Think Money Have Advised Consumers To Avoid Getting Into Debt Wherever Possible This Christmas, With The Recession Threatening To Put Further Pressure On The Finances Of British Households In 2009

Financial solutions company Think Money have warned consumers to be careful over the amount of debt they incur over the festive season, in order to avoid potential debt problems in the midst of an economic recession.

They have also advised those consumers who do rely on credit to act early and tackle any debts before they have the chance to grow, and to be selective over the types of credit used in order to prevent the debts from becoming unmanageable.

For many families in the UK, including those who are usually comfortable financially, the Christmas season has become associated with debt. The tradition of spending large amounts of money on food and gifts has meant that large numbers of households fall into debt every year, even if it means spending a large part of the following year repaying those debts.

Indeed, a survey taken earlier this year by suggested that one in four Christmas borrowers were still repaying their Christmas debts in the following October – nine months after the money was originally spent.

A debt expert for financial solutions company Think Money commented: “In today’s society, many households actually expect to get into debt in order to get through the Christmas season – which can put them at risk of debt problems in the future. It’s much safer to focus more on how to avoid falling into debt – and with the right preparation and attitude, it is very much possible to do that.”

The spokesperson added that staying out of debt over the Christmas period does not necessarily have to mean cutting back on costs. “The households who are best prepared for the Christmas period are those who have thought about it long in advance and have been saving throughout the year. By saving just a relatively small amount each month, it’s quite possible to save enough to cover all the costs involved, without having to compromise.

“However, it seems that it is currently more common to pay with credit in the run-up to Christmas. This may have been fuelled by the relatively easy access to credit of the past few years, although due to the credit crunch, this may be a little more difficult this year.”

The spokesperson also said that the type of credit used can be crucial to consumers’ ability to repay the debt. “For those consumers who do rely on credit over the Christmas period, choosing the right form of credit is a simple step that can make all the difference.

“For example, it’s generally unadvisable to make large purchases on credit cards unless the buyer is absolutely sure they will be able to repay the debt in a short space of time. The APR on credit cards is typically very high, which means the debt can grow very quickly unless it is repaid promptly.

The Think Money spokesperson added that anyone finding themselves struggling with debt should seek debt advice straight away. “There are a number of debt solutions that can help to minimise outgoings and/or help to reduce debts, such as debt consolidation or an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement). We urge anyone in serious debt to seek professional debt advice as soon as possible.”

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What are the risks that this financial crisis might pose to the insurance industry?

It’s great when you are confident in safety of your money in general, and in your insurance company’s reliability in particular.

Unfortunately, the credit crisis affected virtually every sphere of life, and in times of the financial turmoil, like it is going now, many began worrying about its consequences for insurance and wonder to what extent the insurance industry was affected.

What are the risks that this financial crisis might pose to the insurance industry? What if my insurance provider won’t be able to pay for the claim? Should I switch the insurer, or even quit my insurance cover? All these questions are very urgent for many people today.

First of all, you should know that there is no reason to worry if you are satisfied with your insurance company and the way they work. Have they paid for the claims in time? Were there any problems with their quick and adequate respond to your claim? Make sure that you are aware of your insurer’s latest rates, and if they are ok for you, you can rest assured (whatever it meant).

Additionally, there are independent sites where you can learn practically every insurance company’s rating. The rating shows the company’s stability and reliability from an independent point of view, whether it will be able to meet its obligations in future, i.e. to pay for claims. According to the rating you can always decide if you should “quit” or switch your insurer.

Some more good news for you:

– an insurer’s activity is strictly regulated, and in most cases an insurance company is not involved in those risks which unregulated industries are vulnerable to; besides, the industry is now under tight control because of the banking crisis, which doubles reliability;

– in case an insurer is in bad financial condition, it will get aid from the state insuranceregulators, for the purpose of anticipating its bankruptcy, and the state which the insurer belongs to will take measures to save the company; moreover, it is a strict obligatory rule for insurance companies to pay into guaranty funds; so, a policyholder has nothing to worry about anyway, as he/she is going to get the money even if the insurer is insolvent;

– in some states there is a so called pre-assessment system,

– a kind of a pool for insurers to annually contribute money to, so as to secure future claim- payments.

As you may see, the sphere of insurance is rather protected from the threats of the world-wide financial crisis. Anyway, if you still have doubts, just shop around for a good and reliable insurance company, be careful and stay tuned.

About Insure4USA

Insure4USA has been offering free auto insurance, health insurance, home insurance andlife insurance quotes online since 2008.

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National Savings & Investments win industry award for successful MyLostAccount campaign

National Savings and Investments (NS&I) has been awarded the Most Effective Advertising Campaign at this year’s Financial Services Forum Awards for Marketing Effectiveness for the successful campaign for mylostaccount.

Launched in January 2008, mylostaccount is the free, ‘one-stop shop’ website to trace bank, building society and NS&I savings accounts. Designed to make it quicker and easier to search for lost savings, the website brings together the existing tracing schemes from the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), Building Societies Association (BSA) and NS&I.

mylostaccount was promoted by an extensive online and print campaign that commenced in February 2008. The campaign was fronted by a cartoon image, ‘Fetch’ the dog, and was designed to appeal to a wide audience.

Ayesha de Silva, Online Marketing Manager at National Savings & Investments who collected the award said, “To receive the award is a real honour for all of us at NS&I and our partners, the BBA and BSA. The mylostaccount website has certainly proved popular with the public in 2008 and the concept of ‘Fetch’ was a straightforward and fun way to make people aware of the new website.”

The campaign identity and advertising was developed and produced by CST and media buying handled by OMD UK. The website was built by Wrenhill.

In the first six months of mylostaccount, more than 140,000 people submitted search forms for money left unclaimed in dormant bank, building society and NS&I accounts. This compares with 44,000 claims in 2007, via the BBA’s, BSA’s and NS&I’s own tracing services, prior to the launch of the website.

The free website has also averaged over 760 claims per day since its launch, as savers have become more aware of this easy way of checking whether any of the estimated £1 billion lying in dormant accounts is rightfully theirs.

The Financial Services Forum Awards for Marketing Effectiveness, introduced in 2002, are dedicated to recognising and rewarding proven success in the presentation and promotion of financial services and products. At the award ceremony the site was also Commended for two other awards, in the Digital Activity and New Product, Service or Innovation categories.

About mylostaccount:
mylostaccount is a free website created by NS&I along with the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), the Building Societies Association (BSA), which is designed to help account holders search for lost bank, building society and NS&I accounts by simply completing just one application form.

About NS&I:
NS&I is one of the largest financial providers in the UK with 28 million customers and over £83 billion invested. It is best known for Premium Bonds, but also offers High Income Bonds, ISA accounts, Guaranteed Equity Bonds and Children’s Bonus Bonds in its range. All products offer 100% security, because NS&I is backed by HM Treasury.

NS&I products are available over the telephone, internet, post and by standing order. They are also available through a network of 14,000 UK Post Office branches.

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Quest CE Announces They Are Now Offering Firms An Online Annual Compliance Meeting Solution

Quest CE is pleased to announce it is now offering firms an online annual compliance meeting solution. Quest’s On-Demand Learning Platform enables firms to hold pre-recorded meetings online without the costly time and travel expenses associated with live meetings.

FINRA Conduct Rule 3010 requires an annual compliance meeting to be held with all registered personnel.

Quest’s On-Demand Learning Platform provides:

• Online Questionnaire Automating the Q&A Process
• Deliver Annual Compliance Meetings On-Demand Over the Internet
• Online Q&A and Feedback Board for Post Meeting Compliance

Quest’s Online Annual Compliance Solution provides an innovative online solution to administer FINRA’s annual compliance meeting requirement and other online events, allowing firms to efficiently provide online registration, delivery, and tracking of meeting attendance.

For more information on how Quest’s Online Annual Compliance Solution can save your firm time and money, contact Jim Hoehn at 877-593-3366 or

About Quest Compliance Education Solutions
Over the past 20-plus years, Quest CE has built a reputation of being the premier provider of Compliance Education to the financial services industry. Quest CE serves more than 100 leading insurance carriers, broker/dealers, banks, and other financial institutions. We are a privately held firm which allows us to quickly meet the ever-changing needs of our clients. Our commitment is to provide advanced custom solutions at cost effective rates while providing a level of service that greatly surpasses that of our competitors. Quest provides a single source solution for organizations training and compliance needs, saving you both time and money.

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Quest CE Releases Their Complete Library Of Online Long Term Care Partnership Training Courses

Quest CE, the nationwide provider of continuing education for insurance professionals, announced the immediate release of their complete library of online Long Term Care Partnership training courses. The online courses enable producers to obtain their newly-mandated continuing education credits on the subject of long-term care and long-term care partnership programs.

Since the passage of the Deficit Reduction Act, most states have implemented a new long-term care partnership program. As part of the new programs, states require that all producers who sell, solicit, or negotiate long-term care insurance must complete training on this subject.

Quest CE offers courses designed to meet state-specific Long Term Care Training requirements. All of our courses are available online, complete with text, exam, and printable certificates where allowed by state. If you sell, or wish to sell long term care insurance, but unsure if you are affected by specific training requirements please visit our website ( for further information.

Quest CE offers Long Term Care Partnership courses in the following states:

New Jersey
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota

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

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Quest CE Offers A Solution To New Red Flag Rules And Anti-Money Laundering Training

Quest CE announced today the release of their new 2009 Anti-Money Laundering and Red Flags online course designed to meet USA Patriot Act requirements. To demo the new course go to

The USA PATRIOT Act requires financial institutions to develop and implement an AML compliance program.

NASD Rule 3011 outlines minimum standards for broker-dealers’ AML compliance programs. It requires firms to develop and implement a written AML compliance program. The program has to be approved in writing by a member of senior management and be reasonably designed to achieve and monitor the ongoing compliance with the requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act.

NASD Rule 3011 also requires firms to provide ongoing training for appropriate personnel. This would include training for all representatives engaged in the business of providing financial advice, the sale of financial products or services, or deal in any way with the transfer of financial interests.

Quest CE offers a complete Anti Money Laundering (AML) solution for organizations of all sizes. Quest’s Anti-Money Laundering (AML) program offers advanced capabilities that other vendors do not offer. In coordination with industry experts, Quest CE’s team of IT and database professionals created a Learning Management System (LMS) to fit the AML reporting, tracking, and training needs of Quest’s clients.

“The system allows AML program administrators the ability to run real-time reports, upload new users instantly, and send reminder emails to users who haven’t yet completed their training,” said Patrick Torhorst, Vice President of IT for Quest CE.

In addition to offering this advanced technology in a fully customizable web portal, Quest CE is offering the industry’s lowest available pricing to companies interested in utilizing Quest’s AML program. For as little as $2 per user, firms can have a web portal built to look like their own AML eUniversity complete with full reporting and tracking capabilities, and including Quest CE’s robust library of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) courses.

Quest CE can also author any firm’s proprietary courses to meet specific training needs.

About Quest CE
Over the past 20-plus years, Quest CE has built a reputation of being the premier provider of Compliance Solutions to the financial services industry. In addition to offering CE for professionals holding insurance licenses and professional designations like the CFP, CIMA, CLU/ChFC, and CPA designations, we also provide a complete spectrum of financial compliance training solutions.

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Quest CE Has Released Their 2009 Insurance, Professional Designation And Firm Element Course Catalogs

Quest CE announced today the release of their 2009 Insurance, Professional Designation and Firm Element course catalogs. Quest’s Curriculum Development Team worked closely with clients in determining content that would meet the ever-changing needs of the financial services industry.

The Quest CE-authored courses are available online through Quest’s Compliance Education Training website. To download a course catalog go to:

Quest CE offers a complete approach to Insurance, Designation and Firm Element planning, training, and implementation. Quest helps firms and individuals meet their regulatory requirements in an efficient and cost effective manner. Quest offers complete or A-La-Carte training solutions.

For more information on Quest CE’s products, services, or to request a pricing proposal, contact Jim Hoehn at 877-593-3366 or

About Quest CE
Over the past 20-plus years, Quest CE has built a reputation of being the premier provider of Compliance Solutions to the financial services industry. In addition to offering CE for professionals holding insurance licenses and professional designations like the CFP, CIMA, CLU/ChFC, and CPA designations, Quest provides a complete spectrum of financial compliance training solutions.

Quest CE has trained and tracked more than 100,000 registered representatives and insurance agents in the past year. We offer more than 200 courses to fulfill continuing education requirements for Firm Element, state insurance and professional designation credits.

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The Bank Of England’s Decision To Cut The Base Rate Could Be Particularly Welcome Among People Looking To Remortgage

Welcoming the Bank of England’s decision to cut the base rate to 2%, financial services provider Think Money ( highlighted the positive effect this could have on people looking for a remortgage.

“Many people paying – or looking for – a mortgage will welcome the base rate falling to levels we’ve not seen in over 50 years,” said Melanie Taylor, Head of Corporate Relations at Think Money. “However, we anticipate the greatest sense of relief will be among people coming to the end of their mortgage term.

“Primarily, this is because these are the people who are tied to a specific time period. Most people moving house or buying their first home will have a degree of flexibility in the timing of their move, but when a mortgage term expires, it expires. This is an absolute deadline – and before they reach that point, the homeowner should have decided whether they’ll revert to their mortgage provider’s SVR or look for a new mortgage deal altogether.

“To anyone in that situation, the base rate cut will come as a great relief, as it could make either option more appealing. In some cases, it could make all the difference between being able to stay in the house and having to sell it.”

However, as the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) has pointed out, lenders don’t necessarily benefit from cuts to the base rate in the way that many people believe. As the CML website states: ‘the cost of funds to lenders depends not on Bank rate, but on a range of other factors, including what they have to pay savers to attract deposits, how much it costs them to borrow in money markets, and the costs of holding capital and sufficient liquidity … Far more important than the Bank rate in determining lenders’ funding costs is the three-month London inter-bank offered rate (libor)’.

Nonetheless, the rate which the Bank of England charges lenders is still an important factor, affecting the entire monetary system: “Many mortgage providers passed the full 1.5% of November’s cut on to borrowers on their SVR deals. Various lenders have already announced they will pass on all or most of this latest reduction too, making the thought of reverting to their SVR much more attractive.

“At the same time, this reduction in the base rate will make it easier for lenders to lower the interest rates they charge for new mortgages of all kinds, helping people remortgage at a more attractive rate.”

But homeowners at the end of their mortgage term won’t be the only ones to benefit from the base rate cut. “According to the Bank of England’s November 2008 Inflation Report, around 7% of mortgagors are spending 35-50% of their pre-tax income on their mortgage payments – and 5% are spending 50%-100%. Given the historically high salary multiples we’re seeing in today’s mortgage markets, the ability to remortgage at a lower rate could make all the difference to the finances of many homeowners.”

“Of course, there’s always the question of Loan-to-Value (LTV), a particularly important ratio in today’s economic environment: with house prices dropping and credit relatively scarce, lenders are reserving the best deals for people with LTV ratios of 60% or less. Even so, a base rate of 2% is indisputably good news for most homeowners with mortgages across the country, whatever their situation.”

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Debt Management Company Gregory Pennington Have Advised Anyone Currently Struggling To Repay Debts To Seek Professional Debt Advice

Responding to a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers suggesting that over a quarter of borrowers are worried about their ability to repay debts, debt management company Gregory Pennington has advised consumers that all forms of borrowing should be planned well to ensure that the debts can be repaid, and has encouraged anyone struggling to repay their debts to seek professional debt advice.

The Credit Confidence Survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers suggested that over one in four people (27%) are worried about their future ability to repay debts, while 20% of UK credit customers are worried about the future availability of credit – suggesting a reliance on credit to pay off existing debts.

16% of those questioned reported that they were already struggling to make debt repayments, “very few” of whom have considered options to restructure their debt, such as a debt management plan.

The report also found:

• Unsecured borrowing has actually risen by 6% compared with last year – although secured borrowing has fallen ‘dramatically’
• Insolvencies increased by around 9% in the third quarter of 2008, compared with the second quarter
• Every working hour, over 100 adults enter into bankruptcy, an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) or start a Debt Management Plan

A spokesperson for Gregory Pennington commented: “Although the survey on the whole represents good confidence levels amongst a lot of borrowers, the fact that over one in four borrowers are worried about their future ability to repay debts highlights the importance of future planning when it comes to borrowing.

“One of the most important steps for borrowers to take before taking out a loan is to establish how much they want to borrow and how much they can afford to repay each month. There is also the matter of how long the repayment terms should be – the longer the terms, the more time there is in which the borrower’s circumstances could change, and a change in circumstances could affect their ability to make repayments.

“Of course, there are many cases in which unforeseen circumstances prevent borrowers from repaying their debts, such as unemployment or a fall in earnings.

“Whatever the reason, anyone struggling to repay their debts should take decisive action as early as possible. A debt adviser can provide information on a range of debt solutions that can help to minimise monthly outgoings, which could be crucial to those hard-pressed by the current economic situation.

“For example, a debt management plan through a professional debt adviser can enable people to pay back their debts at a more manageable pace, while reducing or freezing interest and other charges. However, this can mean the debts take longer to repay than originally planned.

“Alternatively, a debt consolidation loan can ‘group together’ the borrower’s debts, meaning they pay one creditor instead of many. A debt consolidation loan can also be spread out over a longer period of time than the original debts, meaning monthly outgoings are reduced – although this can mean paying more interest in the long run. However, if the borrower is consolidating high-APR debts such as credit cards, the lower interest rate can often mean that less interest is paid overall.

“For more serious debts, typically of £15,000 or higher, an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) might be the most appropriate option. An IVA involves working with an Insolvency Practitioner to draw up a proposal for lower debt repayments based on an amount that the borrower can afford. This normally continues for five years, and on successful completion the remaining debt is considered settled.

“As with anything debt related, it’s always advisable for borrowers to speak to an expert debt adviser before deciding on the appropriate solution for their debts.”

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Insurancewide Has Cautioned The Public Of The Dangers Of Foregoing Life Insurance, Particularly During A Global Recession

Since the economic crisis began, countless businesses across a number of industries have suffered – and it’s no secret that the poor financial climate has also hit the insurance industry, particularly the life insurance sector. With global life insurance companies in trouble – Yamamoto recently claimed bankruptcy while AIG sold off its life insurance operations to pay back debt – it’s clear that the life insurance market has taken a large hit among other insurance sectors.

Reports have shown that nearly 36 million adults living in the United Kingdom do not currently have life insurance, with 28 per cent of the adult population in the country believing insurance products are unaffordable. Moreover, an increasing number of people are choosing to cancel their policies due to the economic crisis. But Insurancewide has cautioned the public of the dangers of foregoing life insurance, particularly during a global recession.

A necessity to protect those closest to you

While insurance is a precautionary expense, it can prove devastating for your family if they’re not covered in the event of your death. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of expenses and debt could be placed on your family if you’re not insured. However, a modest monthly outgoing for a life insurance policy could make all the difference.

Jonathan French, spokesperson for the ABI, reinforced Insurancewide’s warning when he told “Given that there is a credit crunch…it may well be that people look to cut back on their overall expenditure, and one of the things that they could look at to do that is their life and protection insurance.

“Of course the great irony, particularly when it comes to those products which would protect your income in the event of you being made redundant, [is that] those sort of products are at their most valuable potentially during times of economic uncertainty.”

Mr French added that policyholders should think “very, very carefully” before cancelling their life insurance cover.

Insurancewide continues to stress that while life insurance may seem like a luxury during the economic crisis, it is an absolute necessity to protect those closest to you. The insurance comparison firm also assures those who are looking to cut their expenses during the credit crunch that life insurance comparison could help them secure a policy that fits within their budget.

About Insurancewide

Insurancewide, also known as Services Limited, is an online insurance comparison website offering insurance comparison tools that allow users to search the market and procure the best insurance policies and quotes.

Insurancewide was launched in August 1999 as the first insurance comparison website on the internet. The site also powered tools used on popular website

Insurancewide is FSA regulated.

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Quest CE recently published the results for their 2008 Financial Advisor Education Survey

The survey focused on advisors’ opinions on the insurance and designation continuing education (CE) sessions offered in their branch offices by wholesalers and of the wholesalers themselves.

Quest CE recently invited over 30,000 financial advisors to participate in their annual survey on advisor’s perceptions of value-added insurance and professional designation continuing education (CE).

The 17-question survey focused on advisors’ opinions on the insurance and designation continuing education (CE) sessions offered in their branch offices by wholesalers and of the wholesalers themselves.

Results showed 77% of the advisors who responded make time to attend continuing education sessions wholesalers present at their office, and 94% agreed those CE presentations were relevant and informative.

“We assumed a majority of advisors would make time to attend CE events,” says Aaron Thompson, Director of Operations for Quest CE. “But even we were surprised by the overwhelmingly positive response the survey received.”

The survey asked whether the advisor was more likely to attend an instructor-led continuing education session than a product update meeting held by a wholesaler. Nearly 70% of the respondents said they were more likely to attend a CE session, further illustrating the fact that wholesalers who offer CE in branch offices can dramatically increase contacts and strengthen relationships with advisors.

Nearly 90% of respondents said they would be interested in receiving continuing education voucher cards from wholesalers who do not offer a “live” CE session in their office.

“It’s further proof that financial advisors are looking for ways to fulfill their state insurance and designation CE requirements,” says Thompson. “If they can’t get CE by sitting through the wholesaler’s product presentation, they would be interested in receiving a continuing education voucher card from the wholesaler that they could use to obtain continuing education credits via an online course.”

Final survey results and a White Paper summarizing the findings are available for download at

To learn more about the survey or for information regarding Quest CE’s products and services contact Jim Hoehn at 877-593-3366 or

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More Financial press releases is an internet payday loan service

An efficient service for payday loans and cash advances surfacing on the map of the World Wide Web, offers a system of swift online application and approval processes for loans up to $1,500.

The service is based on the simple concept of payday loans for people in need of swiftly borrowing funds. While the sum provided per loan (anywhere from $100 to $1,500) is relatively small, it perfectly reflects the idea and simplicity behind the online loan service.

For those unaware, payday loans consist of relatively small sums borrowed swiftly for urgent needs on a short-term basis. Such a cash advance is deposited into the recipient’s bank account and retrieved from there on a later set date to repay the debt. This allows the loan taker to deal with whatever emergency situations might arise with urgent cash needs. The site provides an online approval process that entails signing up online and awaiting authorisation. A steady monthly income is all that is required to receive approval, upon which the loan will be transferred to the recipient’s specified bank account in a matter of minutes. As such, just about anyone with a job and bank account is free to make use of this service.

Working with a wide array of payday loan lenders, matches loan requests with lenders capable of providing such loans based on a number of criteria, ensuring a fair transaction and trustworthy loan process from start to finish. Furthermore, the service requires a very limited range of documents, and unlike many other online loan services, provides swift and reliable support so that clients can always get in touch with the service and vice-versa.

The modern day world can be relentless and unforgiving when it comes to financial troubles, but despite any possible restrictions, staff work diligently to find a way for every loan recipient to receive the loan they seek. Operating with small sums means working specifically to aid regular people with average incomes in their cash-related troubles, be it paying the bills or any other short-term needs.

About is an internet payday loan service. We offer our customers payday loans and cash advances when they need it most since 2007.

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Prudential Research Reveals UK Pension Contributions Have Plummeted As The Current Economic Downturn Forces UK Workers To Make Cut Backs

Independent research conducted by Prudential reveals that 18% of UK workers say they have reduced the amount they save for an occupational or private pension as a result of the credit crunch. Of these people, 36% do not anticipate they will be able to increase the amount they save into a pension in the future.

The research shows that voluntary pension contributions to private and company schemes have plummeted by 53% in just 18 months as the current economic downturn forces UK adults to cut monthly pension savings from an average £279.38 a month in March 2007 to just £129.35 a month now.

The findings also reveal that UK workers are on average saving just £1,552.20 a year into pension funds with women saving even less, around £74.95 per month or £899.40 a year.

In addition, more than half of all UK workers (55%) do not contribute to a company pension or private pension, leaving them completely reliant on the State pension or other savings.

The results compared to previous Prudential studies, the last of these conducted in March 2008, indicate that pension contributions have fallen by half from their March 2007 level of £279.38 a month to an average of just £144.57 a month, and the latest figures demonstrate that contributions have continued to fall still further from March to September 2008.

Martyn Bogira, Defined Contributions Director, Prudential stated: “It is staggering to see how much UK pension contributions are being scaled back as people look to reduce their outgoings but while a pension scheme may seem a relatively pain free way to increase disposable income today, the impact of this in retirement will be significant.

“We would urge people to think carefully before cutting pension contributions as it is vital that they build a strong savings pot to ensure they are in the best position possible to enable them to enjoy a comfortable retirement.”

The information contained in Prudential UK’s press releases is intended solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions. Full consumer product information can be found at

About Prudential
“Prudential” is a trading name of The Prudential Assurance Company Limited, which is registered in England and Wales. This name is also used by other companies within the Prudential Group, which between them provide a range of financial products including life assurance, pensions, savings and investment products. Registered Office at Laurence Pountney Hill, London EC4R 0HH. Registered number 15454. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

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LV= Announces A Major New Protection Partnership With Standard Life

Leading protection provider LV= has announced a major new partnership with Standard Life.

The UK’s largest friendly society LV= will now provide its award winning Income Protection Plan and whole of life 50 Plus Plan to the customers of Standard Life, through Standard Life’s Direct Telesales team.

Standard Life will manage marketing and sales activity to its UK direct customer client bank, using LV= branded product literature. Customers will complete the sales process with Standard Life’s Direct Telesales team, acting as ‘introducers’ to LV=. LV= will then manage all underwriting, administration and servicing of the policies. The partnership will run for an initial period of three years.

Commenting on the new partnership with Standard Life, Stuart Tragheim, LV= Director of Distribution Strategy and Business Development said: “We are delighted to have won this partnership and to be the new provider of specialist protection solutions to Standard Life’s customers. We have award-winning product and service expertise in protection, and Standard Life recognised our financial strength and our ability to deliver bespoke product solutions for customers, and to get these to market quickly.”

He continued, “This partnership builds on our substantial experience in packaging life and general insurance products for the customers of other like-minded organisations. As a financially strong mutual organisation, we plan to extend our ‘partner of choice’ franchise going forward.”

Anne Gunther, Chief Executive of Standard Life Client Management said: “I am delighted LV= has been appointed to our panel of protection advisers. This arrangement will enable us to continue developing our direct to customer proposition and offer clients a holistic approach to their financial planning needs. LV= has a strong brand and track record of innovative thinking in the protection market.”

Through its existing partnerships LV= provides life, protection and general insuranceproducts to a wide range of organisations including Nationwide Building Society, T&G, AMICUS, Intune (Help the Aged), CSMA Club and the Royal College of Midwives.

About LV=
LV= is a registered trade mark of Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society Limited (LVFS) and a trading style of the Liverpool Victoria group of companies. The new LV= brand identity was launched in March 2007.

LV= employs over 3,500 people, serves more than 2.5 million customers and members, and manages around £8 billion on their behalf. We are also the UK’s largest friendly society (Association of Friendly Societies Key Statistics 2008. Total net assets) and a leading mutual financial services provider.

LVFS is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority register number 110035. LVFS is a member of the ABI, AMI, AFS and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.

About Standard Life
Standard Life has approximately 7 million customers worldwide and provides an extensive range of products and services, aimed at meeting the financial requirements of customers throughout their lives.

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During an economic downturn most investors resort to bank CDs, but CDs may not be the best option considering the low returns they guarantee. Therefore, a more favorable option during this economic downturn could be in an alternative private investment with higher yield and a guarantee

Stock Market Investors Shift From Wall Street To High Yield Investments On Main Street. Most investors traditionally resort to bank CDs during an economic downturn. But CDs may not be the best option considering the low returns they guarantee. Therefore, a more favorable option during this economic downturn could be in an alternative private investment with higher yield and a guarantee offered by a financial company such Integrity Financial AZ based in Sacramento, CA.

Investors across the stock market could soon find a better alternative to the traditional bank CDs in guaranteed return investments, claims Integrity Financial AZ, a leading financial investment company headquartered in Sacramento, California.

Financial companies realize that the current credit crisis is causing an economic downturn as well as apprehension among the investors losing their retirement savings due to the stock market plunge. Analyzing the current scenario, investors are also worried that the stock market may not recover in the near term from the recent “Ticker Shock” being reported minute by minute by the media.

In order to escape the financial morass, “Wall Street investors are scrambling for alternative investment vehicles to recoup their stock market losses in the safest investments possible while at the same time staving off the under-toe of inflation,” says Stanley Paulic, CEO of Integrity Financial AZ,, and one of the leading financial companies of the United States. “Finding a high equity yield investment on Main Street to recoup one’s losses is even doable in this economy,” Paulic adds.

“Earning higher yields and a guaranteed rate of return does not automatically correlate to ultra-high risk. It might just mean that it is a better investment vehicle with better margins for investors. After all, what is riskier than Wall Street, especially right now where most investors are suffering from double-digit negative returns?”

“You can earn a guaranteed return with a bank CD, but the return will be low.” His statements are based on the fact that the rate of return for investors on bank CDs is 2-3% during economic downturns.

Company management states that investors can rollover their 401k or transfer an existing self directed IRA to purchase 10% guaranteed investment contracts secured by real estate. Over the long run these contracts earn more in comparison to CDs making such guaranteed investments more preferable.

About Company
Integrity Financial A-Z Company was founded by Steven R. Long, President, and Stanley M. Paulic, Chief Executive Officer, with the vision to create financial independence for internal clients so that they are self-sustaining, self-generating, and self-perpetuating as stated in Latin on the logo. The company aims to provide clients with financial independence assuring high equity yield investments and 10% guaranteed returns, which three to four times the rate of return of normal Bank CDs.

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eToros groundbreaking visual software presents a new approach to forex trading

Once in a while, a product comes along and revolutionizes a whole industry. This has been the case with the unique eToro forex trading platform. Due to its incredible appeal, in just one year eToro has drawn in thousands of people of all ages, from all over the world. From Canada to China, from Spain to Australia, people who have never considered trading forex before – have discovered the wonders of the Forex world with eToro.

eToro utilizes an innovative visual interface (a registered patent!) that simplifies forex trading and makes trading user-friendly for traders of all levels of experience. eToros trading arenas use visualizations that enable traders to trade forex intuitively, for example by trading on an animated world map. By using visual trade representations, eToro makes the complex forex market understandable even to first time traders.

Furthermore, eToro has drawn in countless experienced traders who have opted to switch trading platform in order to benefit from eToros user-friendly interface and superb trade execution. eToros Expert Mode allows seasoned traders to focus solely on trading, with all the features a professional trader needs, combined in one all encompassing trading screen that also provides forex news and calendar.

One of the unique characteristics of eToro is its emphasis on community which includes chats, forums and contests. Furthermore, eToros community can help the trader make his trading decisions with a tool called Top Traders Insight, which lets traders see the most popular trades of eToros 100 top profiting traders. This tool provides traders with a fantastic opportunity to use the expertise of the pros instead of doing their own market analysis.

David Morgan, from the UK, is an example of eToros traders: “I never traded forex before because all other trading platforms are complicated to understand and to use,” he says. “I started trading with eToro with just $50, and found the unique visual interface of eToro to be very friendly and educational, and within a short time, I became a professional forex trader.”

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BBC Money Programme exposes the shortfalls of irresponsible price comparison websites, but insurance comparison fared better in the programme than loans or energy websites and most insurance comparison websites do not focus on price alone; far from it

BBC2’s Money Programme (Price Comparison Sites: Deal or No Deal) was right to expose the shortfalls of irresponsible price comparison websites. Insurance comparison fared better in the programme than loans or energy websites and it’s important to remember despite the programme title that most insurance comparison websites do not focus on price alone; far from it.

Consumers MUST be able to trust insurance comparison websites. It’s the job of a decent aggregator to be on their side, to help them understand exactly what level and type of insurance cover is being recommended and pay only what the sites have quoted them in their initial search for a policy.

As the BBC points out, comparison websites are a growing industry and are here to stay. We have a responsibility to provide accurate and clear information including guides and advice about all types of insurance. That’s surely the only way people can make informed choices.

As the original insurance comparison website, pioneering the industry since 1999, we see ourselves as the custodians and we’re concerned that some insurance comparison websites are making it difficult for consumers to trust the industry. At Insurancewide we guarantee clarity, honesty and privacy and there are no surprises. We want our customers to trust us; we’re on their side.

We reject insurers who ‘spam’ our customers or misuse their information and we reject insurers who do not return accurate prices. And the BBC was wrong about self regulation “fizzling out”: we have been closely involved all year in discussions with regulation bodies about the rules that govern our industry. It’s simply not in our interest to flout guidelines or mislead customers.

The Money Programme was also incorrect in saying that all comparison websites are paid by revenue from ‘click-throughs’. only ever receives a fee if its recommendation is taken up by the consumer and the policy is bought.

About Insurancewide
Insurancewide, also known as Services Limited, is an online insurance comparison website offering insurance comparison tools that allow users to search the market and procure the best insurance policies and quotes.

Insurancewide was launched in August 1999 as the first insurance comparison website on the internet. The site also powers tools used on popular website Insurancewide is FSA regulated.

Harvey is passionate about getting you the best insurance deals possible.

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LV=, the investment, pensions and insurance group, has revealed that the credit crunch, stock market volatility, and fears of a recession are growing concerns for the nation’s pre-retirement population

Six months after the LV= ‘State of Retirement’ report* first identified the rise of ‘FREDs’ – people approaching retirement who are Facing Retirement Earnings Doubts – new research shows that 69% of pre-retired people are now more concerned than ever about their financial security. This equates to 7.1m people**, an increase of 600,000 since the first LV= ‘State of Retirement’ report was published in May 2008***.

The rising cost of utility bills and food prices remains the biggest worry for people facing retirement, with 71% of those surveyed. However, this is marginally down on six months ago (76%), whereas worries regarding the credit crunch, stock market volatility, and fears of a recession are now all on the increase.

The credit crunch has become a concern in the last six months for an additional 2.1m pre-retired people, making a total of 4.2m. In addition, a further 1.8m people have become more anxious about a recession and a further 1.5m about stock market volatility, totalling 4.5m and 3.1m pre-retirees respectively. Over 50s are also more concerned about job insecurity. These three issues have increased in importance over the last six months, further contributing to the growing number of FREDs.

Despite the increase in those admitting to being more concerned about their financial situation in retirement, 20% are not saving anything towards their retirement, while 51% have not increased the amount they are saving. Of the 10% who have increased the amount they save each month, the average is £225 a month, £35 more than the average monthly amount from the survey six months ago.

Mike Rogers, LV= group chief executive, said: “In just six months the number of FREDs has increased, indicating that pre-retired people across the UK are more concerned than ever about their retirement finances. Unsurprisingly, the credit crunch, stock market volatility, and fears of a recession are now huge issues for these people, along with the perennial concern about the rising cost of living.”

The latest LV= report also shows that the number of people approaching retirement who haven’t taken any form of financial advice about retirement planning has increased to 60%, compared with 56% previously.

Mike Rogers continued: “The FREDs of this world have at least received some small comfort from the recent Pre-Budget Report, with the announcement of increases in both the state pension and pension credit. This goes some way towards bridging the gap between income expectation and reality in retirement, that our survey revealed is an issue for many people.”

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from online Opinium Research

* Sample size was 1042 adults over the age of 50 years. Fieldwork undertaken 14th – 19th April 2008. ** The over 50s population in the UK is 21,011,000 (Source: Population projections by ONS, 2008). According to the research, 49% of those people are not retired. The research also shows that 69% (7.1m people) agreed they have become more concerned lately about retirement finances. *** Sample size – 1655 adults over the age of 50 years. Fieldwork undertaken 3rd – 9th April 2008.

About LV= LV= is a registered trade mark of Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society Limited (LVFS) and a trading style of the Liverpool Victoria group of companies. LV= employs more than 3,500 people, serves more than 2.5 million customers and members, and manages around £8 billion on their behalf. LV= is also the UK’s largest friendly society (Association of Friendly Societies Key Statistics 2008. Total net assets) and a leading mutual financial services provider. LVFS is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority register number 110035. LVFS is a member of the ABI, AMI, AFS and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.

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MS Money Reports Weak Pound Sees Travellers Digging Out Foreign Currency To Exchange For Sterling In Time For Christmas

As the pound continues to fall in strength against foreign currencies, Christmas shoppers have been digging-out their old foreign currency to exchange for sterling.

M&S Money has reported that November saw a record number of people exchanging foreign currencies for sterling across the network of in store bureaux de change.

There has been a particularly high demand to exchange US dollars for sterling – a 53% increase in turnover over the past three weeks compared to the same period last year. Other popular ‘buy back’ currencies in November were the Swiss Franc and Japanese Yen.

Fraser Millar, M&S Head of Travel Services, said: “This time last year travellers heading to America were getting a great deal – almost US$2 for every £1. At that rate you would be wise to hold on to any dollars brought back to the UK and use them on your next trip.”

He continued, “Now the pound has weakened against the dollar – around US$1.44 for every pound – so travellers are getting less for their money in the US. Travellers returning home with cash that may have previously held on to the currency are now keen to grab the relatively low ‘buy back’ rates.”

Previous research carried out by M&S Travel Money found that 80% of Brits bring back foreign currency when they return from a break abroad. Almost a third (28%) of those return home with more than £50 worth.

Over three quarters (76%) of British travellers that bring back foreign money said they do not bother or just forget to change the money back into sterling and a third (33%) simply leave it untouched in a drawer, wallet or handbag.

Fraser added: “As families continue to face financial pressures, the trend to keep currency rather than change back to sterling is likely to decrease. M&S offers a commission free buy-back service, so travellers don’t have to worry about bringing lots of cash home with them.”

About M&S Money

M&S Money (the trading name of Marks & Spencer Financial Services) was founded in 1985 as the financial services division of Marks and Spencer Group plc. The company is now a top ten credit card provider and the second largest travel money retailer in the UK. M&S Money also offers a range of insurance cover, including home insurance and car
, as well as loans, savings and investment products.

In November 2004, Marks & Spencer sold M&S Money to HSBC, one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations with over 9,500 offices in 85 countries and territories.

With a market capitalisation of US$190 billion (7 October 2008), the HSBC Group is one of the world’s largest financial services organisations. Over 100 million customers worldwide entrust HSBC with US$1.2 trillion in deposits. With a tier one capital ratio of 8.8% and a loan to deposit ratio of 90% (30 June 2008), the Group remains one of the most strongly capitalised and liquid banks in the world.

M&S Money has an executive committee comprising an equal number of representatives from HSBC and Marks & Spencer.

The company employs 1,200 staff at its headquarters in Chester, delivering personal financial services to its customers, reflecting the core values of Marks & Spencer – quality, value, service, innovation and trust.

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Barclays Financial Planning Offers An Effective Retirement Planning Solution As An Alternative To Stakeholder Pensions

Barclays Financial Planning has launched two new pensions products, designed to offer an effective retirement planning solution as an alternative to stakeholder pensions.

Both of the new offerings combine the traditional elements of a personal pension, with the addition of considerable investment flexibility, making them bespoke to individual clients’ needs. Clients can choose either a basic investment solution, comparable with a stakeholder pension, or the choice to diversify their pension assets, including the option of a ‘Select Choice’ fund proposition.

David Stuart, Director of Investment Advice and Products at Barclays Financial Planning said: “We have launched our new pensions to offer the everyday pensions investor something much more flexible than a stakeholder plan, but without the more complicated structure or cost implications of a full Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP). We offer the structure of a stakeholder pension with the option to place pensions assets in something more than a basic UK fund. In current market conditions retirement planning is still as important as ever, and we have seen clients wanting to look at alternative investments which would not be available in a basic stakeholder pension. This new product gives them that option.”

Barclays Financial Planning provides access to fully qualified financial planners in any branch of Barclays Bank, who can advise individuals on the pension solution most suitable for their circumstances. As well as pensions advice, Barclays Financial Planning can give advice on all areas of financial services.

About Barclays Financial Planning

Barclays Financial Planning (BFP) provides tailored financial advice on life, pensions and investment products across a carefully selected range of products from a range of product providers according to customer needs. Barclays Financial Planning is one of the largest financial advisers in the UK, with over 700 advisers. A no obligation financial planning consultation is available to personal, business and corporate clients, and Barclays Financial Planning advisors have a range of solutions available for businesses wishing to discuss succession planning.

Customers can contact Barclays Financial Planning through any branch of Barclays Bank, or by calling 0800 587 2024.

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