A hassle-free way to move your money

Banks rely on inertia to avoid paying their customers top rates, says Merryn Somerset Webb. But one website allows you to monitor all your accounts - and keep an eye out for better rates.

The retired and near-retired tend to be a very effective lobby group. They vote. They pay attention to their finances. And when they feel the need, they can kick up the most enormous fuss. Witness the way they managed to turn a perfectly innocent and understandable budget fiddle the freezing of the already very high income-tax allowance for pensioners into the "granny tax" scandal, while their government of 40-somethings stood by helplessly. All this makes the fact that they tolerate the treatment they so often get at the hands of our high-street banks something of a mystery.

Research from Governor Money shows that the average interest rate on the top 20 deposit accounts for the over-50s is currently 2.23%. Yet the average overall rate is 3.17%. Both are shockingly bad rates given that British inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index is once again running at 3.5%. But the fact that accounts for the over-50s get less than the rest is particularly outrageous.

If a bank labels an account special' (for children, older people, etc) it suggests it should come with some kind of benefit not available to others. But as the Yorkshire Building Society's Access Saver for Pensioners account aptly demonstrates, it often means nothing of the sort. Their account more or less guarantees that its holders will do worse than almost every one else: it pays an exploitatively low annual rate of interest of 0.25%, as do many other accounts.

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Clearly the fact that this research comes from Governor Money is part of a campaign on their part to draw your attention to their services. A cynic would therefore ignore them. But on this occasion I think we should put our cynicism aside. We know a large part of bank profits are about client inertia. We put our money into a savings account but don't move it when the rate falls to near zero because of the hassle.

This is where Governor comes into its own. Sign up and you get a single account with Governor and a single log-in. Within that account, you'll be able to deposit, monitor and transfer your cash around many different bank accounts with no extra administration. You get alerts when fixed-rate deals come to an end (so you remember to log in and move your money on).

It hasn't managed to sign the big banks up (they've no reason to help you conquer the consequences of apathy) so you don't always get the highest rates although the best two-year fix on offer right now is still 3.75%. But the system means you won't end up with the worst rates. That's likely to be more than any one with a silver saver account can say.

Merryn Somerset Webb

Merryn Somerset Webb started her career in Tokyo at public broadcaster NHK before becoming a Japanese equity broker at what was then Warburgs. She went on to work at SBC and UBS without moving from her desk in Kamiyacho (it was the age of mergers).

After five years in Japan she returned to work in the UK at Paribas. This soon became BNP Paribas. Again, no desk move was required. On leaving the City, Merryn helped The Week magazine with its City pages before becoming the launch editor of MoneyWeek in 2000 and taking on columns first in the Sunday Times and then in 2009 in the Financial Times

Twenty years on, MoneyWeek is the best-selling financial magazine in the UK. Merryn was its Editor in Chief until 2022. She is now a senior columnist at Bloomberg and host of the Merryn Talks Money podcast -  but still writes for Moneyweek monthly. 

Merryn is also is a non executive director of two investment trusts – BlackRock Throgmorton, and the Murray Income Investment Trust.