The fat lady isn't ready to sing; MONEY TALK
Sunday 27 July 1997
The society could yet face a takeover bid, with Prudential a possible predator. Even without a bid, next year there is every possibility that elections to the board will be contested again.
Meanwhile, Nationwide's apparently resounding victory, while morale- boosting for many of the remaining societies, does not mean that a challenge elsewhere would be unsuccessful. Nationwide has made a better fist of proving the benefits of mutuality than most, and its challengers - headed by a former butler - were hardly the most credible. True, some mutuals have been lobbying for greater protection against future bids and challenges. But there are also societies out there - Birmingham Midshires and Skipton are my tips - who would probably be quite happy to sell out to the right buyer. Speculation could also switch to mutual insurers again - another group of financial companies where there is a pressing logic for rationalisation.
It is a fair bet that between now and the millennium the number of additional windfalls notched up could reach double figures.
So windfall hunters need not give up. Indeed, for people who missed getting accounts with Nationwide, the society has said that it hopes to reopen its doors to new customers, and opening balances may be modest too.
Moreover, Nationwide is as aware as anyone that last week's vote marked a lucky escape and that outsiders will be watching for any signs of complacency. Savers and borrowers can take heart from the fact that it will have difficulty explaining any relaxation in its keener rates.
Perhaps its victory will also prompt improvements to other aspects of its service that are lacking, and in some areas, even to set the pace. Bugbears that I would like to see addressed include allowing savers in its InvestDirect instant access postal account to make withdrawals by telephone transfer. At present, the post and cheque clearance times mean savers have to wait a week or longer for access to funds, or pay to use a cashpoint if they want instant access. Secondly, an end to these and all other cashpoint charges. Thirdly, a guaranteed turnaround time on mortgage offers. Lenders have a lot of gazumping to answer for as a result of failing to process mortgage applications quickly, and Nationwide's claim that it can give a firm mortgage offer in three days, but typically takes two weeks, does not convince me that it is anything special. A same-day mortgage would clean up, and if the world's biggest building society can't find its way to launching such a product, then the Tescos and Virgins of this world will.
Simon Read: The point of having protection insurance? The right cover can help reduce your financial concerns at a time of extreme worry
19 December 2014 07:30 PM
In May Nicola Groves got a massive shock. The 45-year-old mother of two was told, bluntly, that she had breast cancer. "When I heard the words, 'You do have breast cancer and you are going to lose your breast', I felt as if time stood still," she says.
19 December 2014 07:30 PM
It's that time again when the media looks back over the past year and forward to the next. I am reminded of an old film, The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961). Near the end of the film a newspaper prints two headlines – which one it uses will depend on whether the world is saved or doomed.
12 December 2014 05:42 PM
The supermarket banks have always excelled at offering simple, no nonsense products, and savings accounts is another area in which they fare well
12 December 2014 06:17 PM
The sun is shining on people who struggle to heat their homes and it’s thanks to a sense of community
12 December 2014 06:23 PM
Struggling people need help, understanding and forbearance, not ill-thought-out pronouncements
12 December 2014 06:20 PM
You won’t find me bashing the banks for the sake of it, but sadly they’ve deserved all the criticism that’s been sent their way in recent years
12 December 2014 06:02 PM
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice: 'The injustice of shock bills for crime victims must end. The Government must stand up for consumers and cap bills from lost or stolen phones at £50'
12 December 2014 05:57 PM
Stirring the pot: the Indian Government’s reforms of labour rules offer hope of a brighter future for businesses
12 December 2014 05:53 PM
Knight of the road, look out: you’ve got a new rival
06 December 2014 12:00 AM
Simon Read: The Chancellor has stamped on an unfair tax. But will the delight of homebuyers mean misery for others?
06 December 2014 12:00 AM
Were you surprised by the sudden reform of the rules for stamp duty on property purchases? I certainly was. I've been calling for ages for a change in the tax to make it more fair – and, at a stroke, George Osborne did just that on Wednesday in his Autumn Statement.
29 November 2014 12:00 AM
21 November 2014 04:33 PM
With some people are weighing up whether they will be better off cashing in their final salary pension next spring, Samantha Downes asks the experts
Pension mortgages: 'The advice I was given was wrong and now I face losing my home'
You'll need £220,000 for a minimum wage in your retirement
Questions of Cash: I checked in with Air France in time and still missed the plane
Minister's pension promise to firefighters challenged
Bank-beating exchange rates on your international payments
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Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
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