Posts Tagged ‘saving’

Latest inflation, wage growth, interest rates and what this means for your savings

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The latest figures indicate that inflation bounced right back up to 2.9% in the month of August. This means that the headline rate of inflation continues at a level well above the Bank of England’s 2% target. What’s making matters worse is that earnings are not increasing anywhere near enough to keep pace, thereby increasing the financial pressures felt by many households in the UK. So it is vital to consider all of your options in light of the impact inflation and sluggish wage growth could have on your savings. We therefore take a closer look at what is happening in the UK and explore the possible ways to get the most from your savings.

Inflation Latest

UK inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), dropped unexpectedly from 2.9% in May to 2.6% in June and remained at 2.6% for July. However, according to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), inflation returned to the heights of 2.9% in August.

The increase to 2.9% recorded in May and again in August 2017 is the highest inflation level since April 2012, the rate having slowly increased after a much welcome period of very low inflation during 2015. It may shock many savers to learn that inflation sat at just 0.9% a short 12 months ago.

Economists who witnessed inflation balloon by 2% in a year do not forecast a bright future for the next few months, as The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), believe it will reach 3% by the end of 2017. This widely accepted pessimism was underpinned by the Bank of England’s (the Bank’s) Inflation Report in August, which predicted that inflation will likely peak at 3% as soon as October of this year.

The Future for Interest Rates

In line with the Bank of England’s recent summary, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) predictably voted by a majority of 6-2 to maintain interest rates at the record low of 0.25%. The recent decline in inflation may fill some with confidence that the Bank will raise interest rates soon. However, Charlie Bean, the former Bank of England’s deputy mused “it looks like the economy might be slowing, it seems like an odd time to increase interest rates”.

Upon review of the slow growth in the economy and the current rate of inflation, NIESR predicts that the Bank may increase interest rates in the first quarter of 2018, whilst Stuart Green of Santander Global Corporate Banking said that he “did not expect a rate hike to happen before 2019”. Either way, this does not fill us with a great amount of confidence.

Uncertainty

Some have suggested that the interest rate will not increase until after Brexit negotiations are finished and judging by the latest reports about the negotiations, it seems we could be waiting a long time before the Band of England decide to raise interest rates again.

Even though the question is not ‘if’ the Bank of England will increase interest rates but ‘when’, the rate is likely only to increase to 0.5%, and so the impact on savings rates is likely to be minimal in the short term, and only very gradual over time.

Lagging Wage Growth

With inflation and the question marks over whether to increase interest rates, UK households are enduring a prolonged period of sluggish wage growth. In the last four months wage growth has experienced the biggest drop since August 2014.

Unfortunately, the pressure on incomes is likely to continue as the latest forecast for pay rises sits at just 1%. Households all over the country are feeling the pinch and their wages just do not go as far as they used to, resulting in people spending less money. UK consumer spending is down for the third month in a row.

With less disposable cash, fewer people have been able to put money aside into their savings, and it is no secret that the less you put into savings, the less you will get from it. Ultimately this leads us to the same conclusion: it remains as important as ever to find the best returns on offer.

Savings Products

Fixed rate bonds have historically been the cornerstone product for many savers. However, the rates on offer from these accounts have probably changed more than any other in recent years. Continued reductions in the returns from fixed rate bonds have seen many savers suffering significant falls in the income received from their savings.

At the time of writing, there is not a single fixed rate bond that matches the rate of inflation, and as a result, many savers are losing money in real terms. What’s more, the best savings rates currently on offer from an instant access account provides around 1.25% AER, which sits well below the rate of inflation.

Do Your Homework

Despite the mounting pressure from potentially increasing inflation and sluggish wage growth, it is important to take the time to make the right decision for your financial circumstances. It may be appropriate to review the current amount of interest paid on all your savings and compare this with other savings accounts on the market.

Although the current crop of savings accounts do not come close to matching inflation, if you do not want to put your capital at risk then there are not many options available. However, making sure you have found the best deal for your savings has to be a top priority.

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Taking on More Risk or Face Losing Money in Real Terms

The harsh reality in today’s economic landscape is if you do nothing, your money is losing value in real terms so long as the interest rate you receive is lower than inflation. One course of action to combat the effect of inflation is to consider a change of strategy.

The current inflationary environment, along with the slow wage growth and poor interest rates, means that savers may have to consider taking on more risk with some of their capital, in order to try and replicate previous interest rates and secure better returns from their capital.

Capital at Risk Products

One alternative for savers is to consider capital at risk investment plans. These products offer the opportunity to secure competitive returns to potentially beat inflation. Though the capital is not directly invested in the stock market, the potential returns are generally linked to the performance of the FTSE 100 and so offer the potential for competitive rates of return when compared to fixed term bonds.

One such investment plan uniquely offers a fixed monthly income, paid to you regardless of what happens to the stock market, with only the return of your initial capital dependent on the performance of the FTSE 100 index (rather than your income as well).

Risk Versus Reward

Of course, it is important to note that these products do not provide the capital invested with complete protection, and there is a risk of losing some or all of the initial investment. When it comes to capital at risk products there is always a question of risk versus 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 time frame, and then consider whether you are prepared to accept the level of risk to your capital in return for the higher fixed rate.

In Conclusion

However you decide to proceed, the impact of lagging wage growth, low savings rates and the possibility of soaring inflation cannot be ignored. Although savings accounts offer complete protection for your capital, it seems that the record low savings rates are here to stay for the foreseeable future. This could result in savers’ capital diminishing in value and losing money in real terms but before considering capital at risk products, you must make sure you fully understand all of the risks involved before proceeding.

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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.

The fixed income investment mentioned is a structured investment plan that 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. This investment does not include the same security of capital which is afforded to deposit accounts.

Inflation falls but what does this really mean for savers?

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Figures launched today reveal that UK inflation fell to 2.6% from its five year high of 2.9% the previous month. However, despite this fall, there is gathering consensus that it could rise again in the second half of this year. This latest level also means that inflation is still well above the 2% target set by the Bank of England, and so it remains as important as ever to review your options in light of the impact inflation can have on your hard earned cash.  We take a closer look at what the latest rate of inflation really means when making decisions around our savings and investments.

Inflation latest

UK inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), dropped unexpectedly today to 2.6% according to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). This represents a fall of 0.3% from its previous five year high of 2.9% in the previous month – its highest level since April 2012. The rate has climbed gradually following a period of very low inflation during 2015. The latest figures provided by the CPI show there has been an increase of almost 2% over the last 12 months.

And yet despite this latest reduction, the forecast for inflation for the remainder of the year does not look bright either. Paul Hollingsworth, a UK economist at Capital Economics, explains that “it takes time for rises in producer prices to feed through to prices in the shops … we think that CPI inflation will rise a bit further in the second half of the year, peaking at about 3.2% in the fourth quarter.” Though Mr Hollingsworth accepts that inflation is likely to drop back down in 2018, the UK will feel the pinch in the second half of 2017.

The future for interest rates

In June the Bank of England predictably decided to keep interest rates at their record low of 0.25%. However, what was not so predictable was the fact that three Bank of England policymakers wanted to raise interest rates. In addition, Andy Haldane, Chief Economist and the Executive Director of Monetary Analysis and Statistics at the Bank of England, reportedly proposed that the Bank should increase rates “at a gradual pace and to a limited extent”. So although interest rates remain low, the deeper split with the Bank of England’s committee illustrates a potential rise in the near future and perhaps sooner than you might think. Whether the latest fall to the headline rate of inflation will dampen this sentiment we will have to wait and see.

Pressures mounting on households

Though, for right now, the status quo remains the same. The lowest interest rate on record coupled with relatively high levels of inflation when taking a five year view, is a combination which will make life difficult for the average UK household. Despite recent reports from the ONS that unemployment fell, wage growth is slipping to 1.8 per cent. Weak wage growth and high inflation rates means less disposable income for households, making it harder for the average UK household to make ends meet, let alone put enough money into their savings.

Impact on saving

Higher headline rates of inflation are always bad news for savers as the value of the money they hold in their accounts is eroded more quickly. The knock-on effect of higher inflation is that savings accounts will not pay enough interest to beat inflation, and this is already the case.

Whatever happens to future interest rates, with inflation currently running at 2.6%, basic rate taxpayers with the full Personal Savings Allowance available need to achieve at least this rate to match inflation, whilst taxpayers without the Personal Savings Allowance need to achieve at least 3.25% and higher rate taxpayers considerably more. A review of the savings rates we currently have on offer shows rates of around 1.25% AER on instant access, 1.70% AER and 1.90% AER for one and two year fixed rates respectively, around 2.20% AER for a three year fixed rate and 2.42% AER if you fix for five years.

This means there are no cash savings products currently on offer that get anywhere close to the rate of inflation, ensuring that with deposit based savings, you are losing money in real terms.

Always compare

Regardless of what inflationary pressure there is, the best course of action is to check the amount of interest paid on all of your savings and then take the time to compare your current savings accounts with what is currently available in the market. Even though savings rates do not currently stack up against inflation, if you want to maintain full capital protection with your money there are limited alternative options out there. But making sure the cash deals you do have are competitive has to be priority number one.

Lose money in real terms versus taking on more risk

The risk of doing nothing is that your money is losing value in real terms for the entire time that the interest rate paid is less than inflation. Due to the amount that savers have to earn to match inflation, it may be time for a change of strategy in relation to your savings. But whilst the combination of low savings rates and the potential for continuing high inflation may force more of us to consider investing, this raises the difficult question of taking on more risk in an attempt to replicate historical levels of income enjoyed from cash based products.

Beating inflation by putting your capital at risk

By putting your capital at risk you open up opportunities for potentially higher returns which in turn could combat any future rises to inflation. Although most investments only offer a variable income, the fixed monthly income available from Investec’s FTSE 100 Enhanced Income Plan has been a very popular choice with our investors. The current issue pays 0.3625% per month (equivalent to 4.35% per year) and has a five year fixed term. This plan is available as an ISA and also accepts ISA transfers and non-ISA investments. The plan also includes conditional capital protection, so your capital is returned at the end of the fixed term unless the FTSE 100 Index falls by more than 40%.

Risk versus reward

It is important to remember that unlike deposit based savings products, this plan puts your capital at risk and if the FTSE does fall more than 40%, you could lose some or all of your initial capital. Also, since it is an investment rather than a deposit-based plan, your initial capital is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme should the bank default.

In conclusion …

Whatever route you decide to take, there is no escaping the impact of continuing low savings rates and falling income levels, all to be compounded by the prospect of inflation continuing well above the level of interest paid on savings accounts. It seems the trade off for capital security for some time to come will be low rates of interest and in all likelihood a negative return in real terms, whilst for those considering using some of their savings to invest, you must make sure you fully understand all of the risks involved before proceeding.

 

Click here to compare instant access accounts »

Click here to compare fixed rate bonds »

Click here for more information on the Investec Enhanced Income Plan »

Click here to visit our Income Section »

 

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. Fair Investment Company does not offer advice and any investment transacted through us is on a non-advised basis. 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.

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 or any shares listed within the Index is not a guide to their future performance. This investment does not include the same security of capital which is afforded to a deposit account.    

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.

AER stands for the Annual Equivalent Rate and illustrates what the interest rate would be if interest was paid and compounded once each year.

Savings Focus: Ulster Bank launches market leading instant access

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Ulster Bank’s latest release of their eSavings instant access account has made a firm statement to the savings market in the UK – to be market leading. Whilst RCI Bank has long been at the forefront of instant access rates with their popular Freedom Savings Account, Ulster Bank looks set to give them a run for their money, so here we take a closer look at what this simple and yet highly competitive account has to offer.

Market leading rate: 1.25% AER Variable

The most impressive feature of the account is the rate. Ulster Bank’s eSavings account is currently offering 1.25% AER variable gross, which is market leading for an instant access account in the UK.

Earning you more

According to the Bank of England*, the average instant access account is currently paying only 0.15%, and so there are hundreds of thousands of savers out there who could benefit from the rate currently on offer from the eSavings account. Assuming a balance of £50,000, this account would pay £625 per year compared to just £75 from the average account – that’s an additional £550 per year.

One simple rate

Unlike other accounts, there are no bonus periods or tiered interest rates, just one simple market leading rate across all of your balance. Interest is calculated daily, and paid on the last business day of the month.

No minimum – start saving from just £1

There is no minimum deposit required to open the account, so you start saving from just £1. Although there is a maximum balance, this is set at £5m so should not affect many.

Instant access

The eSavings account is an instant access savings account which means that you can withdraw money at any time and no notice is required. You can withdraw money by online transfer, via the mobile app or through telephone banking. There are daily withdrawal limits in place, which are currently £20,000 per working day for payments made via online banking, and £10,000 per working day via telephone banking. You are able to transfer more than your daily limit by sending your instruction in writing.

Managing your account

You can manage your account online through Anytime Internet Banking, by telephone banking or via the mobile app. You must register for the Anytime Internet Banking service to manage your account via online, telephone or on the mobile app.

Available to all

Provided you are aged 18 or over and a UK resident, this account is open to all savers, both new and existing customer of Ulster Bank.

Easy to apply

The account has to be opened online but only takes a few minutes to apply.

Financial Services Compensation Scheme

Ulster Bank Limited is part of the Royal Bank of Scotland group and is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. As a UK regulated bank, it is also a member of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). The Scheme can pay compensation to customers if they are eligible and Ulster Bank Limited is unable to pay claims against it, for example if it ceases to trade or becomes insolvent. The scheme will cover up to £85,000 per person for money held on deposit. For further information about this protection you can read ‘How FSCS protects your money’ or you can visit the FSCS website.

 

Click here to find out more about the Ulster Bank instant access account » 

 

* Bank of England average quoted household interest rates for instant access savings, 7th June 2017

AER stands for the Annual Equivalent Rate and illustrates what the interest rate would be if interest was paid and compounded once each year.

Gross rate is the interest rate you are paid without the deduction of income tax. The account does not deduct tax from the interest paid. The tax treatment may be subject to change in the future and depends on your individual circumstances.

5 percent fixed for 12 months – our best selling current account…

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Last updated: 25/10/2016

With more and more high interest current account providers announcing reductions to their interest rates, the 5% fixed for 12 months from Nationwide now looks even better than before. Here we take a more detailed look at the pressures savers are facing in these difficult economic conditions, as well as help reveal why the FlexDirect continues to be our best selling current account.

Nationwide FlexDirect account summary

  • 5.0% AER (4.89% gross p.a.) fixed for 12 months
  • Paid on balances up to £2,500, no interest paid above this amount
  • 1.0% AER variable on balances up to £2,500 after 12 months
  • You must pay in £1,000 per month to qualify
  • No requirement to set up direct debits
  • Contactless Visa debit card available
  • 12 month fee-free arranged overdraft available
  • Free text alerts to help you manage your account
  • No monthly account fee
  • Covered by the Current Account Switch Guarantee and Financial Services Compensation Scheme

Savings rates in dire straits

Our market leading instant access account (RCI Bank Freedom Savings Account) is currently paying 1.0% AER variable, whilst our best long term fixed rate (Vanquis 5 Year Fixed Rate Bond) will get you 1.95% AER – that’s an increase of less than 1% per year for tying up your money for five years, albeit the rate from Vanquis is fixed for the full term. Then of course there are a load of accounts offering rates in between these, mainly fixed rate bonds of different durations. It may be repeated far too often, but unfortunately it makes it no less true – savings rates are at record lows – and it would seem this at the very least, this is set to continue, and possibly get even worse.

Inflation into the mix

If record low savings rates weren’t enough to worry about, the Consumer Price Index rose from 0.6% to 1.0% in September, the biggest monthly rise in more than 2 years and its highest level for 22 months. Since this rise, less than half of all savings accounts are able to match or beat this level, which means many savers are seeing the value of their cash eroded in real terms. According to the Bank of England, the average easy access account now pays under 0.3%, and with further cuts to savings rates on the cards, inflationary rises are a serious cause for concern.

High interest current accounts

Although historically, current accounts offered little if anything in the form of interest on your account balance this has changed significantly in the last few years, and against this harsh economic backdrop for savers, it is hardly surprising that the high headline rates of interest on offer have made compelling reading. Indeed, high interest current accounts have been one of the most popular safe havens for those looking to combine all of the usual account features you would expect from a full banking service with a highly competitive rate.

5% fixed for 12 months

Top of the rate table is Nationwide’s FlexDirect account which offers 5.0% AER (4.89% gross p.a.) fixed for the first 12 months. This rate is paid on all in-credit balances up to £2,500 and you must pay in a minimum of £1,000 per month to qualify (this excludes internal transfers). After 12 months the rate reverts to 1.0% AER variable. There is no monthly account fee, and with top rates on instant access and fixed term deposits ranging between 1.0% and 1.95%, it is easy to see why this account has attracted so much attention.

Others falling short

TSB Bank also offers 5.0% AER but this is variable and is only paid on balances up to £2,000, rather than the £2,500 on offer from Nationwide. The rate is, however, paid ongoing rather than for a fixed period of 12 months. But TSB has recently announced that with effect from 4th January 2017, the rate will reduce to 3.0% AER variable and will only be paid on balances up to £1,500. This follows in the footsteps of Santander who announced back in August that the 3% top tier interest rate on its flagship 1|2|3 Account would be halved to 1.50%, taking effect from 1st November this year. Lloyds has also announced that the rate on their Club Lloyds current account will halve from 4% to 2% in January 2017.

So whilst Nationwide’s main competitors are reducing their rates, this makes the FlexDirect offering even more competitive, especially since the rate is fixed for the first 12 months. Currently we are not aware that Nationwide has any plans to reduce its rate, although they state their rates are constantly under review.

Fair Investment view

Commenting on the account, Oliver Roylance-Smith, head of savings and investments at Fair Investment Company said; “The FlexDirect from Nationwide offers a market leading interest rate on balances up to £2,500, although the £1,000 you are required to pay in each month is at the higher end compared to other current accounts offering competitive interest rates. There is also no monthly account fee, so all of the interest earned goes straight into your pocket. Although the rate drops to 1% variable after the first 12 months, this is still considerably more than most other current accounts and on a par with some of the top instant access accounts currently on offer. With the Current Account Switch Guarantee running alongside, there really is no excuse to finding out more.

Santander still the top choice on larger balances

With effect from 1st November, Santander’s 1|2|3 account offers 1.50% AER variable on all balances up to £20,000. If you were to compare this with the best instant access accounts on offer, it would be a clear market leader, albeit with the cap on the amount you can earn interest on. You can also earn up to 3% cashback on selected household bills such as council tax, gas and electricity, broadband, mobile phones and more. You must pay in at least £500 per month and have at least two active direct debits to receive interest and cashback. There is also a £5 monthly account fee, which may be cancelled out if you make the most of the cashback on offer – their site has a simple calculator to help you work out how much cashback and interest you might earn, versus this monthly cost.

A note on the Personal Savings allowance

Remember that since the start of the current tax year (6th April 2016), most people receive a personal tax free allowance for interest earnings on savings. For basic rate taxpayers this is set at £1,000 each tax year, whilst higher rate taxpayers get an allowance of £500. Beyond these allowances, basic rate taxpayers will pay 20 percent on savings income and higher rate taxpayers pay 40 percent. Additional rate tax payers will not receive a personal allowance. Also note that income from ISAs does not count towards your Personal Savings Allowance (it’s already tax-free).

An important part to play for savers?

Even with the Personal Savings Allowance, there is no doubt that every penny counts in these days of record low rates, creeping inflation and economic pressures all round, and so the returns on offer from the best high interest current accounts cannot be ignored. 5% on £2,500 equates to £125. Our market leading instant access currently offers 1.0% and so you would need £12,500 in that account to achieve the same level of return. Although these are first and foremost current accounts, they also have every right to be considered amongst the range of options for savers.

7-Day Switch

Apart from the low interest rates generally on offer, one of the main reasons many of us have stayed with our current account provider far longer than other type of account, is the fear that something would go wrong with the direct debits associated with our account. However, since the introduction of the current account switch service in September 2013, the whole process of switching banks is easier and will now be completed in seven working days – the 7-Day Switch.

Over 40 banks have signed up to the service (including Nationwide and Santander), which makes sure that all outgoing payments, such as standing orders and direct debits, will be transferred across to your new bank on your behalf. The service also guarantees that should any incoming payments be sent to your old account in error, these will be automatically redirected to your new account for up to 36 months after your switch date. This means the banks do all the hard work for you, making switching smoother and faster.

To switch or not to switch?

The 7-Day Switch rules therefore offer peace of mind to anyone considering a switch from their current account provider. However, you don’t necessarily have to switch your current account – although Santander requires you to have at least two active direct debits, Nationwide does not and so if maximising interest is your top priority, you could also consider taking one of these accounts out in addition to your existing current account, thereby leaving everything you already have in place. You will of course have to make sure you pay in the minimum amount required each month in order to earn the level of interest on offer.

Could you get more from your current account?

Many existing accounts pay no interest at all, so with up to 5.0% available it is always worth comparing what the market has to offer. Staying put simply because you have all of your direct debits set up is no longer a valid reason, especially since the introduction of the current account switch guarantee (see below for further details). As a minimum, these accounts should be considered an important contributor to the overall returns from your savings.

 

Click here for more information on Nationwide’s FlexDirect account »

Click here for more information on TSB’s Current Plus account »

Click here for more information on Santander’s 1|2|3 account »

Click here to compare high interest current accounts »

 

Please note that all rates and charges quoted are subject to change.

Overdrafts are only open to customers aged 18 or over and are subject to approval.

AER stands for Annual Equivalent Rate and illustrates what the interest rate would be if interest was paid and compounded once each year.

Gross is the interest you will receive before tax is deducted.

Fixed rate head to head: Cash versus Investments

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The appeal of a fixed return from our capital is obvious, which is why the fixed rate bond has been such a popular choice over the years with both savers and income seekers alike. But whilst savings rates continue at their record lows, it is also understandable why some are choosing to consider moving up the risk spectrum in the hunt for higher returns. Although investments generally only offer a variable income, our most popular investment plan offers a fixed income, and so the ability to compare the two options becomes easier. Here we offer a fixed rate head to head, as we compare the pros and cons of our best selling income investment with the top fixed rate bond deals available.

Fixed rate bonds

Fixed rate bonds, or more accurately fixed term deposits, have for some time been a cornerstone of many a saver’s portfolio. Probably the main reason is that they offer a fixed rate of interest, known at outset and which does not change for the duration of the product, so you know exactly how much you will receive and when.

These products also combine a fixed term, so you know exactly how long you will receive the level of fixed income, and provided the bank remains solvent, your capital is protected and returned to you in full at the end of the fixed term. The longer the fixed term, normally the higher the fixed rate of interest offered, as compensation for tying up your money.

Fixed income investments

The income from collective investments (such as funds) invariably comes from equity dividends, bond interest or rental yields from property. Combined with the fluctuation in value of the underlying asset, be this a share, bond or property, then by its very nature the value is neither fixed nor guaranteed and so investments normally offer a variable income – and of course your capital is at risk.

Fixed income investments therefore are not common, which perhaps partly helps to explain why the Enhanced Income Plan from Investec has been our most popular income plan. The plan offers a fixed income and means that you receive your income regardless of the performance of the stock market, so the investor has the certainty of knowing at the outset exactly how much he will receive each and every year.

Cash v investment

The most important difference between the two is that with a fixed term deposit, 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 remaining solvent. However, whilst Investec’s fixed income investment also relies on the bank remaining solvent throughout the term of your investment, the return of your capital is also dependent on the performance of the FTSE 100 Index, therefore your capital is at risk.

Whilst income remains a top priority for many and the appeal of fixed rate remains as high as ever, having a good understanding of the main differences between these two fixed rate options is often not fully explored, so here we compare the key features of each of them:

Fixed rate

The current market leading long term fixed rate bond is the 5 Year Fixed Rate Deposit Account from State Bank of India, which offers 2.50% AER fixed. By historical standards this is one of the lowest on record. The latest issue of the Enhanced Income Plan offers an annual income of 5.04%, which is more than double that offered by the best cash-based fixed rate available.

Payment frequency

Another important feature of fixed rate products is how often the interest is paid. State Bank of India’s fixed rate only pays interest annually, and when you set up your account, an instant access savings account is automatically opened and the interest is paid into this account on an annual basis, so there is also no option to compound your interest either. This is not particularly attractive for those looking to supplement their income with a regular fixed rate payment, or who would like the option to have the interest paid into another account.

The Enhanced Income Plan pays income monthly (0.42% per month), which can often be the most useful in terms of budgeting and is attractive when looking to supplement existing income or boost retirement income from your capital. A monthly option for cash savers is available from Aldermore Bank’s 5 Year Fixed Rate Account which also includes the option for this to be paid into an account of your choice, but the rate is 0.25% lower than the State Bank of India product at 2.25% AER fixed.

Fixed term

Both the fixed term deposit and the Enhanced Income Plan have fixed terms. Historically, five year fixed rates have been the most common long term fixed rate and have offered the higher rates of interest in return for tying your money up a longer period. The Enhanced Income Plan also has a fixed term but this is one year longer at six years. Fixed terms often appeal to those who wish to plan around this and combined with a fixed rate, offer the peace of mind of knowing exactly what will be paid, when and for how long.

Early closure

Premature withdrawals, additional deposits or early closures are not permitted during the term of the State Bank of India fixed term deposit. The Enhanced Income Plan does include the option to withdraw your money early, however the investment is designed to be held for the full term and early withdrawal or closure could result in you getting back more or less than you originally invested, depending on how long your investment has been running and market conditions at the time

ISA option

State Bank of India’s 5 Year Fixed Term Deposit is a non-ISA fixed rate and so is not available as a Cash ISA whilst the Investec plan is available as both an ISA and non-ISA, whilst it also accepts ISA transfers. If you are someone who would otherwise pay basic rate income tax on some or all of the interest received from their capital, by using your ISA allowance you could be up to 20% better off, with greater tax savings for higher rate tax payers.

Market leading five year fixed rate Cash ISAs are only offering 2.0% AER, and so by comparison, the Investec plan offers an even higher increase to your fixed income in return for putting your capital at risk.

Treatment of capital

Since the income from both of these products is fixed for the term of the plan, their main difference is the treatment of your initial capital. The fixed term deposit is capital protected, which means that your initial capital is returned in full at the end of the fixed term (subject to credit risk which is covered below), whilst the Enhanced Income Plan puts your initial capital at risk.

Unlike most income investments, the Enhanced Income Plan does include some capital protection from a falling stock market. This is commonly known as conditional capital protection and means that the return of your initial capital is conditional on the performance of the FTSE 100 Index and will be returned in full at the end of the six year term, provided the FTSE does not fall by more than 50%. If it does fall below 50%, 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.

Credit risk

Repayment of your capital at the end of a fixed term deposit is reliant on the bank being solvent at the time the capital repayment becomes due, whilst an investment into the Enhanced Income Plan is used to purchase securities issued by Investec Bank plc, which means its ability to meet and repay their financial obligations is equally an important consideration. Both of these products therefore contain counterparty credit risk, which means that in the event of the bank going into liquidation, you could lose any future returns as well as some or all of your initial capital.

Credit ratings and agencies

One accepted method of determining credit worthiness of a company is to look at credit ratings that are issued and regularly reviewed by independent companies known as ratings agencies. Fitch is a leading credit agency and as at 1st May 2016, Investec Bank has a BBB rating and the State Bank of India has a BBB- rating, both with a stable outlook. The ‘BBB’ rating signifies both institutions are considered to have a good credit quality with low expectation of failure to repay its debts whilst the ‘-‘ denotes being at the lower end of this particular rating grade. A stable outlook indicates the rating is not likely to change in the short to medium term (around 6 months to 2 years).

Compensation scheme

Provided the deposit taker offering the fixed rate bond has a UK banking licence, your initial capital is normally eligible to be covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme which covers potential deposit claims up to a maximum of £75,000 per person, per institution. The Enhanced Income Plan is not a deposit so it would not be covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme for default alone.

Risk v reward

The principle of risk v reward means that the search for higher income returns often leads us to consider putting our capital at risk. A good benchmark for assessing Investec’s fixed income investment is to compare the best fixed term deposit rates on offer over a similar timeframe, and then consider whether you are comfortable with the risk to your capital in order to receive a higher fixed return. As detailed above, by accepting risk to your capital the Investec plan offers just over double the market leading fixed term deposit, with a higher increase when compared with leading fixed rate Cash ISAs. The risk is that is if the FTSE falls by more than 50%, you could lose some or all of your initial investment.

Fair Investment conclusion

Whatever fixed rate option is undertaken, it is imperative that the risks of each are fully considered and understood. Whether this is inflation risk, risk of capital loss or credit risk, it should always be remembered that it is the income and capital loss/rise combined that produce your overall return.

Commenting on the cash versus investment fixed rate options, Oliver Roylance-Smith, head of savings and investments at Fair Investment Company, said: “Whilst fixed term deposits offer the peace of mind of a safe return of our initial capital, we cannot also escape the fact that the current rates on offer are some of the lowest on record. But when making a comparison between a cash product and an investment, we must always bear in mind that one offers capital protection, whilst the other puts your capital at risk.”

He continued, “With fixed deposit rates as they are, the pressure is clearly on savers to think long and hard about what to do with their money, and yet whilst the high level of fixed income and the monthly payment frequency are attractive features of the fixed income investment, before considering any investment it is important to understand the balance of risk v reward. The decision is therefore whether you are comfortable with putting your capital at risk combined with the terms of the conditional capital protection offered, in return for the higher fixed returns.”

 

The Investec Enhanced Income Plan is now available for ISAs, ISA transfers and non-ISA investments, with a minimum investment of £3,000. Click here to find out more »

The State Bank of India 5 Year Fixed Term Deposit is now available as a deposit only (non-ISA), with a minimum deposit of £10,000. Click here to find out more »

 

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. Fair Investment Company does not offer advice and any investment transacted through us in on a non-advised basis. 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.

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 or any shares listed within the Index is not a guide to their future performance.

Tax treatment 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.

AER stands for the Annual Equivalent Rate and illustrates what the interest rate would be if interest was paid and compounded once each year.

Our 10 best last minute ISA ideas

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With just one week to go until the deadline for using your 2015/16 ISA allowance of £15,240, this really is your last opportunity to make use of this valuable tax break and help protect your returns from the taxman. If you are yet to make use of some or all of your allowance, here we give you our 10 best last minute ISA ideas. Including both Cash ISA and Investment ISAs, as well as opportunities where you can include your 2016/17 ISA allowance (£15,240) as well, there should be something for everyone.

1.   Our best-selling Investment ISA

For those looking for growth but also with the opportunity to mature early or ‘kick out’ each year, the Enhanced Kick Out Plan offers 11.50% for each year invested provided the FTSE 100 Index at the end of each year is higher than its value at the start of the plan (subject to averaging). Capital is at risk if the FTSE falls by more than 50%. This is our best selling Investment ISA during the current ISA season and also features a Double ISA option.  Click here for more information »

2.   Fixed income Investment ISA

The Enhanced Income Plan is a regular ISA season top seller, paying a fixed income of 5.28% per year regardless of what happens to the stock market. The plan also has monthly income payments, so you know exactly how much you will paid, when, and for how long. Capital is at risk if the FTSE 100 Index falls by more than 50%. This plan features a Double ISA option.  Click here for more information »

3.   Self-select Investment ISA top seller

Barclays Stockbrokers has been voted ‘Best Execution-Only Broker’ at the Shares Awards 2015 whilst they have also been voted Self Select ISA Provider of the Year 2016 at the ADVFN International Financial Awards. Their investment ISA offers over 2,000 funds as well as a wide range of other investments including shares, exchange traded funds, investment trust, gilts and bonds.  Click here for more information »

4.   Defensive Investment ISA best seller

The Defensive Growth Plan from Investec offers a fixed return of 36% (equivalent to 5.25% compound annual growth) plus a return of your original capital, provided the FTSE 100 Index has not fallen by 50% or more at the end of the investment term. If it has, no growth will be achieved and your capital will be reduced by 1% for each 1% fall. This plan also features a Double ISA option.  Click here for more information »

5.   Income Investment ISA top seller

The FTSE Quarterly Contingent Income Plan pays a quarterly income of 1.875% for each quarter the FTSE 100 Index does not end less than 25% below its value at the start of the plan. So even if the FTSE falls up to 25% each quarter, you would still achieve 7.50% annual income. Capital is at risk if the FTSE has fallen by more than 40% at the end of the investment term. This plan features a Double ISA option.  Click here for more information »

6.   Managed and regular saver Investment ISA

The Standard Life Stocks & Shares ISA includes their ‘Easy Option ISA’, which allows investors to invest in one of their MyFolio Managed Funds run by a team of experts at Standard Life Investment Ltd. You can manage your account online and your ISA can be opened from just £50 per month with transfers from other ISAs permitted.  Click here for more information »

7.   Defensive supertracker Investment ISA

Defensive plans remain popular and the FTSE Defensive Supertracker from Meteor tracks any growth in the FTSE during the plan term and then trebles it, subject to a maximum growth return of 60%. The plan is defensive since the growth is based on any rise above 80% of the FTSE’s value at the start of the plan – that’s a 60% return even if the FTSE ends the same. Capital is at risk if the FTSE has fallen by more than 40%. This plan also features a Double ISA option.  Click here for more information »

8.   Instant access Cash ISA

For savers looking to combine a top interest rate with access to their money at all times, the Easy Access ISA from AA offers a simple, bonus-free savings rate of 1.25% AER variable. The account can be opened and managed online with just £100 and there are unlimited free withdrawals. The account also accepts transfers in. There are no penalties, notice periods or tiered interest rates, whilst interest is calculated daily and paid in March each year.  Click here for more information »

9.   Fixed rate Cash ISA

If you are looking for the reassurance of a fixed savings rate and don’t need access for your money for at least a year, fixed rate Cash ISAs are a popular option. The 1 Year Fixed Rate Cash ISA from AA currently offers 1.35% AER fixed and can be opened with a single deposit of £500. The account also accepts transfers in. Withdrawals are not permitted and 90 days loss of interest will apply if you access your money during the fixed term. You can apply and manage your account online whilst interest is calculated daily and paid at the end of your 12 month fixed rate period.  Click here for more information »

10.  Help to Buy Cash ISA

First time buyers can benefit from a 25% bonus of their Help to Buy ISA balance with a minimum bonus of £400 (so you need at least £1,600 saved) and a maximum of £3,000 (on a savings balance of £12,000) although you can have more saved. That means for every £200 you save HM Government will add £50, up to a maximum of £3,000. Eligibility criteria and Help to Buy: ISA Scheme Rules apply. Also note that any funds withdrawn before closing the account will not count towards the Government Bonus. The Nationwide Help to Buy: ISA is currently offering 2.00% AER variable with a minimum opening balance of £1.  Click here for more information »

 

Click here to compare Cash ISAs »

Click here to compare Investment ISAs »

Click here to compare our Top 10 Investment ISA plans »

 

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. Fair Investment Company does not offer advice and any investment transacted through us in on a non-advised basis. 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.

The value of investments and income from them can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the full amount invested. Different types of investment carry different levels of risk and may not be suitable for all investors. The past performance of the FTSE 100 Index is not a guide to its future performance.

Some of the investments mentioned are structured investment plans that are not capital protected and are 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.

Tax treatment of ISAs depends on your individual circumstances and is based on current law which may be subject to change in the future. ISA transfer charges may apply, please check with your provider.

Savings Focus: Investec Bank fixed rate selections offering up to 2.35%

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Investec Bank continues to offer innovative savings plans which combine a competitive interest rate with efficient service and attractive features. So if you have a minimum of £25,000 to deposit, and you want to take advantage of some of the highest savings rates on the market, their latest range of accounts are certainly worth reviewing.

All the Investec savings accounts featured below are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). Please be aware that the FSCS limit for deposits are due to change after 31st December this year.


Investec Bank fixed rate bonds – up to 2.15% AER

For those who are able to tie their money up for a fixed period and are also looking for a fixed and regular rate of interest, Investec offers a trio of fixed term deposits with terms of one, two and three years.

As you would expect, the rate of interest increases with the term – the 1 Year Fixed Term Deposit has been the most popular with savers and pays 1.95% AER, while the 2 Year Fixed Term Deposit pays 2.05% AER. Higher returns are available for those who are prepared to lock their money away for 3 years, with Investec’s 3 Year Fixed Term Deposit offering 2.15% AER.

Interest on all three fixed rate bonds can be paid annually or monthly, they can be set up as a single or joint account and access to account information is online or via telephone. As with most fixed term accounts, no early withdrawals are permitted. You can apply quickly and easily online.

Click here for more information on the Investec 1 Year Fixed Term Deposit »

Click here for more information on the Investec 2 Year Fixed Term Deposit »

Click here for more information on the Investec 3 Year Fixed Term Deposit »


Investec 3 Year Base Rate Plus Account – minimum 2.35% AER

For those who want to take advantage of increases to the Bank of England Base Rate but still want the convenience and security of a minimum fixed return, Investec have shown some welcome innovation in the market with their 3 Year Base Rate Plus.

Perhaps the most popular of Investec’s current savings range, this account pays 0.5% AER/variable above the Bank of England Base Rate for 3 years but with a minimum rate of 2.35% AER, so whatever happens you know you will never earn less than this.

This account therefore offers you the chance to take advantage of any future Base Rate rises over the next three years whilst also offering the safety net of a minimum return. Interest is not compounded and will be paid into your nominated account annually. No early closure or withdrawals are permitted and you can apply easily online.

Click here for more information on the Investec 3 Year Base Rate Plus »


Investec 2 Year Double Base Bond

Finally, for those prepared to tie their money up for 2 years but who also consider an increase in the Bank of England base rate is likely, Investec have shown further innovation with their 2 Year Double Base Bond. This account pays double whatever the Bank of England Base Rates is during the 2 year fixed term, plus an additional 0.50% on top. This means currently you would receive 1.50% (variable).

If the Bank of England Base Rate increased by 0.25% the variable rate would increase to 2.0% and if the Base Rate rose by 0.5% then your variable rate would increase to 2.5%. Investec’s current 2 Year Fixed Term Deposit is offering 2.05% fixed. No early closure or withdrawals are permitted during the term of the plan and interest will be paid annually into your nominated account. Access to you account is via online and telephone banking and you can apply easily online.

Click here for more information on the Investec 2 Year Double Base Bond »


Investec Bank plc

Investec is an international, specialist bank and asset manager with its main operations in the UK and South Africa. The group was established in 1974 and as at April 2015, currently employ around 8,200 people and look after £124.1 billion of third party assets under management. They provide a range of financial products and services and specialise in a number of areas, particularly within the banking sector. Their UK banking operation, Investec Bank plc, looks after £10.3 billion of customer deposits. They are also a market leading provider of investment plans and structured deposits.

Click here to compare all Investec savings accounts »

Click here to compare all Investec structured deposits and investment plans »

 

No news, feature or comment should be seen as a personal recommendation to invest. If you are at all unsure of the suitability of this type of investment, both in respect of its objectives and its risk profile, you should seek independent financial advice.

AER stands for the Annual Equivalent Rate and illustrates what the interest rate would be if interest was paid and compounded once each year.

Summer Sizzlers II: Which Savings are Hot this Summer?

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Updated: 24/08/2015

For those who are looking for fixed rates or alternative savings ideas this summer, there are signs that the market is beginning to hot up by offering more competitive rates and bringing some much needed innovation. In the second of our two part summer feature, we let you know which savings accounts are performing well this summer by giving you our selection of summer sizzlers from the best the market has to offer.

Regardless of how long you can tie up your money, from instant access to long term savings alternatives, there should be something here for everyone from instant access and guaranteed fixed rates, to Cash ISAs and savings alternatives which offer the potential to beat what are still historically low savings rates.

Instant access – up to 1.40% AER variable

If you are looking for an instant access ISA, Nationwide’s Instant ISA Saver is currently paying 1.40% AER variable interest and can be opened by UK residents aged 16 and over from just £1. This simple, flexible account could be an option to consider if you are new to ISAs or are looking for a low-deposit ISA deal that is suitable for a young person over 16 who wants to start saving. For those who are seeking a non-ISA instant access savings deal and would prefer to receive monthly interest, the Online Instant Access Savings Account from State Bank of India offers an interest rate of 1.25% AER variable which is paid on a monthly basis. A minimum deposit of £500 is required to open this savings account.

Click here to find out more about instant access ISAs »

Click here to find out more about instant access savings accounts »

Instant access cash management – up to 1.63% AER variable

Savings Maximiser is a cash management service that compares the best buys from across the market and by regularly reviewing your accounts and making switches if a better rate is available, aims to secure a consistently competitive rate of interest. Aimed at those who want to retain instant access to their money at all times and have at least £25,000 to keep on deposit, the service offers full banking facilities and is simple, secure and saves you time. With the ever increasing number of savings rates on offer, the pace of change to market leading rates and potential interest rate rises on the horizon, this could be a perfect time to consider Savings Maximiser. Current rates available are up to 1.63% AER variable and there is a fixed monthly fee for this service.

Fair Investment view: “The upside to this type of account is that you have instant access to all of your money, whenever you want it, although there are still a few deals where the headline rate includes a bonus after 12 months so you may still need to plan ahead. However, we are also well into our seventh year of record low interest rates and the returns on offer from instant access are still low. With some signs that this may start to pick up, a cash management service which reviews the best rates for you could be a timely opportunity.”

Click here to find out more about Savings Maximiser »

Short term savings – 2.38% AER fixed for 2 years

For those who are able to tie up their money for two years and are also looking for a fixed rate of interest, the 2.38% AER on offer from Access Bank UK’s 2 Year Fixed Rate Bond is market leading. The minimum deposit is £5,000 and interest is paid at maturity. The account can be set up as a single or joint account and access to account information is online or via telephone. As with most fixed term accounts, no early withdrawals are permitted. You can apply online quickly and securely.

Fair Investment view: “A fixed rate bond such as this offers security for your capital, and you know exactly how much you will paid and when, but with savings rates still at some of their lowest levels of all time, even at 2.38% you could find that this type of savings account is offering significantly lower returns than the rates on offer a few years ago.” 

Click here to find out more about the Access Bank UK 2 Year Fixed Rate Bond » 
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Ideas for Savers Looking to Enhance their Returns

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The pressure on savers to maximise the returns from their capital is arguably greater than ever before, but despite inflation being at rock bottom, the current market for instant access and fixed rate bonds rarely offers us anything to shout about. We therefore take a look at a selection of opportunities that are being considered by savers looking for the potential to enhance their returns, all of which are available both in and outside of an ISA.

Savings rates, dire straits

The mainstay of many a saver’s portfolio has historically been the fixed rate bond. However, rates here still remain at historically low levels as banks have been able to secure cheap funding by alternative means which has resulted in an increasing number of savers shoring up reserves in instant access accounts. But with leading deals only offering around 1.25% AER variable, there is little prospect of growth on your capital over and above the cost of living. And with longer term fixed rates only offering around 3.0% AER, long gone are the days where committing your money for longer was all you needed to secure a competitive rate.

Alternatives bridging the gap?

The implications of the current savings rates on offer need to be taken very seriously since it calls into question the traditional thinking behind many saver’s decisions. Also gone are the days when it was enough to keep a relatively small amount in instant access and then simply roll your fixed rate bond into the prevailing rate available at maturity.

Although fixed rate bonds should continue to play an important part in the savings jigsaw, their status as being the only option for money we do not need immediately should be carefully reviewed, especially in the context of the historically low rates on offer. So what alternatives are being considered?
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