Money Insider: Rebranded Santander will keep up to speed
Saturday 16 January 2010
From Monday we saw Abbey and Bradford & Bingley (savings) officially rebranded as Santander UK plc, with the Alliance & Leicester part of the jigsaw due to fall in to place before the end of the year.
While some customers may find losing the familiar name tag of Bradford & Bingley or Abbey a little unsettling, I don't think they've got too much to worry about.
Santander is a global player with a prudent track record and has remained focused on business as usual while some competitors were distracted by the bank bailout fiasco last year.
The new combined bank will have around 25 million UK customers, so should be a major financial force on the high street and in a position to compete with some of the bigger and more established banks in this country.
There has been a noticeable increase in the competitiveness of products offered since Santander took control of Abbey with the Zero credit card and more recently the Zero charges current account option showing that they are serious about improving market share.
In recent years both Abbey and Alliance & Leicester have been extremely competitive in the current account and personal loan sectors and there's no reason that this rebrand should see that competitive edge diminish.
There may be concerns regarding lack of competition with three well-known banking names disappearing from our high streets during 2010 and being replaced by the single Santander brand, however with some new providers potentially entering the fray, possibly as soon as later this year (such as Virgin Bank, Tesco Bank, Metro Bank) the Spanish giant can't afford to become complacent or relax the competitiveness of its product pricing.
One of the stiffest challenges for Santander is to improve its reputation for customer service. It's an area to which they have paying particular attention, including the introduction of a state-of-the-art computer platform which allows staff to access all customer information from a single point.
Service is equally as important as the price of products in many people's eyes, so it's an area that Santander will have to get right.
The mortgage market continues to be a hive of activity, with the soon-to-be-merged Yorkshire and Chelsea building societies both bringing out attractive new products in the last seven days.
Yorkshire Building Society has a one-year fix at just 3.19 per cent and a very low fee of £195 at 75 per cent loan to value, a fairly niche product that may appeal to those who are happy to sit tight for a while longer. But with murmurings from some quarters predicting that base rate may start to rise as soon as late summer, a five-year fix at 4.99 per cent with £495 fee to 75 per cent LTV may turn out to be a more attractive proposition.
Chelsea Building Society has now joined the mêlée in the two-year fixed arena with a very keenly priced 3.75 per cent rate and £995 fee for anyone with a deposit of 25 per cent or more, while away from fixed rates, ING Direct is now a clear front runner in the two-year tracker market with a 2.54 per cent rate and £795 fee to 60 per cent loan to value.
Unfortunately it's not all positive news, with more lenders choosing to increase the rate charged on their Standard Variable Rate (SVR). The low interest rate environment has led to some smaller building societies making a difficult commercial decision to increase the rate on their SVR over the last few months and in some instances these now stand as high as 5.95 per cent.
Some people will be comfortable to remain on their lender's SVR, whereas others may be biding their time until a rate rise becomes more of a certainty before switching to the security of a new fixed rate product.
Positive news in the savings market has been in short supply in the first two weeks of 2010, with some fixed rate bonds being pulled and others seeing rates trimmed back. The best deal on a one-year bond now stands at just 3.65 per cent with FirstSave, whereas a couple of months back rates as high as 3.95 per cent were on offer.
Coventry Building Society is sitting at the top of the tree with the latest version of its popular 1st class postal account paying a variable rate of 3.30 per cent Gross/AER. This postal-operated account offers a decent rate, including a 1.30 per cent AER bonus for the first 12 months plus the flexibility of four penalty-free withdrawals each year.
The appetite for new savings has certainly fallen away recently with rates on fixed rate accounts and ISAs now starting to look a little tired. If the savings habit is to return, then we need to see a renewed appetite and some better rates from providers, and sooner rather than later.
Andrew Hagger is a money analyst at Moneynet.co.uk
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 3 Belgium fan Axelle Despiegelaere lands L'Oreal campaign after World Cup viral photo
- 4 Britney Spears sings 'Alien' without Auto-Tune in embarrassingly brilliant leaked audio clip
- 5 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
Vanessa Feltz criticises 'vile' reaction to Rolf Harris allegations
iJobs Money & Business
£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...
£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...
£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...
£30000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A global leader in trading platforms and e...
Day In a Page
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000
A 17th century four-bedroom house, with open fireplaces, cellar and pool, £600,000
A three-bedroom, coach house with luxury open-plan living space and contemporary breakfast bar
A newly refurbished one-bedroom flat in the heart of Mayfair, close to Grosvenor Square
A charming four-bedroom house overlooking Burleigh Square Park, close to Thorpe Bay