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HARGREAVES Lansdown Asset Management is offering investors a free guide to investing in gilts (with an optional payment of £1 to a chosen charity). Its director, Peter Hargreaves, believes investors are deterred by mystique from buying stocks that can offer an 8 per cent yield coupled with total security.

ABBEY NATIONAL is launching a new stepped-rate bond paying 7.8 per cent gross in the first year, rising to 8.5 per cent in the second year, with the addition of a further 0.25 per cent for each 0.5 per cent rise in base rates, up to a maximum bonus of 0.5 per cent per year.

PORTMAN Building Society is re-issuing its four-year Step-Up Bond offering 7 per cent gross in the first year, rising to 8 per cent, 9 per cent and then 11 per cent in the fourth year. The minimum investment is £500.

NATIONAL Westminster Bank is offering investors who ring 0800 200 400 a free guide to investing in shares.

THIS week's best buy in the mortgage market is a fixed rate of 5.69 per cent (5.9 per cent APR) fixed until May 1997, according to brokers John Charcol. Details on 0800 718 191.

CHESHIRE Building Society is offering a 3.5 per cent one-year mortgage discount on new house purchases up to 80 per cent of valuation, and 2.5 per cent off up to 95 per cent of property values. Standard rate is 8.49 per cent.

BUCKINGHAMSHIRE Building Society is offering 3 per cent mortgage discounts for two years, 2 per cent for three years or 1.5 per cent for four years on advances of between £40,000 and £200,000, up to 80 per cent of valuation for new mortgages and remortgages. Discounts will be reclaimed for redemptions in the first three years. An arrangement fee of £100 is required, as well as insurance with the society's insurers.

TSB is offering first-time buyers three-year fixed-rate mortgages at 8.2 per cent, with early redemption fees for the first five years. Property and repayment insurance is required, and the arrangement fee is £195.