Money talk: But what about the workers ...

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The Independent Online
Oh, to be a student again. The future payers of our pensions are being offered better-than-ever banking deals - up to pounds 50 in signing-on fees and interest-free overdrafts as high as pounds 2,000 (see back page). Banks now also appear surprisingly accepting of that age-old student scam of opening accounts with more than one organisation. This year a jaunt round the "big four" could yield a swagbag of goodies worth nearly pounds 200.

This strategy of seemingly unchecked generosity - and there is nothing subsequently keeping students with a bank they don't want to stay with - seems more than a little lemming-like, however.

The banks claim they hold on to a significant number of their student customers and that their higher-than-average earnings later in life make up for the initial subsidy. Maybe. But if all that the banks are trying to do is target high earners, why not fix their promotional sights on professional people already in work, where earnings potential is more proven?

Notably, it is one of the new banks - Alliance & Leicester - which has not targeted students that is one of the few institutions regularly to offer cash incentives for working people to switch accounts. However, at pounds 30 and with no special starter rates on overdrafts and the like, there is almost certainly scope for improvement on such offers. Who knows, with the recent rash of converting building societies increasing their banking ambitions - and the prospect of a new range of banks run by non-financial companies - we may yet see special "yuppie" offers emerging and targeting, say, newly qualified accountants.

Meanwhile the rest of us still banking with the big four might well ask whether we aren't - however indirectly - paying for such blatantly good deals for students.

The Diana tragedy is likely to yield endless worthy initiatives. Among those I hope life insurance companies will consider will be the early payment of life insurance policies if someone is diagnosed as being terminally ill, albeit at a reduced price. This will not suit everyone, but in the right circumstances giving someone the opportunity, say, to go on that final holiday seems something worthy of support. There are a number of brokers of these deals - Life Benefit Resources in Bromley, Kent is among the most prominent - but few insurers make much of the possibility and some are downright unsympathetic to the idea.

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