01 October 1998

THE BRITISH BANKERS Association and the Building Societies Association have jointly issued new regulations governing use of the term 'instant access' in financial ads, as well as a requirement to include a new benchmark interest rate. The moves come after wide criticism from consumer bodies and the Advertising Standards Authority over the misleading wording of many financial ads, including those of Egg, the Pru's new direct bank, for its purported instant access account which actually required three days notice of withdrawal. A new code, which came into force on 1 January, allows savings accounts to be termed ‘instant access’ only if savers are able to obtain cash immediately, either in-bank or via a cash machine. The new definition effectively excludes postal accounts which must now be branded 'easy access'. The new interest rate benchmark requires savings ads to include an Annual Equivalent Rate, replacing the present compound annual rate which favours longer-term savings products such as five-year bonds.