As we begin to look forward - somewhat optimistically - to a shift in seasons and some warmer weather, a number of good news stories have sprung up in the financial press, giving additional reasons to be optimistic.

Sainsbury's Bank, in its preliminary results for the year to 12 March 2016, reported strong financials, with increases in income, underlying profit and funds being advanced to customers, in addition to strong growth in insurance products, year on year.

As a result, based on "strong trading performance and the trust people have in the Sainsbury's brand" the Bank has announced its intention to launch new mortgage products in 2017, to complement its existing financial services portfolio.

Meanwhile, Virgin Money - another of the "challenger" banks - presented its trading update for the first trading quarter to 31 March 2016, reporting a "record start" to the year for mortgages, with significant increases in residential and buy-to-let mortgages against the same quarter of the previous year, together with growth of its credit card book and savings deposits held.

Both banks highlighted good quality products and services as underpinning growth and success.