Last updated: 17/01/2017
For those bond holders with maturing accounts, many are facing significant falls in the level of returns on offer when comparing their maturing account with the current crop of fixed term deposits on offer, especially those coming out of four or five year fixed rate bonds. And yet despite this low interest rate environment, fixed rate bonds continue to play an important role for many savers. With this in mind, we give you a roundup of our latest fixed rate bond offers, as well as take a look at some of our most popular alternatives.
Fixed rate bonds a popular choice
With interest rates looking set to continue at their record lows for some time to come, and whilst top instant access accounts only offer around 1.0% AER, savers looking for the certainty of knowing exactly how much they will receive, when and for how long, still look towards the fixed rate bond which remains a popular choice for those wanting to combine a fixed return with full capital protection.
Short term: up to 2 years
Fixed rate bonds
For those looking at the shortest fixed terms, Habib Bank offer a 6 Month Fixed Rate Deposit paying 0.80% AER, whilst new entrants Zenith Bank and Masthaven Bank offer 1.30% AER and 1.35% AER respectively if you can tie your money up for a year with their 1 Year Fixed Term Deposit. Minimum deposits start as low as £500 and your deposits are eligible for the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). Interest is paid at maturity and as is standard with most fixed term deposits, no withdrawals are permitted during the term of the bond. Zenith Bank also offers a top rate of 1.52% AER if you fix for 2 years with their 2 Year Fixed Term Deposit account, with deposits available from £1,000, whilst Masthaven’s 2 Year Fixed Term Bond is slightly more competitive at 1.53% AER with a £500 minimum balance.
Fixed rate Cash ISAs
Bank of Cyprus UK offer market leading rates in this category, with their 1 Year Fixed Rate Cash ISA paying 1.05%, and marginally higher at 1.10% AER if you want to fix for 2 years, both with a low minimum deposit of just £500. These accounts are available to anyone aged 16 or over and interest is paid annually into your Cash ISA. ISA transfers are permitted and eligible deposits are covered by the UK FSCS. Aldermore Bank offers a market leading 1.20% AER on their 2 Year Fixed Rate Cash ISA but the minimum is slightly higher at £1,000. Aldermore Bank is the five time winner of the Consumer Moneyfacts ISA Provider of the Year Award (2011-2015).
Medium term: 3 to 4 years
Fixed rate bonds
In the three to four year space, our top deal comes from the new kid on the block, Masthaven Bank, and their 3 Year Fixed Term Deposit, currently paying 1.67% AER. The minimum deposit is £500 and interest can be paid monthly or annually. For those looking specifically for monthly interest, United Bank UK’s 3 Year Fixed Term Deposit pays a slightly lower rate of 1.55% AER, but also offers a monthly interest option, in addition to having it paid annually or at maturity. No withdrawals are permitted from these accounts.
Leading our tables over 4 years is Vanquis Bank offering 1.85% AER and Masthaven Bank offering 1.84% AER with their 4 Year Fixed Term Bond, for those with between £500 and £250,000 to deposit. Both accounts have annual or monthly interest options, but no withdrawals are permitted during the term. Accounts can be opened in sole or joint names.
Fixed rate Cash ISAs
Bank of Cyprus UK continues to be very competitive in the fixed rate Cash ISA market with their 3 Year Fixed Rate Cash ISA, currently paying 1.20% AER and with a respectable minimum deposit of just £500. Aldermore are offering a higher rate of 1.25% AER fixed over 3 years with their 3 Year Fixed Rate Cash ISA whilst both of these accounts allow you to transfer in existing ISAs from other providers, and can be set up easily online.
Longer term: 5 years+
Fixed rate bonds
Although the highest rates are still rewarded with higher savings rates in return for locking your money away for longer, the interest rate gap between short term and longer term is also at record lows. For those prepared to commit their savings for five years, Vanquis Bank’s 5 Year Fixed Rate Bond is paying 2.00% AER with a minimum deposit is £1,000 whilst Masthaven Bank’s 2.01% AER is currently market leading and interest can be paid monthly or annually.
Fixed rate bond holders facing significant falls
Just over a year ago we were talking about savings rates of around 2.10% for a 1 year fixed rate, 2.35% for a 2 year fixed whilst a 3 year would get you 2.70% AER fixed. Our best rates above will earn you 1.35%, 1.53% and 1.61% AER respectively, equivalent to reductions of between 35% and 40%. And the situation is even worse for longer term bond holders. We have many customers who are coming out of five year fixed rates where the rate on offer was around 4.60%. Now, they are looking at 2.01% as the market leading five year fixed rate, a significant reduction in interest of 56%. For someone with a maturing lump sum of £50,000, this is equivalent to their income dropping from £2,300 per year to £1,005.
Investing for fixed income
It is therefore perhaps unsurprising that many fixed rate savers have had to consider a wider range of options than ever before in the search for higher levels of income, and in doing so this inevitably involves considering investments and the associated risk to your capital. One of the main issues facing those in this situation is that most traditional income investments only offer a variable income, and so comparing with a fixed rate bond can be more difficult. This is perhaps one reason which helps to explain why the Enhanced Income Plan from Investec has been such a popular plan with our customers.
Fixed income, fixed term
The plan offers a fixed income, which is paid to you regardless of the performance of the stock market, whilst the investment also has a fixed term, so you know exactly how much you will be paid and for how long. The current issue offers 5.04% fixed income each year, which is paid as 0.42% each month.
In addition to offering a fixed income, this plan is different to most investment funds in that is also offers some capital protection against a falling stock market. Known as conditional capital protection, this means that your original investment is retuned in full unless the FTSE 100 Index falls by more than 50% during the plan term. If it does, and also finishes the fixed term lower than its value at the start of the plan, your initial investment will be reduced by 1% for every 1% fall, so you could lose some or all of your initial investment.
The Enhanced Income Plan is also available as an ISA and accepts ISA transfers with a minimum investment of £3,000.
Cash versus investment – understand the risks first
One of the main differences between the fixed rate bond and the fixed income investment is that with the former, your capital is treated as a deposit and is therefore protected and returned to you at the end of the term, subject to the bank in question remaining solvent. You also have access to the deposit protection available from the UK FSCS.
An investment into the Enhanced Income Plan is used to purchase securities issued by Investec Bank plc, which means the bank’s ability to meet and repay their financial obligations is equally an important consideration. However, since this is not a deposit, you are not eligible for compensation under the FSCS for default alone, and as highlighted above, the return of your capital is also dependent on the performance of the FTSE 100 Index and so is at risk.
Risk v reward
The principle of risk versus reward means that the search for higher fixed returns usually leads to the need to consider putting your capital at risk. A good benchmark for assessing your fixed rate investment is to compare what you could get from a fixed rate deposit over a similar timeframe, and then consider whether you are prepared to accept the level of risk to your capital in return for the higher fixed rate.
Our best five year fixed rate is currently offering 1.90%. By accepting risk to your capital, the Investec plan offers 5.04% over six years, thereby offering more than two and half times the level of income each year. The main risk is that your capital is at risk if the FTSE 100 Index falls below 50% and so once you have understood how the plan works, the decision then is whether you are comfortable with putting your capital at risk in return for the higher fixed return on offer.
No news, feature article or comment should be seen as a personal recommendation to invest. Prior to making any decision to invest, you should ensure that you are familiar with the risks associated with a particular investment. If you are at all unsure of the suitability of a particular investment, both in respect of its objectives and its risk profile, you should seek independent financial advice.
Tax treatment of ISAs depends on your individual circumstances and is based on current law which may be subject to change in the future. Always remember to check whether any charges apply before transferring an ISA.
The Investec Enhanced Income Plan is a structured investment plan which is not capital protected and is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) for default alone. There is a risk of losing some or all of your initial investment. There is a risk that the company backing the plan or any company associated with the plan may be unable to repay your initial investment and any returns stated. In addition, you may not get back the full amount of your initial investment if the plan is not held for the full term. The past performance of the FTSE 100 Index is not a guide to its future performance.
AER stands for the Annual Equivalent Rate and illustrates what the interest rate would be if interest was paid and compounded once each year.