PERSONAL FINANCE NEWS

 
Kathleen Brooks
LOYALTY DOESN’T ALWAYS PAY
Shopping around for a cheaper quote for your car insurance really does pay off, according to research from Which?, the independent product-testing and consumer campaigning champion. It surveyed nearly 2,500 consumers and found that more than a third accepted their original car insurers’ renewal quotes because they “couldn’t be bothered to shop around.”?But if you did shop around, this led to an average saving of £58. The advice from Which? is to tell your provider if you find a cheaper quote elsewhere, as they will often match it.

BUDGET SPARKS AN ANNUITY CRISIS
Pensioners may be forced to change their pension firm in the wake of the change in the last Budget that extended the cut-off point where pensioners have to convert their pension funds into an annuity from 75 to 77. Although some pensioners may want to take advantage of the scrapping of the “Age 75” rules on unsecured pensions, they may not be able to do so as large pension firms are not prepared for the change, according to retirement planning company Annuity Direct. It says that it has found some “serious problems affecting some life companies’ ability to continue paying income beyond the age of 75 under unsecured pension drawdown rules.” So far, according to Annuity Direct, it seems that only clients with arrangements at Aegon, Standard Life and Prudential will be able to continue to draw income. “This means that a 75-year old may have to stop taking income or transfer (at considerable cost) to a new provider, which has updated its systems to enable income payments to continue,” said Annuity Direct’s Bob Bullivant.

MORTGAGE PAYMENTS FALL
The latest research from Halifax, the largest first-time-buyer lender in the UK, has revealed that monthly mortgage payments as a percentage of income for first-time buyers are half the level they were in 2007. However, over half of first time buyers are saying that affordability is the main thing stopping them from stepping onto the property ladder. It adds that eight out of 10 first-time buyers had mortgages approved in the first half of this year. It also notes that 94 per cent of all first-time home purchases are now exempt from stamp duty.

FINANCIAL STOCKS ARE BACK IN VOGUE
According to broker TD Waterhouse, its customers continued to trade heavily in financial stocks this week, accounting for nearly half of all of its turnover. Lloyds Banking Group topped both of its buy and sell lists. Royal Bank of Scotland came in second place on the buy list and third place on the sell list. Investors also changed their tune on Vodafone, it was last week’s tenth most popular sell and this week it was the third most popular buy. Other popular buys included Barclays and BP.