Friday, September 3, 2010

Education Fees and Investment Policies. Banks? No Thanks!

Just when you thought your bank couldn’t make you feel any worse via increases in mortgage rates, account charges, and the stifling of credit; they have the gall to start delivering sermons on the need to start saving for your children’s education with one of their investment policies.

It’s all designed to scare the bejaysus out of you: motivation to save through fear. They give the impression that they are doing you a favour by highlighting the issue of education costs and prompt you to start saving as soon as possible.

There’s nothing wrong with saving for education via an investment policy, but it only makes sense to do so if you are not going to get screwed on charges. Do you want to save for your own child’s education or for the education of the child of the person that’s selling the product? If you are going to start saving for education fees you have to get the product right from the outset, otherwise you will end up with something that is not fit for purpose.

It would not be unusual for a bank to charge you 5% of every payment you make to an investment plan, plus an annual management charge of 1.5% pa of the value of your fund. Or, to put it another way; if your fund had a growth rate of 6% pa over the term of the policy the charges would reduce the growth to about 4% pa. This ‘beast’ of a product is woefully bad value for money.

In addition, your ‘make-it-up-as-we-go-along’ Government have increased the tax on growth of these investment policies to 41% AND introduced an idiotic 1% Tax on all contributions that you make to the plan.

Seriously folks, you have got to put the time into researching what is on offer in this market. You can’t really do anything about the Government Tax, except giving your local TD a piece of your mind. What you can do is focus on the product charges. It is possible to save/invest in these products without the 5% charge on each payment and reduce the annual management charge to about 1% pa. Your bank will not be able to provide you with a competitive product.

Example: If you saved €150pm for 18 years in what the bank are offering you would end up with a fund of €43,088. This would be increased to €45,867 if there was a single charge of 1% pa on the value of the fund. A potential €2,779 more in your pocket, as opposed to the banks. Both funds assume a growth rate of 6%.

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