Hays Insurance Reports London Staffing Trends Conflict With Recent Layoffs By Insurance Companies

The specialist insurance division of Hays recruitment consultancy in London has announced that despite general trends in the job market, it has experienced a record month in July for introductions of permanent candidates into the insurance marketplace.

David Carr, Regional Manager for London at Hays Insurance, said: “Whilst many commentators are saying there is a slowdown in activity within the insurance industry, we haven’t seen this to be the case. We put this rise in recruitment down to a re-prioritisation of the roles that insurance companies are hiring for. They are hiring more staff in roles where people are either protecting or generating revenue. Although our clients are being more cautious than ever when making decisions on recruitment there are some very good jobs out there at the moment that would suit ambitious jobseekers.“

Roland Seddon, Regional Director at Hays Senior Finance, commented, “Over the last two months we have seen a sharp increase in demand for senior level candidates in the Insurance sector, and over 20% of our role registrations in 2007/08 have been in the last 8 weeks.”

Hays Insurance has recently filled some high profile roles in the capital, including senior positions within a Big 4 consultancy firm, senior underwriter jobs within global insurers and director roles in specialist insurers and brokers. In fact, given the current Hays Recruitment figures on the state of the market, the insurance sector appears to possibly be benefiting from the present credit crunch.

Carr observed: “We have also noticed a vast increase in temporary and contract placements for experienced qualified individuals, which has highlighted the importance of the senior interim market during such uncertain times – and illustrates the value that the industry is placing on experienced people that can come in and offer something different.”

Hays Insurance is a subdivision of Hays Plc, the FTSE 250 Company which employs 7,753 staff operating from 376 offices in 27 countries across 17 specialisms. Hays Plc placed circa 68,000 candidates into permanent jobs and paid circa 46,000 temporary workers weekly during the year ending June 07.

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Debt Solutions Company Debt Advisers Direct Have Warned That There May Be Tougher Times Ahead, And Advise People To Make Sure They Are Protected

Responding to the news that average bank balances are down by 5% compared to last year, a spokesperson for debt solutions company Debt Advisers Direct said that this is a clear sign that the credit crunch and fast-rising inflation is starting to truly affect consumers.

HSBC reported that average balances of its 8.2million customer accounts had fallen by 5% in the first six months of 2008, as rising costs of living and inflation at a 16-year high puts increasing pressure on consumers’ disposable incomes.

The Debt Advisers Direct spokesperson commented: “This is one of the first clear signs that people are feeling the pressure of the credit crunch, even if 5% is a relatively small figure.

“It’s been said many times that the impact of the credit crunch would take a while to filter through, and it would appear that time has come. Prices and living costs have reached the point where they are beginning to have a clear effect on bank balances – and that should be taken as a warning that it’s time to act.”

The spokesperson continued that while many people may not feel they have been significantly affected by inflation just yet, many leading economists have suggested the worst is yet to come.

“Economists have been predicting a more severe downturn for some time, and while that hasn’t happened yet, there are clear signs that the economy as a whole is slowing down,” he said. “This is likely to lead to further cuts in disposable incomes, especially with the sharp rises in gas and electricity prices due to come in shortly.”

HSBC had also suggested that some of the reduction in disposable incomes might be due to more people transferring money into savings accounts. In reaction to this, the Debt Advisers Direct spokesperson commented: “It would be reassuring to think that a large part of the lower disposable incomes is due to savings – and some of it probably is – but research suggests that most people do not save enough money for their future.

“Saving will become increasingly important in the next few months. Just a few hundred pounds put aside can be a useful financial buffer when money gets really tight.

“Of course, there are some people whose income simply does not stretch far enough once all their living costs are taken into consideration – particularly people struggling with debt – and those people are most at risk.”

The spokesperson added that for anyone who finds themselves struggling with debt, or thinks they might be about to, it’s essential that they seek professional debt advice as soon as possible.

“There are several solutions out there for people who find themselves struggling with debt,” he said. “For people with multiple debts who are getting by but want to simplify their finances, a debt consolidation loan could help.

“Debt consolidation loans involve combining all your existing debts into one, meaning you pay only one lender instead of many, and you may be able to reduce your monthly payments this way. However, you are likely to pay more in the long run if you do reschedule payments.

Debt consolidation is a good way of freeing up extra funds each month – which could be crucial if the economy does hit hard times.”

He continued that even for those with unmanageable debt problems, there is help available. “For more severe debts, a debt management plan or an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) might be more suitable. Both can reduce your monthly payments in line with what you can afford.

“Before making any decisions, though, you should always contact an expert debt adviser. They will talk you through your situation and decide which debt solution is appropriate for you.”

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The Sooner People Seek Professional Help In Managing Their Debts, The More Likely They’ll Be To Avoid Serious Debt

A survey by debt management company GregoryPennington.com indicates that today’s economic troubles may be encouraging people in debt to keep a closer eye on their finances.

Only 6% of those questioned saw their debt as unmanageable. Yet a full 35% of respondents who considered their debt manageable also declared they were unhappy with their financial situation.

A spokesperson from the debt management company commented: “In many ways, that 35% figure is actually a positive sign. It means people who aren’t actually struggling with debt are nonetheless aware that their finances could be better. They’re thinking beyond the present and considering the impact their debts could have on them in the future.”

That awareness is, in itself, a form of protection against financial problems in the future. “We always remind people that the sooner they seek professional help managing their debts, the more likely they’ll be to avoid serious debt altogether. Keeping a close eye on their finances is obviously key to this, as it enables them to take action at the first signs of trouble – and taking action in time can make all the difference between needing to make a few short-term lifestyle changes and being forced to live on a shoestring budget for a number of years.

“Perhaps this is one ‘silver lining’ to all the negative economic news we’re hearing these days. In good times, it’s tempting to assume that the good times will keep up. It’s human nature to focus on enjoying today when there’s no perceived threat of tomorrow being any different. But hearing all those gloomy predictions tends to make people think more about the future.”

No-one, however, has solved their financial problems by dwelling on them: “There’s little point in someone just worrying about their debts unless they take it a step further, making the necessary lifestyle changes and talking to a debt specialist about improving their financial situation.”

For people who do this before their debt becomes unmanageable, it may simply be a matter of cutting back on a few luxuries. “Nobody likes economising, but a few minutes with a calculator and pencil can prove beyond all doubt why it’s worth the effort. Exactly how they do it is up to the individual: some choose to reduce their spending to a bare minimum for a short time; others prefer to sacrifice just a few luxuries every month, even though this means their debt will take longer to clear.”

The important thing is to address their debts sooner, rather than later – while it’s still relatively easy to do: “Even if someone can comfortably manage their monthly debt repayments today, there are plenty of reasons to clear their debts at the earliest opportunity. Avoiding interest charges might be the most obvious reason, but interest isn’t the biggest threat: even small debts can rapidly escalate out of control if their situation takes a turn for the worse. If they lose their job, for example, finding that extra money every month might be all but impossible.”

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The Recent Boom In The Rental Market Reflects The Continuing Difficulty For Homeowners Trying To Sell, And May Even Prolong The Problems In The Housing Market, Says Think Money.

Financial solutions company Think Money (thinkmoney.com) have warned that a recent boom in properties put up for rent may indicate further trouble in the housing market towards the end of 2008 and going into 2009.

Recent findings by RICS (the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) have shown a significant surge in the number of homeowners being forced to put their homes up for rent rather than selling, because many homeowners believe that “becoming a landlord is a better option than selling in the current climate”.

Faced with increasing mortgage costs and a very slow housing market, many homeowners are finding it more financially viable to put their own homes up for rent, while at the same time renting cheaper accommodation for themselves – effectively making a ‘profit’ each month, which helps towards their own costs.

The survey also indicated that many would-be homeowners are currently forced to stay in the rental market, as the UK economy experiences 70% fewer mortgage approvals than this time last year.

Melanie Taylor, Head of Corporate Relations for Think Money, commented that the RICS’ findings reflect a continuing downturn in the housing market, despite recent suggestions that mortgages are becoming more freely available.

“The news that several lenders have been dropping their interest rates raised some optimism for the housing market,” she says, “but these statistics from the RICS give a less positive picture.

“It’s true that interest rates are coming down for prime mortgages, but for the majority of consumers, getting onto the housing ladder is still proving difficult.

“For those already on the housing ladder, it’s getting off it that’s proving difficult. The lack of activity in the market continues to be a real problem for those looking to sell – which is forcing many to put their homes up for rent while they wait for the housing market to recover.”

Mrs Taylor also added that the boom in the rental market could have a knock-on effect on the mortgage market. “Even though the number of homes for sale is getting smaller, the decreased demand for mortgages means that the fall in house prices is being sustained,” she says.

“Only when mortgage lenders begin to relax their lending criteria are we likely to see this situation change.”

Mrs Taylor continued that in the current market, renting out your home can be a viable option for freeing up extra funds, but warned that the responsibility of becoming a landlord is not to be taken lightly. “As long as you are willing to make a temporary compromise on your living conditions, you can significantly cut down your outgoings each month, which could help you financially and enable you to save up for when the housing market recovers.

“But it’s important to remember the responsibilities of being a landlord. In particular, if anything goes wrong, you are responsible for the costs,” she says. “So make sure you aware of the risks if you’re considering taking this step.”

Think Money (http://www.thinkmoney.com) are a financial solutions company based in Salford Quays, Manchester. The company specialises in a range of financial services, including mortgages, loans, debt help and advice (including debt management plans, IVAs, and debt consolidation).

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The Credit Crunch Has Caused A Lot Of People To Look For New Ways To Save Money, One Is Not Taking Car Insurance

The credit crunch has led brought economising to the for front of many British drivers mind – we are all keen to save money – and car owners in particular are feeling the strain with rising petrol prices and the new Vehicle Excise Duty levels next year which could see some paying up to £2001 more on family saloons. But drivers trying to save money by not taking out car insurance are cost-cutting to a foolhardy extreme, warns RIAS.

Apart from the fact that driving without insurance is against the law in the UK, and those found guilty of it could get themselves a criminal record, it also costs other car drivers more than half a billion pounds per year, according to the Motor Insurers Bureau. This equates to around £30 extra on every premium, effectively being subsidized by the fully insured user.

“There is no question that driving without insurance is both unlawful and ill-advised,” says RIAS Managing Director Janet Connor. “If you are worried about the cost of insurance, it is worth talking to your insurance provider to check whether there are any savings to be made. At RIAS, for example, we specialise in finding tailored insurance solutions for the over 50s, who can often benefit from cheaper premiums because of low mileage, or because their cars are parked off-road or kept in a garage. We advise customers to ensure they ask about discounts and flexible payment plans when they call us for a quote.”

While efforts are being taken by the relevant law enforcement authorities many believe it is society’s collective responsibility to help fight this nuisance and that neighbours, friends and family should not look the other way if we know of drivers that are evading car insurance.

Evading Car Insurance – the facts:

* Last year, around 160 deaths and 23,000 injuries were caused in road accidents involving uninsured drivers.

* Claims made against drivers without insurance can be complicated forthe victim to process.

* Throughout 2007, the British police seized over 150,000 uninsured vehicles – that’s one vehicle every three minutes.

* Number plate recognition technology and better link ups between police and insurance companies is facilitating police in the fight against unisured veichles.

1Source: The AA 2Research from the Motor Investigation Bureau, Report: The Road Ahead, Issue 15, 2007

*Call RIAS for a quote on your car insurance to see if we can save you money: 0800 052 5250

All services including house insurance can be purchased online.

Janet Connor, Managing Director of RIAS is available for further comment and interview. To arrange an interview with, or photography of, Janet, please call Simon Robinson on 07976 329823 or e-mail srobinson@rias.co.uk.

About RIAS

* RIAS was founded in 1992 and is a specialist provider of insurance products for the over 50s age group

* RIAS negotiates with a panel of insurers to secure competitive, value for money products

* RIAS has over 970,000 customers and currently employs over 1,200 people across two locations – Bournemouth and Belfast

* In July 2007 RIAS’ home insurance contents and buildings policies received four ‘Best Buy’ awards from Which? magazine

* In December 2007 RIAS won the ‘Personal Lines Broker of the year” award at the Insurance Times awards

RIAS is part of Fortis (Insurance UK), a leading provider of award-winning personal and commercial lines insurance solutions in the UK and the 2007 British Insurance Awards ‘General Insurer of the Year’. The insurer’s successful customer-centric strategy has been founded on aligning its activities to how customers want to buy insurance, combined with delivering high quality products, manufactured at costs better than market norms.

Fortis’s unique multi-distribution capability enables it to deliver products face-to-face, by phone (inbound and outbound), over the Internet and via SMS technology. Aligning its business activities with its partners’ general insurance strategies enables Fortis to offer end-to-end white label capabilities in product development, marketing, campaign management, sales, fulfilment and claims – providing a seamless integration with partner brands.

Insuring in excess of 6.7 million customers and working with a range of partners, Fortis is recognised for delivering consistent and high-quality customer experiences. It employs 2,901 people as of 31/12/07 with a head office based in Eastleigh and others in Belfast, Bournemouth, Gloucester, Haywards Heath, Redditch, and Stoke-on-Trent. In 2007, its profit before tax and interest (excluding impact of weather related events) was £92.2 million and its GWP was 757.8 million.

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“The Profit-Taker Equalizer For The Underdog” Reveals A Proven Strategy To Grow Rich – Especially For Late Starters

A top-ten best-selling financial author of John Wiley & Sons, New York, is raving mad. John Wiley & Sons is one of the largest and oldest publishers in the world, and the home of such early celebrated authors as Edgar Allan Poe (Tales), James Fenimore Cooper (The Deerslayer), Washington Irving (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow) and Herman Melville (Moby Dick).

An inspired Wiley editor, Stephen Kippur, guided The Profit-Taker to the status of a listed international best-seller. Now he is president of John Wiley & Sons, publishers.

A richly deserved American success story. Why is the international best-seller’s sequel being given away?

The author/inventor, Professor Don Abrams and legendary Professor Smarba, Professor Emeritus of Finance are protesting against those who are igniting the free fall of the middle-class poor. The culprits? Those who are fuelling the fire of inflationary prices… from oil to food to textbooks to tuition. Not to mention these scrooge-like ‘credit card interest’ plunderers who constantly pursue our unfortunate victims. This is the naked truth. But truth without action is dead.

Do Abrams and Smarba have a solution? Yes! Unequivocally.

“We don’t have turkeys to hand out, but it has to start somewhere. We recognize the debt we owe for the thunderous acclaim of the first book. To that end, we wish to set an example by being credible and responsible to our book-buying public. We have a reader friendly offer as a remedy. We wish to give back. It makes good marketing sense. It’s good for the middle-class poor and for everyone.”

So for the first time ever, the revolutionary and pre-published sequel to the international best-seller is being given away. Over seven years of work in its creation. Given away. Exactly so. Free! The follow-up, “The Profit-Taker Equalizer for the Underdog: Grow from Middle-Class Poor to ‘Zero Debt’ to Rich in One Year”, is yours – with love.

During these troubled times of risky ventures and banking woes, the financial duo wish to unleash their refreshing, uplifting and unique concept… unencumbered by any cost to the reader, without any strings attached. Simply click on www.profittaker.info and download the complete full-length manuscript copy of their ‘news breaking book’.

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Young People Starting University In 2008 Will Have To Live With Their Parents To Save Money

According to a new report from Lloyds TSB Student banking* more than one in four young people starting university this year will have to live with their parents to save money. This represents a 4% dip from 2007’s high of 31%, and a 5% increase when compared to numbers for 2006.

A third of the 130,000** young people who will find themselves staying with their parents while they study say that they will not be able to afford to go to university unless they live at home, while 82% agree that living at home is a great way to save money. One in four said that living at home is an effective tool for managing their debt. However, 62% of those who are planning to stay at home admitted that if money wasn’t an issue, they would prefer to fly the nest sooner.

Young people put their student finances high on the list of university concerns. 26% were worried about managing money while they are at university, while 13% admitted that this is the first time that they will be setting a budget and holding the purse strings.

Economic uncertainty and the prospect of increasing university fees are taking their toll, with 65% of students saying it will be difficult to afford university if the cost of living continues to rise and 38% saying that soon the cost of going to university will outweigh the benefits of going at all.

For the 66% of students-to-be who are planning to live away from home, 62% think that the financial implications are worth it for gaining their independence, while a quarter have no choice as they want to study at a far-away institution. Just 5% will be expecting their parents to foot the bill for their studies and 11% believe that they will be able to set a budget and make their finances work.

The main reasons for choosing to live away from home are to be closer to their university (74%), to gain independence (66%) and for the social life (56%), with 22% admitting that they are itching to fly the nest.

Catherine McGrath, director of current accounts, Lloyds TSB, commented: “Going to university isn’t just about getting good grades, it also has to make financial sense.

“However, university is also a great time to spread your wings and get a little life experience. By making the time now for some financial planning and careful budgeting, cash-strapped students should be able to enjoy further education without worrying unduly about making ends meet.”

The survey also revealed that many young people are making difficult choices in order to balance the books at university. 34% admitted that they will be taking more than one job over the summer break to build up their capital, while a quarter will have to hold down a job during term time to make ends meet. 15% will rely on work during the holidays to help boost their bank balance, while 8% said that they would prefer to rely on loans and an overdraft in order to focus on their studies.

About Lloyds TSB Student banking
Lloyds TSB Bank plc and Lloyds TSB Scotland plc are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority and signatories to the Banking Codes.

Lloyds TSB Bank plc Registered Office: 25 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HN. Registered in England and Wales no. 2065.

-ends-

Notes to editors
* Online research conducted July 2008 amongst 1,000 UK 17-25 year olds who plan to start university in autumn 2008
** UCAS states receipt of 481,784 applications for university autumn 2008. 27% of those surveyed planned to live at home while they study. 481,784 x 27% = 130,082

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Check Gallery Promotes The Beauty Of Nature While Expanding Its Check Collection With The Release Of The “Zen Garden” Design

Known for being environmentally friendly and inspiring a love for nature, Check Gallery is always adding new check designs to enhance its collection. The “Zen Garden” design fits right into the current assortment. By portraying the beauty of some of nature’s finest flowers, this new design will encourage consumers to be more aware of their natural environments.

On August 11, 2008, Check Gallery released the new “Zen Garden” check design through its website, www.checkgallery.com. In four rotating scenes, a white background displays exotic Asian vegetation on these personal checks. Bamboos, Asian water lilies, bonsai trees, and bauhinia trees are all featured in vivid colors and intricate detail. The address labels illustrate these plants against a background of blue with a green border; the personal contact cards present the vivid, purple Asian water lily; and the checkbook cover portrays the beautiful pink flowers of the bauhinia tree as they cascade from the branches.

Check Gallery promotes the well-being and beauty of nature. The addition of the new “Zen Garden” check design will once again introduce the magnificence of our surroundings and encourage people to protect them.

About Check Gallery:
Since its creation in 1993, Check Gallery has prided itself on being an environmentally friendly company. By printing all of its products on recycled paper, Check Gallery proves its love and respect for nature. Each and every design offered by the company fits uniquely into this theme. Visit the site today and see which nature-friendly design fits your interests!

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Prepaid Credit Card Market Expected To Rise £4.5billion By 2010 In Light Of The UK Credit Crunch

As the credit crunch hits the UK, Fairinvestment.co.uk, leading online comparison site, announces that prepaid credit cards are no longer just for people who have bad credit histories, and could be the answer to those who are looking for the functionality of a credit card but want to avoid the risk of debt.

“A prepaid credit card offers a simple, effective and safe way of paying. You top up the card with money and then use it to pay for goods, safe in the knowledge that you can never go overdrawn or into debt,” explained Phil Alcock, credit card expert at Fairinvestment.co.uk.

There are currently about 2.3 million prepaid credit card holders in the UK, and this figure appears set to keep on rising as people realise the benefits of a prepaid card – by 2010, the prepaid credit card market is estimated to be worth around £4billion with more than 7 million prepaid card holders*.

Because prepaid credit cards offer the same functionality as a credit card but without the risk, they have generally been associated with people who have bad credit histories and who have found it difficult to get a normal credit card. Although prepaid credit cards still offer this valuable service, they are increasingly being used by people who could easily get a standard credit card but choose prepaid for their flexibility and convenience.

Prepaid credit cards are a good method for making online payment, this is because the only money that is at risk is what is loaded onto the card. The Optimum Prepaid Master Card has been specifically aimed at people concerned about the security of online spending.

Anthony Graham, Marketing Director at 360money, the prepaid network behind Optimum, commented, “People are increasingly worried their banking details might fall into the wrong hands when they purchase online, and with good reason. Optimum allows people to enjoy all benefits of shopping online without having to fear of fraudsters accessing their banking details.”

Prepaid credit cards are also a very good budgeting tool – users can pick their limit, load it onto the card and that becomes their budget. It is for this reason that they have become very popular with parents who want to give their children financial independence but limit their spending power.

“Parents looking for a way to educate their children to be responsible with their money find that prepaid cards provide an excellent teaching method because they give the child the chance to be independent and even purchase goods online, but there is a strict budget in place. This can be handy for everyday life, or perhaps if a child is going on a school trip where they need cash,” said Mr Alcock.

Prepaid cards, which can be used all over the world, have also seen a hike in popularity as families begin to use them on holidays abroad to keep their holiday spending in check.

The currently available prepaid credit cards are also highly convenient as they can be topped up at designated retailers, online, in banks, via BACs and then spent in store, online, at cash points and anywhere in the world with the Maestro acceptance mark.

About Fair Investment
www.fairinvestment.co.uk, is an independent online finance portal, providing comparison tools, including a free prepaid credit card comparison service, personal finance news, reviews and information on a wide range of financial products and services, including insurance, credit cards, mortgages, loans, savings and investments.

Fair Investment Company is a leading internet player that sees 400,000 unique users per month, sells over £5 billion worth of mortgage enquiries and is a Hitwise 100 Banks and Financial Institutions site.

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Quest CE moves to larger offices in Milwaukee’s Two Park Plaza to keep pace with the company’s vigorous growth

Quest CE the nationwide provider of continuing education and compliance solutions for financial services professionals, today announced it will be moving to new corporate headquarters. The move to new offices in Milwaukee’s Two Park Plaza will accommodate Quest CE’s current staff and make room for expansion to keep pace with the company’s vigorous growth.

“Quest CE’s service and technology orientation and emphasis on client service have provided a solid foundation for our tremendous growth,”
said Alan Krenke, Quest CE’s President and CEO. “Our continued success relies on our ability to provide products and services that innovate while maintaining the customer service that we are known for. We’ve developed our new headquarters to be both functional and to inspire so we are able to attract and retain the service-oriented professionals who are central to our continued success.”

Quest CE’s new headquarters offers a modern and open layout. All combine to create a working environment that fosters creativity and the open exchange of ideas among Quest’s staff and between Quest and clients.

Initially, Quest CE is occupying 6,000 square feet of the 18,000 square foot 10th Floor of Two Park Place, with options to expand as the company continues to grow. Quest will begin operating out of its new headquarters on Tuesday, September 2, 2008. The company’s new address is:

Two Park Plaza
10850 W Park Place
Suite 1000
Milwaukee, WI 53224

Telephone and fax numbers.
Toll Free: (877) 593-3366
Local: (414) 375-3400
Fax: (414) 375-3449

About Quest CE
Quest CE is a nationwide provider of continuing education and compliance courses to licensed professionals and financial planners. Each year Quest CE delivers over 150,000 continuing education courses either over the Internet or through live CE training. To find out more information about Quest’s Corporate Discounts and large volume orders go to the company web site at www.questce.com or call 877-593-3366.

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Despite The Reduced Availability Of Credit, A Debt Consolidation Loan May Still Be A Viable Option For Worried Borrowers

Amid worries about the reduced availability of credit, debt consolidation experts DebtAdvisersDirect.co.uk stress that lenders are still offering debt consolidation loans and other forms of credit.

A spokesperson commented: “With inflation more than twice the Bank of England’s target, people in debt are particularly worried about stretching their household budget further and further, especially when talk of an economic slowdown is threatening to reduce many consumers’ income levels as well. When there simply isn’t enough money in the monthly budget, a debt consolidation loan or other debt solution could take the pressure off.

“In recent years, the easy availability of credit has led many people to turn to debt consolidation loans as a way of reducing both their monthly debt repayments and the complexity of their finances. So the Bank of England’s Q2 2008 Credit Conditions Survey makes disturbing reading.”

The Survey provides a summary of what ‘bank and non-bank’ lenders have seen over the past three months, and what they expect for the coming three months. It reveals that lenders had reduced the availability of both secured and unsecured credit to individuals and expected ‘some additional reductions in credit availability over the next three months’.

“The key word here is ‘reduced’,” the spokesperson continued. “The Survey shows that the availability of secured credit, for example, was down around 45% in Q2, with lenders tightening credit scoring criteria and decreasing maximum LTV (loan to value) ratios. Although it’s a significant reduction, it does not mean credit is unavailable. As long as they have sufficient equity in their home – and as long as they approach a lender who specialises in helping people in their situation – many people still stand an excellent chance of obtaining a secured debt consolidation loan.”

Looking ahead, however, lenders do anticipate a further reduction in the availability of secured credit. Even though they expect Q3’s reduction to be smaller (just over 20%), the cumulative effect could well make it harder for certain people to access the debt consolidation loans they need in the months ahead.

Where debt consolidation isn’t an option, alternative debt solutions may still be available. Debt management, for example, can be an effective way for someone in debt to bring their expenditure back in line with their budget without accessing any further credit. “When someone joins a debt management plan, they essentially ask debt specialists to renegotiate their repayment terms. This can bring their monthly debt repayments down to an affordable level, freeing up the funds they need to cope with the rising cost of living.”

Should debt management not be appropriate, an individual may still be eligible for an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement), a legally binding agreement with their creditors. “In an IVA, the individual agrees to make fixed monthly payments, based on what they can afford after essential living expenses, for the duration of the IVA – normally five years. If 75% of the creditors (by debt value) consent to the terms of the IVA, they’ll agree not to take any legal action against the individual, and to write off any remaining debt once the IVA has successfully concluded.”

Whatever an individual’s circumstances, the spokesperson stressed, their first move should be to contact a debt specialist as soon as possible: “In the vast majority of cases, debt problems only get worse when they’re ignored. The important thing is to seek professional debt advice as soon as you realise you have a potential problem.”

About Debt Advisers Direct
http://debtadvisersdirect.co.uk helps people with financial difficulties, providing debt advice and tailor-made debt solutions.

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Ivas Don’t Address Mortgages And Other Secured Debts But They Do Reduce Payments To Unsecured Creditors

Commenting on the rising number of home repossessions, debt consolidation experts DebtAdvisersDirect.co.uk point out that IVAs (Individual Voluntary Arrangements) and other debt solutions could help people stay in their homes.

Of the 45,000 repossessions expected by Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) in 2008, there were 18,900 in the first half of the year. In the second half, therefore, the CML expects a further 26,000 or so.

“As with any statistical forecast, this figure isn’t written in stone,” said a DebtAdvisersDirect.co.uk spokesperson. “Times are particularly tough for homeowners, but many people threatened with repossession may be able to resolve their situation by talking to their lender, and by taking steps to sort out their finances and free up enough money for their mortgage payments.

“Different homeowners will, of course, need to adopt different tactics to avoid repossession. Some may just need to reduce their spending, while others may need to consider taking in a lodger, for example, or working longer hours.

“But for many, the problem is unmanageable debt. Many people can’t afford their mortgage payments because their non-priority debts are taking up so much of their budget. We would advise anyone in that situation to seek debt help immediately. A professional debt adviser can help them go through their finances and figure out what steps they would need to take to free up the necessary funds.”

Often, those funds are already there: “Very few people know exactly where all their income goes. They may know where they spend large sums of money, but the smaller sums can easily slip through the cracks – and they all add up. This is why so many people find they have enough ‘on paper’, but not in reality. A debt adviser can help them create a monthly budget sheet and track their spending more effectively.”

Some homeowners, however, are facing more serious debt problems. “At a certain point, the monthly debt repayments simply exceed the individual’s ability to keep up – there just isn’t enough money coming in to service the debts and cope with the ongoing bills. Once this happens, they find it’s almost impossible to pull themselves out of debt without professional help. The important thing is to get in touch with a debt specialist as soon as possible, and find out what they can do to help.

“Depending on the individual’s circumstances, the best debt solution could be an IVA. As a form of insolvency that helps people clear significant debts without resorting to bankruptcy, an IVA can be an effective way of reducing their monthly expenditure, freeing up the money they need to make their mortgage payments and start paying off any arrears that have built up.”

An IVA is a legally binding agreement between an individual and their unsecured creditors, which normally lasts for five years. “The individual commits to making fixed monthly payments throughout the IVA, based on what they can afford after taking their essential living expenses (including mortgage payments) into account. If enough of the creditors agree to the terms, they’ll agree to freeze interest, not to take any legal action, and to write off any outstanding debt at the end of the IVA. Like bankruptcy, an IVA helps borrowers make a fresh start, but unlike bankruptcy, it helps them protect their home – they may have to release some equity, but it’s extremely unlikely they would have to sell.”

Yet it’s important to recognise that IVAs are not an appropriate solution to every homeowner’s problems. “Whatever financial issues an individual may be facing,” the spokesperson concluded, “it’s vital they seek debt advice from a specialist offering a range of debt solutions – someone who can help them take stock of their situation, understand their options and identify the best way forward.”

About Debt Advisers Direct
www.debtadvisersdirect.co.uk helps people with financial difficulties, providing debt help & advice and tailor-made debt solutions.

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Artistic Checks “Kimono” Personal Check Design

As one of the most recognized personal check printing brands, Artistic Checks continues to offer customers new classic check designs. The new “Kimono” product suite is a bright addition to the Artistic line with its display of traditional Japanese flair.

On August 11, 2008, Artistic Checks released the new “Kimono” product suite through its website, www.artisticchecks.com. The personal checks offer four rotating scenes that feature subtle backgrounds of flowers portrayed in the classic Asian style of art. To compliment these backdrops, Japanese figures pose in traditional make-up and beautiful kimonos to match the colors and flowers that are pictured behind them. The address labels feature only the colorful Asian flower designs as backgrounds, but in the same sequence as the checks. With deep blue base colors, the personal contact cards and checkbook cover enhance the artistic white lines and flowers that appear on them.

Artistic Checks is always creating new and imaginative check designs that speak to the likes of all customers. The launch of the ethnic “Kimono” design is sure to attract first-time and repeat consumers. This pattern adds to the large check design collection that Artistic already offers and gives users one more beautiful option when ordering their accounting tools.

About Artistic Checks:
Some of the most creative and unique check designs for checks and check accessories are available through Artistic Checks. If you are interested in a classic or heartwarming check design, then Artistic Checks has just what you need! Visit the site today to see all the different images available and choose the one that fits you best!

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LV= Reveals More And More Brits Are Chasing The Ultimate Holiday Thrill By Heading To Risky Destinations, Despite Government Warnings

New research by travel insurer LV= has revealed that more and more Brits are chasing the ultimate holiday thrill by heading to risky destinations, despite Government advice warning against visiting.

The latest research from LV has found that since 2003, Brits have taken nearly five million holidays to destinations highlighted on the FCO’s ‘don’t go list’, with a further 8% of Brits planning a trip in the next 12 months.

The LV= report has found that many of these travellers were unaware of the dangers they could potentially face, leading to increased numbers of UK tourists becoming victims of theft, robbery and intimidation.

Current destinations considered unsafe for UK visitors include much of Africa, plus parts of the Russian Federation, India, and even certain areas in countries like Turkey, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. The government currently warns against visiting areas in over 30 countries and the list is regularly updated. Only half of the people travel insurer LV= interviewed said they were aware of the FCO advice.

The research also revealed a worrying disregard for the Government warnings with nearly 50% of travellers stating that they would pay no attention to the advice and would carry on with their plans regardless.

Unfortunately this attitude is proving naïve, as these trips are ending up as perilous for many. 46% of the travellers heading to these destinations fell victim to crime while they were away.

It would seem that the desire for adventure or seclusion is the driving factor behind travellers heading to these dangerous destinations, many of whom (19%) claim they’re bored by predictable resorts.

18% of travellers said they specifically set out to travel to an off beat destination in an attempt to avoid other tourists, while a further 17% say for them the ‘holiday fear factor’ is all part of the experience.

Emma Holyer, Spokesperson for LV=, said: “As a nation we are getting more adventurous when it comes to our holidays and although it’s great to see new places, it’s also very important that travellers understand the risks they face if they are going to a potentially dangerous destination. Foreign travel is so commonplace these days but we’d urge anyone going on holiday this summer to pay attention to the Government travel advice.”

She continued, “Aside from the obvious risks to safety, the vast majority of travel insurers will not provide cover for areas that the Government warns against visiting, so travellers need to do their research thoroughly before booking an unusual destination.”

It’s not just the threat of violence that is leaving travellers at risk. 18% of Brits are putting themselves in danger by visiting tropical countries and not bothering to take the recommended medical vaccinations.

Emma Holyer, commented: “Although the LV= travel insurance policy will cover travellers if they fall ill with one of these diseases if they didn’t get vaccinated, many insurers will not, meaning policy holders will have no medical cover and are at an increased risk of becoming seriously ill.”

The findings also reveal that it’s not only intrepid travellers to far off exotic destination who are failing to make themselves aware of the risks when they go on holiday, as 13% of tourists journeying to Spain were able to identify it as a high terrorist risk, despite 10 million planning a visit in the next year.

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Sunwest Trust Witnessed An Unprecedented Rise In Demand To Open Up New Accounts, Breaking Its Own Previous Record, Which Was Set Previously In Better Economical Conditions

Sunwest Trust, Inc. (the “Company”), the only New Mexico company acting as an escrow agent and IRA custodian, has achieved a new record by opening up new accounts. July is the eventful month that ended with the hiring of new people to serve better.

Sunwest Trust offers a wide range of retirement and self directed plans such as Roth IRAs, Spousal and Traditional IRAs, SEPs, and SIMPLEs. It offers direct investment within the retirement accounts and allows their clients to invest in a number of things, including, but not limited to sales and purchase of real estate, mortgages, publicly traded stocks, bonds, private limited liability companies, mutual funds, secured and unsecured notes and more. Credited to this diverse range of plans and options, the Company witnessed an unprecedented rise in demand to open up new accounts, leading the Company to set a new record in July for newly opened accounts.

Following this record-breaking performance, the Company announces the induction of three new employees. Casey Love, Natalie Rodriguez and Sandra McBride are going to contribute in different departments. Casey Love, a bachelor’s degree holder in Secondary Education with a minor in English from the University of New Mexico will work in the IRA Department. Natalie Rodriguez, a California native, brings nine years experience in the escrow and title businesses. Sandra McBride is the third addition who will be handling the Customer Service Department. In addition to her job as Customer Service Representative, she is attending school part time to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Business.

With the recent upsurge, Sunwest Trust now services over $900 million in assets and provides services to over 14,000 individuals and companies. The company management has expressed the hope that the trend will continue in coming months as well.

“We are happy with our progress and we are excited about the growth during a cooler economy and during an election year. I expect to continue to see increased growth over the coming months and years as more boomers and investors get closer to retirement, look to truly diversify, and shift a portion of their funds out of the market and into the local real estate market,” Terry White, CEO Sunwest Trust, says with confidence.

The statement of Terry White attests the fact that the Company is relying upon boomers, which actually are more than 75 million in U.S. As boomers get closer to retirement, they look for alternatives to invest their money in order to have a secure future. By counting on this fact, management is pretty hopeful that the trend of increased demand, with boomers investing more, will continue in coming months and years.

About Sunwest Trust, Inc.:
Sunwest Trust is a New Mexico based company, which acts as custodian for self directed IRA accounts and as an escrow agent. It offers a range of retirement accounts and a multitude of escrow services along with dealings in private mortgages, real estate contracts and other notes. To acquire more information about the Company, visit http://www.SunwestTrust.com/.

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Artistic Checks expands its collection with the launch of its new product suite, “African Silhouettes”

Artistic Checks constantly expands its creative collection to appeal to every customer’s unique taste. The release of the new “African Silhouettes,” designed by an in-house graphics team, is another way for Artistic Checks to diversify its check assortment. The design is certain to appeal to new and existing customers alike.

On August 11, 2008, Artistic Checks launched “African Silhouettes” through its website, www.artisticchecks.com. In four rotating scenes, an African Acacia tree stands in the middle of the safari and acts as the background for these personal checks. Also on the checks, four different figures of African natives stand in colorful traditional garb with tools, baskets, and water jugs needed to perform daily tasks. The address labels, which are self-adhesive, feature a rotating sequence identical to the checks. While the personal contact cards feature a native child, the checkbook cover portrays a hunter as well as a mother and child on their way to gather crops with baskets atop their heads. All three stand tall in the protective shade of the Acacia tree.

Artistic Checks has always offered creative and unique designs for checks and check accessories sold direct to consumers. The addition of the new “African Silhouettes” provides an ethnic option for all interested customers. This check design brings a fresh and distinct feel to Artistic Checks that will attract new customers and peak the interests of existing ones.

About Artistic Checks:
Since its inception in 1998, Artistic Checks has been offering imaginative designs. Consumers looking for works of art to portray on their banking accessories should look no further than Artistic Checks. A visit to the site is sure to find you a masterpiece you can fall in love with!

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Financial Consequences Of An Expensive Holiday Can Outweigh Any Beneficial Effects

Responding to a study suggesting that a quarter of British adults have shelved their holiday plans to ease the strain of the credit crunch on their finances, debt management company Gregory Pennington (www.gregorypennington.com) have advised other people struggling with their finances to consider following suit and not risk getting into debt this summer.

The study from CreditExpert.co.uk, the online credit monitoring service from Experian, showed that 43% of those questioned were worried about the impact of a holiday on their finances, yet only 24% have changed their plans.

The study also claimed that 2.8 million British adults will get into debt in order to fund holidays this year – twice as many as this time last year.

A spokesperson for Gregory Pennington commented: “It’s encouraging that many people are considering changing their plans with regards to holidays this year, although it’s still a concern that so many people are still spending beyond their means.

“The relatively easy access to credit in recent years has meant it is now common for people to get into debt to fund expensive holidays, and this debt can become a serious burden if it’s not managed properly.”

The study also claims that 33% of those in the 18-24 age group say that peer pressure often forces them into holidays they cannot really afford. “This is a common problem,” says the Gregory Pennington spokesperson. “We live in a culture where we can take many things for granted, and it seems to many people that includes holidays. But if that involves racking up large debts, it might be best to carry on saving and maybe even wait until next year.”

Of the people attempting to cut back on holiday debts, it was revealed that 19 per cent would be sharing with family or friends in an attempt to cut costs. This figure rises to 37 per cent in the 18-24 age group.

The spokesperson commented: “Sharing is a good way of minimising holiday debts this summer, and some people may be able to avoid getting into debt entirely this way. Certainly, if you are still intending on going on holiday, we advise people to cut costs wherever possible, unless you are completely sure you can afford it.

“The credit crunch is putting pressure on most of us at this time, and there is the risk that unless you are very careful, you could arrive home with potentially unmanageable debts to deal with.”

The spokesperson went on to point out how easy it is to get into debt unintentionally. “Many people book holidays well in advance, up to a year in some cases. Much of this is done on credit, under the belief that they will be able to save up enough money in that time to cover the holiday.

“But the pressures of the credit crunch and rising costs of living mean that many people may be finding it much harder to pay for their holidays than they anticipated. If this happens, it doesn’t take long before the interest begins to add up and the debts could become unmanageable if they are not taken care of quickly.

“We advise anyone in this situation to contact an expert debt adviser, who can discuss your situation and help decide the best plan of action. There are various debt solutions available to suit different situations, including debt management plans, debt consolidation loans and IVAs. Choosing the right debt solution could help you cut down your monthly costs and prevent your debts from continuing to grow.”

Gregory Pennington (http://www.gregorypennington.com/) are a financial solutions company based in Salford Quays, Manchester. The company specialises in a range of financial services, including mortgages, loans, debt help and advice (including debt management plans, IVAs, and debt consolidation).

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Debt Advisers Direct Have Advised The Public To Keep A Close Watch On Their Finances, And To Seek Expert Debt Advice

Responding to recent research suggesting that the number of people who feel they are still managing well in the current economic climate has fallen, Debt Advisers Direct have advised the public to keep a close watch on their finances, and to seek expert debt advice immediately if they are unable to meet their financial commitments.

Mintel, a leading market research company, have revealed that the number of people who see themselves as living comfortably or managing easily has fallen from almost two thirds (64%) in 2006 to just over half (51%) this year, as rising costs of living and the credit crunch put increasing pressure on peoples’ finances.

The research also reveals a leap in those who feel money is tight, despite getting by financially – this figure rising from just one in four (25%) in 2006 to 39% this year.

A spokesperson for Debt Advisers Direct commented: “The fact that increasing numbers of people are feeling the pinch is to be expected, but these figures give an interesting picture of how people are actually coping with it at this time.

“What’s interesting is that 51% of people still feel they are managing easily, which may seem a high figure to some, considering all the stories in the news at the moment,” she continues. “But it’s telling that the figure has fallen so sharply since 2006, which was a relatively good time for the economy.”

The spokesperson went on to explain that the reported fall in confidence could be the first stage of a more significant downturn. “When the economy gets into trouble, the effects can take a while to filter through. Many people are still managing well following the buoyant economy of 2006 to late 2007,” she says. “But as the problems begin to filter through – for example to homeowners struggling to sell their homes, consumers facing higher food prices and bills, etc. – we may well see more people’s circumstances take a turn for the worse.”

The report coincides with Nationwide Building Society’s latest Consumer Confidence Index, which reveals that consumer confidence has taken a further fall, down 18% since July and down 43% since this time last year.

The Debt Advisers Direct spokesperson said: “Consumer confidence can be affected by things like the media portrayal of the economy, but a large part of it does come down to personal situations.

“Even those who have not been terribly affected by the credit crunch will have noticed how quickly the price of food and household costs are rising. And those people are quite right to be concerned about what the future may hold.

“We would advise everyone to keep a close watch on their finances at this time. Budget well, don’t overspend, and try to save where possible. And if you do think you are getting into trouble with debt, seek expert help from a debt adviser.

“A debt adviser will talk you through your situation and help you to decide the best course of action. For example, if you have a number of debts that you are struggling to balance with your household commitments, a debt consolidation loan could help.

Debt consolidation loans work by grouping all your debts together, so you only repay one creditor instead of many,” she says. “Payments can be rescheduled over a longer period of time than the original debts, meaning payments are lower – which could be a useful way of freeing up extra money for your other living costs. But be aware that rescheduling your debt consolidation loan will probably involve paying more in interest in the long run.

“If you find you simply can’t meet your payments, though, an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) or debt management plan might be more suitable. If you’re unsure, as with any debt solution, speak to a debt adviser first.”

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Logbookloans.Tv Is Providing Instant Cash Advances

Logbookloans.tv launched recently after growing public demand for a safe and easy instant cash advance service that is regulated by government bodies that people in the UK can trust.

The credit crisis and rising levels of inflation have left many UK residents desperately trying to escape from financial difficulties.

Banks are becoming increasingly cautious about lending money and an unexpected outgoing, from a school fee to replacing a broken boiler, can throw a household’s finances into chaos, leaving people with no way to pay the bills.

But there is a way out. Logbookloans.tv is providing instant cash loans to households trying to get their finances back on course. Logbookloans.tv can quickly approve a cash sum from £500 to £50,000 and customers will often receive the money on the day of application!

Credit authority moneyexpert.com reports: “One of the major benefits of logbook loans is that you can often get access to cash on the same day that you submit your application.”

The logbook loan is a short-term fix designed to tide you over in times of emergency. Because the loan is secured against you car’s logbook (or V5 registration form) the rate is a lot lower than other unsecured borrowings and you get to keep on driving! Whilst logbookloans.tv holds onto your registration form, the car remains with you until the cash is repaid.

Just fill in one simple online form and you could be receiving an instant cash injection. There’s no endless, complicated paperwork and your loan will be ready for collection when you drop off your logbook at any of the hundreds of branches across the UK.

You can rest assured that logbookloans.tv is a completely ‘transparent’ service, unlike many of our competitors. Our loans come complete with advice on the risks involved in borrowing, reducing the risk to our customers and giving you peace of mind.

For more information or to apply online for an instant cash advance logbook loan please go to http://www.logbookloans.tv

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DebtAdvisersDirect.co.uk warn that recent large increases in the price of gas could seriously affect people in debt.

Following recent increases in the price of gas, debt consolidation experts DebtAdvisersDirect.co.uk warned of the probable impact on those already struggling to cope with higher living costs, economic uncertainty and record levels of personal debt.

Shortly after EDF Energy’s announcement of its decision to raise gas prices by 22%, British Gas owner Centrica announced an increase which would see the average gas bill rise by 35%, taking a ‘standard’ annual £650 bill up to almost £900.

“In itself,” said a spokesperson for DebtAdvisersDirect.co.uk, “this increase could be enough to push certain households into debt – or further into debt – but this is by no means an isolated instance. Today’s consumers are facing substantial increases across the board, from food and petrol to gas and electricity. The cumulative effects can be devastating: for many, there may simply be no way of finding another £227 per year, which works out to almost £5 per week.”

Zoe Mcleod of independent charity National Energy Action summed it up as follows: “Centrica is the second energy supplier to put its prices up. We expect this sequence to continue across all suppliers forcing more than 1 million households in England into fuel poverty. Across the UK fuel poverty could affect 6 million households by the end of the year.”

Despite British Gas’ reassurance that the increase would be postponed until April for the 340,000 customers who qualify for its ‘Essentials’ tariff, the effect on millions of other customers will be immediate. “With so many demands on their budget, consumers are facing some tough decisions,” the DebtAdvisersDirect.co.uk spokesperson continued. “They may feel forced to ‘juggle’ their debts using credit cards, or even to neglect some bills so they can pay others.

“As debt advisers with 15 years’ experience, we strongly advise against either course of action. However serious someone’s debts are, there are far better ways of handling them. The important thing is to seek expert debt advice – and to do it sooner, rather than later.”

In many cases, the right debt advice can help people cope with the extra strain on their finances: “Some people may be able to free up the necessary extra funds by learning to budget more effectively, or by renegotiating payments to their creditors. For others, however, no amount of debt advice will be enough – if their budgets are already stretched to the limit, they may need to look into professional debt solutions, such as a debt management plan or debt consolidation loan.

“In today’s economic climate, of course, the kinds of debt help available may be limited, as problems in today’s credit market are keeping some people from accessing the debt consolidation loans that could help them regain control of their finances. In cases like this, an alternative debt solution may be more appropriate.

Debt management, for example, relies not on access to further credit but on negotiations between an individual’s creditors and the debt management professionals who ask them to accept lower monthly payments and grant other concessions. As always, we would recommend that anyone in financial difficulty seek professional debt advice as soon as possible.”

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