Money Talk: Memories are made of this

YOU MAY or may not care that this is the last of more than a hundred "Money Talk" columns I have written for this paper. But without making exaggerated claims about the quality of my advice and recommendations, it seems safe to say that over the past couple of years readers should have made and saved themselves worthwhile sums of money as financial consumers.

I am reasonably confident in this prediction because the single strongest trend in personal finance during this period has been, and still is, price and cost competition.

Notwithstanding other influences, such as what interest rates have been doing, or which way stock markets have been going, this period has seen wave after wave of improved deals on a wide range of financial products.

Many mortgages and PEPs are now sold with such heavy discounting that only in the very long term do companies stand to make any money at all. You can now be paid, literally, to use a credit card.

With many types of insurance it is a brave company that sends out a renewal notice with a higher premium: policy-holders do not have to look far for a cheaper deal. Even the banks seem to have shelved threats to reimpose charges on mainstream current accounts.

New players like the supermarkets and Richard Branson's Virgin, and new ways of selling ("direct" in particular), have been catalysts for much of this competition. And the fact that we are still seeing new entrants - British Gas has just started selling home insurance, for example - means that this trend is highly unlikely to have run its course.

This intense competition has also overridden potentially anti-consumerist spectres. The former building societies that handed out free shares to their members have not become as bad as the old banks overnight. Indeed it is that arch converter the Halifax, not a building society, that so far this year has launched a top-paying telephone savings deal, announced a move to seven-day branch opening, and disposed of that notorious rip- off, mortgage indemnity insurance, for many of its borrowers. It is the societies that now need to reassert their worth - or give up the game.

It should go without saying that to get the most out of this cost competition, financial consumers will have to be prepared to shift their custom and loyalties. Whatever the Bransons or building societies may like us to believe, no one financial organisation has, or will keep, a monopoly on the best deals.

Meanwhile, that's all from me. Thanks for reading.

q The Independent on Sunday has a free 26-page guide to Direct Pensions, sponsored by Eagle Star. Call 0800 776666 for a copy or cut out the coupon on page 17.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Fraud contributes 11p to a £2.00 box of half a dozen eggs
Environment
The plant ‘Nepenthes zygon’ was donated to Kew in 2004
environment
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer snapped celebrities for 40 years - but it wasn’t all fun and games
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Singer songwriter Bob Dylan performs on stage
films
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Citifocus Ltd: Product Development - Asset Management

£Attractive: Citifocus Ltd: High calibre individual with significant product d...

Citifocus Ltd: Credit Ratings - Banking Sector

£Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: Leading global bank seeks experienced credit analy...

Citifocus Ltd: Economic Crime Investigation & Analysis

£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: High calibre individual with a high degree...

Citifocus Ltd: Snr Risk Analyst - Capital & Liquidity

£Attractive: Citifocus Ltd: High calibre individual with superior academics an...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital