The Money Lion | » banking All the latest finance, business, money and legal news Fri, 01 Mar 2023 11:41:22 +0000 en hourly 1 The Money Lion | Ulster Bank to Close 20 Branches - UPDATED 17/1/13 Tue, 15 Jan 2024 08:00:50 +0000 Jamie Meikle In some more bad news for the banking industry on the Emerald Isle, Ulster Bank have announced they are to close around 20 (correction - the number is now 22) branches/sub-offices island wide.

Image created using a photo by "Images_of_Money" found on flickr


As the 3rd largest bank in Ireland, Ulster Bank currently operate 146 branches south of the border and 90 in Northern Ireland. The decision has come as part of the company’s recent review of their branch network. The Irish Bank Officials’ Association has indicated that the ROI and NI will see roughly half of the closures each.

In 2011, the bank was forced to write off £1bn in bad loans, mostly involving property. Last January it announced plans to shed 950 jobs over the course of 2012 - 350 in Northern Ireland and 600 in the Republic. However, the high profile IT problems experienced in the summer caused the redundancy plans to be delayed.

Ulster Bank did stress that they have no further plans for redundancies beyond the 950 announced last year.

No detail of the branch closures have been revealed yet. A spokesman for Ulster Bank explained:

“We continue to keep our branch network under review to ensure that we are operating in the correct locations for our customers,” said a statement from the bank.

“As part of this review we will be closing in the region of 20 branches and sub offices on the island of Ireland in 2013. We expect to be in a position to provide further details in the next few weeks and will communicate directly with our customers and employees at that time.”

Ulster Bank is likely very keen to see many customers begin using internet and mobile banking in the UK and Ireland.

In November the National Irish Bank closed all of its branches and rebranded to Danske Bank (the name of its Danish owners), switching entirely to servicing customers via post offices, internet banking and phone banking.

Over the course of 2012 several other major banks announced branch closures on the island. In July TSB Permanent announced it was planning to close 19 of its 92 branches with around 250 job losses. Allied Irish Banks has already closed 51 of its 267 branches with another 16 set to close over the coming months.

This all comes on top of a raft of closures of small banks which folded during the financial crisis.

It looks like many Irish customers will have to get used to the idea of either doing their banking at the post office or using phone or internet banking.

Are you planning to start doing your banking online or over the phone? If so feel free to let us know your feelings about it.


UPDATE 17/1/13 - Branches/sub-offices to be closed - 22 in total:

The Republic of Ireland closures:

Belturbet (Co Cavan), Castlepollard (Co Westmeath); Glenamaddy (Co Galway), Killeshandra (Co Cavan) and Kilnaleck (Co Cavan), together with the following sub-offices: Carrigallen (Co Cavan), Delvin (Co Westmeath), Kilcormac (Co Offaly), Kilkelly (Co Mayo), Rathangan (Co Kildare) and Swanlinbar (Co Cavan).

Northern Ireland closures:

Carryduff near Belfast, Dromore in Co. Tyrone, Harryville near Ballymena, Jordanstown near Belfast, Knock near Belfast, Longstone Street in Lisburn, and Shaftesbury Square in Belfast City; together with the following sub-offices: Ardglass in Co. Down, Moy in Co Armagh. Rosslea in Co. Fermanagh and Saintfield in Co Down.


]]> 0
The Money Lion | RBS banking on McEwan magic Wed, 08 Aug 2023 15:48:55 +0000 Lauren Pomphrey Ross McEwan, the Royal Bank of Scotland’s recently appointed head of UK retail banking, will take up his post at the beginning of September after Brain Hartzer’s departure from the company in June.

Royal Bank of Scotland entrance

Image by: ell brown

Native New Zealander McEwan formally ran the retail banking operation of Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the country’s largest retail lender with over 16,500 staff serving 10 million customers - nearly 45 per cent of the entire population of Australia.

Before accepting his new role at RBS, the kiwi lost out to former colleague Ian Narev in a two horse race for the top spot at Commonwealth Bank.

Narev, valiant in victory, commented on McEwan’s UK move, saying:  ”For the last five years he has been a highly valued member of the group’s executive committee. He leaves with our sincere appreciation and best wishes.”

McEwan will replace Brian Hartzer, who also hails from Down Under. The former RBS head of UK retail banking was originally poached from Aussie bank ANZ and will now return home to take up a senior role with Westpac.

Upon the news of his resignation, RBS Chief Exec Stephen Hester commented that Hartzer was a “valuable part of the team restructuring RBS”.

Hartzer was appointed by Hester after the company’s government bailout in 2009, since which time a number of other Australian bankers have been employed by RBS with the hope of establishing a better customer service culture.

McEwan is now the man to continue the job that Hartzer started by “[fulfilling] the full potential of the retail business in a changing banking market.”

Australia’s retail banking market has been relatively unaffected by the global financial crisis. Customers also enjoy a more personal banking system where they can deal with most of their financial matters face to face and email their local branch manager.

But can this banking model translate to a country in the midst of a double dip recession, with a population three times the size in an area 30 times smaller, located under a perpetual rain-cloud?

The new head of retail joins the company at a time where customer satisfaction is low, following a computer glitch that resulted in millions of RBS and NatWest customers being unable to access their wages.

However RBS are confident that the McEwan magic will translate to the Northern Hemisphere.

Stephen Hester commented on his new recruit: “Ross McEwan brings a wealth of leadership and banking experience to this important job. The retail bank is at the heart of our customer activities and central to the future value and success of the RBS Group.”

When approached for comment, McEwan simply stated: “She’ll be right.”


]]> 0
The Money Lion | Get your head around ethical banking Wed, 11 Jul 2023 10:24:54 +0000 Emma Dunn  

It seems that the banking sector is constantly under scrutiny these days, but in the past couple of weeks, a series of unfortunate events have made it even more difficult for the industry.

What with computer glitches and libor rate fixing scandals, the headlines in the newspapers are spurring people into action by voting with their feet and moving to alternative financial institutions.

Image by Images of Money

The figures speak for themselves: according to This is Money, Nationwide has seen a 40% rise in people switching to their current account, and a whopping 85% jump in online enquiries.

There has been a lot of talk around “ethical banking services” - but is that really possible? And if so, what does it entail?

Well, “ethical banking” can mean different things to different people. But if you’re looking for a financial institution that doesn’t have any shareholders to answer to, or refuses to lend to morally questionable industries, or only lends to charities and other social enterprises, there are plenty of options out there.

The Independent wrote a good article at the weekend weighing up the pros and cons of specific ethical financial institutions, and is a good place to start your research.

Building societies tend to be a good ethical choice, as strict regulations limit the money they can invest in certain industries. The structure is also different to the traditional banks, so money earned is put back into the business rather than lining the pockets of shareholders.

Or, if you would prefer the familiarity of a local institution, credit unions also offer a good alternative. There are about 400 local credit unions up and down the UK, and about 25 of those offer current accounts. Run by financial co-operatives, they can help those on a low income get affordable credit.

If you’re still stumped for choosing a current account that does good, then check out this article on the Guardian Green Living blog by Ethical Consumer writer Simon Birch. Even though the post is a couple of months old, recent events have made its message more relevant than ever.

If we want the banking industry to change, we have to vote with our wallets. If ethical banks and building societies flourish, it will send a clear message to the rest of the banking industry and induce a more permanent, positive change.

Have you switched bank accounts recently? Why did you do it? Start the discussion in the comments section below!


]]> 0
The Money Lion | Greeks vote for bailout, stocks fall anyway Tue, 19 Jun 2023 12:53:37 +0000 Margaret Kay  

Despite  a win by the pro-bailout ‘New Democracy’ party in the Greek legislative election, European banking stocks have plummeted.

eu flag

Image by fdecomite via flickr

Banks across Europe, including Commerzbank (down 3.6%), Deutsche Bank (down 1%), BNP (down 3.3%), Royal Bank of Scotland (down 4.4%), and Credit Agricole (down 2.9%), saw their shares fall in the aftermath of the historic elections.

These figures showcase a stagnant distrust in European markets that even the promise of a Greek bailout cannot remedy.

Analysts told the BBC that the Eurozone remains in crisis. While the election results may have been an initial relief, the problems facing Europe are now known to be much larger than Greece alone.

More recently the financial instability of Spain and Italy has been in the spotlight, wreaking havoc on market confidence across Europe.

Still, the media has been quick to label the election results as hopeful, or at the very least an event that provides some European governments some ‘breathing space.’

Basically, things are still bad - very bad - but they could have been worse.

At the moment, Europe’s top leaders are convened at the G2o Summit in Mexico, where Greece, Spain and the overall Eurozone crisis is very much on the agenda.

What do you think about the Greek election results? Any thoughts on the furture of the Eurozone? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.


]]> 0
The Money Lion | Is it time for a Robin Hood Tax? Mon, 18 Jun 2023 13:17:02 +0000 Liam McClure  

As austerity takes a grip in Britain there is a larger gap growing between the rich and the poor.

With further cuts planned the gap is only set to increase. Oxfam have been petitioning for a Robin Hood Tax to be brought in which will look to raise money through taxing transactions.

The Robin Tax.

The Robin Tax. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This tax is being championed by France and Germany in the EU but the UK is resisting the changes.

The tax works by taking 0.05% of any financial transactions. The estimated figures show that this could have the potential to raise £20bn in Britain alone.

The reason that the UK is resisting this tax is that there are fears that should it be introduced many of the banks, who are based in London, will choose to take their operations elsewhere.

This tax is more important than ever as recent figures have shown that at present six in every ten of the 7.9 million working age adults in poverty are from working households. This highlights that despite finding work there is still a reliance on benefits which will be cut further in coming years.

This is a tiny tax that will help to address the imbalance that is very apparent between the rich and the poor. For those in work many will have seen there annual pay drop unless you are higher up the ladder, last year the earnings of FTSE 100 executives went up by 49% while waiters and waitresses pay dropped by 11%.

The directors of Britains top 100 companies now earns 145 times more than their average worker. This needs to be addressed to stop this gap from growing even further.

What are your thoughts about the Robin Hood Tax? Are you affected by the cuts? And if so how has it impacted on your life? Please let us know in the comments.
Enhanced by Zemanta


]]> 0
The Money Lion | Moving house on a budget Tue, 01 May 2023 16:19:51 +0000 Jo Ogilvie Lets face it, who isn’t skint after moving house?

You’ll be financially exhausted after a down payment or deposit, finalising all your bills from your previous property, not to mention all the odds and ends that you forget you will need upon moving in.

So if you’re moving home soon and you need to pinch the pennies, here are a few tips for moving on a budget.

When putting your place on the market, try using word of mouth via your friends, family and colleagues. You will need to hire a lawyer or estate agent to deal with the legal proceedings but you can advertise your property by yourself.

There are also many free, online sites where you can arrange for people to come to viewings, and buyers can express interest in your property. Letting agencies can charge thousands for this every month that your property remains on the market.

moving home checklist

Image via Alan Cleaver

If you can, try to get a few days off work at the beginning of the week in order to get the best possible price when it comes to choosing a mover. There are many moving services on the market and they will be cheaper Monday - Thursday if you are flexible on your moving date.

If you are moving to a furnished property, keep hold of little bits and pieces. Garden tools, kitchen utensils, even the kitchen bin! Hold on to as much as you can fit into the movers lorry or the back of your car.

Don’t assume that because it is furnished it will have pots and pans, cutlery, glasses etc. If they fit in the van, take them with you, you can get rid of them once you arrive at your new pad if they are included.  Sometimes boxes are included in the price of your removal, but most local supermarkets will give you them for free, never pay for them.

If you are moving from a rented property, always put aside a few days to thoroughly scrub the place, inside and out, to ensure you get your full deposit back from the landlord.

On the other hand, if you are moving to an unfurnished property, it’s a good idea to hold a car boot sale to sell off some of your unwanted goods and contribute to the moving fund at the same time.

Try putting old clothes, shoes, books, DVDs on EBay or even put a mention up on Facebook with a picture, there is always someone who will find a use to the belongings you no longer need.

It’s too easy to call in a Chinese takeaway or nip out to the local shop and get a ready meal, but doing this every night as you pack/unpack can be a strain on your wallet. If you have a big freezer it’s a good idea to cook up a few big meals and reheat them to snack on whilst you’re grafting. Things like lasagne, chili con carne or stews go a long way, and will stop you from spending a lot of money on convenience food when you have already packed away the kitchen utensils!

Do you have any top tips for moving house on a budget? Don’t forget to share them with us in the comments box below!

The content within this article is for information purposes only and should not be used to make any financial decisions.


]]> 1
The Money Lion | The lowdown on saving for retirement Wed, 04 Apr 2023 10:05:09 +0000 Emma Dunn  

At the tender age of 23 years old, I still can’t believe that I am thinking about this already - retirement.

Image by Horia Varlan

I’ve just started my career, but I’m already thinking about the day when I finally get to down tools and relax. Granted, it’s not for another 45 years or so, but hey! A girl can dream, right?

There are several ways you can save for retirement: either through a company or personal pension, or via investments, bonds or traditional savings.

An old-school company pension is where your employer takes a cut of your pay and puts it into a fund. It’s not linked to investments, so you are pretty much guaranteed a steady income when you retire.

However, such pensions are expensive to run and as a result are getting quite rare. It’s more likely you will be contributing to a pension scheme that does involve investments in some shape or form.

With an investment pension, you basically contribute a set amount of money each month to an investment fund manager, who (you guessed it) invests your money in promising stocks and shares to get a decent return.

This can be organised through your employer, however unless they’re making a decent contribution themselves, it’s always a good idea to have a sniff around elsewhere.

You can get individual pensions or investment ISAs, which offer thousands of funds to choose from. Just remember to do plenty of research to ensure that the fund you choose will work hard for you.

Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking. “Shares and investments” has become a bit of a dirty word since the huge crash a couple of years ago, but in reality the stocks ‘n’ shares route is still a pretty solid way to deal with your money long-term. You can expect to gain about 2-3% every year on top of inflation, and while it’s not as big a return as the 9% or so that was expected pre-bust, it’s certainly better than a kick in the teeth.

The alternative to shares is bonds, where you lend your money to governments and companies, and in return they pay you interest. However, after running costs are deducted, your gains will eventually struggle to keep up with inflation.

The lowest risk investment out there is inflation linked savings accounts, however, remember to keep a separate emergency saving account in case you need quick access to some cash.

However, remember that your pension isn’t the be-all and end-all - it’s worthwhile to check out life insurance quotes to see if you can leave something behind for your loved ones after you go.

So now that you’ve decided how to save up for your golden years, how does your strategy shape cup compared to the rest of the UK? This infographic from reveals how Brits save up for their retirement:

Pounds and pensions infographic
Brought to you by - Find yourself a great savings account

How do you plan to save for retirement? Let us know in the comments section below.


]]> 0
The Money Lion | How to get a better deal on your mortgage Fri, 30 Mar 2023 08:19:56 +0000 Merlin Harries  

All mortgages are not created equal and getting a great deal with a favourable interest rate can save you a lot of money over the life of the loan.

There are many different mortgages to choose from, so how can you be certain that you are getting the best rate available?

by Flickr's '401k'

Here are some tips for getting a better deal on your mortgage:

Improve Your Credit Score

Did you know that the higher your credit score the better deal you will likely be offered on your mortgage? If you have a bad credit score, improving it will help you snag a mortgage with a great interest rate. To make your credit score excellent, pay all of your bills on time and don’t use more than 30% of your credit card limit on a regular basis. Also, avoid numerous credit inquiries such as applying for too many credit cards which can also affect your score. If you are making large purchases in the months before you apply the lender might question whether you will be able to make all of your payments.

Make a Bigger Down Payment

Save up as much money as possible to make a down payment on the home. One of the factors that determine the interest rate on the loan will be the ratio of the loan to the overall value of the house. The more you pay up front, the more equity you will have in your home. Since the loan is a lower risk for the lender they will reward you with a lower interest rate.

Use a Mortgage Broker

Sometimes it can be advantageous to seek the advice of a mortgage broker, who will help you compare the different products from a variety of lenders. However, make sure that you come to an agreement about their “fees” before you begin, as some will charge you for their services and depending on what they charge you may not actually make a saving.

Just Ask for What You Want

When you are comparing the different mortgages available, ask the bank to put their best offers in writing. Then you can go to the next bank and show them the offer from their competitor. Ask them if they can beat that offer and win your business. You can also ask them if they have any special offers available. Don’t be afraid to haggle with your bank, as sometimes this technique will work and it never hurts to ask.

Do you have any tips for choosing the right mortgage? Tell us in the comments below.


]]> 1
The Money Lion | How do banks cope with our complaints? Thu, 29 Mar 2023 10:14:35 +0000 Al Phillips  

Since the recession hit, banks have not only been bailed out, but they have also been punished for their failings in everything from inappropriate investment advice to the infamous Payment Protection Insurance scandal - which saw many consumers mis-sold insurance packages that they were ineligible for.

Pic: Images_of_Money

They’ve also been the target misguided public frustration. Banks have been unfairly used as an excuse for civil unrest and criminal behaviour - the London riots in the summer of 2011 were a perfect example of this.
A rioter was asked why he was taking part in destroying a private retail property, he said: “because of the banks.” To most, it’s quite obvious that there is zero correlation between the two, it was just an excuse to misbehave.

Like all businesses banks don’t always get it right,  and as a customer facing institution they will be told about their failings promptly and in abundance when things do go wrong.
According to the BBC, financial institutions were complained to more 12,000 a day from July to December 2011. Many of these complaints are still founded from unresolved PPI claims. The subsequent fines from these complaint given by the FSA are a real signal to all financial institutions that prevention is the best method for tackling any future mass wave of complaints.

The Financial Ombudsman Service has had to bear the brunt of hundreds of thousands of unresolved complaints relating to PPI and ‘unfair’ investment advice. The amount of potential compensation for the latter can be significant so it is important to know that the process of sharing your complaint between your bank and an independent service is as seamless as possible.

The reality is that is that no matter how valiant the banks efforts may be in prevention, complaints trend because banks, like consumers and the rest of retailers, are not perfect but what they can do is try to make the whole process as painless as possible.

Dealing with complaints

They like us, aren’t spending like they used to, and my guess is that it’s document management software  that is making these processes smoother for administrative teams.
‘Cost efficiency’ and ‘adding value’ or just two buzz phrases that have married up since the credit crunch - so it’s a no brainer that the tighter the budgets banks are faced with, the more they tie nicely with business software solutions.
Streamlining these processes means that they should be able to deal with these situations much faster and once again we can all be satisfied customers.

Thankfully trust in the banking industry is returning, and this is, in part, because they take responsibility for their actions and that they recognise the every-day customer, you and I, as a vital part of their ongoing business.


]]> 0
The Money Lion | Spring clean your finances Thu, 22 Mar 2023 15:38:38 +0000 Lisa Brigham  

It’s spring and the dusting has commenced so why not spring clean your finances too? There are lots of ways to do this so get out your notebook and make a few notes, we have some great tips for you right here on …
Tidy work environment

Tidy work environment by Simon Zirkunow via Flickr

Visit your bank

Call your bank and arrange an appointment with an advisor. It should be free if you are an existing customer. Ask them the following questions about your banking and you could really clear up some things that may have been troubling you or see areas where you could be saving money:

  • What are the perks of my current bank account and what haven’t I been using that could help me?
  • Since the last time I came here to set up an account, my financial situation may have changed, should I consider changing accounts to something better suited to my present financial situation?
  • How could I be saving more?
  • What goals can I set for myself by this time next year that the bank will reward me with i.e. depositing my savings before the end of the financial year for tax free savings?
  • What are you offering me that another bank can’t?

These questions will really help you understand the full range of benefits of your bank and what you could be doing to improve your current financial situation.


Using the Internet

You can make sure that you are always well ahead of the curve by making the most of your broadband and digital tools like online banking and online data storage with all your accounts and bills kept on file to access anytime, anywhere. Price comparison sites are one of the most valuable online resources that you use to get the best deal for your money and spring clean your expenditure this year.

The Plusnet community blog recently blogged about saving money and organising your finances online. They spoke to Jamie Gibbs of who gave them tips to help you find cheaper insurance premiums using price comparison websites. He told them:

1. Pick up the phone

Jamie said:

“Many insurers have an Internet-quote matching policy, or at least allow for some sort of discount to be given. Exploit your brand loyalty and see if anything can be knocked off the price without the hassle of having to switch insurers.

“The best time to do this is a few weeks before your renewal date. This means you can usually dodge any cancellation fees and it puts the most pressure on them to offer you a good deal and keep you sweet. Make sure you have your quote reference number to hand, as well as the prices of the best deals and with which companies. Having hard numbers to hand will help you negotiate a better deal than just saying ‘give me a discount!”

2. Be Honest

Jamie told us:

“Different companies use the information you enter in different ways, and this can affect the price that you pay for insurance. One of the most common examples is your job title: Saying that you’re an ‘Office Manager’ may result in company X giving you the best price, but change it to ‘Manager – Office’ and company Y gives you an even better deal. Making slight alterations to your quote to find the best price is called ‘quote massaging’ and, although it gives you breathing space to find yourself the best deal, you could end up in hot water should you abuse the system and accept a quote based on false information. Being accurate and honest is always your best bet, as it’ll make sure you get a decent and fair price to pay.”

3. Look Before You Leap

Last but not least, Jamie gave us this tip:

“So you’ve entered all of your details and you get to the results page. Hitting the top spot by quite a long way is a deal that looks too good to be true. Hold on before clicking ‘Buy Now’ and take a look at it; a really good look. Some companies may offer stripped-down, no-frills products in order to snag the coveted top spot of the comparison results, so you will likely be getting what you pay for, which might not be much at all. Look at a few different offers and compare the benefits e.g. courtesy car, breakdown cover, as well as the price. Go with what suits your needs as well as your budget.”

Get your financial house in order

Check out the video below to see how you can get up to scratch on all your finances.


That’s all. Tell us how you are spring cleaning your finances by commenting below. You can also talk to us by tweeting us or writing on our Facebook wall!


]]> 0