Your Money: Bank on the Web to Find a Better Deal; as More Financial Institutions Open Websites There Is a Growing Trend to Internet Surfers Are Making a Big Splash When It Comes to Finding Competitive Financial Products on the Web. ADRIENNE McGILL Reports Pounds
Byline: ADRIENNE McGILL
FINANCIALLY prudent internet surfers are making a big hit on financial web sites it seems.
And with the number of financial products that can be bought over the internet growing by the day as providers battle for an online foothold, there's an abundance to choose from.
Isas, shares, mortgages, travel, home, motor and life insurance, plus a range of banking services are all available on the web.
The day will soon arrive when it will be possible to run your finances online without once putting pen to paper. This is good news for internet-savvy customers who can access cut-price deals and execute them on their PC.
Savings can be made by purchasing such products over the net because providers can save money by selling on the web and those savings can be passed onto consumers,
Convenience is another benefit. Banking online can spare the hassle of a tedious counter queue and also avoids dashing to the bank with seconds to spare before closing time.
Shopping electronically for a mortgage or insurance also keeps you safe from pushy salesmen. But it also has its frustrations.
Many websites still fall well short of a full online service. They often do little more than allow you to download an application form which must then be posted by snail mail. Until electronic signatures are legally acceptable you will have to put pen to paper for at least part of the application process.
The Government has approved electronic signatures in theory but has yet to set up certification authorities to make it work in practice. This may not be for at least another year.
A recent survey by Bradford & Bingley shows that many people who are online are making a hit on financial web sites and reveals just exactly how we're surfing to grow our pennies and pounds.
The survey reveals that over half (58 per cent) of all UK consumers are comfortable using online financial service websites in some way, whether to research information or buy a product. Within this newly internet savvy group, the survey has identified three different types of surfers. Those who are:
Pick 'n' click
Twenty per cent of UK consumers are within their comfort zone, using the internet to research as well as buy a financial product such as a mortgage. Around 12 per cent feel more comfortable when the website has a back up telephone service.
Pick 'n' mix
When it comes to feeling comfortable about using the internet to find out more about a financial product, 38 per cent are happy to surf to find a mortgage product and then would follow it up with a face to face appointment with an advisor.
Shy and retiring
However, it seems that 42 per cent of consumers are still shy and retiring when it comes to financial websites and would not be comfortable researching or buying on the internet.
This figure rises significantly ( to well over 60 per cent) as consumers reach retirement age.
Ian Darby, commercial director at Bradford & Bingley says: "Despite some doom and gloom predictions of consumer's online activity, the net has continued to grow dramatically as an information source. The MarketPlace at Bradford & Bingley offers consumers the best of all worlds, providing impartial information advice on line aswell as the traditional methods of phone and face to face advice.''
Other findings from the survey include:
Age has a significant bearing on attitudes with regards to using the internet for financial services. Almost 30 per cent of 35-44 year olds, compared to only 11 per cent of 54-64 year olds, feel comfortable buying and researching financial products on line.
The most internet savvy regions include Greater London and the North West of England
The most popular use of the internet for financial information is for motor insurance followed by mortgages and stocks and shares
There is some evidence of a gender divide on this issue. …