Browsing "Banking and Savings Accounts"
Chris Taylor, representing the Cambridge Building Society, shares a few ideas about why smaller banks and building societies might be preferential to larger high-street competitors.
Besides friends and family, money is just about the most important thing in most people’s lives. It’s something that affects the kinds of lifestyle we lead, ruling over the choices we’re able to make, and – while I shouldn’t say this – to a certain extent, how happy we are.
Considering this, it makes sense that we should be in complete control of our money; our savings and future – and that of our family’s future.
While there might be thousands of institutions out there whose job it is to be responsible and measured when it comes to looking after our savings, arguably there’s a case to say that saving with a local firm is best.
Why is this, you ask? Well, there are a handful of reasons.
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I recently had the great privilege of meeting a group of personal finance bloggers at the Write on Finance event. I’d like to reflect more on this in due course, but it raises an important point that arose this past week.
We’re often led to question why what we do is important. Why is it worth writing guides, for example, when the internet is full of them? Why is it worth trying to reach out when it takes time and effort and when mainstream banks should be able to provide all the help that their customers need?
Well, when it’s revealed how little banks often know about basic facts – as Which? did recently – it makes our efforts feel so much more worthwhile.
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This time last year, there was a cautious air of excitement over the coming ISA season and the competition it was generating between lenders.
Rates were heading upwards – as anachronistic as the thought may be – offering a little optimism for savers. Now, though, the market for savings accounts, ISAs and bonds is a pitiful reflection of the extent to which savers have been wholeheartedly neglected by the Bank of England’s ossified solution to get the economy moving.
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Not long ago, I described the market for savings accounts as in crisis. The brutal truth is that there appears to be no immediate sign of this changing.
In the opening six weeks of 2013, there have been over 200 tweaks and changes to savings accounts, according to analysts Moneyfacts, as banks draw the noose ever tighter around savers.
Only a small handful of accounts now exceed the current rate of inflation. These include a 60 Day Notice ISA from Coventry BS (2.80%); a cash ISA from First Direct returning 3% for balances of £40,000 or more; and a few regular saver accounts.
The best of these is Cheshire’s Platinum Monthly Saver Issue 6, which pays 5% gross on maximum monthly deposits of £500. But you’ll have to visit a branch to open this account, and the term only runs until next January.
While the Funding for Lending Scheme has had clear benefits for the mortgage market (fixed-rate deals have now hit record lows), lending to businesses remains poor, and returns on savings accounts have tumbled.
Recently, we highlighted a new and vibrant crowd-funding operation designed to address the funding gap for small businesses thought to be worth up to £191 billion over the next four years.
Now another operation has emerged, which hopes to solve both two problems in one.
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British and Australian banks are worlds apart in terms of performance, yet both have been accused of ripping off customers by taking liberties with monetary measures designed to boost the economy.
By and large, British banks are in a mess. The methods they have used to scrape every penny out of customers – from aggressive sales techniques to decimating savings rates – are only drawing larger fines and increasing levels of ire.
On the other side of the equation, Australian banks are in increasingly rude health despite weakening economic performance, and it’s their flagrant profiteering that is starting to rile customers and business leaders.
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In the past year alone, we have seen many advancements in the use of technology in banking.
Back in June we ran a story here on the Which4U blog that explained the use of smartphones to withdraw money from ATMs through the use of 6 digit codes instead of using a card. In this article, we also mentioned that it was not the first attempt at this sort of technology, with a similar system that had been developed by cash machine operator NCR, using barcodes instead of numerical codes.
Then in September we did a follow up piece on ‘Project Oscar’; a smartphone based wallet being created by a group of service providers (EE, O2 and Vodafone) which was said to provide a simple and secure shopping experience for the consumers that opt into the service.
These follow other attempts at a digital revolution in UK banking, with Barclaycard, Visa, Paypal and even search engine giant Google trying to get in on the act with their own applications and devices to push mobile banking forward. Read More »