"There is more to the savings market than the rate attached to the product"

"There is more to the savings market than the rate attached to the product"

As we approach our next Masterclass, our speaker Chris Irwin, Director of Savings at Yorkshire Building Society describes the value of having a financial safety net and discusses challenges for savers such as understanding the tax implications of a higher interest rate environment.

Can you give a quick overview of what your Masterclass session will cover?

I’ll cover an overview of the savings market from a mutuals perspective, offering background in to how we price, providing insight that there is more to savings than a rate, from the way we reward our members to the wider ways we offer support to our members. As well as looking at the savings markets of present and indication of the future.

What are the challenges surrounding your topic journalists should help their readers understand? How will you be discussing this at the Masterclass?

A lack of understanding that there is more to the savings market than the rate attached to the product.  As a mutual building society we operate for the benefit of our members, which allows us to provide different options including loyalty benefits and higher savings rates compared to the market average as well as providing other ways to support people with their financial well-being.

Any general tips for money writers covering your sector?

Have an understanding of the mutual model, pricing in the saving market.  Savings are the responsibility of the individual, but we know from our own research that many savers don’t have the knowledge or confidence to make the most of their savings pots or even to start on their savings journey. With many leaving funds languishing in low paying accounts or worse not understanding the tax implications that higher interest rate environment brings.

The challenges people have faced in recent years have really shown the value in having a financial safety net and being able to keep paying the bills when your income reduces.  Unfortunately, millions of people don't have a buffer of savings to manage unexpected costs or deal with income shocks, such as a boiler breaking down or an expensive car repair.

As a nation we just aren’t saving enough, so through engagement and understanding you can help readers or followers navigate what for some can be very complex subject.

What would you like to change about how journalists cover your area of expertise?

I think sometimes there is too much focus on rates rather than the benefits having savings can bring in terms of well-being, health and life.

Even in the current financial climate, encouraging everyone to have a savings habit, alongside identifying what else is available to support people  (such as our partnership with Citizens Advice)  sometimes are missed.

Tell us about the big stories in your sector in the past few months. 

Changes to what is required by savings providers for the ISA reforms announced in the Autumn budget. There are question marks over the exact requirements which are still unclear.  I think there’s also still questions about the Government’s willingness to address the current tax-free savings allowances and the impacts a higher interest rate environment has on the amount of tax people will start paying on their savings due to the current levels of the Personal Savings Allowance. An allowance that hasn’t changed since it was introduced in 2016.

Finally, why is it important for journalists to have access to initiatives such as Headlinemoney Masterclasses?

The Masterclasses are a chance to gain further understanding and improve knowledge gaps of the mutual sector. It’s a great opportunity to get a fresh perspective on savings and new story angles that might be relevant to your audience. They are also a great to connect and make good contacts that will help with future stories. 

The Headlinemoney Masterclass will be held on Thursday 18 April 2024, where experts from four other financial services companies will give succinct overviews of their sectors for financial journalists. Find out more and book a place.

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