to delay activity.

Jason Chapman, Managing Director at Willis Owen, said:

“We always see a last minute dash in the days leading up to the 5 April deadline, and we expect to see the same again this year. Even with the biggest changes to pensions in a generation occurring in just a few days’ time, ISAs remain a hugely popular product and won’t be forgotten by savvy investors.”

Willis Owen is urging people to take action now to ensure they beat the deadline. 10% of its total ISA sales are made in the final five days before the tax year end, a pattern they expect to be repeated this year.

Chapman added: “It’s important that investors don’t leave it to the last minute. By allowing a little extra time, savers can avoid those unforeseen stumbling blocks like not having enough cleared funds available in their bank account, forgetting to sign cheques or suffering internet issues.

“Our cash reserve facility remains a popular option with our customers, allowing them to secure their ISA allowance for the year but delay making a decision about where to invest it. Even if you’re not sure where to put your money, a pertinent issue this year with uncertainty around the Election, parking it in this facility means you won’t miss out on saving up to £15,000 tax-free.”

Willis Owen will be accepting applications right up until the following dates and times:

  • Phone applications: open until 3pm on Sunday 5 April
  • Online applications: open until 11pm on Sunday 5 April