“ Building Society / Address: High Street Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks HP8 4QB / Tel: 01494 879500 „
The Buckinghamshire Building Society was founded in 1907. It was originally called the Chalfont & District Permanent Building Society but was renamed the Buckinghamshire in 1961. Its head office and only branch is in Chalfont St Giles in Buckinghamshire.
The Bucks is the 40th biggest building society in UK (out of 47) with assets of £172 million (as of Dec 2011; source - Building Societies Association). It is protected by the FSCS, meaning that all savings up to £85,000 per person are fully guaranteed by the government in the unlikely event that the Bucks were to go bust.
The Bucks is owned by its members (it's a mutual society) and so has no share-holders. While this might seem quite a minor difference, it means that there are no big investors baying for huge profits at the expense of the customer, as could happen with high street banks like Lloyds, HSBC etc. It also means that they are governed by slightly different legislation to the banks. They are not allowed to take part in some of the more risky types of investment instruments, such as some derivatives trading, and they are only allowed to speculate if it is to minimize their risk, Whereas the big banks, as we all know, can speculate on a huge variety of instruments and often derive their profits from this speculation.
The advantage of this for the members (all borrowers and savers are members of the society subject to meeting certain minimum criteria) is that there are not likely to be any nasty surprises in the form a huge trading loss, and that any profits can be kept within the building society rather than being paid out to external investors.
I have been a customer of the Bucks Building Society for about 5 years. I have had a number of regular savings accounts with them over the years.
I live too far away from Chalfont St Giles to travel there just to open a new account. However, most of their accounts can be opened by post. I have found the Bucks to be very efficient and it rarely takes more than a week from my posting the application form to my receiving my passbook.
The Bucks does have some good savings rate. Currently (October 2012), they are offering a kids' JS100 account paying 3%, a Cash ISA also paying 3%, a regular saver paying 3.50% and a 2 year fixed rate bond paying 3.30%. However, their instant access and notice accounts pay paltry rates and are easily beaten.
I find that it is worth checking the Bucks website directly as they are too small to appear on most price comparison websites, yet the FSCS guarantee means that your money is as safe with them as with any other UK building society covered by the FSCS.
The Bucks also offers mortgages. While their range is much smaller than some of their bigger rivals, they do have some interesting products. They are currently offering a stepped owner/occupier mortgage and a buy to let mortgage. I have not used them for any of these products.
The Bucks is always worth checking directly when looking for a new savings account or mortgage. Although they may be small, they are efficient and fully protected by the FSCS.
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© BobbieAl 2012