Ulster Bank Closure Who Should I Switch to? Ireland 2022

ulster bank closure

The impending Ulster Bank closure and the pull out of KBC this year from the Irish market is set to cause significant customer disruption.

There are over 1 million accounts and an estimated 500,000 customers with Ulster Bank and a further 300,000 with KBC. Dwarfing the scale of previous bank closures from Anglo, Danke Bank etc..

Closure notices for Ulster Bank customers are drop through customer’s doors by the end of March 2022 giving Ulster bank customers 6 months to switch to another bank, before your account is closed.

If you don’t switch by then, you will be simply issued a cheque with your remaining balance.

If you a have a mortgage with Ulster Bank this is set to be transferred to PTSB, but with PTSB’s rates some of the highest in the market it probably makes sense to look at switching that as well.

So what options are left for best current account, savings and mortgage?

Don’t panic there are some better and less expensive options out there than Ulster Bank and switching may not be as difficult as you think.

Switching Current Account – Ulster Bank Closure Ireland 2022

Best Digital Only Bank

If you don’t need to lodge cash or cheques then the Digital only banks N26 or Revolut are great options.

They have no monthly fees, the lowest once off fees and the best apps on the market. With features from kids accounts to trading in bit coin already built in and a really slick user experience.

They are also both covered under the EU Deposit Guarantees up to €100,000 the same as the non Digital banks.

One thing to watch out for though is some employers on old payroll systems may struggle with the EU Iban. This will only be a minority of employers however as under EU law everyone should have upgraded their payroll systems a number of years ago to be SEPA compliant.

Revolut already has 1.7 million customers in Ireland and recently became a full bank, so that’s why they are our pick of the bunch.

However, if you still need to lodge cash or cheques you have two options. Get someone with a traditional bank account to do it to their account and then send you the money or get yourself a traditional account from one of the banks below.

Traditional Banks

If digital only isn’t an option for you there are now 5 other more traditional banks you can choose from for your current account. The interest on all these accounts is pretty much irrelevant as it is so low, so what you are looking for is low fees.

If you don’t use your ATM regularly An Post or your local Credit union may be a good options. Both of these come in at €60 a year in fees. However, An Post charge 60c per per withdrawal and your Credit Union will charge around around the same so this can mount up quickly if you head to the cash machine once a week.

In that case we would recommend PTSB’s current account. It’s slightly more pricey at €72 a month, but withdrawals are free.

Switching Saving Accounts – Ulster Bank Closure Ireland 2022

Deposit interest rates are at record lows of around 0.5% with inflation heading for 8% or more, you should probably look at talking to a financial advisor if you have €10K or more to invest.

Investments can yield 4% per annum or more depending on the risk level and can help take the edge of inflation.

If you still want the security of a guaranteed rate the best rates are to be found from banks outside of Ireland. You can access rates up to 1.15% from banks across Europe on raisin.ie or consider a state saving account with around 0.6% interest rates.

If you have less than €10,000 squirrelled away then you may be better off leaving it or transferring it to your current account. The Digital Banks offer the ability for you to separate from your daily account with ‘vaults’ or ‘money jar’ features on their apps.

Switching Mortgages – Ulster Bank Closure Ireland 2022

Ulster Bank have sold their existing mortgages to PTSB and KBC to Bank of Ireland. This means if you have a mortgage with either you and your mortgage will transfer.

PTSB and Bank of Ireland have the highest mortgage rates in the market so many Ulster and KBC customers are considering switching to a different lender. If you are in your fixed rate period then PTSB and Bank of Ireland will have to honour those rates, but after that they could choose to hike rates increasing your monthly repayments.

Ulster’s non tracker rates range from 3.5% to 3.9% which are already some of the highest in the market.

So a typical Ulster mortgage customer on their 3.5% variable rate, with €150,000 remaining over 15 years would save €106 a month by switching to the best deal on the market, that’s more than €19,000 over their remaining term and would avoid the risk of a future rate hike.

Avant Money are offering €1,500 upfront for anyone switching their mortgage from Ulster Bank or KBC. The offer is available until the 31st of March and targets customers thinking of switching from Ulster & KBC as both exit the Irish market this year.

Switching costs are usually around €1,500 for solicitor and valuation fees combined, so this offer will make switching from Ulster and KBC effectively free.

At moneysherpa for example we offer an all in legal package including all outlays for €1,200 including VAT, while estate agent valuation fees are typically around €200. So €1,400 all in.

The repayment calculation is based on switching to Avant Money’s 5 Year fixed rate and using the switching offer to cover their upfront costs.

If you are a tracker however, sit tight. Any new owner will have to honour your existing terms.

You can see how much higher PTSB and Bank of Ireland rates are in the table below.

Follow on Rates
up to
50% LTV
Follow on Rate
up to
60% LTV
Follow on Rate
up to
70% LTV
Follow on Rate
up to
80% LTV
Follow on Rate
up to
90% LTV
Follow on Rate
Avant Money2.00%2.00%2.00%2.20%2.20%
ICS Mortgages2.45%2.45%2.45%2.70%2.70%
Finance Ireland2.75%2.95%2.95%2.95%3.15%
Haven Mortgages2.75%2.95%2.95%2.95%3.15%
Ulster Bank3.50%3.50%3.70%3.70%3.90%
Permanent TSB3.70%3.70%3.70%3.70%3.90%
Bank of Ireland3.90%3.90%4.20%4.20%4.50%
Probable follow on variable rates post fixed period based on current variable rates by provider

Switching Next Steps – Ulster Bank Closure Ireland 2022

If you have an account with Ulster Bank you will have to switch it in the next month, so act now to beat the rush.

  • Best Current Account – Revolut
  • Best Savings Account – Raisin.ie

When it comes to mortgages Ulster didn’t have great rates to start with (3.5%-3.9%) and have now been bought out by one of the banks with the highest mortgage rates in the State, PTSB, so now is a good time to switch to save now and to avoid higher rates down the line.

You can calculate your mortgage repayment switching savings here.

This applies for anyone with with a variable rate around 50% of Ulster Bank mortgage holders. If you are still in your fixed rate period then sit tight until you are 3 months from the end then speak to a broker. If you are on a tracker don’t worry, the new owner will have to honour your existing terms.

You can book a free appointment to check out if you would save here.

Market Insider – Investing Ireland August 2021

Investing Ireland August 2021
Investing in Ireland 2021

Fiat 50 motors on! – Investing Ireland August 2021

Last month marked the 50th anniversary of the “Nixon Shock” of August, 1971, whereby the US dollar’s unpegging from its Gold Standard straitjacket served to liberate the fiat currency printing presses of the global financial system in a manner that has fuelled a debt-financed asset-inflation odyssey for three generations of investors.

Equity markets duly celebrated this landmark anniversary with their 7th consecutive month of gains, that Worry Wall of Delta variant, peak growth (for economies and earnings), inflation risk, Fed taper talk and now Afghanistan still being climbed in resolute fashion by a TINA investment community amply lubricated by the excess liquidity drip-feed of current central bank policy settings.

The MSCI World advanced by a further 2.5% in August, its recovery from the March, 2020 lows now exceeding 100% (dividends included).

Value indices once again lagged Growth on both sides of the Atlantic, although the gap narrowed from previous months, with financials extending their recovery back towards cycle peaks.

The S&P500 secured it’s 54th record close ytd above 4,500 by month’s-end, whilst the STOXX 600 enjoyed 10 straight gains, its longest run of consecutive daily advances since 2006. Equity markets were not without their mid-month swoon, however, this a recurring (and perhaps options-expiry related) feature of the past several months.

Some acute intra-month volatility across bond and commodity complexes also; US real yields rebounded sharply from fresh record lows (-1.22% in 10yr TIPS) as taper talk resurfaced, Gold endured a $115 flash crash to sub-$1700 early-August before recovering above its $1800 pivot point, and Brent crude tested both ends of a $65-75 range-trade as COVID uncertainties abounded.

By contrast, currency markets were an oasis of calm, with Eur/USD still engaged in a sideways meander above its perceived 1.1600 floor.

Equities – Investing Ireland August 2021

Another month of gains for global stock markets, their 7th straight advance, both S&P500 and STOXX 600 indices now reporting total returns of 20%+ on a ytd basis.

A stellar Q2 corporate earnings season remained the primary impulse, although the Delta variant did impact on sectoral performance, the more defensive Nasdaq (+4.1%) once again showing the way on Wall Street.

Emerging markets (+2.6%) enjoyed their best performance since January, courtesy of renewed liquidity support from the People’s Bank of China, while the US Senate’s passage of a $550bn bipartisan infrastructure package was a timely reminder that overall policy support for economies and markets is not yet sated, the Fed’s taper talk notwithstanding. 

Bonds Investing Ireland August 2021

On the surface, bond markets were becalmed in August, with US Treasuries reporting their smallest move (-0.2%) in either direction for more than a year. However, yields did gyrate materially intra-month, with investors torn between the impact of a globally spreading Delta variant and that potential policy pivot by the major central banks.

The key 10yr Treasury yield touched a low of 1.13% early in the month, before an avalanche of Fed taper talk forced an abrupt about-turn to a 1.37% high late in the period.

The sell-off in Treasuries was compounded by renewed weakness in European government bonds, where the region’s highest headline inflation rate (+3.0%) since November, 2011 raised the spectre of a PEPP (asset purchase) dial-back by the ECB. 

Currencies Investing Ireland August 2021

A late-Summer lull descended over the foreign exchange markets last month, with relatively modest changes on the major crosses, although the US Dollar Index did manage to eke out a further 0.5% gain, while Sterling lost some ground on both USD and Euro fronts.

The dominant Eur/USD cross had an interesting month, recovering steadily from 1.1660 lows mid-August to a 1.1810 close. This exchange rate is now tracking relative short-term interest rate movements quite closely, and it has been the firming up of Euribor quotes in the midst of strengthening Euroland data-flow and some quasi-hawkish soundings from certain ECB Governors that is now supporting a revival of investor interest in the single currency.

Commodities Investing Ireland August 2021

Although the CRB index flatlined in August following its recent steady gains, the energy components suffered their first decline since March, with both WTI (-7.4%) and Brent crude (-4.4%) selling off on concerns over slowing demand in China and the Delta variant more generally.

Industrial metals prices were also softer for the same reasons, whilst Gold prices endured a rollercoaster month, rebounding from a $115 flash crash in early-August to close broadly unchanged, that $1800 valuation level still exhibiting a magnetic attraction, be it  from above and below.

Asset Market Outlook Investing Ireland August 2021

  • Equity markets now entering their seasonally most vulnerable period, with the build-up of more defensive investor positioning signalling correction concerns
  • A mild pullback is certainly overdue although, remarkably, stocks are already cheapening on standard valuation metrics (both absolute and relative to bonds), whilst the degree of overall policy support (monetary and fiscal) remains acute
  • Tentative indications of slowly declining Delta spread following two months of gains harbinger of a “Reopening Trade” revival to favour rotation back to cyclical stocks 
  • Corrective rally in global bond markets has seemingly now run its course, the prospective dial-back of Fed and ECB asset purchases ensuring more adverse supply/demand conditions and a return to higher yields
  • USD rally finally running out of steam on fading relative interest-rate support, with Eur/USD eyeing a key 1.1950 retest, and scope for speculative longs to rebuild after a 3-mth flush-out
  • Gold prices still not straying too far away from their $1800 pivot, with ETF holdings now stabilised and Asian jewellery demand in recovery mode; needs to vault $1830 for breakout

Asset Allocation Investing Ireland August 2021 Outlook

                                  Equities      Bonds       Credit      Forex/Euro

US                                         +1              -2              -1                 -1

Euroland                              +2              -2              -1                 N/A

UK                                         +2              -2              -1                  0

Asia                                       +1              -1              -1                 -1

Code +3/-3 very attractive/ very unattractive

Financial Market Performance Data Investing Ireland August 2021 Outlook [1]

MSCI EM2.6-6.70.2-4.32.9
S&P 5003.
FTSE 1002.
Gov Bonds
Corp Bonds
EUR HIGH GRADE0.61.20.4-0.80.3
OIL – WTI-7.40.710.8-6.841.2
Source: DB Research

Next steps

You can read our more investing in Ireland analysis here.

You can check out our other guides on Investing in Ireland here.

You can find out where to get individual investing in Ireland and financial advice in your area here.

Investments Ireland 2021 – Bonds Update

investments ireland 2021

If you are thinking about Investments Ireland 2021, you may be wondering how suitable bonds are as an asset class right now. Here’s the rundown on the latest trends in the bond market.

investments ireland 2021

Traditionally, bonds have always accounted for a significant portion of a well-constructed investment portfolio. This fixed-income asset class provides additional diversification for the more turbulent market conditions when stocks falter.

Although bonds still warrant a place in a well balanced portfolio, ultra-low interest rates and general investment market conditions require investors to review their bond allocations, and assess whether they should be reduced.

Read on to find out why.

Latest bond trends – Investments Ireland 2021

Inflation and the Yield curve – Investments Ireland 2021

Effect of bond yields on stock markets – Investments Ireland 2021

Jackson Hole – Late August FED Meeting – Investments Ireland 2021

Where to invest right now? – Investments Ireland 2021

Investment Outlook for bonds? – Investments Ireland 2021

Latest bond trends – Investments Ireland 2021

German 10-year government bonds are currently yielding -0.49%, which means they will lose 4.9% of their value in a 10-year time period, and that is before any inflation considerations. The current ultra-low interest rate environment creates a challenging dynamic for bond investors. 

Typically, bonds weaken in response to higher inflation, as inflation eats into the value of the regular fixed interest payments associated with bonds. 

On the other side of the Atlantic, 10yr US Treasury notes have rallied since the beginning of April and this has been the source of much confusion for investors, as the pace of US inflation (CPI) continues to worry. These elevated inflation levels have challenged the FED’s view that high inflation during the US recovery will be temporary. 

The consumer price index increased 0.5% in July, after climbing 0.9% in June. In the 12 months through July, the CPI advanced 5.4%, the fastest pace since August 2008. Although the CPI data for July decelerated, inflation still remains at significantly elevated levels.

US 10yr Treasury yields have continued to fall during this period, closing out July at 1.22%. Yields move inversely to the price of bonds.

Inflation and the Yield curve – Investments Ireland 2021

The June CPI inflation data initiated a counterintuitive trend within the US government bond market.

The rise of the COVID-19 delta variant and a surprise hawkish tilt from the FED in response to the inflation readings (prospect of “tapering”/reducing the bond buying program), surprisingly led to an increased demand for 10-year Treasury notes, even as the inflation readings were at levels last seen over a decade ago.

The surprise hawkish FED tilt also resulted in a spike in short-dated Treasury yields, resulting in a flatter US Treasury yield curve.

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The shape of the yield curve portrays the state of the overall economy. A normal upward sloping yield curve implies stable economic conditions, as yields increase for bonds with higher maturity.

Investors want to get compensated for holding bonds with a longer duration in a normal economic landscape. The recent flattening of a yield curve suggests a more uncertain economic environment and easing inflation concerns, in the anticipation of tighter monetary policy. 

Investors have been betting that an adjustment to short-term rates will have the ability to quash inflation concerns in the longer term, leading to the variation in movement between the front and back end of the curve.

Reduced summer trading volume coupled with weaker supply in recent Treasury auctions have also supported the downward trend of 10yr US Treasury yields.

Effect of bond yields on stock markets – Investments Ireland 2021

The negative relationship between US 10yr yields and the Nasdaq 100 (Tech) is evident in the chart below [1]:


The recent advance in tech stocks (defensive COVID strategy) came at a time when the price of Treasury bills has risen. The yield on the 10-year Treasury has since fallen nearly a half a percent since the end of March, while the Nasdaq 100 has gained 17% over that period, outperforming the S&P 500 Index by more than 4%.

Jackson Hole – Late August FED Meeting – Investments Ireland 2021

As FED policy makers prepare for another virtual Jackson Hole conference at the end of August, the meeting seems to hold more significance for the global investor community than usual. Any indication that the FED is going to taper the bond buying program is likely to steepen government bond curves, as longer maturity bonds are likely to sell off. 

Longer-term interest rates have dominated equity markets over the past year. Investors that expect the 10-year yield to climb in in the latter part of 2021 and into 2022, should be reducing exposure to tech stocks – due to the risk of higher interest rates.

When the 10-year Treasury yield rose to 1.74% during the first quarter of 2021 (rise of 80 basis points), that period also coincided with a significant Growth to Value style rotation within equity markets. The MSCI World Value index rose by nearly 9% during that period, while the MSCI World Growth index barely moved.

This resulted in cheaper (undervalued) equity markets, such as Europe and the UK, outperforming the US. This trend has reversed over the past few months, as the 10-year US Treasury yield plunged to 1.17% by early August, as the fear over the Delta variant gripped global investment markets.

Delta concerns have supported renewed investment in the “stay at home” growth stocks, as they started to outperform again.

Where to invest right now? – Investments Ireland 2021

Investors should be focussing on sectors that are positioned to do well in an increasing yield curve environment, which is one that depicts economic reopening and recovery. The latest viral challenge should be viewed as yet another hurdle along the road to economic recovery, as opposed to a barrier, although the variant may cause a more uneven globally recovery.

Investment Outlook for bonds? – Investments Ireland 2021

According to a recent regulatory filing, Michael Burry, played by Chirstian Bale in the Big Short, has a large short position on long-term (20+ years) US Treasury bills. The options contracts will make money if the value of long-term Treasury bonds depreciate (yields go up). Burry, who was made famous by his very profitable bet against the US housing market, shares the same bearish outlook as many of Wall Street’s elite.

With the Federal Reserve inching ever closer to a “tapering” of its QE bond purchase program, all eyes are once again on the bond market.

Next steps

You can read our more investing in Ireland analysis here.

You can check out our other guides on Investing in Ireland here.

You can find out where to get individual investing in Ireland and financial advice in your area here.

Should I make AVC Pension Contributions Ireland? How do returns compare?

AVC Pension Contribution
AVC Pension Contributions

With lockdowns limiting options for spending last year, legions of ‘accidental savers’ were created across the country. This has opened up the opportunity for many to make AVC pension contributions in Ireland.

Saving deposits nationally reached a record €126 Billion, up by €15 Billion. With 44% of people saving over €5,600 in that period.

All this means while the pandemic brought financial hardship to some, others have found themselves with an unexpected savings nest egg. 

  1. Need for returns – AVC Pension Contributions Ireland
  2. We have lift off – AVC Pension Contributions Ireland
  3. Sound too good to be true? – AVC Pension Contributions Ireland
  4. Pensions unpacked – AVC Pension Contributions Ireland
  5. What does that mean for you? – AVC Pension Contributions Ireland
  6. What’s next? – AVC Pension Contributions Ireland

So if you need the lowdown on how increasing your AVC pension contributions compares to other investment options you have come to the right place!

Need for returns – AVC Pension Contributions Ireland

With banks looking to start charging savers to keep their money in the bank and inflation on the horizon, many Irish savers are looking for ways to protect and grow that nest egg.

Savers across Ireland have ploughed money into the old favourite residential property. This rush coupled with limited supply has pushed property rents and prices higher, up 3.7% this year. The new favourite seems to be crypto currencies, with Irish savers investing 92% more than savers in Britain, France and Spain.

Putting all your eggs into one basket is never wise, but especially when your basket swings wildly back and forth. Both property and crypto currencies are famously volatile. Even these risky options might not yield the mega returns investors are seeking as the revenue will take between 33% and 41% of your returns in tax.

The magic of investing is in the mathematical process of compounding. When applied to returns, 20% growth per year = doubling your money every 4 years.  

Albert Einstein is reported to have said “The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest”.

Business Insider

Tax though acts like a handbrake on returns, slowing speed your savings take off. So what to do?

We have lift off – AVC Pension Contributions Ireland


What if I was to tell you that there is an investing vehicle that is fully regulated, 100% tax free and has delivered returns of 8.24% per year on average for the last 36 years.

Turning a €10,000 of savings into €60,000 of savings in that time.  Even better, what if I was to tell you in many cases your employer will double your money turning your savings into €120,000.

Sound too good to be true? – AVC Pension Contributions Ireland

Well it’s not, because what I’ve just described is called a pension. Stay with me here, the humble pension is the most under appreciated investment opportunity ever. Getting a private pension or increasing your AVC pension contributions is the best way to maximise that opportunity.

It’s secret sauce is that because it’s sheltered from tax it can unleash the full force of compound interest, growing your wealth exponentially. It’s also not as complex as some like to make out.

Pensions unpacked – AVC Pension Contributions Ireland

As long as you are ok to commit your savings and returns until a certain age, which can be as early as 50 in some cases, the tax man will let you have 100% of the returns. That’s all a pension is, a committed tax free savings pot [1].

If you start up a private pension, you are creating your own private tax shelter, when you look at it like that why wouldn’t you maximise your AVC pension contributions?

What you invest in that savings pot: cash, gold, shares, property, crypto etc.. is entirely up to you, as is the level of risk.

What does that mean for you? – AVC Pension Contributions Ireland

If you have any savings, seriously consider starting a private pension, or if you have a pension through work increase your AVC pension contributions. There is a real opportunity for some coming out of lockdown to secure their financial future.

The good news is you don’t have to do all the financial planning yourself, initial financial advice from a financial advisor is usually free according to Brendan Nordon of DFP Pension & Investments.

Brendan Nordon Colour Avatar

“Getting financially fit is really important and now is a great opportunity to put yourself on the right path. We can help advise on what option is the right one for you.”

Brendan Nordon DFP Pensions & Investments

If you are one of the 44% of Irish people to have put extra money by during lockdown, don’t waste it. Talk to a financial advisor and they will help get you started today.

What’s next? – AVC Pension Contributions Ireland

If you want to know more about our saving and financial planning you can read our guides here.

If you want to talk to a financial advisor about your pensions check out our recommended financial advisors here.

If you want to know about transferring your defined benefit pension to a defined contribution pension you can check out Brendan’s article on the subject here.

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