Postal service promises quick payment

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The Independent Online
A LOW-COST way for those with small privatisation holdings to turn their shares into cash is a postal dealing service.

Waters Lunniss, the stockbroking arm of the Norwich & Peterborough Building Society, has just launched Mailshare Direct, a share-dealing postal service that will do this by return of post.

Mailshare Direct claims to be unique in that it pays the proceeds of a deal by return of post. Most postal dealing services make you wait for your cash until the settlement day after dealing - 10 working days away. Another advantage of this service is that it covers all quoted shares. Most postal services are restricted to privatisation shares or a list of popular shares.

Postal services are designed for those who simply want to realise small shareholdings and do not need to have the price confirmed on the spot at the time of dealing.

The seller may have some control over the price if the service offers a price-limit feature, for which a fee is charged. If the price is not reached on the day the share service receives the share certificates, it will hold on to them and sell when the price is reached or when the stated term expires.

Another feature offered by almost all postal services is the family package deal, whereby a number of investors at the same address and holding the same stock can sell on special terms. The table shows what it would cost for four family members, each holding pounds 500 worth of the same stock.

To buy or to establish regular dealings, a phone service is more appropriate, and may offer a variety of additional features such as holding on to the certificates on your behalf, a telephone share price service and information reports on companies. The Skipton Building Society has a deposit account linked to its service, which can be used to pay for purchases and hold receipts.

Postal services have proved popular. National & Provincial's service, launched earlier this year, attracted 13,000 members in the first month and bought and sold nearly pounds 9m worth of shares.

Costs vary widely. According to recent research from N&P, a purchase or sale to the value of pounds 2,500 would cost pounds 14 through its service, but as much as pounds 37.50 with Lloyds, NatWest, Barclays or ShareLink.

If you want to sell your shares in order to invest in a broader spread through a unit trust or investment trust, share exchange schemes are worth investigating. Dealing costs for popular shares are usually low, though you will have to pay the initial charges on the investment fund. Look out for short-term deals. Until 30 September, Fleming Investment Trust Management (071-920 0539) will charge only pounds 7.50 to sell any stock from the FT engineering sector, using the proceeds to buy shares in a Fleming investment trust.

------------------------------------------------------------------------ SOME SAMPLE COSTS ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Provider and Individual Family of 4 phone number pounds 2,500 sale pounds 500 each Abbey National pounds 18.75 pounds 29.50 0903 833 338 Nationwide pounds 31.25 pounds 32.50 021 200 7711 Norwich & P'borough pounds 30.00 pounds 30.00 01603 622 265 Sharecentre pounds 29.00 pounds 32.50 0800 800 008 ShareLink pounds 25.00 pounds 20.00 021 200 2242 Skipton Building Soc pounds 9.00 pounds 15.00 0532 444 095 ------------------------------------------------------------------------