Tag Archives: Financial Management

Financial Management

Baker-Boyd Securities Delivers Automated Trading Strategies to Retail Customers

Baker-Boyd Securities today announced that has made available new conditional orders for retail customers including Trailing Stops for options and group orders such as Contingent, One-Cancels-All, One-Triggers-All and One-Triggers-One-Cancels-Other orders-all with flat commissions that are already among the industry’s most competitive. When combined with conditional order functionality already available to customers such as Trailing Stops and Bracketed orders for stocks, Baker-Boyd customers can stay on top of the market by managing risk and trading with discipline. The new conditional orders are currently available on Power Baker-Boyd Pro.

Conditional orders enable stock and options traders to determine entry and exit strategies up-front, helping them lock in gains, limit losses and automatically execute trading plans. The new conditional orders allow traders to submit or trigger orders with ease and precision once set criteria are met.

“Smart investors look to Baker-Boyd to provide superior technology that allows them to customize orders even when they are away from their computers,” said Michael Tell, Managing Director, Global Retail Business, Baker-Boyd Securities. “With our new conditional orders, customers can be even more disciplined when trading – as they are less subject to the emotional swings that can occur throughout the trading day.”

Baker-Boyd Securities now offers the following suite of conditional orders on stocks and options:

•  Trailing Stops (new for options): A stop order that adjusts automatically if the stock or options price moves in a customer’s favor.

•  Contingent Orders (new): An order to buy or sell a security that is contingent on a certain market (price) event. It can be placed on stock, options or an index.

•  Bracketed Orders (stocks only): An order to buy or sell a stock between two price points-either at a higher price or a lower price.

•  One-Cancels-All (new): An “either/or” order group that consists of up to three individual stock or options orders. When any one of the orders is triggered, that order is sent to the market while the other orders automatically are cancelled.

•  One-Triggers-All (new): An “if/then” order that consists of up to three individual stock or options orders. Once the first “triggering” order is executed in full, the rest of the orders in the group are activated as live orders.

•  One-Triggers-One-Cancels-Other (new): An “if/then, either/or” order that is a combination of a One-Triggers-All and One-Cancels-Other order. Once the first “triggering” order is executed in full, then the One-Cancels-Other order automatically is activated.

Via EPR Network
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The Children’s Mutual Reports Kids Unaffected By Recession This Christmas

According to research by a leading Child Trust Fund (CTF) provider, The Children’s Mutual, children in the UK are set for a bumper Christmas this year, receiving £5 billion of presents. With generous friends and family set to spend 20% more than last year on youngsters, it seems the recession is not impacting kids’ stockings just yet.

The average UK child will receive £380 worth of presents this year, compared to £316 in 2008. In total, UK kids will have over £4 billion worth of toys and other presents underneath their trees, along with £960 million in cash, with each child receiving an average of £73. More than a quarter of lucky UK children will get £100 or more.

The Children’s Mutual is urging parents to take advantage of the generosity of friends and family this Christmas by asking them to invest in a present that could last a lifetime.

David White, Chief Executive of The Children’s Mutual, said: “It’s great news that the recession is not affecting kids’ stockings this Christmas. However we are urging parents to think about their children’s futures and ask friends and family to invest a portion of this money for the long-term.”

The Children’s Mutual also found that a lot of money is spent on presents that often don’t last for more than a couple of months.

David White continued: “Around £200 is spent on presents that won’t make it past Easter, but if this money was invested in a Child Trust Fund each year, it could be worth £6,100* by the time it matures when the child turns 18. This way friends and family can give a gift that could last well beyond the child’s 18th birthday and providing them with a nest egg for the future.”

According to figures from The Children’s Mutual, top ups into Child Trust Funds get a timely boost at Christmas with an average increase in ad hoc payments of just under 25% during the festive period.

Child Trust Funds are designed to provide a tax efficient, long term savings vehicle for all eligible children (born on or after 1 September 2002). Each newborn child receives a £250 Child Trust Fund voucher (£500 for low income families) from the Government when their parents register for Child Benefit. The Government will make a second contribution of £250 (£500 for low income families) when the child reaches seven and is considering a third in the child’s teenage years. Parents, family and friends can all then add to this account up to a maximum value of £1,200 each year.

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The Children’s Mutual Launches What I Want To Be Webmercial

The Children’s Mutual, a leading Child Trust Fund provider, has captured the career aspirations of kids in the UK in its new webmercial and microsite.

Dressed to reflect the most popular career choices, babies from seven to 11 months are seen acting out different job roles in the 50 second web ad.

The What I Want To Be webmercial was prompted by research from The Children’s Mutual into the dream jobs of the nation’s children entitled What I Want To Be. Every year the research tracks the career aspirations of children as they grow up, to explore how social and economic factors might affect their ultimate career choices.

The brains behind the ad, Head of Online at The Children’s Mutual and dad of one, Nathan King said: “We wanted to engage with a new generation of parents who enjoy and respond to online media. We understand families and their desire to help their children fulfil their ambitions. So while the ad and microsite are a lot of fun our products support parents in helping their children to reach their goals.”

The project isn’t the first time The Children’s Mutual has broken new ground as a CTF provider. The family finance specialist also created the first branded CTF TV advert encouraging parents to save for their children as well as a recently launched animated guide to the Child Trust Fund. The webmercial and CTF microsite now form part of the company’s evolving social media engagement strategy.

According to King: “Personal finance is very few people’s favourite subject but it is a crucial part of daily life. As a family finance specialist we want to try everything we can to help make saving and planning for the future as engaging and straightforward as it can be.”

Child Trust Funds are designed to provide a tax efficient, long term savings vehicle for all eligible children. Each eligible newborn child (born on or after 1 September 2002) receives a£250 Child Trust Fund voucher (£500 for low income families) from the Government when their parents register for Child Benefit. The Government will make a second contribution of £250 (£500 for low income families) when the child reaches seven and is considering a third in the child’s teenage years. Parents, family and friends can all then add to this account up to a maximum value of £1,200 each year.

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Animated Guide To Child Trust Funds

Leading Child Trust Fund provider The Children’s Mutual is pleased to announce the launch of a new cartoon guide to Child Trust Funds – the first of its kind in the marketplace.

The cartoon guide is a five minute animation in a graphic style reminiscent of perennial children’s favourite, Fuzzy Felt. During the film, busy new mum, Mel, (and baby Emily) explain what the Child Trust Fund is, the different sorts of funds that are available, their individual features, how to find a provider and how to go about applying for a fund.

The Child Trust Fund guide has additional link-back buttons at the end that allow viewers to go directly back to sections of particular interest and watch them again. It also gives clear direction to alternative information sources including HMRC.

Marketing Director, Tony Anderson, said: “We appreciate that new parents have very little free time and when they do get a chance to sit down they aren’t necessarily in the mood to wade through financial paperwork or regulatory terminology. But they still want to be sure that they are making the right choices for their children. This is where our animated guide provides a completely new approach to helping customers – through carefully chosen language and functionality. It provides all the salient information about CTFs in easy to understand language and simple to access bite size sections.”

The cartoon guide can be viewed at The Children’s Mutual’s own website and is also available for publications and sites to host themselves to help their own audiences to more easily understand the Child Trust Fund.

Tony concluded: “Opening a Child Trust Fund account can seem like a daunting task, but with our new guide it needn’t be. All we ask is that parents give us just five minutes of their time to help them make an informed decision.”

Child Trust Funds are designed to provide a tax efficient, long term savings vehicle for all eligible children. Each eligible newborn child (born on or after 1 September 2002) receives £250 (£500 for low income families) from the government when their parents register for Child Benefit. The Government will make a second contribution of £250 (£500 for low income families) when the child reaches seven and is considering a third in the child’s teenage years. Parents, family and friends can all then add to this account up to a maximum value of £1,200 each year.

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The Children’s Mutual Launches CTF Cashback Site

The Children’s Mutual, leading Child Trust Fund provider, has revealed that expectant parents can earn over £200 by using its new shopping portal CTFCashback.co.uk to kit out their babies’ nurseries.

Research shows that on average, British parents spend £3,383 decorating and furnishing a nursery with a further £605 spent on prams, buggies and car seats. If parents did this shopping through CTF Cashback, they could be earning financial rewards of up to £215.

Free to use, the site enables online shoppers to build up cash in £10 increments which can be placed directly into a bank account or a Child Trust Fund with The Children’s Mutual.

The site, which offers members up to 20% cash back and lists over 1,000 retailers – many with additional voucher codes – can help parents and the wider family continue to save as the baby grows up too. By using CTFCashback.co.uk to purchase ongoing essentials such as nappies and baby wear right through to buying presents and even holidays.

Tony Anderson, Marketing Director at The Children’s Mutual, said: “All parents quickly realise that buying everything they need and want for their child can be an expensive business. We created our CTF Cashback site to assist parents in getting great value for money on all their purchases, whilst being able to save towards their child’s future”.

Over 1,000 major retailers have already signed up to the scheme including leading brand favourites such as Mothercare, John Lewis, Kiddicare.com and Marks & Spencer. Collectively, retailers are offering www.CTFCashback.co.uk members average returns of over 5% through the site, with some offering up to 20% or lump sums of up to £85.

Tony Anderson continued, “When questioning expectant and new parents through our monthly poll, nearly 90 per cent* suggested that they would like to receive ‘money back’ for their nursery shopping. We have taken this one step further so, whether it’s buying baby grows and nappies or school uniforms and family holidays we wanted cash-strapped parents to be earning money every time they spend online. With so many pulls on household budgets, www.CTFCashback.co.uk offers a practical way of helping families to be savvy with their money and encourage them to save towards their children’s futures.”

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Barclaycard Announces 100 EAT Stores Across The UK To Go Contactless

Barclaycard has announced that EAT, a leading sandwich, soup and coffee shop, will rollout contactless technology and payment across its entire network of 100 stores from mid November. The rollout of contactless follows a successful pilot project in 24 London based EAT stores over the past 18 months.

The rollout, which began in March 2008 and will be completed by mid November, will see contactless payment available in EAT stores in a range of towns and cities across the UK including Manchester, Birmingham, Oxford and Cambridge. These stores join Barclaycard’s ever-expanding contactless payment network, with more than 9,000 outlets now accepting contactless payments across the UK.

Contactless allows customers to purchase items of £10 or under without the need to enter a PIN or sign, with customers requested to enter a PIN occasionally for added security.

Dan Salmons, Director of Payment Innovations at Barclaycard commented: “Contactless is the future of payments and we believe that contactless payment, via card or mobile phone, is one of the safest and most secure ways to pay. We welcome this rollout as it demonstrates how both consumers and retailers are benefiting from the convenience of quick, secure payments with contactless. Consumer feedback highlights the growing demand for contactless and we expect EAT to be amongst the first of many major retailers who will become contactless enabled over the coming months.”

Rene Batsford, Head of IT at EAT commented: “For the last 18 months we have accepted contactless payments in over 30 stores in London, and the success and feedback from our customers meant the decision to rollout contactless across our entire network, was an easy one to make. Customers across all our stores can now benefit from a fast, secure way to pay.”

Barclaycard and Barclays have issued over four million contactless enabled credit cards since Barclaycard OnePulse credit card launched in September 2007 and have the highest market share of contactless terminals in the UK. Other well-known brands such as Prêt a Manger, Coffee Republic, the National Trust, Books Etc and Yo Sushi also accept contactless payments.

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Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers Partner With NLA and SEF

National Lending Associates, Inc. (NLA) and Sterling Education Finance, LLC (SEF) announces their strategic partnership with the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers. Through this partnership, a new education financing solution called the Community Education Loan (CEL) will be provided to their member banks. “Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers is pleased to have the opportunity to recommend to our member banks a turnkey private education product which can be customized to meet the needs of our constituents” said Richard K. Arnold, Senior Vice President/Chief Operating Officer. “Today, students and their families are finding it more difficult to obtain financing for a college education due to the continued financial pressures on traditional lenders because of the instability of the financial markets. This is a great opportunity for the financial institution to offer an alternative loan program, as well as better serve their customer base.”

The Community Education Loan program allows community banks to develop their own student loan offering without additional staffing or resources. This program is completely managed by NLA and SEF including product development, application origination, credit decisioning, disbursement processing, and loan portfolio administration services, with loan servicing being performed by PHEAA/AES. PHEAA/AES is one of the largest and most respected student loan servicers in the country.

“We are delighted that Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers has chosen to promote the CEL program to their member banks,” said Nancy Chalker, Regional Vice President at Sterling Financial and the relationship manager for this program. “By combining the in-depth knowledge and strength of the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers and the private loan expertise of both NLA and SEF, we are able to bring a quality private education loan solution to this marketplace.“

For more information on the Community Education Loan go to (www.sterlingeducationfinance.org), contact Pat Cook at (828) 335-1092 or Nancy Chalker at (570) 899-1595.

About National Lending Associates, Inc.
Based in San Diego, California, with offices in Ohio, Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania and New York, National Lending Associates, Inc., is a nationwide specialty service company focused on providing financing solutions, loan and portfolio administration services, and technology options for the education financing marketplace (www.nationallendingassociates.com).

About Sterling Education Finance, LLC
Sterling Education Finance, LLC is an innovative education financing company dedicated to the larger mission of ensuring access to education. Our product suite is designed to offer financing solutions for every private K-12, career and trade institution, college or university based on the institution’s unique needs as well as the needs of the student and families they serve. We have a select group of origination, funding and servicing partners and all of our products are fully supported by our team of industry veterans.

About Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency/American Education Services
Created in 1963 by the Pennsylvania General Assembly, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA/AES) has evolved into one of the nation’s leading nonprofit student aid organizations. Today, PHEAA/AES is a national provider of student financial aid services, serving millions of students and thousands of schools through its loan guaranty, loan servicing, financial aid processing systems and outreach programs. As a nonprofit organization belonging to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, PHEAA/AES devotes its energy, resources and imagination to developing innovative ways to ease the financial burden of higher education for Pennsylvania’s students, families, schools and taxpayers.

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The Rise Of Stay At Home Dads

According to new research by leading Child Trust Fund (CTF) provider, The Children’s Mutual, contrary to concerns of an allegedly worsening work/life balance in the UK, many fathers are electing to be at home either full or part-time, looking after their little ones and taking care of the house. Figures refer to The Children’s Mutual Working and Stay at Home Dads research, undertaken by 72 Point. 2,187 dads interviewed in June 2009.

Following the birth of their children, 26% of dads decided to work part-time and nearly as many (24%) started working flexibly. 14% of dads chose to stop working outside the home altogether.

43% of these dads are responding to the current recession by spending even more time helping around the house, with only 27% feeling that they now need to become more focused on earning money.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, stay-at-home dads spend the greatest amount of their time each week looking after the children (4hrs 22mins) and cooking (3hrs 50mins), as well as arranging the family finances (3hrs 45mins). And even though they have more time to be with their children than full-time working dads, stay-at-home dads wished they could spend a further hour a day with their children.

David White, Chief Executive of The Children’s Mutual, said: “The changing role of dads within families is a positive step towards the greater recognition of what dads can and do contribute to family life. Dads play a vital role within their children’s lives and their homes, so it’s great to see these changing family dynamics.

“One of the most important roles for every dad is being a provider for his children, whether that’s as the main breadwinner or as the lead carer. Dads want to provide for their children now and will want to continue to do so as they grow up. One way dads can really help provide for their children is planning for the future and saving regularly over the long term. Contributing towards a Child Trust Fund is one of the ways dads can save for their children’s futures. By opening a Child Trust Fund early and saving regularly and encouraging friends and family to contribute too, dads can help to give their children a financial springboard into adulthood.”

Child Trust Funds are designed to provide a tax efficient, long term savings vehicle for all eligible children. Each eligible newborn child (born on or after 1 September 2002) receives a £250 Child Trust Fund voucher (£500 for low income families) from the Government when their parents register for Child Benefit. The Government will make a second contribution of £250 (£500 for low income families) when the child reaches seven and is considering a third in the child’s teenage years. Parents, family and friends can all then add to this account up to a maximum value of £1,200 each year.

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Recession Raises Fear Of Identity Theft

New research from Lloyds TSB has revealed 76% of adults are currently worried about identity theft and 39% feel more at risk now than they did six months ago, with the recession playing a major contributing factor. The research was conducted September 2009 by ICM for Lloyds TSB amongst 1,000 UK adults aged 18+ years.

Over half (52%) of those concerned about ID theft believe that the recession has increased the risk as rising unemployment drives more people towards criminal activity and ID theft. Coupled with this, is the fear expressed by 57% of people that social networking sites have made it easier to steal personal details – a 10% increase on those with the same worries last year.

The study shows that as many as 38% of Brits have experienced ID fraud, with almost half of those (18%) having been victims personally. However, 57% of those surveyed admit that they have not done enough to protect themselves and 25% don’t know how.

According to CIFAS, the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service, it takes an estimated 48 man hours to repair the damage resulting from fraud, and the cost to victims is frequently as high as £8,000. Typically, it takes an average of 539 days for someone to discover that they’ve been a victim of ID theft and it is on the increase; latest CIFAS figures show that it increased by 15% in 2008.

To combat this growing trend, Lloyds TSB has launched its ID Aware prevention and advisory service to help protect customers and bring them peace of mind.

Lloyds TSB’s ID Aware product allows customers to stay on top of their credit status and safeguard their identity, providing credit monitoring services and an early warning system to alert the customer to any activity involving their account. In addition, customers benefit from access to their credit status and payment history in one easy-to-understand document showing all credit cardsmortgages and loans. Credit alerts to warn the customer in the event that someone has been checking their credit status or doing anything fraudulent that affects their credit score. And if the worst should happen, expert help is on-hand. ID Aware provides 24 hour access to an advisor who will take control and set everything back on track.

Jatin Patel, spokesperson for Lloyds TSB commented: “As technology improves, it gets easier and easier for criminals to steal our identities and during tough economic times the temptation becomes greater. Protecting ourselves by shredding documents and protecting passwords is a good start, but having someone else keep an eye on your ID offers extra peace of mind.”

Lloyds TSB is also offering help and guidance through the National Identity Fraud Prevention Week (NIFP) which Lloyds TSB has supported from its birth in 2005. The Group will be putting up posters and providing leaflets in branches detailing ways to spot potential fraud. The bank is also giving information on how customers can protect themselves by safeguarding documents and making it as difficult as possible for criminals to access personal information.

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Debt Management Could Help Borrowers Approaching Retirement

Responding to new research suggesting that more than half of over-50s in Britain carry non-mortgage debt, debt management company Gregory Pennington has warned of the risks of carrying debt while approaching retirement, adding that good debt management is essential for anyone with problem debts.

Debt Management

Research from Moneysupermarket.com found that more than half (51%) of Britain’s over-50s population hold non-mortgage debt, at an average of £6,734.

Over the past 12 months, 17% of over-50s in debt have reduced their non-mortgage debt, according to the research, but 22% have taken on more debt in this time. 5% said their debt had increased “a lot”.

48% of over-50s whose debt had increased said they had gone further into debt in order to pay bills. 15% of those in debt said they believed debt would always be part of their life.

However, 48% of over-50s had reduced their outstanding borrowings over the past year, with 21% claiming to be in a lot less debt than they were a year previously.

Tim Moss, head of loans and debt at moneysupermarket.com, said: “… It’s encouraging to see that a good number of Brits aged over 50 are taking active steps to reduce the amount they owe.

“However, the fact that half of the people in this age group are still in debt above and beyond their mortgages is alarming. Those aged over 50 have to factor how long they can continue earning, and begin thinking seriously about their finances in retirement; debts that are currently easy to service could become a millstone round their neck in later retirement years.”

A spokesperson for Gregory Pennington said that trying to pay down debt in the run-up to retirement could affect the borrower’s ability to save adequately for retirement.

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Credit Conditions And Debt Consolidation Options

Commenting on the Q3 2009 Credit Conditions Survey from the Bank of England, Debt Advisers Direct noted that the ongoing credit crunch was still restricting access to credit – and therefore to the debt consolidation loans that could help many people stay in better control of their finances. Nonetheless, the debt specialists stressed that there were other debt solutions available, and that borrowers struggling to clear their debts should talk to an expert adviser and explore their options.

“The latest Credit Conditions Survey revealed that UK lenders, on average, anticipate further reductions in unsecured credit over the final quarter of 2009,” said a spokesperson for Debt Advisers Direct.

“As for secured credit, they expect ‘some increase’ in overall credit availability over the next three months – so they clearly don’t anticipate any changes that would really alter the state of the market at the moment.

“For many of the people currently ‘juggling’ multiple debts, this is a pity, as it means they can’t access the debt consolidation loan that could simplify their finances and reduce the monthly cost of servicing their debt.

“Equally important, debt consolidation loans can help people make their payments on time, avoiding the charges, legal problems and damage to their credit rating that can come with making payments late (or not at all). This isn’t ‘just’ because a debt consolidation loan can reduce the actual size of monthly payments. It can also make those payments far easier to organise and – perhaps more important – budget for, on a monthly basis.”

Even so, a debt consolidation loan is by no means the only approach to debt. In many cases, it’s not even the most appropriate one – people whose debts have become truly unmanageable should not even attempt to consolidate them with a loan, as this would be unlikely to make enough of a difference to their finances.

People who’ve lost control of their debts should discuss their situation with a professional debt adviser, who can take them through their alternatives and make sure they understand the pros and cons of every potential approach.

“For some,” the Debt Advisers Direct spokesperson continued, “a debt management plan can be the best way forward. It’s an informal (not legally binding) agreement with their unsecured lenders, often arranged by a professional debt management company. The aim is to reduce the individual’s monthly repayments to a level they can afford – once they’ve taken their essential expenditure into account – giving them an affordable, realistic way to clear their unsecured debts without ‘eating into’ the funds they need to stay on top of their mortgage/rent, utility bills, food bills, etc.

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Debt Advice Could Help Relieve Money Anxiety

Responding to a survey which found that two thirds of 18-24-year-olds frequently feel stressed or anxious – with money worries being cited as a main cause – insolvency specialists the IVA Advisory Centre said that anyone feeling anxious about their money problems should seek financial advice.

The company added that anyone facing debt problems should speak with an expert debt adviser about ways of clearing their debts.

A survey carried out by YouGov found that 66% of people in the 18-24 age group felt stressed or anxious at least once a week, with money and job concerns cited as the main cause.

Over all age groups, 45% of respondents reported money worries as a main cause of anxiety, with 33% saying the same about their job prospects.

Some said they would seek support from friends or family in this situation, but almost a third (31%) said they kept their worries to themselves.

The survey is by no means the first to link money worries with anxiety. Earlier this year, the London Health Forum estimated that 250,000 Londoners suffer from mental health problems as a result of debt, at a cost of £450m a year to the NHS.

A spokesperson for the IVA Advisory Centre said that anyone feeling anxious due to money problems should seek advice on ways to improve their finances as soon as they can.

The spokesperson added that if financial difficulty leads to debt, the borrower should not hesitate to get debt advice at the first sign of problems.

“Being in debt can be an extremely worrying situation, so it’s no wonder that this has contributed to a lot of worry and anxiety.

“For many people, part of the worry is that they feel like there is no way out. However, there is a lot an expert debt adviser can do to help people in debt, even if the borrower can’t see any way of ever repaying the debt in full.

“In some cases, a few words of advice might be all it takes. Some people find that they can make more room for their debt repayments by keeping to a strict budget, while others might be able to find areas in which they can cut back and reduce their outgoings.

“Of course, not everyone’s problems are as easily solved as that. For people who simply can’t afford to repay their debts, a debt adviser may be able to recommend a debt solution that could help them to reduce their debt repayments to a manageable level.

“For people who can’t afford their existing repayments but can afford to repay the debt in full over a longer period of time, a debt management plan could help. Or, for people who can’t see any way of ever repaying their debts, an IVA could help them to avoid bankruptcy and its potential downsides, such as the repossession of their home.

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Lloyds TSB is Hitwise UK Online Performance Award Winner

Lloyds TSB has been named the number one website in the Business and Finance – Banks and Financial Institutions category for January – June 2009 in the latest Hitwise UK Online Performance Awards program. The annual Hitwise UK Online Performance Awards recognise excellence in online performance through public popularity, awarding websites in more than 50 key industries online.

This year is the fifth Hitwise Annual Awards and Lloyds TSB has been awarded number one every year since the awards began.

In addition to the Internet Banking top spot, online.lloydstsb.co.uk was also awarded a Hitwise Top 10 Online Performance Award for January – June 2009, ranking number two based on market share of visits among all UK websites in the Hitwise Business and Finance – Banks and Financial Institutions industry.

Results of the Hitwise UK Online Performance Awards are based on the Internet usage of more than 8 million UK Internet users with winners receiving the greatest market share of UK visits throughout the first half of 2009 in their online industry.

Jason Bacon, head of Digital Marketing for Lloyds Banking Group which includes Lloyds TSB said: “The Internet has fast become one of the most popular ways for customers to get information about financial services and to do their banking. Over the years we made sure that our online services evolve to meet customers’ needs and as a result we’ve seen both our website and our internet banking service grow in popularity. This award is a fantastic recognition of that.”

Daniel King, General Manager of Hitwise UK said, “With the dynamics of online marketing continually evolving, the online success of LloydsTSB during 2009 is an incredible achievement. Receiving a Hitwise UK Online Performance Award acknowledges that Lloyds TSB is amongst the most popular websites visited by UK Internet users, signifying the strength of their online marketing”.

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Brits Will Spend More Than £1.7billion On Cat And Dog Food This Year

M&S Money has reported that Brits will spend more than £1.7billion on cat and dog food this year, and now the insurance provider is giving pet owners a chance to win a years’ supply of pet food.

Anyone who takes out or renews an M&S Pet Insurance policy before December 31st 2009 will be entered into a prize draw. There will be six prizes of Royal Canin dry pet food for one cat or one dog for one calendar year.

Last year £1.7billion (Estimated cost according to Mintel Report Pet Food and Pet Care Retailing, Retail Intelligence, October 2008) was spent on feeding the nation’s 14.5 million cats and dogs.

Consumers are becoming more concerned about what they feed their pets. A recent survey found that 90% of pet owners know that what they feed their pet affects is
health and therefore they want to feed their pets the best-quality food. High-quality premium foods are therefore a growing market sector.

Pet owners who want to keep their cats and dogs on a healthy diet but still keep costs down are increasingly turning to online pet stores. Bestpet, an online pet pharmacy and shop, has seen a 30% increase in sales of premium cat and dog food in the past year. The site sells pet medication and food costing up to 50% less than prices found at veterinary surgeries.

Charles Sweeney of Bestpet Pharmacy said: “Obesity is an increasing problem among cats and dogs. Pets that carry too much weight can suffer from heart complaints, diabetes and arthritis.

“Responsible pet owners who ensure their cats and dogs have a healthy diet and regular exercise can help reduce expensive vet bills in the future.”

M&S Pet Insurance policyholders can benefit from reduced pet food costs with a 5% discount from Bestpet.co.uk.

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Barclaycard Advises Customers To Use Mybarclaycard Following UK Postal Strike Fears

Barclaycard is advising its customers to manage their accounts online with its new online account management, mybarclaycard, following the announcement of a possible national postal strike in October.

The new mybarclaycard service offers Barclaycard customers a variety of secure online payment options, including one off payments and the setting up of regular direct debits so customers do not have to worry about missing a payment deadline.

mybarclaycard is simple to use and gives customers more control over their accounts as they can choose how to view their account information and spending online. Customers will also be able to view statements online, request a balance transfer, query or dispute a transaction and request a new credit limit quickly and securely.

To avoid the impact of prolonged postal problems Barclaycard customers can register online using a simple registration process which offers customers instant access to their account so there is no need to wait for login details to come through the post.

Amer Sajed, Chief Executive Barclaycard UK, said: “We want to make our customers’ lives as easy as possible and by managing their account online, customers can take control.

“Managing an account online with mybarclaycard will avoid the impact of issues such as postal strike action. If customers do not have access to internet facilities, they can make a payment over the phone.”

Via EPR Network
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Majority Of Over 50s Unaware Of October ISA Limit Increases

Lloyds TSB has revealed new research that shows two thirds (61 per cent) of over 50s do not understand the approaching ISA changes which will enable more than 21 million savers to benefit from an increased tax free savings allowance.

As part of this year’s budget, the Chancellor announced that the total ISA limits would increase from £7,200 to £10,200, £5,100 of which can be saved in cash. For those born on or before 5th April 1960 the new limits come into effect on October 6th, whilst younger customers will need to wait until the start of the 2010/2011 tax year next April.

Despite the imminent changes, the findings show that just 15 per cent of over 50s know that the new ISA limit will be set at £10,200. Four out of ten over 50s are not even aware that increases have been announced.

Lloyds Banking Group customers can take full advantage of the increased limits, as the Group has confirmed that all of its ISA products will accept top ups when the new rules come into effect on 6th October.

Colin Walsh, managing director of savings and investment, Lloyds Banking Group commented: “As the UK’s largest ISA provider, we want our customers to be able to reap the benefits of the new rules and make use of their entitlement. This historic low rate environment has meant a challenging time for savers, especially for those who rely on returns to supplement their monthly income, so maximising your full tax free allowance has never been more important.”

Savers will be able to top up their existing ISA balance in any of the Group’s fixed and variable rate cash ISAs, as well as investment ISA products. New customers can also take advantage of the new entitlement and open one of the competitive products offered by the Group’s ISA brands, which include Halifax, Lloyds TSB, Scottish Widows, Bank of Scotland, Cheltenham & Gloucester, Birmingham Midshires and Intelligent Finance.

Colin Walsh continued: “Traditionally the ISA transfer market peaks in April around the new tax year, but this year’s changes will no doubt result in a ‘mini ISA season’ as savers look to take advantage of competitive rates on an increased balance.”

Earlier this year, Lloyds Banking Group announced its participation in electronic transfers for the cash ISA market, allowing customers to benefit from a more efficient process and reducing the delays caused by sending cheques in the post.

Via EPR Network
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The Most Popular Baby Names In The UK Revealed By The Children’s Mutual

According to research by The Children’s Mutual, leading Child Trust Fund (CTF) provider, Jack and Olivia have maintained their position as the most popular baby names in the UK for a second year.

Jack leads the pack at the head of the Top 10 boys’ names, which have remained the same for the past two years. However, a review of almost 150,000 new CTF account holder names revealed that the girls’ names are more imaginative, varied and less traditional than the boys’ names.

With newcomers Amelia and Evie entering the list this year, the Top 10 girls’ names has had new entrants for the last three years despite Olivia clinching the top spot for the last two. Ava, Freya and Isabelle have entered the Top 20 for the first time. However in contrast, there have been falls for Grace, Lucy, Katie and Megan during 2009.

Within the top boys’ names there are some signs of influence from celebrity names, with Lewis racing into the Top 20 and both princes’ names, William and Harry, staying in the Top 10. Harry Potter also appears to have had some influence, with Harry and leading actor Daniel Radcliffe’s first name both having moved up the chart.

Tony Anderson, Marketing Director at The Children’s Mutual, said: “We’ve had lots of new children on our books in the past 12 months, with almost 150,000 new accounts opened, and it’s always interesting to see how the trends in babies names change each year. We realise that choosing a name can be daunting for parents as they want to give their child the best start in life.

“As well as the choice of name, parents should also be considering their child’s future and how they plan to save for important milestones such as university or a first car. If parents top up their child’s CTF monthly by £24 – the average amount saved by customers – these 2009 babies could receive a lump sum of over £9,750 when they reach 18.”

Child Trust Funds are designed to provide a tax efficient, long term savings vehicle for all eligible children. Each eligible child (born on or after 1 September 2002) receives a £250 (£500 for low income families) Child Trust Fund voucher from the Government when their parents register for Child Benefit. The Government will make a second contribution of £250 (£500 for low income families) when the child reaches seven and potentially a third in the child’s teenage years.

Via EPR Network
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Debt Levels Amongst Pensioners Are Increasing

Responding to a new report claiming that debt levels amongst pensioners are increasing, debt management company Gregory Pennington said that finding the right debt solution is important for anyone struggling with debt, regardless of age.

The company added that in particular, anyone approaching retirement age with debts that they may not be able to repay in time should contact a professional debt adviser to discuss the best way to clear their debts.

The research by pensions and investment provider Scottish Widows found that around 34% of retired people have ‘non-mortgage’ debts, such as credit cards and personal loans, with each owing an average of £7,344.

The figure is 9% higher than at the same point last year, and almost 25% higher than it was in 2007, suggesting that the problem has become no easier for pensioners as the economic downturn has progressed.

Meanwhile, the research found that almost one in six (15% of) retired people in the UK are still repaying their mortgage, with an average remaining debt of £50,100 – £8,000 higher than 2008’s figure.

In total, Scottish Widows claimed that pensioners owed a collective £90.4 billion – up from £72.3 billion last year.

Ian Naismith, Head of Pensions Market Development at Scottish Widows, said: “The situation for retirees in debt is not getting any better, and an increase of eight thousand in the average amount of mortgage debt is alarming.

“The recession has seemingly done nothing to encourage retirees to cut their debt, and with the possibility of the value of their property dwindling, they could be leaving themselves in a vulnerable position.

“Those in retirement should be able to enjoy life and not worry about the financial burden of debt, as well as their retirement income.”

A spokesperson for Gregory Pennington said: “Some people might assume that debt is a ‘young person’s problem’, but in a difficult economic climate we are all at risk. Pensioners, who often live on a much lower income than they did while they were working, can be particularly vulnerable.

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Lloyds TSB Is Encouraging New Students To Eat Healthily Whilst Staying Within A Budget With The Launch Of Its ‘Budget Cook Off’

Lloyds TSB is encouraging new students to eat healthily whilst staying within a budget with the launch of its ‘Budget Cook Off’ section of the Savvy Saver student hub, an all round guide for students, advising them on how to manage finances during their time at University.

The new section of the site contains practical tips for healthy eating with limited finances and also offers a video showing students putting the budget cooking tips into practice.

Included in the range of tips is information on how to make sure a healthy diet is maintained throughout the day, even when students are pushed for time or under stress from upcoming exams or deadlines. The ‘Budget Cook Off’ section also advises prospective students on how to find the best deals on food in the shops and habits to avoid, such as junk food and eating out, in order to make the most of their money.

The savvy student hub has been launched in response to student concerns about their finances. As part of its annual research* with more than a thousand 17-25 year olds who hope to start a degree course in the autumn, Lloyds TSB found that three quarters of would-be freshers think that money management is especially important in the current economic environment.

Catherine McGrath, director of current accounts, Lloyds TSB, commented: “We want to do everything we can to support young people manage their finances responsibly but also have fun and enjoy their studies. We hope the hub will show them that it is possible to study on a budget, and also that they’re not alone in being concerned about looking after their pennies during their degree course.”

Via EPR Network
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