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Should you join the gold rush?

A gold bar worth 250,000
BBC Radio 4's Money Box
Saturday, 12 September 2009 at 1204 BST On Radio 4 and Online

Gold prices are at historic highs and this week topped $1,000 an ounce after another rally.

Traditionally, investors have viewed gold as a "safe haven" in times of economic uncertainty.

And now, a rapidly growing market for gold in China is further fuelling the prices.

Some people wanting to take advantage of the high price are selling their own jewellery for scrap - but how good are the deals being offered on TV or by high-street jewellers?

Others may think now is still the time to buy, rather than sell gold. Paul Lewis talked to Justin Urquhart Stewart of Seven Investment Management about the options available to investors.

And Paul visited a gold factory - Baird & Co - where scrap precious metal is bought and then turned into re-saleable jewellery and investment bars. See inside the factory.

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Understanding annuities

A pile of pound coins
Financial advisers have started a campaign to raise people's awareness about annuities.

Each year nine out of 10 retirees buy a conventional life-time annuity - one that pays out a defined amount each year until the policy-holder dies.

Now more than 1,000 independent financial advisors have backed a campaign to promote awareness of greater choice.

They say two thirds of people are failing to take advantage of their right to buy an annuity from a provider other than the company with whom they have built up their pension pot.

A new industry association has been formed to address this issue in the autumn.

Paul Lewis spoke to Kim Lerche-Thomsen, of annuity provider Living Time.

Related information:

XL compensation row

Grounded XL planes at Manchester airport
Some passengers have faced delays in receiving refunds

It is exactly a year since the collapse of the leisure group XL, but around 9,000 customers are still waiting for refunds from the travel industry's ATOL compensation scheme.

Those who paid using a credit card thought they could also get their money back from their credit card company.

But in some cases they find neither their credit card company nor the compensation scheme will pay up, as each disputes where the responsibility lies.

Bob Howard talked to one frustrated customer, who is trying to get the money back for a family holiday in Florida, but feels she is just being batted back and forth between her bank and the compensation scheme.

Related information:

Bank charges

Supreme Court at the Middlesex Guildhall
The new Supreme Court will rule on overdraft fees later this year

This week the taxpayer controlled bank RBS-NatWest broke ranks with the rest of the industry when it announced a dramatic reduction in its overdraft charges.

From next month, RBS and NatWest will reduce the fee for a bounced cheque from £38 to £5.

It may be no coincidence that an important ruling is due later this year in an ongoing battle between UK banks and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

Paul Lewis spoke to David Black, a banking specialist at research consultancy, Defaqto.

Related information:


BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday, 12 September 2009 at 1204 BST.

The programme will be repeated on Sunday, 13 September 2009 at 2102 BST.

Money Box



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