The product: Scottish Amicable's Guaranteed Peak Bond.

The deal: Invest a lump sum of pounds 5,000 or more before 17 July and lock it in for at least six years and four months. When the bond reaches maturity on 10 December, investors will get the difference between the FT-SE's best performance in that period and its performance in the first 12 months.

Plus points: It's called a "Peak" bond because it caters for investors who are worried the FT-SE may be at its peak. In the worst case - the FT-SE falling steadily for six years - investors will do better than in a fund that simply tracks the index; they will get their money back.

If the FT-SE jumps up and down for six years, investors avoid taking a chance on its value on maturity in 2004. ScotAm will measure the FT- SE's performance each day by taking its average level over the past 12 months. Investors are guaranteed the difference between the highest level of the FT-SE, on this measure, and its level in the first year. But that only applies if they do not surrender before 2004.

Drawbacks and risks: If the FT-SE does very well over the next year, investors will start from a higher base: they are not guaranteed such a great return. If the FT-SE rises in its last year, they will get less than in a simple FT-SE tracker.

There is a charge of 5 per cent of the initial investment - hefty for this sort of product but not totally unreasonable. But investors must be sure that they will stick with the bond until December 2004. Surrender before that date, and the guarantees will evaporate.

Verdict: A good investment for worriers who also want some of the FT- SE action.

Marks out of five: Three and a half.

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