Loose change: Titbits from the world of finance

New finance websites; Reforms to gay inheritance laws
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The Independent Online
New finance websites; Reforms to gay inheritance laws

With less than two weeks to go before the Isa deadline of April 5, over 80 per cent of people have not invested in an Isa, according to new research by Royal & SunAlliance Investments carried out by MORI Financial Services.

Around 18 per cent of participants in the nationwide survey said they had invested in an Isa this tax year. Those who had were more likely to be over 55 years of age, married or cohabiting and living in their own homes.

When asked "why have you not bought an Isa?", 46 per cent said they did not have enough money. This figure was highest in the North East, 75 per cent, and lowest in Wales, 27 per cent. Only 3 per cent cited fears about the stock market as the main reason.

Keith Luckhoo, Marketing Director at RSA Investments said the survey suggested a nationwide misconception about the amount of money investors need to invest in an Isa. "Most people know they can invest up to £7,000 each tax year, but what many fail to realise is that they can invest in an Isa with RSA Investments for as little as £25 per month."

For more information on RSA Investments' contact your Independent Financial Adviser, or call 0500 100 3333

¿ The ISA season can be a pretty stressful time, what with trying to decide which fund to choose, filling out the application and ensuring it arrives in time. With this in mind, ABN AMRO Fund Managers has announced that it will be opening an "Isa Café" on Thursday 5 April, enabling last-minute investors to complete their ISA applications in a relaxed atmosphere.

The ISA Café, at ABN's offices ­ 82 Bishopsgate, London EC2 ­ will be open until 8.00pm, and there will be ABN AMRO staff on hand to accept or help complete forms or to answer any questions. Isa applications for the 2001/02 tax year may also be submitted.

¿ To help investors that have left it until the last minute to make their Isa investment, Fidelity is setting up 41 internet Isa centres across the UK, to give investors free access to their fund supermarket, at www.FundsNetwork.co.uk.

Investors visiting one of the centres will be given free 'web time' starting 31 March until the deadline on 5 April. They can also take advantage of discounts through FundsNetwork, where the majority of the funds are priced at 1.25 per cent or less. The internet cafés cover all the UK's major cities including, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Cambridge, Glasgow, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford and York. There will be drop-off points at hotels in 11 major cities. Call 0800 41 41 71 for venues and opening times.

¿ New web pages to help consumers take control of their money are available from the investment watchdog, the Financial Services Authority (FSA). Whether you want to sort your borrowing, build an emergency fund or are perhaps thinking of buying a house or expecting a baby, the pages can help you. An interactive quiz helps you identify financial goals and gives clear and impartial information about suitable products. There is also a calculator to help you work out your budget so you can see where savings can be made. The FSA says US research shows a family on average income could easily save 5 per cent of their net income by managing their finances more effectively. Make your money work harder for you by clicking on the FSA website at www.fsa.gov.uk./consumer

¿ Gay partners will for the first time be able to guarantee that they can claim pension benefits belonging to loved ones who die. Legislation which governs stakeholder pensions, the low-cost schemes which become available from Friday, will allow those with a pension to nominate who they want their pension fund left to.

This compares to the current rules which gives pension companies discretion about whether they pay out. Until now, pension companies release the fund to spouses and certain dependants like children, but have a discretionary power over whether they would hand the fund to other parties.

Ivan Massow, the high-profile campaigner for gay rights and former Tory aide, said yesterday that the change in the rules was "a huge breakthrough".

Mr Massow founded Massow Rainbow, his own independent financial advisers which specialises in services for gay customers. The new pension is available from Massow Rainbow Group on Freefone 0800 328 0625.The pension is being underwritten by NPI and Friends Provident.

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