LOOSE CHANGE

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The Independent Online
The Securities & Investments Board is looking for volunteers with personal experience of cancelling unit trust and PEP contracts to help it decide whether the cooling-off period, introduced in 1988 when there were few other safeguards, is still useful. It is considering whether cooling-off should be extended to open-ended investment companies (OEICs), the new hybrid investment funds the financial services industry will start selling throughout the EU some time next year (0171-638-1240). Questionnaires are also being sent out to ask investors to put a figure on the value of the cooling-off period.

Norwich & Peterborough is offering a guaranteed fixed rate of 7.6 per cent gross a year or 7.35 per cent payable monthly on its five-year bond with a minimum investment of pounds 10,000.

Leeds & Holbeck has increased its interest rates on its large instant- access postal accounts. Sums from pounds 10,000 to pounds 25,000 earn 5.8 per cent, rising to 6 per cent up to pounds 50,000 and 6.1 per cent above that. New rates are guaranteed until September.

Sarasin Funds Management (Guernsey) has launched Equisar, a new global equity fund designed to focus on four separate themes linked to world trends rather than regions. It identifies the rise of the Asian consumer, the rising demand for energy in emerging countries, the renaissance of industrial Europe and the world of information technologies.

Flemings Offshore has launched Hydra, a new bank deposit offering guaranteed capital and an income linked to the performance of the UK, US, Hong Kong and Tokyo stock markets. Income is calculated every 90 days and once added cannot be lost regardless of subsequent movements in the indices. Minimum investment is pounds 10,000 and minimum notice 90 days.

Yorkshire Building Society Guernsey is launching an escalator bond paying 6.5 per cent in year one escalating to 10.5 per cent in year five. Interest is paid gross and can be withdrawn after a year. Minimum investment is pounds 10,000.

Scottish Widows is launching shortly a new Safety Plus PEP which allows a maximum fall of only 5 per cent a year.

Glasgow-based Murray Johnstone has relaunched its Monthly Income Selector Plan, which offers a range of annual income from 1 per cent to 9 per cent, with the right to defer payments and accumulate capital. Minimum investments are pounds 10,000.

Midland Bank and Abbey National have made their cash dispenser networks available to each other's customers. Midland and Halifax Building Society will follow suit shortly.

Chelsea Building Society has launched a new discount mortgage offering 1.1 per cent off the standard variable rate, currently 6.99 per cent. The discount continues until January 2000 and there are no early redemption penalties. Call 0800-616356 for details.

Premier Fund Managers has compiled a guide to shareholder perks, available for pounds 2.50. Call 0800-212577 to order.

General Accident Direct is offering its motor policyholders a pounds 40 discount on a buildings and contents policy. Call 0800-121004.

Motorcyclists are less likely than motorists to be involved in an accident, but they are more likely to sustain injuries and need immediate support at the scene, according to Dean Cox, managing director of Legal Recovery Group, which has launched a new Motorcycle Protection Plan.

Available through insurance brokers for around pounds 1 a month, it provides replacement motorcycle hire, new protective clothing, ambulance and medical expenses and overnight accomodation, as well as up to pounds 50,000 of legal expenses, a rescue and roadside repair service and a network of repairers.

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