Simon Read: Is loyalty to your bank all it's cracked up to be?
Saturday 30 July 2011
Yorkshire Building Society announced on Monday that it is taking over the Egg brand, as well as all the savings and mortgage customers of the online bank. It's a good move for the Yorkshire and a good move for the remaining customers of Egg who will become part of a mutual (the credit card users were sold off to Barclaycard earlier this year).
But it raises questions about financial brands. Do they mean anything at all? Are the millions of people who remain loyal year after year to their bank or insurer just being foolish? Sure, many don't switch because it's easier not to, but there are also many people who choose to stick with the same financial firm that they may have been with for years, even decades.
Take Egg. It was originally set up by the Prudential in 1998 and aggressively marketed as the UK's first internet-only bank to techno-savvy savers and borrowers. The brand was specifically launched to ride the then internet revolution. So what sort of people do you think it attracted?
Those who considered themselves, smart, ahead of the curve, maybe? Or were people simply lured in by the online bank's then leading savings rates? It was hugely successful in its time, attracting around three million customers. Any who joined then and have remained at Egg must feel a little bemused about what became of their exciting brand.
Prudential ultimately didn't want it and neither, as it turned out, did Citigroup, which bought it from the insurer in 2007. To be fair to Citi, whatever hopes it may have had for the brand to be used as leverage to build up a significant UK presence were scuppered by the credit crunch, when the mighty American bank itself had to be bailed out by the US government.
Since then Citi has been looking to unload Egg, trying to sell the whole business last year with no success. It sold the credit card part of the business in March to Barclaycard – which unsurprisingly turned down the opportunity to buy the Egg brand, preferring to migrate customers on to its longer-established brand.
So what now for Egg? The Yorkshire already has a multi-brand strategy keeping the names of the building societies it has taken over in the last couple of years – Barnsley and Chelsea – even though the branches are now effectively Yorkshire branches. It plans to do the same with Norwich & Peterborough, assuming it gets member agreement to take over the society next month.
That strategy makes sense when you're dealing with decades of tradition, but the same is clearly not true of Egg. The society says it is yet to decide whether to keep the brand but there are some reasonable arguments for doing so.
But even if Yorkshire does decide to scrap Egg, should we mourn it? Do its customers actually care whether their accounts are run by a building society, a bank or an insurer? That begs the question why so many of them have remained with Egg when it's been a long time since its savings and mortgage accounts were regularly featured in the best-buy tables.
Some stay simply because of inertia. But there must be others who have remained loyal to Egg. But why? The price of their loyalty can easily be calculated. How much extra interest – or how much cheaper a mortgage – could they have got elsewhere? That's a question to ask whether your account is at Egg, or another financial brand. If you work out loyalty is costing you more than a few pounds, it's time to switch.
Entertaining way to give to charities
toy store The Entertainer has become the first high street retailer to sign up for the Pennies scheme, which asks shoppers to round up purchases to the nearest pound at tills and hand over extra pennies to good causes.
The scheme, which is already available online at Domino's Pizza and Travelodge, as well as in Zizzi restaurants, has so far raised £136,000 for 18 UK charities. Most donations are 10p or less.
Cash raised by The Entertainer will mainly be shared between four children's hospitals: Alder Hey Imagine Appeal; Birmingham Children's Hospital; Wallace & Gromit's Grand Appeal, which raises funds for Bristol Children's Hospital; and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity.
The scheme is a simple and painless way to support charities as donors do not need to give any personal details but simply press a button on the store's chip and pin machine when prompted. The toy store reckons the scheme could raise around £100,000 a year from generous customers.
Rain doesn't stop profits at Andy Murray's £600-a-night hotel Cromlix House
Think twice about investing in fine wine - it's a vintage ploy for the fraudsters
Santander's Kitti app aims to bring the good old cash kitty into the 21st century
Five Questions On: GB Energy's new tariff
Bank-beating exchange rates on your international payments
- 1 Edward Heath 'raped 12 year-old boy at Mayfair flat'
- 2 Sabrina Corgatelli: US hunting tourist posts picture of herself with dead giraffe after Cecil the lion outrage
- 3 Porn block in India: hundreds of sexual websites banned, internet outraged
- 4 Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale divorce: One of music industry’s most enduring couples announce split after 12 years of marriage
- 5 A-level results 2015: UK exam board OCR admits it 'estimates' hundreds of pupils' grades after papers 'go missing'
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Chris Leslie: Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity agenda will harm the poor, says Labour shadow Chancellor
Landlords renting properties to illegal immigrants to face up to five years in prison
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Calais crisis: The seven claims made about the migrants - and the reality
iJobs Money & Business
£35 - £50k DOE: Guru Careers: A Tax Manager / Accountant (ACA / CA / CTA) is n...
£35000 - £37000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Contracts Executive - Cit...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...
£21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...
Day In a Page
Built on a former chapel site, this impressive four-bedroom home boasts balconies, stunning views and contemporary modern living.
This three-bedroom house is situated in a quiet mews and set over three floors. Features include glazed staircases and high ceilings.
A period townhouse set over four floors, this five-bedroom home was built in the 18th Century and retains many original features.
With five bedrooms, this spacious home offers beautiful gardens and modern interiors - set within the popular market town of Bingley.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
In the pretty market town of Bungay, this grade II-listed Mill House is arranged over four floors, offering four bedrooms and three reception areas.
This first-floor flat comes with two bedrooms, an impressive open-plan reception room and two lovely roof terraces.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Moored at Taggs Island and reached via a pretty garden, this two-bedroom houseboat has a vaulted reception room and skylit garden studio - currently a beauty salon.
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
A contemporary house spread over three storeys, this three-bedroom detached home has large sliding doors that open out to the River Quaggy.
Moored in Chelsea's Cheyne Walk, this houseboat offers two double bedrooms and a teak deck that's ideal for al-fresco dining.
This former village bakery, dating back to the 17th century, is now a three-bedroom detached home just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
On the picturesque Isle of Man, this four-bedroom character home has a ground-floor shop that's currently run as a newsagents and a flat that would make an ideal holiday let.
In a new collection of flats, this first-floor two-bedroom apartment offers ample entertaining space and a prime view of Furze Green from a private balcony.
This three-bedroom stone-built cottage currently trades as the village store with a restaurant in the annexe and family accommodation on the upper floors.
Previously two semi-detached properties, this five-bedroom home is spread over three floors with a large breakfast kitchen, orangery, office and gym on the second floor.
This five-bedroom home enjoys countryside views over the Blyth estuary to Southwold, offering flexible living space with a ground-floor annexe - ideal for use as a holiday let.
Close to the market town of Eye, this four-bedroom detached home offers a double-height living room which takes the place of the original, 19th-century, chapel nave.
Dating back to the 19th century, this four-bedroom home needs modernising. Spanning three storeys, the red-brick house has a fireplace, a small terrace and a cellar.
Just outside of Cambridge, this single-storey home offers three double bedrooms, a living room with vaulted timber ceiling and ladder steps that lead to a mezzanine study area.
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn.
A former coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, an attached office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Located beside an impressive Victorian viaduct, this four-bedroom home has an open-plan living area that is glazed on two sides, with skylights and high ceilings.
A former furniture workshop, this three-bedroom home has high ceilings and painted brick walls, in a village setting only fifteen miles from the coast.
This five-bedroom stone townhouse features a pine staircase and an Inglenuk fireplace, double doors from the lounge give access to an enclosed courtyard.
This five-bedroom, detached home blends traditional and modern design; the sleek kitchen features a gas hob and oven set within an exposed chimney breast.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B or countryside retreat, subject to change of use permissions.
This Grade II-listed three-bedroom home is situated on a private road, just a short walk from the sandy beaches of Frinton-on-Sea.
Less than five miles from Malmesbury, this four-bedroom cottage comes with equestrian facilities and gardens that extend to approximately three acres.
Spanning three storeys, this late-Victorian five-bedroom farmhouse is a spacious family home with a modern interior and B&B potential.
With an original church arch, this triplex one-bedroom church conversion has a light, spacious, feel and comes with a secure off-street parking space.
This recently-refurbished three-bedroom home has bi-folding doors that lead out to a decked seating area - ideal for alfresco dining this summer.
Well-located for coastal walks and popular restaurants, this detached four-bedroom home offers views over farmland, to the Solent, the Purbecks and Bournemouth.
If you love high ceilings, school conversions like this one are bang on the money. This two-bedroom flat is minutes from Burgess Park and the foodie haven at Borough Market.
Set within a church conversion in Bermondsey, this two-bedroom maisonette combines existing features, such as original arches and brickwork, with a contemporary finish.
This four-bedroom Edwardian home offers a combination of original features and contemporary design after a renovation by the current owners.
This four-bedroom home offers a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining with doors that open to the patio and garden.
On the market for the first time in more than 50 years, this six-bedroom home is a project with vast potential - spread over three floors of living space.
Surrounded by rolling countryside, this four-bedroom barn conversion comes with a self-contained, one-bedroom annexe that could serve as an office or a holiday let.
Located near Harrogate town centre, this five-bedroom Victorian terrace is arranged over three storeys while a current study serves as an optional sixth bedroom.
A ground-floor flat in a country house, located a mile from Sway; this two-bedroom home would make an ideal weekend retreat on the edge of the New Forest.
On a popular residential lane in Caterham on the Hill, this four-bedroom family home offers a secluded garden and a convenient location for local schools and public transport.
Just a short walk from Westerham green, this three-bedroom cottage has a light kitchen with exposed brickwork and double doors that lead to a south-facing garden.
In a prime spot opposite the River Thames, this one-bedroom flat has an 18sq ft reception room with glass doors that open out to a private terrace.
Set in the hills above Llanwrda Village, west Wales, this 18th-century three-bedroom farmhouse has holiday-let potential from a separate barn conversion and annexe.
This charming end-of-terrace townhouse is arranged over three floors, with two double bedrooms and a private courtyard garden located at the rear of the property.