Monthly Archives: August 2014

What’s the Difference between a Bank and a Building Society?

Walk down any UK high street and you’ll easily be able to identify all of the banks; every town has at least a couple of them, and for the most part they appear to be pretty much the same. Some of them however, may actually be building societies. The clue will be in the name for a lot of them, but it’s not so obvious for the rest. The question is, are these building societies just the same as the banks that they look like?

The answer is unequivocally no. While both are financial institutions designed to allow people to manage their money in numerous different aspects, the two are fundamentally different because of their purpose.

The purpose of a bank is ultimately to deliver financial success to its shareholders. While good customer service and helping consumers do well in life through offering mortgages and business loans may come with this, the end goal is always to make a profit that can be passed onto those who hold stock in the company.

A building society on the other hand is a mutual institution of members who hold accounts. There are no shareholders, and there isn’t the same pressure to turn a profit. Every account holder, no matter how much money they have in their account, has the right to vote, which means that the society is run by its members.

So, What Does This All Mean?

In theory, there are two primary benefits of a building society. The first is that because there is less pressure to make a large profit, the cost of products, whether small loans or mortgages, is generally cheaper. The second is that because the society is run by those who hold accounts, it should have their best interests at heart. This can be demonstrated by the fact that building societies generally receive far fewer complaints than other institutions like banks. Some like Saffron Building Society can even offer independent financial advice.

Your takeaway then is that if you’re looking for a financial product like a savings account or mortgage, then take a look at a building society when you’re making your decision. You’ll still always need a bank for a current account, but it may well be better to be part of a society that you have a say in when it comes to everything else.

The Balance between Data and Security: How can Companies Remain Informed and Safe?

The majority of the time, it feels as though large corporations and dominant market brands can do no wrong. Omnipotent both in terms of their stature and the influence that they yield in their chosen market, they turn over billions of dollars each year and grow wealthier with each new innovation. From Facebook to Google, these brands set trends and break rules with breathtaking regularity.

It may, therefore, come as a surprise to learn that Google are set to face a privacy lawsuit in the U.S. and Europe. After a federal judge recently rejected the business’s efforts to dismiss a lawsuit regarding the inappropriate sharing of consumer data with advertisers, suddenly we are faced with the realisation that no single entity is safe from the reach of international laws and rule makers. What this means for Google has yet to be seen, but it certainly provides a lesson that small business owners should learn from: even Google gets caught out sometimes.

How to strike the Balance between Data and Security

More specifically, if Google can fall foul of stringent data protection laws then so can you. It is no longer acceptable to take a relaxed approach towards data management, as even smaller businesses can access viable and affordable software packages that enable them to collate, manage and securely store sensitive information. While it may be easier than ever to achieve these aims, however, it does require a proactive approach from independent business owners if they are to maintain long-term compliance with international laws.

As a starting point, it is important to recognise the need for data storage. Essentially, modern business is driven by the successful accumulation and interpretation of data, whether this is retained in electronic form or through a series of hard copies. While the storage of data may be easier than ever, it does provide a significant security risk in an age where cyber-crime and sophisticated identity theft is increasingly prominent. It is both how you store data and how you dispose of it once it is no longer useful to you that will ultimately help to keep your sensitive information safe.

The disposal of paper-based data is arguably the single most crucial factor, as once it has been discarded it is no longer protected by locks, keys or server passwords. This means it is suddenly out in the open and vulnerable to the machinations of criminals, who may choose to use consumer identity data as a way of executing fraud. It is therefore crucial that you partner with a reputable and innovative recycling firm such as Lombard Recycling, as this provides a reliable and sustainable solution to your document disposal issues.

In Summary

As Google’s recent legal battle shows, even small business owners cannot afford to become complacent when it comes to data management and handling. After all, while Google will most likely be forced to pay an easily manageable fine to account for their reported privacy infringements, the equivalent sanction on an independent venture could drive them out of business. So be proactive when establishing a data management strategy, and make sure that you achieve the delicate balance between storing information close at hand and keeping it secure.

How to save money by pre-planning your funeral

It may not seem like the obvious way to save but pre-planning, or more importantly pre-paying your funeral costs could save a substantial amount of money.

There are of course two compelling arguments that should make all of us want to put plans in place:

  1. Funeral costs have been increasing by an inflation busting 7% every year for the last decade. Now averaging more than £3,400, they could well exceed £6,000 in the next 10 years if costs continue to soar.
  1. We are all going to die -a little blunt perhaps but true all the same. We will die; there will (for most of us) be a funeral, there will inevitably be a bill itemising the funeral costs that someone will need to pay.

So what can you do?

A Prepaid Funeral Plan could be the key to saving money and removing the pressure of having to arrange everything from your family when the time comes. You pay for your services at today’s prices, effectively freezing the costs and therefore avoiding the impact of inflation.

How much will it cost?

Costs all depend on the level of service you choose and the company providing the funeral plan but usually range from £3,000 to £4,000. If you prefer to spread your payments, you can pay by instalments and some companies now offer fixed monthly payment plans from £23 a month for those over 50 years of age.

Are there any other options?

If you prefer to leave your family with a lump sum of money or want to keep monthly costs a little lower, then an Over 50s Life Insurance Plan could be worth considering. As long as you are between the ages of 50 and 80 (in some instances 85) and live in the UK, you are guaranteed to be accepted regardless of any health issues and covered for the full cash sum after an initial period of 1 to 2 years.

Premiums range from around £7 a month and are payable for life or until you are 90. Depending on how long you live there is a chance that you could pay in more than the plan pays out and because the cash sum is fixed, inflation will reduce its value over time, so keep this in mind when you are choosing the level of life cover required.

Could you get more life cover?

If you are considering the life insurance option and in good health, then it could be an idea to look at Regular Life Insurance as the cash sum paid out on death could be at least 40% higher. The application process is longer and does include health and lifestyle questions but could be worth the time and effort if it means you leave more money to your family.

How can you be sure of getting the best deal?

Regardless of whether you choose a prepaid funeral plan or an over 60 life insurance plan, it is important to compare quotes to ensure you get the best plan at the right price.

You can compare funeral plans or over 50 plans in minutes online using a comparison service like the one provided by Over50choices and help is available at the end of a phone should you prefer to talk through your options.