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Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Cheap money


Now would it be too cynical to question does Barclays really need the £4.5bn it is about to raise or is it just taking advantage of the current climate?

Thursday, 5 June 2008

It's quiet in here


I often make a real song and dance about the amount of advertising carried by the adviser facing sites i.e there's too much on every page.

However a quick trip to Mortgage Strategy today was akin to walking through a wild west town with the tumbleweeds blowing down the middle.

Once we see the advertising return we'll know things are OK again. Then I can start complaining again.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Credit crunch hits home


It's a survey (read PR release) but one that caught my eye - apparently the credit crunch is impacting on our love lives:

  • Divorce rates are predicted to rise
  • More arguments at home due to financial pressures
  • Loss of libido due to worry
  • Worries cause people to spend less time communicating with their partners
So perhaps we can 'love' our way through this difficult period? I'm prepared to do my bit, are you?

Monday, 19 May 2008

What makes you feel wealthier?

Jo M

We've just completed some research for one of our clients on what makes for a wealthier future.

I wanted to share with you the five key things that make people feel wealthier:

  1. Owning their home outright (55%)
  2. Owning a second home (44%)
  3. Travelling first class (29%)
  4. Driving a car worth over £50,000 (28%)
  5. Owning an expensive ‘toy’ e.g. a boat or plane (22%)
That's your birthday lists all sorted then.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Fame at last


Thanks to those nice people at New Media Age for printing my letter in today's issue.

I was was responding to one of those 'I'd like to make a very valid point about X oh and I just happen to be the person who sells the product or service that answers that problem' type letter.

In this case it was all about how much better widgets were in delivering content than email due to speed, personalisation and the ability of users to pull in content of interest to them.

My point, in response to the above, was that the technology of delivering information to a user (push or pull) is not the key issue but that the content was the most vital element. I can continue to embrace the latest super widget technology but if I havent addressed the quality of my content it is pointless.

I feel better for getting that off my chest. Plus getting my photo in the magazine makes my mum proud and that's a nice thing.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Interesting insight into AGM's


Quite an interesting article via thisismoney where their reporters attend a number of AGM's (honestly it is quite interesting) and report on Darlington Building Society, Yorkshire Building Society and the the Catholic Building Society.

It's very interesting to note the different ways each organisation manages it's AGM from a 'secret society' feel (a members words) to wine and cheese being laid on.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Yahoo & Google


There has been lots of concern voiced about Google and Yahoo 'moving closer together' following the aborted Microsoft takeover - initially discussing Yahoo embracing Google's search technology and adwords product.

What's unusual is some of the specific groups in the US who have written to the Justice Department to complain about the power of the two companies combined - my favourites were League of Rural Voters and the Corn Growers Association.

Wow - who knew Google had it in for farmers?

Friday, 9 May 2008

Are you high net worth?


Then forget Ebay - you need MillionaireBay a site catering to the needs of the super wealthy. With a strapline of 'acquire what you desire' the site offers products from supercars to property to jewellery.

However unlike the typical starting bids in pennies on Ebay most of the starting bids here start in the tens of thousands.

Now I am happy to boast when I get a good deal on Ebay but will the customers on MillionaireBay to happy that the rest of the set know just how much they paid for something?

PS I did do some real digging and it does seem genuine!

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

shhh turn the volume down


That long time bug bear of TV viewers, the volume of tv adverts, is finally to be addressed.

This summer new regulations come into force that set out that adverts must not be "excessively noisy or strident". I like the word strident - it sounds very official - def: making or having a harsh sound; grating; creaking.

Wow maybe now TV ads will need to deliver content that's of interest to the viewer rather than just shouting at them.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Bank holiday spending


Apparently prior to 1834 the Bank of England recognised 33 saints days and religious festivals - now that sounds like one of the best decisions they ever made.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Wii Fit


Yes it's absolutely nothing to do with financial services but if you, like me, have been searching high and low for a Wii Fit board (as a present honestly) then this site should be on your favourite's:

Wii Consoles

It will launch a pop up window to tell you when new stock has been detected. Now that's a very basic bit of functionality but how good would it be, given the current mortgage market, to offer the same service to announce new rates?

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Yey a web site is born


It's always a nice morning when a clients web site launches as planned and today is a very lovely morning as we celebrate the launch of the Independent Women website.

Independent Women was Scotland's first IFA firm dedicated to offering friendly, professional financial advice for women and set up by Lesley Collins in 1997.

So here's to Lesley, Kate, Jennifer and the team and plenty of unique users, page views and return visits.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Wish me luck


While I wait to find someone who will sell me a Wii fit board I'm going to check out how well the Wii hooks up to the BBC iPlayer.

However the very first thing I am going to do is actually check out the speed of my broadband service - if it really is running at 8Mb you can call me Susan.

Virtual silence


Wow - the silence is deafening.

It's been at least four weeks now since I read anything about Second Life. Has the world come to its senses?

Nope - its now just focusing on Twitter, a form of micro blogging, using the 160 characters allowed within an SMS message to update your friends on 'What are you doing'.

It's been in the press and even on Radio 4 as Gordon Brown is now 'twittering' - which means one of his juniors is doing it.

It's hard to see the business model behind Twitter and unless they have discovered a way to run a business without a revenue stream I can't see how they survive beyond their first round of funding.

It's quirky, its new(ish), its oh so web 2.0 but is it a business?

Monday, 28 April 2008

When choice is no choice at all

Jo Parker

OK time to talk about something else other than the credit crunch.

Something that is a constant theme for our sector and that is the wrestle the industry has between offering simple products on one hand vs products that offer wide choice and flexibility.

The basic rule seems to be that the wealthier the audience you are targeting, and especially if you are distributing products via IFAs, the more choice and flexibility you should offer, so a you can tailor a solution to the consumer’s needs.

It makes a lot of sense on the face of it.

But given that there are more funds in the UK than quoted companies and a recent product spec I read had a mind boggling 23 choices/options, I wonder if this is just a bit lazy? That companies are trying to be all things to all people?

Put yourself in the shoes of the adviser or end client and this amount of choice can be very off-putting.

Reading Goldstein, Martin and Galdini’s book ‘Yes!’ they make this point well, citing the example of Procter & Gamble who offer a huge range of products. When P&G reduced the number of versions of Head and Shoulders from 26 to ‘only’ 15 they saw a 10% increase in sales.

So (and back of course) to the current market context, when we all want to be very clear about what we are purchasing and how our money is invested, reducing choices and simplifying products and ranges (as some asset managers are already doing this week), maybe a very wise course of action.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Ad overload


And congratulations go to IFAonline who manage to cram 13 banner ads into a single page.

Nice work guys - who needs content after all?

Income multiplier only 4.5x


The Yorkshire Building Society has cut its income multiplier from 5x to 4.5x as a reaction to the current credit crisis.

So that would take someone on £50k from being able to borrow £250k to £225k - is that really that significant a drop?

Monday, 21 April 2008

Happy birthday to us


Last week Teamspirit became a teenager and celebrated its 13th birthday aboard a boat on the Thames (all with a pirate theme).

If you've never tried one of the boat trips up and down the Thames then do - it's a great way to see London from a different angle.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

It's a thought


Interesting post on thisislondon following the story that arrangement fee's have doubled over the last year:

'What if everybody simultaneously agreed not to make any more mortgage payments? Can we end this system once and for all?'

- Neil, London, UK

Monday, 14 April 2008

HSBC mortgage offer


I though I would go and try out the new remortgage calculator HSBC have on their homepage given their offer to match the fixed rates of customers whose mortgages were coming out of a fixed term.

It's a nice simple calculator but a few things do pop up:

1. The highest rate they will match is 5.83% (yet there is no mention of a higher level cap in the terms)
2. Max loan is £250,000
3. Max 80% LTV

So playing around I have been trying to secure the biggest arrangement fee possible and the 'worst' combination is 4.45% and loan of £250k which gets you an arrangement fee of £4099.


Thursday, 10 April 2008

New media jobs await...


As we are winning more and more digital business (hooray) we are expanding our team and I thought I'd advertise the roles here on our blog. So feel free to get in touch if either of the following roles appeals:

Senior flash programmer - 3-5 years with actionscript. Very involved role from working with creative team on initial ideas to producing rich media advertising, flash presentations, flash micro sites and getting involved in developments for mobile, social network widgets etc

Digital Project Director - 3 years+ ideally within a digital agency or client side, experience of most aspects of digital marketing from email to banners to web sites to mobile. Working across a range of clients you'll need to balance digital skills with client skills.

You can email us via the contact page on our web site

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Unbias media


Today's poll on is 'Are Mortgage lenders fleecing clients?'

Erm thats not a leading question is it?

Too good to be true?


HSBC has made a major move in the mortgage market by offering to match the fixed rates for homeowners who's deals are coming to an end.

Sketchy details on the 'conditions' but bold nonetheless.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Open for business


As the Co-Op Bank withdraws its best two year fixed rate mortgages from the market today it seems that the best marketing message you can have at the moment is just being open for business.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

$26bn in two years


So UBS have now written off $26bn since 2007 following their latest annoucement.

Losing millions doesn't seem as bad anymore does it?

Friday, 28 March 2008

What credit crunch?


Having attended a meeting in glamorous Canary Wharf on Wednesday it was a little surprising to see every bar full to the brim at 6pm.

So is it a case of drinking to forget?

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Too long...


Looking at moneymarketing and Ifaonline recently I noticed that some advertisers are running banners that take close to 20 seconds before they get to their main selling point.

While its nice, visually, to see such flowing creative it does seem we are becoming quite self indulgent. Typically a visit is task driven and average dwell time on pages is never very long.

There's a role for lovely branding ads that entertain and then inform but on the whole the response ads need to be short and sweet.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Leaflet overkill


I appreciate NS&I writing to me and confirming they have uptodate details etc - shame my childhood premium bonds have failed to win me millions but such is life.

However the inclusion of 4 identical leaflets telling me I could save time by investing with them online seems a little heavy handed (or more likely clumsy).

Unless they are trying to tell me they are going to keep on killing tree's until I log on - environmental blackmail has arrived in financial services.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Welcome to Blog Club


Homage to Fight Club:

The Rules of Blog Club

1st RULE: Everyone talks about BLOG CLUB.

2nd RULE: For the love of links, everyone talks about BLOG CLUB.

3rd RULE: If someone says "A list" or goes limp, the blog is over.

4th RULE: Only two brain cells to a fight.

5th RULE: One blog at a time.

6th RULE: No links, no points.

7th RULE: Blogs will go on as long as they have to - and then some.

8th RULE: If this is your first night at BLOG CLUB, you HAVE to blog.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Queen 100 message updated


As promised a modern text updating of the Queens 100 telegram (see previous posting)

Original message reads: 'I am pleased to know that you are celebrating your 100th birthday. I send my congratulations and best wishes to you on such a special occasion'

Text version:

Im glad 2no dat ur partying yr 100th BDay. I snd my bravo n BW TU on sucha specl Occsn

( translation courtesy of Lingo2word )

Digitising the Queen


Having a discussion this morning about a colleagues father who is due to turn 100 in September we wondered if the 'telegram from the Queen' needed updating.

We've therefore decided that the Queens messages now should be sent via email or text and for special occasions a video MMS.

We'll be working on what the Queens message would look like in text speak shortly.


Wednesday, 13 February 2008

the end of DAB?


As the proud owner of a DAB radio at home I found this article on the possible death of DAB quite interesting:

DAB audio article

Monday, 11 February 2008

Land of the giants


One of the best quotes I read this weekend on the Yahoo/Microsoft takeover was the following from Scott Rosenberg, Head of Miro Consulting, who says

'These big takeovers (AOL/Time Warner) are always about failure in the present and fear of the future. And they nearly always end badly'.

As someone who was on the receiving end of the AOL/Time Warner 'merger' I couldn't agree more!

Friday, 8 February 2008

Rate cuts


With the .25% rate cut announced yesterday a large percentage of the UK will issue a sigh of relief (even if they are on fixed rates at present) that mortgage rates seem to be heading in the right direction as the majority of lenders pass this saving on.

....but what's this, Northern Rock isn't joining in?

I’m off to see what its customers are saying online…should be entertaining.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Egg on their face?


If you believe Egg or not (that it was risk reviewing its customer base) the power of the internet has blown some massive holes in their statement concerning dropping 160,000 customers.

Various forums and message boards have reported a variety of customers with 'excellent' credit ratings being dropped along with those who have high levels of debt.

One of these customers just happens to be a lib dem councillor - tough break for Egg!

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

The cheque is dead


Well as far as Marks & Spencer are concerned. From March 1st they will no longer be accepted as payment.

Your M&S? Only if you carry plastic.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Do banners work anymore?


I was directed to this online conversation by our creative director on Brand Republic - 'Do online banners work still?'

Having been on both the media owner and the agency side I've got a different perspective than most and contributed to the conversation here:

Feel free to add your thoughts.

Bad press


Well it's a pretty rough day in the world of finance with a deluge of bad news money stories.

On a single page in the Metro Newspaper we have:

1. 'Britons become debt-free at 50'
2. 'Mortgages hit £22.6bn low'
3. 'People are living beyond their means'
4. 'Anger over £55bn Rock rescue deal'

It's enough to make you avoid the news for a week or two.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Free learning


I came across this site at the weekend It's an enjoyable way to learn about the markets as it allows you to speculate on the live financial markets without having to own any stocks, commodities or Bonds.

Needless to say I will be trading the live markets with play money, but if you're experienced at it, it's an original way to make money. And the site looks pretty nice too.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

All that glitters is Gold


Gold may come in and out of fashion but as an investment it seems to be a consistent performer. Spot prices in London saw Gold hit $914 an ounce with the cost of bullion increasing 30% in 2007.

As Gold is priced in dollars it has become cheaper for holders of other currencies to buy it helping fuel the price increase.

This might just be the excuse I need to delay that eternity ring Mrs Pete has been hinting at. Will a barrel of oil be an acceptable alternative?

Monday, 14 January 2008

I'll see you in court


Today is the day when we find out whether the High Court feels that current account penalty charges are fair or not.

So m'learned friend it's over to you now.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Is no one safe?


Chairman of Barclays , Marcus Agius, was subject to ID Theft after a conman had Barclays issue a credit card in his name. Good luck to the Barclays head of security following that one.

I hope the perpetrator went for the Breathe Card which contributes 50% of net profits to tackle climate change.

You don’t have to be a genius to work here...


One or two of the blogs I read have a ‘Readability rating’ from

So I tested ours.

Apparantly, the blog you’re reading right now came out as requiring a ‘genius’ level of reading. You even get a little graphic to put on your page (see here).

I was concerned. If this rating was any kind of reflection on reality, did it mean our blog is so densely written that it’s inaccessible to all but a few very clever people?

So I checked out half a dozen other marketing blogs. One or two required ‘undergraduate’ level education to understand. I began to see a pattern – elitists blogging purely for elitists. Once again, the everyman is excluded.

Then I checked one which used the word ‘vicissitudes’. Apparently, that only requires a ‘High School’ education. Weird. Then I checked the code behind the graphic above. The ALT tag behind it gave away it’s true purpose. It’s an ad for ‘Payday Loans’.

Bloody advertising. What a con.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

2008 - how do we market in a volatile market?

Jo Parker

Reading the FT’s article last week covering the views of 55 top economists it is hard to feel buoyant about 2008. Nearly nine out of the 10 believed the public finances are not in good order and that inflation is a very real risk.

Nearly two thirds said house prices would fall (not bad news for everyone then!) and that the Bank of England’s ability to affect the markets with interest rates has been significantly reduced – not least because as of today, one in five lenders fails to pass on interest rate cut to their customers.

So how should we be approaching marketing in this context going into 2008?

Well, of course we don’t know for sure how 2008 will turn out. But what all marketing plans should have in place is some clear scenario plans to show the likely affect on targets and how marketing can support the financial goals of the company. Many brands make headway in a recessionary environment. It’s when Easyjet launched. And Taco Bell and Pizza Hut stole share from McDonalds during the 90-91 recession. In 1999, PIMS conducted a study of 183 UK-based companies that compared marketing spend during recessions to share and profit gains during recovery. Those that spent in recession did better afterward than those that did not.

But how many of us are building this into our marketing plans right now or just burying our heads in the sand and carrying on as if nothing was happening?

Friday, 4 January 2008



Story in the Independent (late Dec) - Inflation remains at 2.1% in November
Story in the Evening Standard (early Jan) - Millions looking at fuel inflation of 17%
Train tickets on average up 4.1%
Private sector wage settlements are coming in at 4%

The old RPI is coming in at 4.3% but the CPI only records inflation at 2.1%.

Wonder why they switched in 2003, when the Bank of England was told to target the consumer prices index - excluding all owner-occupied housing costs?

What's that quote about statistics?

Thursday, 3 January 2008

New Year resolutions?


Happy New Year to you all.

So courtesy of Network Rail I'm using the information superhighway to write our first blog of 2008 from home - a not unexpected situation given the almost universal pairing of the words 'engineering works' and 'overrunning'.

Like many people I've used a variety of the social network sites to catch up with what all my friends and family have been up to over New Year - Facebook and Flickr seeming to cover about 90% of the people I know. What has been interesting to note is the transition of people emailing me to people sending me a Flickr mail or a Facebook message - this time last year it would have been a big fat zero.

I'm just waiting on the usual report to tell us how many people helped boost the share price of mobile operators by sending a happy New Year text - typically many millions of us but I am wondering if they will now start reporting on the number of MMS messages sent as well?

Finally, for this post. it's lovely to see that Facebook is going into full commercial mode now with a variety of sponsorships and ad placements - it's going to be very interesting to see if they can resist the 'just one extra ad unit on the page would increase ad dollars by x%' call. Today's featured ad unit is for IVA's - with no mention of the brand behind this but it's the Debt Clinic - never heard of them? Neither have I plus their site fails to tell you a single thing about their organisation, that takes some doing.

Welcome to 2008, has anything changed?