We are often asked for more information on various savings providers that are less well-known or new to the savings market. In this regular series of articles, we aim to turn the spotlight on these providers to give you more information about their background and history and why they are of particular interest in today’s savings market.
We hope that you find this information useful and as always, if you have any feedback or suggestions as to who should appear in a future article, please let us know.
The provider chosen this time is a regular fixture in our best buys tables – Bank of London & The Middle East (BLME).
This is an ideal opportunity to find out more about a provider that has been around for quite a while now, but is not necessarily that well-known, despite having some competitive rates on offer.
Meanwhile, if there is a provider you would like to know more about, that could feature in a future article – please get in touch with your suggestions.
Whilst unfamiliar to some savers, BLME is actually well established, having been founded in 2006. Originally known as House of London and The Middle East, the bank was incorporated in August 2006, then received its banking licence in July 2007, at which time it became Bank of London and The Middle East or BLME, as it is most commonly known today.
BLME claims on its website to be the largest wholly Islamic bank in Europe and specialises in Wealth Management, Real Estate, Lease Finance and Trade Finance offerings, in addition to the deposits that we are primarily interested in here.
As an Islamic bank, the services that BLME offers are Sharia compliant, which means that the bank will only invest in Sharia compliant and ethical investments.
As Sharia law states that money itself had no intrinsic value, neither party can profit from an exchange of money, therefore the payment and receipt of interest is forbidden. Sharia compliant savings accounts comply with Islamic law but are available to any saver, regardless of religion or culture.
For more on Sharia compliant savings, read our recent article here.
The bank is mainly run through its London office, but also has offices in Dubai for investors and Wealth Management clients and Manchester for regional Commercial Finance clients.
Most importantly, Bank of London and The Middle East plc is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). In addition, your deposits with BLME are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), so funds placed with the provider would be covered up to £85,000 per person, should the provider go out of business.
For more information on the FSCS, please take a look at our handy guide or call us on 0800 321 3581 to speak to one of our expert savings advisers.
Today’s Savings Market
BLME is an almost permanent fixture in our Sharia account best buy table and a number of its accounts compare favourably with the standard equivalents.
Most eye-catching is its Premier Deposit Account, which is a fixed term account with various different terms available.
A selection of the current rates on offer are as follows;
Like all Sharia compliant savings accounts, the accounts from BLME pay an 'Expected Profit Rate' as an alternative to interest, which is the level of profit paid by the provider to the saver. The provider invests the money deposited by savers to generate a profit, so there is an inherent risk involved, as the return received depends on the performance of the investments made.
However, whilst the rate is not guaranteed, BLME will allow you to take the funds away early at the original profit rate without penalty, if your deposit is not producing the agreed rate.
To compare these accounts to the rest of the market and for more information on alternatives, take a look at our Best Buy Tables.
Application Process and Customer Service
You can apply for the Premier Deposit Accounts offered by BLME online, with a minimum of £25,000.
The online application process is straightforward and the application form is easy to understand. In addition, we have always found them to be helpful and it is easy to contact them and speak to a staff member.
We certainly have not been made aware of any negative experiences so far from any of our clients or from our own dealings with the provider. Of course, as mentioned earlier, your thoughts and experiences about providers’ customer service are invaluable for us, so please get in touch to share any feedback you have.
A final word…
It is tempting to stick to the well-known brands when it comes to savings accounts, but in doing so, you may be missing out on some of the best rates on the market. Whilst there are some exceptions, for example High Interest Current Accounts, you cannot rely on the larger brands and high street names to offer the best interest rates.
Providers like BLME and other less well-known providers continue to drive competition in the savings market and offer some of the best rates available at the moment.
The best strategy is to look at all options and take each provider on its own merits, considering alternative providers to get the best returns for your money. As long as you do your research (or ask us for more information!) and are comfortable with the provider, there is no reason not to consider them in future.
As mentioned earlier, if there is a provider that you would like to see featured in a future article, please let us know. We are also keen to hear from you if you have any feedback about any provider’s customer service, good or bad! Please contact us at [email protected] to share your experiences.