Tag Archives: ISA

Virgin Money launches new ‘early bird’ ISA service

Virgin Money has launched a new ‘early bird’ ISA service for savers. By opening an Early Bird ISA Feeder, customers can use the service to start earning interest on next year’s ISA allowance now – without having to wait for the new tax year to start in April. The Early Bird ISA Feeder offers a competitive interest rate of 3.57% gross**/AER***, or 2.85% net, giving savers the same return as Virgin Money’s current variable cash ISA. The interest rate is fixed until 5 April 2012, following which the funds will automatically transfer into an Early Bird ISA for the new tax year.

The Early Bird ISA is a variable rate instant access cash ISA, paying 2.85%. This attractive headline rate offers good value for customers and it does not include a short term introductory bonus.

Accounts are available to open through Northern Rock branches, by post or by telephone, and savers can invest between £1 and the new 2012/13 cash ISA limit of £5,640.

Anthony Mooney, Mortgage and Savings Director at Virgin Money said: “Our new early bird ISA service means customers can take the hassle out of arranging their ISA for the next tax year by sorting it out early. Savers can earn an attractive interest rate between now and the start of the new tax year in our Early Bird ISA Feeder, safe in the knowledge that their money will automatically transfer into a tax-free ISA account in April.”

Interest earned on the Early Bird ISA Feeder will be paid to a nominated account on 5 April 2012, and does not allow any withdrawals or closure until the new tax year. Additional deposits can be made to the Early Bird ISA Feeder until 30 March 2012 up to a maximum of £5,640 per account. Once the funds have transferred into the Early Bird ISA, withdrawals can be made without notice, and additional deposits and transfers in from existing ISA accounts are permitted within HMRC regulations.

The Virgin Early Bird ISA Feeder and Virgin Early Bird ISA are personal deposit accounts with Northern Rock plc. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) provides protection to customers with these accounts under Northern Rock plc’s existing FSCS membership up to a maximum of £85,000 per person. The £85,000 limit relates to a customer’s combined deposits with Northern Rock plc under the Northern Rock and Virgin Money trading names.

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Northern Rock Honoured For Its Community Service

Northern Rock has announced that it was commended in the Mortgage Finance Gazette Awards for its dedication to community service. The honours were given just six months after Northern Rock was heralded among the most responsible businesses in the UK.

After receiving Business in the Community’s (BITC) national Big Tick for its work to tackle financial exclusion, the readers of Mortgage Finance Gazette have now commended the bank in its annual awards.

The magazine’s readers nominated the lender in recognition of its work in the voluntary sector, and the judges, including journalists from the national press, industry experts, and the editors of ‘What Mortgage’ and ‘Mortgage Finance Gazette,’ were particularly impressed by the bank’s staff involvement in the community as well as other fundraising and voluntary activities.

Representatives from Northern Rock collected the commendation in the ‘Community Services Award’ for large lenders at an event in the capital last night. The December edition of Mortgage Finance Gazette, a publication about mortgages and the mortgage industry, features coverage of the event.

Northern Rock’s Customer and Commercial Director Andy Tate said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive a further commendation for our work in the community, and it is wonderful that our dedication to embedding this as part of our organisational culture is being recognised.

“Awards like this are further endorsement of the valuable role Northern Rock and its colleagues play in supporting its local communities, particularly those facing financial difficulty.”

Judge Joanne Atkin, Editor of Mortgage Finance Gazette said that she and her colleagues had had had a difficult job and that those who had been highly commended were truly deserving. She added: “Community is at the core of Northern Rock’s business strategy which is framed and communicated through four Cs – colleague, customer, company and community.

“Community within Northern Rock is about giving of both time and money. The Samaritans is Northern Rock’s corporate charity of the year but it also works with a number of good causes: Women’s Aid, a fight against domestic violence; The Cyrenians, which operates refuges for the homeless around the UK; Shelter, Crisis, The People’s Kitchen and a partnership which enables a small community-based bank to relieve the financial hardship of individuals and families resulting from poor money management, unmanageable levels of high interest debt and no savings.”

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Northern Rock Video Investigates Money Worries

Northern Rock’s latest video has put consumers in the spotlight as they reveal that by far their biggest money worry is paying the mortgage each month.

The bank took to the streets to find out what concerns people most about their finances, and the overwhelming majority of consumers confirmed their mortgage payment was their biggest financial worry.

As recent research undertaken by Northern Rock showed, many UK mortgage borrowers coming to the end of their fixed rate deal could be better off if they took a mortgage with Northern Rock. The bank is confident it can help reduce this concern for customers, and put them back in control of their finances.

Lloyd Cochrane, Head of Lending Products at Northern Rock said: “Fixed rate pricing across the market is at an all-time low and we continue to offer some very attractive deals, as well as our Freedom to Fix option, a Tracker which gives customers the opportunity to fix if interest rates should start to rise.

“We believe we can help many of these consumers to reduce their anxiety over their monthly mortgage payment by helping them find a Northern Rock mortgage that works for them. Whether you’d like the security of knowing what your payment will be for the next two years or you’re looking for more flexibility, we’re sure we have an option to suit you.”

More information on Northern Rock’s current range of mortgages can be found at its award-winning mortgages website, located at

The site also includes a range of interactive tools, such as a jargon buster, budget planner and mortgage calculator, to help take the complexity out of selecting the right mortgage.

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Northern Rock Launches Competitive New Fixed Rate Cash e-ISAs

Northern Rock has launched three new online issues of its Fixed Rate Cash e-ISA to complement its competitive portfolio of internet-based savings accounts.

The e-ISA offers those who prefer to operate their accounts via the internet an online option for their tax-free savings. The e-ISA is a cash ISA set at a competitive fixed rate of interest over a choice of one, two or three years and can be opened with no minimum initial deposit.

Interest, which can be added to the account or paid into another account, is paid annually on the first business day following 5 August on minimum balances of £500 (balances which fall below this amount will earn Northern Rock’s prevailing rate of interest, 0.10% tax free pa /AER).

Strictly limited issues, the Fixed Rate Cash e-ISAs (issues 25, 26 and 27) allow transfers in from other providers and additional deposits can be made to the cash ISAs, within HM Revenue and Customs limits (£5,340 per tax-year from 6 April 2011) within 30 days after the product is withdrawn (excepting postal applications to transfer in from other banks and building society ISA accounts, which must be received while the product remains on sale).

To ensure funds are accepted into new accounts, Northern Rock must receive all funds within 30 days from the account opening date. Therefore, individuals must initiate any Cash ISA transfers in as soon as they receive their new Cash ISA details. After the 30 day period one may not be able to make any additional deposits into the Cash ISA. Subscriptions are not allowed to any other Cash ISAs in the same tax year(s) that one subscribes to this Cash ISA, even if the full annual allowance(s) haven’t been used.

Thirty days following the products withdrawal, no further deposits will be accepted and all three issues may be withdrawn without notice, once fully subscribed.

Minimum withdrawals of £1 by BACS and £250 by CHAPS can be made, subject to a charge equivalent to 60 days’ loss of interest on the amount withdrawn (Issue 25), 90 days’ loss of interest on the amount withdrawn (Issue 26), or 120 days’ loss of interest on the amount withdrawn (Issue 27). There is a £35 fee for transfers out via CHAPS.

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Northern Rock Staff Star In Latest Campaign To Help Bring Mortgages To Life

Northern Rock has placed its own staff in a starring role in its new mortgage campaign. The new campaign aims to build on the success of the helpful video guides available on its award winning mortgages website.

Two customer service agents from the lender’s Tyneside call centre are the first to have lent themselves to the latest campaign – ‘Mortgages Made For You’ – by appearing in video clips designed to bring their own warmth and personality to the business of mortgage lending.

The videos, which feature call centre workers Leanne and Joanne, along with some details about their own lives and circumstances, highlight not only that the bank’s staff are there to guide borrowers through every step of their mortgage journey, but also feature details of the lender’s popular incentives, Cashback, and free basic valuation and standard legal costs for all re-mortgage customers.

The move comes just months after the successful launch of the bank’s brand campaign, ‘Works for Me’, which features real Northern Rock customers pictured in their own homes, and is the latest improvement to a website which has won a string of accolades since its redesign last year.

Andy Tate, Customer and Commercial Director at Northern Rock said: “Buying a home can be stressful and daunting for anyone. Here at Northern Rock, we regularly receive great feedback from our customers about how friendly and warm our staff are to deal with, and how straightforward they help make the mortgage journey.

“So, building on ‘Works for Me’, which is all about letting our customers speak for us, we thought our dedicated colleagues in our branches and contact centre would provide the perfect next step. After all, they are the human face of Northern Rock, providing the first point of contact to all our customers.

“We hope our customers will find the most recent videos, and ‘Mortgages Made for You’, a welcome addition to the website.”

The videos can be viewed at www.northernrock.co.uk/mortgages/Mortgages-Made-For-You along with more details on the bank’s current range of mortgages and other tools including a mortgages calculator.

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Northern Rock Introduces New Online Reward Instant Access Account For Savers

Northern Rock has launched a new competitive Online Reward account, adding further options to its flexible savings range.

For those who prefer the convenience of the internet with which to manage their savings, Online Reward, which is available to open with a minimum deposit of £5,000, pays a competitive interest rate of 3.11% gross* pa/AER** variable on balances over £5,000, which includes a bonus rate of 1.61% gross* for the first 12 months from account opening. (Balances falling below this rate will receive Northern Rock’s prevailing rate of interest which is 0.10% gross* pa/AER** variable).

Those who prefer a monthly interest option can choose to receive 3.07% gross* variable (3.11% AER**), and additional deposits can be made up to the maximum balance of £100,000. Only one account per customer per issue is allowed.

Interest can be paid annually on 11 March. Alternatively, interest can be paid monthly on the 10th day of the month (available next business day or three days following this if the funds are sent via BACS to an external account).

Withdrawals from Online Reward can be made via a nominated bank or building society account without notice or charge (there is a £35 fee if customers choose to transfer via CHAPS). The minimum withdrawal amount is £1.

To apply for Online Reward, interested parties can visit www.northernrock.co.uk, or for more information regarding Northern Rock’s other savings products, call 0845 631 5151 (calls are charged at the service provider’s prevailing rate and may be monitored and recorded).

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Northern Rock Reduces Mortgage Rates by Up to 0.90%

Northern Rock has reduced rates across its mortgage range by up to 0.90% and extended its £500 cash back incentive to include all Buy to Let (BTL) products with percentage fees.

Northern Rock’s 2-Year Everyday fixed rates with a £995 product fee now start from 2.67% for purchase and re-mortgage customers with a 30% deposit (70% LTV), a reduction of 0.32%. For those who wish to keep their costs as low as possible however, 2-year Everyday fixed rates with no product fees, start from 3.19% at 70% LTV.

Northern Rock remains committed to assisting those with smaller deposits, including First Time Buyers. It has therefore reduced selected mortgage rates across its products at 80% LTV (20% deposit required), 85% LTV (15% deposit required) and 90% LTV (10% deposit required). A 2-Year Everyday fixed rate mortgage at 90% LTV exclusively for purchase customers, is now available from just 5.25% with a £995 product fee. Customers will also qualify for £500 cash back. Or for those who choose our Fee Saver Option, the same term is available at just 5.45%.

Following demand from BTL customers who welcomed Northern Rock’s recent limited period offer of £750 cash back across the BTL range, the lender has also extended its £500 cash back incentive on selected residential products, to include all BTL products with a percentage fee.

Selected fixed rates in the Intermediary Exclusive range of mortgage products have also been reduced by up to 0.30%.

Everyday mortgages offer customers simple, straightforward mortgage deals with competitive rates and the ability to make overpayments of up to 10% each year, as well as the option to apply for payment holidays. Northern Rock continues to operate its mortgage product range within the constraints of the competitive measures agreed with the European Commission.

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Northern Rock Adds Helpful Savings Video Guide To Its Website

Northern Rock has added another helpful video guide to its interactive savings website to help consumers with their savings choices.

The video – Northern Rock’s Guide to Savings – is the third guide in the series recently introduced by the bank to add a further dimension to its award-winning website. Existing videos include Northern Rock’s Guide to ISAs and First Time Buyers Guide, which can be viewed on the Northern Rock website alongside the new addition.

The newest guide is designed to help customers make the most of their money in an accessible way, by highlighting the need to consider debt and budgeting as well as the benefits of the wide range of competitively priced savings products on offer at Northern Rock.

The colourful video guide, which is also available via the bank’s YouTube channel, covers key areas such as planning for emergencies and saving for a rainy day.

Northern Rock offers a range of variable and fixed rate savings products, including online savings accounts, instant-access products and tax-free savings options. Northern Rock also offers customers a free savings review.

Further detail about Northern Rock’s range of savings products is available on the website, which is populated with useful advice and information for different savings customer groups, financial planning information and at-a-glance guides to help people choose between different types of savings account.

The site also includes a range of interactive tools such as a jargon buster and budget planner to help take the complexity out of selecting the right savings product for a customer’s own individual circumstances, and a product calculator for each of Northern Rock’s products, such as a mortgage calculator and a calculator for its Cash ISA, to help work out the estimated return on investment.

Northern Rock customers also benefit from the bank’s unique savings promise. This is a commitment to its customers that it will provide a minimum of two months’ written notice of any reduction to the interest rate on their account. Where customers have a notice period for access to their funds of greater than two months, Northern Rock will give them that equivalent notice period of any reduction to their interest rate. Northern Rock will also write to all savings customers at least once a year with details of all its available variable rate savings accounts. And it will give savings customers a minimum of two months’ written notice of any changes to the terms and conditions of their account.

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Northern Rock Cuts Mortgage Rates

Northern Rock has reduced mortgage rates, making its range even more competitive. As well as reducing selected rates across its core mortgage range by up to 0.50%, it has improved its 2-Year Fixed rate deal available exclusively through Northern Rock’s intermediary partners. The product is now available at 2.99% for those with a 30% deposit (70% LTV).

All of the remaining reduced deals are available to both purchase and remortgage customers, the latter benefiting from Northern Rock’s usual incentive of a free basic valuation and free standard legal costs.

Northern Rock has reduced rates for customers with a 25% deposit. A 2-Year Everyday Fixed rate deal with a £995 product fee is available at 3.19% for those with a 25% deposit (75% LTV). The same deal is available without a product fee, priced at 3.65%.

Alternatively, those with a 25% deposit (75% LTV) can choose a 3-Year Fixed rate mortgage with a £995 product fee at 3.93%, and a 5-Year deal with a £995 product fee is 4.59% up to 75% LTV. Those who choose not to pay a product fee, can secure the same product at 4.79%.

Competitive Buy to Let rates start from 3.39% for a 2-Year Everyday Fixed rate mortgage with a 3.5% product fee, up to 60% LTV. Those preferring a flat fee of £1,995 can choose a 2-Year Fixed rate up to 60% LTV, priced at 4.79%.

Everyday mortgages offer customers simple, straightforward mortgage deals with competitive rates and the ability to make overpayments of up to 10% each year, as well as the option to apply for payment holidays. Northern Rock continues to operate its mortgage product range within the constraints of the competitive measures agreed with the European Commission.

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Northern Rock Wins Prestigious National Big Tick Award

Northern Rock has been heralded among the most responsible businesses in the UK after receiving Business in the Community’s (BITC) coveted national Big Tick for its work to tackle financial exclusion in partnership with credit unions.

The Big Tick award is the first level of award available to entrants of the national BITC Awards for Excellence, which recognises inspirational programmes that are making a positive impact on the community, the environment or wider society.

Northern Rock’s contribution, which involved volunteers skilled in a number of disciplines, helping to rebrand and relaunch South Tyneside Credit Union as Bridges Your Community Bank, has also been shortlisted for consideration for the title of Example of Excellence – the overall winner for the Building Stronger Communities category.

The final results will be announced at the BITC Awards for Excellence Gala Event, sponsored by Unilever, which will be held at the Royal Albert Hall on 5 July.

Northern Rock’s Customer and Commercial Director Andy Tate said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive this Big Tick in recognition of our important work in the local community, in this instance for our work with Bridges.

“We are also honoured to have been shortlisted for the overall Example of Excellence and we are very proud of what has been achieved through the dedication of our staff.”

Stephen Howard, Chief Executive of Business in the Community said: “I congratulate Northern Rock on achieving its Big Tick. It is a challenging time for business, but this is a sign that companies are not losing their focus and are transforming their businesses to make a positive impact on people and society; and are prepared to lead by example. That’s what Business in the Community’s Awards for Excellence is all about – celebrating responsible business, the leadership that makes it happen and the benefits to the business and society of doing so.

“Communities and consumers need to see that businesses are proactive, visible and engaged on the big issues of the day, as Northern Rock has demonstrated.”

Representatives from Northern Rock will be presented with the Big Tick award at a regional celebration event at the Gateshead Hilton at the end of June.

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Standard Life Reveals That One In Six Don’t Plan Their Future Finances

Standard Life has found that people in the UK live for the moment rather than the long term, with more than one in six (17%) failing to plan their finances at all, according to recent research from the savings and investments company.

The research, which looks into the UK’s fascination with living for now, finds that almost half of Brits (45%) only plan their finances just a year ahead, or less, with only a fifth of them (22%) planning up to five years into the future. Alarmingly, only one in six people (16%) plan more than six years ahead which underlines the real necessity for the UK to start addressing their long term savings plan. Doing this is critical if they are to be financially secure, achieve their future goals and live the lifestyle they want.

Of the UK regions, it was found that those from London were the top financial planners, with one in six (17%) planning six years or more ahead. In contrast, those from Scotland came out as the least likely to make long term financial plans, with only one in ten (11%) planning more than six years ahead.

To find out more about the nation’s attitudes to planning for the future, Standard Life is launching a UK-wide poll and prize draw and linking up with boutique hotel specialist i-escape.com. Entrants have to vote on which prize they would prefer; a short break this year with accommodation from i-escape.com, or a holiday of a lifetime in five years. The results will show whether people in the UK favour instant gratification or greater long term rewards. This issue of desiring instant gratification presents an on-going challenge for the UK because people are living longer and their financial security cannot be guaranteed. It represents a huge challenge for providers and advisers who are keen to help consumers plan ahead so they can look to the future with confidence and optimism.

Bruce Kelsall, group and UK marketing director at Standard Life, said: “The growth in our ageing population has created a dramatic need to shift from a culture of spending to one of saving. People are completely comfortable making financial plans for a summer holiday; planning and investing in your future is no different. You may have to finance your lifestyle up to the age of 90 or even longer and while planning for this eventuality is essential, it needn’t be stressful. Even the smallest actions now can have a dramatic effect on your long term finances.”

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Northern Rock has announced the launch of its Easy ISA Issue 2

Following the success of its recently launched Easy ISA, Northern Rock has improved the variable rate cash ISA account, which offers a competitive tax-free* interest rate for a minimum deposit of just £1.

Easy ISA can now be opened and administered by post, as well as in branch.

The Easy ISA Issue 2 account provides a variable rate of interest, and easy access to savings funds. With a minimum deposit of £1, a competitive flat rate of 2.65% tax free*/AER** pa, and the option to transfer across any existing Cash ISAs, Easy ISA makes sense. Balances below £1.00 will earn the basic savings rate of 0.10% tax free* per annum and deposits into the Variable Rate Easy ISA will be allowed from all Northern Rock variable rate accounts, instant access and notice accounts. Transfers from online accounts must be made via the nominated bank account. Transfers in from other organisations are allowed.

The product welcomes additional deposits and transfers within HM Revenue and Customs limits (£5,340 pa from 6 April 2011). Interest, which can be added to the account or paid into another account, is paid annually on 30 November and will be available the next business day.

Charge-free and notice-free withdrawals and transfers (minimum £1) can also be made from the account (there is a £35 fee for transfers via CHAPS).

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Northern Rock Launches Improved e-ISA Issue 2

Northern Rock has launched a new issue of its online variable rate ISA to complement its competitive portfolio of branch, postal and online savings accounts.

e-ISA Issue 2 offers those who prefer to operate their savings accounts via the internet, an online option for their tax-free* savings. e-ISA is a variable rate Cash ISA set at a competitive rate of interest.

Northern Rock’s customer and commercial director Andy Tate said: “Our customers want options. They want to be able to choose the best account to meet their individual needs, whether that be tax-free or not, and variable or fixed rate.

“We are pleased to increase our ISA rates, as the previous issue was well received by our customers and the market as a whole.”

For customers who prefer to earn a variable rate of interest on their tax-free* savings, variable rate e-ISA Issue 2 can be opened with no initial deposit.

Interest, which can be added to the account or paid into another account, is paid annually on the first business day following the 11 March and available the next business day on minimum balances of £1.00 (balances which fall below this amount will earn Northern Rock’s prevailing rate of interest, 0.10% tax free*/AER** pa).

e-ISA Issue 2 allow transfers in from other providers and additional deposits can be made to the Cash ISA, within HM Revenue and Customs limits (£5,340 pa from 6 April 2011) up to 30 days after the product is withdrawn.

Minimum withdrawals of £1 by BACS and £250 by CHAPS can be made from the account.
There is a £35 fee for transfers out via CHAPS.

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Northern Rock Plc Launches New Savings Website

Northern Rock plc has launched a new interactive savings website to make it easier for customers to find a Northern Rock savings product from the competitive range available.

The new savings website follows the introduction of Northern Rock’s award-winning Mortgages website, which was launched in April 2010.

The new site offers helpful advice and practical information, as well as full details on Northern Rock’s savings products.

For those customers thinking about investing their savings, at-a-glance guides are available to help them choose which savings product, such as savings accounts or anISA; best suits their needs; whether they’re new to Northern Rock or an existing Northern Rock customer. For those customers who are not sure which savings product they wish to use there is an in depth learning section explaining what Northern Rock’s products are all about, and offering helpful advice and practical information. Customers will also be able to make use of a budget planner to help them plan their finances.

For those looking more closely into applying for a savings product, such as a Cash ISA, the new website contains information about Northern Rock’s entire suite of savings accounts and a selector tool to help narrow down and filter their selection as well as a range of tools which help customers cut through the jargon. Customers will also have the option of being able to use a product calculator for each of Northern Rock’s products to help work out their estimated return on investment.

Northern Rock has also made it easier for its existing customers to find their existing accounts and any supporting information they might need to manage them.

Customers can now select a suitable savings product, which they can save and come back to at a later date, or begin their application online. Or if they feel they need further information, customers can call the dedicated Northern Rock savings team at their UK based contact centre to find out more.

Andy Tate, customer and commercial director at Northern Rock said: “The new website is a fantastic tool, developed for our customers, with the aim of improving the whole process of evaluating and applying for a savings product.

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UK Savers Losing Billions Of Pounds In ISA Accounts Each Year

As billions of pounds of British savers money is being lost in ISA accounts, the government’s consumer watchdog Consumer Focus is due to launch an official complaint on the matter. The move which could potentially ‘shake up the ISA industry’ is a long time coming suggests Matt Spencer, founder of UK based personal finance blog Moneystand.co.uk.

Consumer Focus have highlighted numerous ‘unfair obstacles’ financial providers have put in place for savers to transfer their accounts to other banks, which pay higher interest rates.

The cash ISA market is currently worth around £158 billion, as savers flocked to the tax free service introduced in 1999. Upon its launch rates averaged a healthy 6.32 %, however this figure has plummeted to 0.42 %, a figure that is below the Bank of England base rate.

Mike O’Connor, chief executive of Consumer Focus suggests that a slow ISA transfer process and bureaucracy from the banks has caused many of these problems. He suggests that only 12 % of people have moved their ISAs to a more preferable savings rate, which is costing UK savers millions per year in lost revenue.

As a large consumer group, Consumer Focus can launch a ‘super-complaint’ to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). This would force the OFT to give an official response within 90 days to the matter and a decision over what action it would take towards the issue.

Common issues that arose include the length of time it takes for transfers to occur when sending funds and information from one bank to another. Official government guidelines recommend a limit of four weeks for this process. Findings from Consumer focus show that a third of people switching their ISAs waiting more than five weeks for funds to clear into the new account.

Customers should be wary when looking for a new ISA provider however warns Matt Spencer, suggesting:

“Banks are offering introductory rates with high interest levels to entice new customers to open new ISA accounts. These short term bonuses often hide very poor interest rates once the honeymoon period is over.

It’s time for savers to get the rates they deserve, so be sure to make your money is working as hard as possible for you. This might mean that you need to change your current ISA provider, despite the long transfer times between banks.”

Personal finance blog MoneyStand provides unbiased personal finance, IVA help and debt related information. Founded in 2008, MoneyStand was created in response to the worsening financial situation of individuals in the UK and across the world. For more information on personal finance, visit www.moneystand.co.uk.

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Research: Britons Not Yet Planning For New ISA Limits

NS&I has revealed new research that shows people across Britain are not yet planning for the changes to ISA entitlements this year and risk missing out on tax-free returns. Just 15% of Britons surveyed say they understand the new limits, which enables individuals to save up to £10,200 per year tax-free.

Research: Britons Not Yet Planning For New ISA Limits

Research shows that a quarter (25%) of those surveyed incorrectly believe ISA allowances will remain the same in the new financial year while 24% are aware new changes are due, but are unsure what these will be. A further 10% think the ISA limit will be higher for over 50 year-olds only, which is no longer the case once the changes come into effect

It is not just the changes to the ISA entitlement that Britons are unsure of, but ISAs in general.16% of those who are aware of ISAs say the reason they haven’t invested in an ISA is because they find it confusing, while one in ten people (10%) admit that saving money in an ISA this year has never occurred to them.

John Prout, Sales Director at NS&I said: “The fact that all interest earned in an ISA remains tax-free means it’s a must-have product for people looking to maximise their hard earned savings. Understanding the allowances and reviewing the terms of the product is vital for savers. With less than two months to go until the end of the tax year, there is no time like the present for everyone to check their finances and plan to benefit from tax-free savings.”

Uncertainty about ISAs can result in people failing to take full advantage of their entitlement. Just 16% say they will definitely use their full tax-free ISA allowance and feel it is important to do so. 15% of the population say they will take up a proportion, but do not expect to use all of it.

35% of people aware of ISAs have been put off the account in general by the current low ISA interest rates on offer, while under a third (29%) of people say they are not planning to use their full ISA allowance because they can’t afford to. A similar number of people (31%) say the current climate and outlook for 2010 means they will look at other financial products, rather than ISAs. 29% say wider economic pressures have also led them to start diversifying their financial portfolio, perhaps a reason for not using the full entitlement.

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Ruling Out Stock Market Investment Hits Long-Term Returns

Prudential has recently released new research that shows that one in four investors have ruled out a return to stock market investment in fear of losing money.

Around one in four potential investors – equivalent to 11.9 million people – are ruling out equity investments because of a lack of confidence in the stock market or because they don’t want to lose more money.

The FTSE-100’s 43 per cent surge from its low-point of 3,512.1 on March 3rd 2009 to more than 5,000 now has yet to convince millions of investors to return to stock market investing, Prudential believes.

But the retirement and savings giant warns that by ruling out stock market investments now, those people who can afford to save are potentially missing out on long-term gains delivered by the historically strong performance of shares.

The research shows 1.9 million – around 4 per cent of the population – have been put off investing more because of recent losses while approximately 12 per cent say they have no confidence in the stock market over the next 12 months and around another eight per cent say they have no confidence at all in the stock market.

Trevor Cheal, Retirement Savings Business Director for Prudential said: “The saying that it is not timing the markets but time in the markets that matters could never be more apt. Investors often act irrationally and driven by fear they sit out the markets as they begin to recover, missing out on some potentially spectacular gains.”

Prudential research shows that 32 per cent of those who do not intend investing in the stock market would be convinced to do so if they could be guaranteed they would not lose money, while 13 per cent say they will invest if the market shows strong signs of recovery. Another 6 per cent would do so if they had access to expert advice on where to invest.

However 25 per cent of those who reject stock market investments say there is nothing that could convince them to return to the stock market.

There are investors willing to buy however, with 9 per cent of the population – 4.3 million people – planning to invest directly in shares with another 11 per cent – 5.2 million people – planning to buy unit trusts or an ISA.

But direct equity investment is not the only option as Prudential’s Trevor Cheal, points out: “It is understandable that in volatile markets, investors may not want all their eggs in one basket and multi-asset funds which provide diversification can give them some degree of comfort while still giving the investor exposure to the stock market. Those who feel they lack the knowledge to manage a diversified portfolio should consider getting professional financial advice from a stockbroker or an IFA.”

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