A windfall is in the air

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The Independent Online
I have another tip to add to my list of building societies that could be good bets for windfalls - the Skipton. Asked to provide a strategy statement for "The Major Players" an annual look at societies' financial performance published by stockbroker UBS this weekend, the Skipton, unusually, doesn't even mention being a mutual. Even the Birmingham Midshires, favourite to be the next to announce a windfall, managed a somewhat oblique commitment to mutuality. Elsewhere in the report UBS makes the point that Skipton has restated its commitment to remaining a mutual.

But I'm inclined to read more into the strategy omission. To open an account with the best chance of benefiting from any windfall you'll need pounds 2,000. Try the society's High Street instant access account, paying 4.25 per cent. If you're not near a Skipton branch, the head office is on 01756 700511.

Hold on for now

BEING an investment Euro-sceptic might seem reasonable, given recent events. The scandal at Morgan Grenfell rumbles on and this week also saw the directors of Kleinwort European Privatisation Investment Trust (Kepit) recommend the winding up of the fund after its dismal performance. Inevitably, other financial vultures are circling round holders of these investments. But my advice for investors with either Morgan or Kepit is to sit still until things get clearer. Morgan Grenfell has already promised compensation and if you're a Kepit investor the board will be writing to you with its proposals shortly. Again, whether this or proposals from an outside bidder are better will become clearer in time.

Listening banks?

I RECENTLY bemoaned the fact that bank statements don't detail who your cheques are payable to; customers don't recognise cheques and, if they query them, are often charged for the privilege of being reminded where their money has gone. I cannot report a change of heart by any of the banks. As I said, it could be that the banks - for all their talk of customer service - can't be bothered to change systems for cheques because usage is on the decline.

But, says my mailbag, problems of "anonymous" payees are not confined to cheques. Peebles tells me that electronic debits from a Bank of Scotland account are not always broken down by name nor even amount on statements - instead a total deduction is given. Swansea notes how credit card statements can sometimes be unfathomable because a company's payment name can differ from its trading name. And London makes the point that some years ago banks did return cheques to the writer, the practice in the US which allows account holders to confirm for themselves that statements are correct. Now, however, none do so. Whoever said our banks are getting better?

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