Annual statement seems to give little away

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Annual certificates for deposit or savings accounts should be clear and properly informative. They are hardly rocket science.

Such documents have been issued for over a century and enable the investor to check the details of their savings.

Any bank, building society or other financial institution should be capable of producing accurate and well set out information.

Step forward Nationwide Building Society, which is not only the largest building society in the UK but one of the largest mutuals in the world.

Presumably it has the background and resources (assets of over £34bn) to produce the definitive documentary form.

Nationwide is an amalgamation of building societies, starting in Wiltshire in 1846. Many still know it better as the Co-operative Permanent.

Its more recent takeovers include the Cheshire, Dunfermline and Derbyshire. The latter was the ninth largest building society and Nationwide uses its good name to promote key savings products.

It should hang its head in shame to judge by the puerile paper issued by its head of savings.

Its annual statement omits the opening balance or, if within the past 12 months, the starting date.

It shows no transactions in the year and so investors have no way of checking on the dates of deposit and withdrawal.

The certificate gives the current gross interest rate but no indication of rate changes or when these took effect.

It omits the tax status, such as whether the deposit is held in an Individual Savings Account.

If not tax-exempt, it does not disclose any tax deducted or when this will be effected.

One crucial aspect for such a generally respected society like the Nationwide is that its annual statement makes no mention of whether the account has a bonus attached and, if so, when the bonus period will end.

Of course, it hopes the investor will not remember and that it can then pay a derisory rate of interest.

Nationwide promises further new products. Such action is premature.

Instead, it should spend its time making current ones clear and informative.