A WEEK IN PERSONAL FINANCE

SAVERS with National & Provincial building society, who will be paid a windfall due to the takeover by Abbey National, suffered a cut in interest rates averaging 0.43 per cent.

House prices rose in September, according to building societies Halifax and Nationwide. But prices are still lower than a year ago and sales remain sluggish.

Savers and mortgage borrowers with Yorkshire building society are set to benefit from better interest rates as a result of a proposed new "profit share" scheme. Savers will be offered a minimum rate of 2.75 per cent gross on all accounts, while the society's standard mortgage rate will be cut from 7.99 per cent to 7.85 per cent. The move is aimed at persuading customers that Yorkshire should continue with its mutual status rather than becoming a plc and yielding windfall payouts.

Guildhall Investment Management, which runs portfolios for private investors, was fined pounds 5,000 by regulator Imro for failing to keep adequate records. No compensation is to be paid to investors - who did not suffer losses - but Guildhall is also paying pounds 12,000 in costs.

Lawyers acting for free on behalf of elderly savers with failed financial adviser Knight Williams called for other financial firms to set up a rescue fund to speed up compensation payments.

The high street banks are making fewer errors in customers' accounts, according to a survey by the Consumers Association, but a quarter of those surveyed still found mistakes last year. Barclays and Natwest scored worst for customer satisfaction.

Financial services regulators are considering allowing independent financial advisers to sell investment products of just a limited number of companies, rather than having to recommend the best available from all companies. Also under consideration is lightening regulation on financial services firms to reflect increased disclosure of costs and commissions to consumers.

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