Loose Change

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The Independent Culture
DESPITE A strong rally in both UK and world share prices recently, many investors remain jittery, amid warnings from some experts that a forthcoming global recession may pull net equities back down. One safer option worth considering is the with-profits bond, an investment into the main fund of a life insurance company. With-profits bonds are safer for two reasons: their underlying investments are more risk-averse, and the way in which annual bonuses are allocated means gains cannot be taken away, ensuring steady, if relatively unexciting, growth in the value of the fund.

There are several free guides available on with-profits bonds, all produced by independent financial advisers. One is from Hargreaves Lansdown, Kendal House, 4 Brighton Mews, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 2NX. Or call 0117-900 9000. Another is from Chartwell Investment Management: call 01225 446556. The third (plus pounds 2 p&p) is from the David Aaron Partnership: call 01908 281544

FINDING THE right mortgage involves more than simply choosing the best rate available at the time. It means picking through small-print which can, in some cases, add hundreds of pounds a year to the cost of a home loan. The Independent has produced a free Guide to Flexible Mortgages, which details not only what kind of loan to go for and how to pay for it, but also what borrowers should look for, and avoid where necessary.

The guide, written by Nic Cicutti, the paper's Personal Finance editor, looks objectively at all the types of loans available from other providers. For your copy, call 0800 550551.

BUYING A house as an investment? If so, Savills Private Finance, a London-based mortgage broker, is offering a new range of loans for borrowers who are buying to rent. The two main loans include a five-year fixed rate, pegged at 6.49 per cent until December 2003, on a minimum loan of pounds 150,000, with a maximum loan-to-value (LTV) of 80 per cent. A 1 per cent completion fee is payable. The same rate is also available for a 10-year period, with a minimum loan of pounds 75,000. A penalty of three months' interest is payable on early redemption of the five-year fixed rate - or six months for the 10-year fix. (0171-330 8550.)

RECEIVING A capital gains tax (CGT) demand from the Inland Revenue is becoming more common. While the annual CGT allowance is pounds 6,800, the sudden growth in the number of shareholders over the past two years, mainly caused by building society demutualisations, means many investors are in danger of breaching that limit.

BESt Investment has a free booklet, called How to Avoid CGT, which explains the various investment and deferment options are. For a copy, call 0171- 321 0100.