Personal finance is big business. There are plenty of firms keen to gain your custom: they spend vast sums on advertising, sales forces and wooing advisers who can provide clients.
Marketing is an essential part of today's finance industry and it generally serves the consumer well by conveying information about the products and services on offer. But, by its nature, marketing is biased it aims to win you over to a particular product or service.
You need to keep a good lookout to spot the best deal.
Independent advisers help, but you should always bear in mind that advice is seldom really free, and there are stresses on the advisers which might sway them to recommend one type of product, or one company, rather than another.
Forewarned is forearmed. This website alerts you to potential problems and to smart moves you can make to get the best deal. With over 100 TIP - S and WARNINGS, sections on financial self-defence and copious `points to note', this website trains you to navigate safely the choppy waters of personal finance.
If, nevertheless, things do go wrong, the website outlines your legal rights, and gives full details of how to make an effective complaint. It points out your options in seeking redress and tells you when there's a possibility of compensation. Throughout, the addresses and phone numbers you're likely to need are supplied.
The website covers a wide stretch of financial areas, giving you the information and advice that you need to put the marketing claims into perspective. It takes you from mortgages to credit cards, bank charges to cashless shopping, house insurance to car insurance, life cover to paying medical bills, National Savings investments to shares, doorstep salesmen to seeking out advice.
In short, it is the essential navigation chart for consumers who don't necessarily want the products and services which make the most noise, but want to seek out the best deal for their money.
If you lose money through the fraud or negligence of an investment business and the company has gone bust, you may be able to get compensation through one of the schemes which apply to investments.
The SIB compensation scheme covers the first £60,000 of your investment in full and 90 per cent of the next £40,000 - giving maximum compensation of £48,000. If you think you have a claim against this scheme, contact the SIB ).
Insurance-linked investments are covered by the older Policyholders' Protection Act scheme. This covers 90 per cent of your claim against... see: Compensation