Tuesday, August 28, 2007

National Savings - The Right Option For You?

When we deal with new clients, we encounter Premium Bonds frequently, but it's not very often that we see the many other products offered by National Savings and Investments (NS&I).

Some NS&I returns are currently looking quite attractive, and so it is worth perhaps looking at two such investments, Premium Bonds and Savings Certificates.

The purpose for NS&I offering savings accounts and bonds is to raise money for the government. The various offerings range from tax free to taxable, and of course are safe havens for your cash as they are backed by the UK Government.

Around a quarter of all the money invested in NS&I is held in Premium Bonds. Of course, strictly speaking, they are not investments as they are based not on earning interest but effectively a lottery in the form of a monthly prize draw.

Of course this means that you may be lucky, or not. The chance of you winning equates to a rate of 3.8% tax free.

But you are only risking the interest not the capital.

For a higher rate taxpayer assuming income tax at 40%, this is an equivalent rate of 6.33% gross.

Now let's look at Savings Certificates.

One of the problems for higher rate taxpayers is having a large chunk of their gains taxed at 40%. One of the major benefits of Savings Certificates is that they are tax free.

The fixed rate Certificate, for example the 2 year option, pays 3.95%. This comes out at 6.58% for a higher rate tax payer and 4.94% for a basic rate payer. There is also a 5 year option, which is currently paying 3.85%.

Turning to index linked certificates, the picture looks even more attractive. Due to increasing inflation, judged for these purposes to be 4.5%, the 3 year issue returns 1.35% above this. This gives a net return of 5.85% p.a. and a gross equivalent for a higher rate taxpayer of 9.75%! The rate is also the same for the 5 year product.

You can invest from 100 to 15,000 per issue, with no limit on reinvesting matured Certificates.

You can learn more about NS&I at nsandi.com

The Financial Tips Bottom Line:

Ensure that you take into account all the rates and products out there, particularly if you pay higher rate tax. NS&I could be ideal for you, especially if you are in a phase of your life where you don't need to take any risk with your capital.

Now could be a good time to review all your cash and bond based investments.

Ray Prince is an Independent Financial Planner with Rutherford Wilkinson plc, and helps UK Resident Doctors and Dentists get the best deals on mortgages, protection and investments, as well as helping them achieve their financial objectives. Just visit http://www.medicaldentalfs.com to get your free retirement planning guide.

Rutherford Wilkinson plc is authorized and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.