Browsing "Commentary / Editorial"
Even in the world of literary theory, semantics is a thorny field. Transpose that to an uncomfortable argument about where to attribute blame for the onset of the financial crisis, and we’re all on tenterhooks.
Bank of England Governor Sir Mervyn King made an unlikely admission this week that the Bank, under his stewardship, should have done more “to prevent the disaster”.
“Our banking and financial system overextended itself”, he observed, in a speech for the BBC Today Programme Lecture.
He even turned to the tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes to demonstrate the fundamental ineffectiveness of contingency loans dished out by central banks – a thought that most would prefer not to visualize.
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Blue vs. Red. It’s difficult not to see political allegory at play. And yet, the titanic struggle between the two banking giants, Nationwide and Santander, is no less relevant nor signficant for a nation of consumers desperately trying to consolidate their finances.
Banks often face a barrage of criticism for lack of loyalty to their customers. Yet they also face a grilling for offering products solely to existing customers.
There’s no easy win in this situation, but it has persuaded banks to think more carefully about how their products work together. There are no better exponents of this than Santander and Nationwide.
[Read more at Which4U]
It’s April, and snowing. I’m heading up North tonight, where, even more incredulously, it’s not. But a storm of sorts is brewing in the advertising world, and with my roots still firmly set in the North-East, it’s invariably made its way to my attention.
Take a bow, Newcastle Brown. It’s difficult not to smirk or laugh out loud. It’s a brilliant and clever piece of marketing.
It’s reactionary. It’s good banter – conversational, cheeky, controversial, but not quite crossing the line. It synchronises beautifully with north-eastern local identity and sensibility – especially given the Gallic flavour of many of Stella’s recent television ads.
It’s not difficult to imagine this gaining some notoriety across the region’s pubs, clubs, offices, and beyond. The millions who enjoy a good cultural stereotype will collectively join in a warm chuckle with the Novocastrians over an advert that is fundamentally successful.
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Over the last few weeks, I’ve been circulating regularly to keep myself informed about all the recommendations for the new ISA season, conscious that Which4U has been sporting a different approach to most other financial and media outlets.
I’ve also caught sight of those hard-to-miss stories about trolling. I’m not suggesting that it’s particularly prominent in the nondescript field of personal finance, but it has been interesting to note the abrasive nature of public response to ISA reporting – especially across the tabloids.
A number of readers are choosing to interpret the attention given to ISAs as a personal affront to themselves and/or others who don’t amass thousands in savings. And vented fury against banks often becomes an impromptu personal invective.
The disdain towards the financial system is understandable. There’s numerous reasons for concern:
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Although only introduced in April 1999, individual savings accounts (ISAs) are now a huge part of our everyday lives. The majority of the nation should be able to vaguely explain what one is, with the remainder of the population going as far as being able to give advice about where to get one, which ISA is the best on the market and even being capable of knowing what ISA stands for; but not too many people could go into great detail about the specifics surrounding ISAs, how they’ve changed over time and what this means to different salary bands.
ISAs are constantly evolving and change over time, but is this good news for the account holder or bad news? It’s dependent on their income. The good news is, regardless of how much or little you may know about ISAs, HM Revenue & Customs‘ (HMRC) statistical release late last year, offers evidence to suggest that ISAs are in fact becoming bigger and better which will only become beneficial for the account holder – but here’s the catch – only if they increase their monthly instalments being paid into their ISA. It is of the opinion of the account holder whether this is good news to them or not and it will likely depend on an individual’s personal circumstances as to their opinion on the matter.
I will explain my findings, but firstly, if you are of the majority with little knowledge about ISAs, we’ll go back to the drawing board and explain what an ISA is and then explain how they are changing for the better, or worse.
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Dare I turn curmudgeon and utter the immortal words “I told you so”? It’s tempting, even when a cavalier attitude is decidedly unwise and there are considerable difficulties in finding any certainties in the current economic climate.
But I’ve been sceptical of inflation-linked bonds for a few months now, and it’s quite a surprise that it’s taken the esteemed Financial Times until February to pay these ‘vogue’ products some sustained attention.
The cost of living soared last year, and savings accounts offered little. Consumers felt panicked by the rush to sign up for ‘limited edition’, long-term, inflation-linked bonds. But was this the right way to react to inflation hitting 5%?
[Read on at Which4U]