Personal Finance: Barclays bids bye-bye to its Big Idea

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The Independent Online
IT WAS the next big idea in financial services - a fund which invested in the stockmarket yet guaranteed that you couldn't lose money.

Even more exciting, the Advanced Savings Account, launched by b2, a new, "hip" arm of Barclays Bank, offered the same access as a bank account. b2 would give its investors total flexibility, seven day access and no penalties for withdrawals.

Mark Bogard, managing director of b2, said at the company's launch a year ago: "Savers want something safe but exciting. b2 will deliver that."

But its future was short-lived: earlier this week b2 admitted that, despite a slick TV campaign featuring the actor Richard E Grant, it has quietly shelved its ASA.

The company blamed stockmarket volatility. for the problem. In truth, the problem was worse.

The cost of the guarantee meant that even with a bull run delivering 45 per cent growth over three years, investors would be lucky to see returns of more than 8 per cent a year.

b2 calculated that its trendy thirty-something image would help it break into the market for building society accounts. This paper, described it as the financial equivalent of William Hague in a baseball cap. We were right.

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