Browsing "Banking and Savings Accounts"

Time to Make the Swich?

Mar 18, 2015   //   by James Helliwell   //   Banking and Savings Accounts  //  Comments Off on Time to Make the Swich?

The banking sector in the UK has greatly improved from what we used to have post-2008 crisis but this doesn’t mean it’s been smiles all round. Customers are always on the lookout for the better banking deals. General customer satisfaction is still top of the agenda but many are looking out for banks offering better incentive. So what sort of advice should you be on the look out for when switching bank accounts? Well this article will give you a short walk through on what to do and what not to do to get the best deal available with your new bank account.

Is it Worth it?

First and foremost, you need to make sure that switching bank accounts is the best thing for you and your situation. Chances are if you’re reading this article, you’ve already grown tired and frustrated with some of the small print and hidden charges that many modern accounts come with that the banks don’t properly explain it to you. If you’ve reached this stage, like many have (myself included) then yes its certainly worth it as switching bank accounts and seeing if you can get a better deal as is no where near as troublesome as it is perceived!

Consider Your options

Look at a number of bank accounts before you decide to switch to a different one. This obviously includes all the banks you see on your modern high street, but make sure you check all the building societies as well. Often you can get some great deals from them and they are often overlooked for the big banks.

In this modern day and age, you don’t have to actually walk into a bank or building society because going online is an easier and more convenient way of searching for a better bank account. There are even online banks that strictly deal over the internet than can give you great accounts also.

Standard Bank tabbed navigation

It’s not just online banks that the internet provides though. You can also search for the best bank account for your situation using a wide range of search services. A combination of all these methods will guarantee you the best possible bank account and give you a high reason to switch.

Hopefully this article will give a helpful push towards the right option for you and your banking needs. Take your time and make the decision that best helps you and doesn’t best help the bank! Hope this article has helped!


Holding on to your holding deposit

Feb 23, 2015   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Banking and Savings Accounts  //  Comments Off on Holding on to your holding deposit

Street View

People are becoming increasingly resigned to the idea of renting their homes for longer and longer. In 2014, home ownership fell to its lowest level for 25 years, while numbers living in rented accommodation keep going up.

One of the less-considered difficulties about this state of affairs is that a generation of people no longer have control over the look and feel of a property that isn’t their own.

The idea of the dream home, characterised by your own décor and design, is fading away, as dwellers are left with little opportunity to customise the place in which they live.

Worse still, it can be a costly thing to attempt. Heart of House (at Argos) has found that a third of tenants have lost hundreds of pounds from their holding deposits by making changes to their rental property without asking their landlord’s permission.

Concerns are rising about what changes you can and cannot make to a property if you’re renting to ensure that you hold on to your holding deposit.

The following video, put together with assistance from the National Landlords’ Association, should shed a little light on how you can personalise your place without incurring the wrath of your landlord.

Secured loans market filling the mortgage gap

Feb 20, 2015   //   by James Helliwell   //   Lending Guide  //  Comments Off on Secured loans market filling the mortgage gap

houses made from money - secured loans

The secured loan market has grown in leaps and bounds since the financial crisis. Today, it has become a huge player in dealing with the mortgage gap. Here is a look at how it has been able to achieve this.

Taking care of the self employed

Following the financial crisis, the FSA outlawed self-certification mortgages and banks had to bring in stiffer affordability checks to reduce high-risk lending. This led to massive drop in the number of mortgages given to self-employed individuals. The number has fallen more than 72% from post financial crisis years.

In the last 24 months, secured loan lenders have successfully taken advantage of this gap in the market to offer lower rates and come up with innovative products.

Experts at who offer online secured loans say “the self-employed market is one that has a lot of credit worthy individuals who are unfortunately unable to meet with extreme screening of the average bank. We are therefore offering products allowing them to borrow as much as £1m to take care of their mortgage needs”.

Providing for people with adverse credit

The mortgage market typically only takes care of people with a clean credit rating. Secured lenders on the other hand are more accommodating, offering products to consumers irrespective of what their credit ratings say. People with mortgage arrears, county court judgements etc. can all get credit.

Some of the products offered by secured loan lenders can compete with what is available on the high street. It is possible to find loans of as much as £100,000 for individuals with what will be regarded as a “fair” credit rating. There is also a wide range of products for people that will never be considered by the average high street lender.

Helping landlords

With a secured loan, landlords can now easily make renovations to their properties to increase its value without going through the high street lending bureaucracy. They can also raise money needed to deposit on another buy-to-let property and expand their portfolios.

Some of the secured loan providers offer very competitive APRs and a high maximum loan amount, making it almost difficult for landlords to ignore the products on offer.

Dealing with interest-only mortgage

There is a limited offering of interest only secured loans available today but the interest-only mortgage market is where the secured loan providers have the biggest opportunity.

As interest-only mortgages continue to withdraw, existing interest-only customers have to deal with the tough decision of raising funds against their property as many lenders generally refuse to finance consumers unless they make the switch to a repayment mortgage. Going down the secured loan route however will save these consumers more time and money than going the complete remortgage route.


Boosting Your SME’s Confidence Factor

Feb 19, 2015   //   by James Helliwell   //   Business Guides  //  1 Comment

Boosting Your SME's Confidence Factor


Let’s face it, the past few years haven’t been easy for most people financially. It seems that the economic downturn, dubbed “the Credit Crunch” by the media, is still having a tangible effect on many of us today. This can be seen in a variety of areas, not least of which is in the seemingly unstoppable rise of the discount supermarkets. People are looking to get value for money, and to avoid – wherever possible – any unnecessary financial outlay.

Businesses are of course looking to get the best deal too. Cutting the financial outflow wherever possible, and ensuring that the products and services they purchase are doing their bit for return on investment.

But aside from the economic backdrop, how are the UK’s small businesses feeling these days? Towards the end of 2014, the Federation of Small Business (FSB) reported record confidence among small businesses. However, they also state in the report that this confidence is dependent on “pro-enterprise policies that will enable small businesses to grow, create jobs and pay their staff more”. So there is definitely a symbiotic relationship between government and independent business.

Regardless of the result of the general election, it’s definitely worth exploring ways to keep confidence within your SME as buoyant as it can be. So without further ado – here are our tips for SME Confidence:

The happy staff factor

The happy staff factor

Fighting inaccuracy with happiness may seem counterintuitive – after all, how often do we give ourselves a metaphorical slap on the wrist when we get something wrong? But results appear to bear out the theory that working on staff happiness rather than reprimanding for inaccuracy may be the way forward: a whopping 60% accuracy improvement was recorded by one firm who got staff to keep a ‘happiness journal’.

Boosting morale

Boosting morale

Morale is one of those difficult words if you’re in charge of a business or its HR function. For one thing, it’s always going to be largely unquantifiable. And, of course, if you were to go around asking staff how morale is, they would in many cases be apt to massage the truth rather than tell it like it is – for fear of ruffling feathers or saying the wrong thing.

Getting morale levels to where they can and should be (in other words, a good place) is usually not rocket science in terms of complexity, but can involve a bit of effort. In a recent article on workforce productivity published in Fresh Business Thinking, Dr Mark Winwood (Director of psychological health for AXA PPP healthcare) says that morale can be boosted by the following key behaviours:

  • Recognising good work and expressing thanks for it
  • Allowing staff to feel part of things and have a sense of ‘ownership’ by informing them of the company’s plans by sharing as much as possible with them
  • Asking for, listening to, and acting on employee feedback

Promoting wellbeing

Oftentimes, it doesn’t take a lot of training or a big manual in order to effect change within an organisation. In fact, the most important thing is usually a clear and firm commitment from management that wellbeing is a central focus. Most businesses now fully see the wisdom in this – because, as the old saying goes, a firm’s biggest asset is its people.

Wellbeing doesn’t need to be limited to things like healthy eating – and for management teams who like to think creatively, there is some really great scope for engendering an environment that’s totally conducive to better physical and mental health – from fruit boxes to cycle schemes to mindfulness meditation – and beyond.



Can the Post Office challenge the big banks?

Feb 1, 2015   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Banking and Savings Accounts, Commentary / Editorial  //  Comments Off on Can the Post Office challenge the big banks?

Post Office

The Post Office is pinning its hopes on new branding to remind customers that it’s a fully-fledged provider of financial products and services. It’s aiming to be the next main challenger to major banks by 2020 – but can it be successful?

The iconic institution has launched the new ‘Post Office Money’ brand this week in Islington, which will become the new platform for its financial products.

The rollout will be made to 300 branches. It follows the expansion of the Post Office’s new current accounts across the country, following an initial trial in the East of England.

The Monopoly is Waning

The new branding will associate the Post Office with financial products in the same way as other multifaceted brands such as Virgin.

And the Post Office’s vast branch network, which outnumbers all British banks collectively, should put the 350 year-old institution in a strong position. Major banks continue to close branches in local communities as increasing numbers head online to apply for and manage their financial products.

But the demand for local branches has not evaporated entirely. A recent white paper drafted by the statisticians at TNS Global notes that customers who choose to switch banks are identifying convenience as one of the major factors in their choice of new destination.

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SSL: How Businesses Can Stay Secure and Win the Trust of Customers

Nov 21, 2014   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Business Guides, Technology  //  Comments Off on SSL: How Businesses Can Stay Secure and Win the Trust of Customers

The Red Mist DescendsThere can be little doubt that online security is a hot topic at the moment. The European Commission has recently spoken about its desire to put consumers at the centre of financial service delivery and says it wants to continue tightening up consumer protection.

Meanwhile, the UK’s Payments Council has discovered that concerns about security are among the most common barriers discouraging people from using the internet for shopping or banking.

So, how can businesses go about establishing strong security for their websites, and how can they inspire confidence among consumers?

The Great Online Migration

Technological development is changing the retail landscape for homes and businesses. More products and services are being bought and sold online, and it’s becoming difficult to underestimate the degree to which online activity is transforming the retail financial service market.

That’s because most consumers are quick to realise the benefits of performing their chores online. Once they begin using digital banking and purchasing services, they are likely to continue doing so.

What this means is that businesses will be judged on the experience of their digital delivery, and that retailers and small businesses will face increasing pressure to show that they are secure and safe to use.

The Payments Council has issued a new guide, ‘Pay Your Way’, as part of its consumer education campaign. This includes basic details as to what consumers should look for to ensure a website is secure.

As knowledge builds of online security, it’s going to become second nature to check for the presence of an SSL certificate from a respected provider such as Thawte.

So, where do small businesses begin, and what might influence their choice of security certificate?

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