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Challenger bank Shawbrook enters talks with pension funds and private equity firms about a £2bn sale










Support: Shawbrook backs Owen Farrell¿s Saracens

Support: Shawbrook backs Owen Farrell’s Saracens

Challenger bank Shawbrook has entered talks with pension funds and private equity firms about a £2billion sale. 

The lender, which is owned by BC Partners and Pollen Street Capital, has also started discussions with other investors about possibly taking a stake.

It is unclear whether Pollen Street is looking to sell its entire holding in Shawbrook or retain part of it. Analysts said the bank could fetch a valuation of up to £2billion based on earnings forecasts. 

The moves come after it was revealed last month that Shawbrook, which offers personal and business banking, is also considering a stock market listing. Shawbrook emerged following the financial crisis as a digital bank focused on lending to smaller firms. 

It floated in London in 2015 with a price tag of £725million. However, just two years later, it was taken private again by BC Partners and Pollen Street for nearly £900million. 

The move to take Shawbrook private again in 2017 came after a surprise announcement that it had taken a £9million charge from bad loans in its asset finance arm.

Its private equity owners have invested in its systems and technology to strengthen the bank. According to its last financial statement, Shawbrook, which sponsors Saracens rugby club, saw its loan book grow by 5 per cent in 2020 to £7.1billion. 

It is one of a group of specialist lenders including Aldermore and OneSavings Bank which target people and businesses underserved by the mainstream banks. 

Deal activity among challenger banks is heating up. Last year, the Co-op Bank made a bid of just over £1billion for TSB, which was rejected by owners Banco Sabadell. In December, The Mail on Sunday revealed TSB is expected to be put back up for sale this year after slashing costs.

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Renderings were recently unveiled for a stunning floating condo called Somnio, which will offer ultra-luxury apartments starting at £8.1million. 

But she’s by no means the only option for a cruise-ship-style life at sea. The Utopia and The World residential ships have already attracted buyers. But they too are expensive, with residences costing from $4.4million (£3.2million) in the case of Utopia and from $2million (£1.4million) for The World.

However, there is good news for those with shallower pockets who want to live on a cruise ship. MV Narrative, a ‘residential community at sea’, has one to four-bedroom apartments and studios starting at just $366,667 (£268,170).

The new Storylines boat MV Narrative (pictured) has one to four-bedroom apartments and studios starting at just $366,667 (£268,170)

The new Storylines boat MV Narrative (pictured) has one to four-bedroom apartments and studios starting at just $366,667 (£268,170)

There will be 627 residences on the 741ft- (226 m) long Storylines ship, which is currently being built in Croatia and is due to launch in 2024. 

Florida-based Storylines says that its primary focus is on ‘providing more affordable entry-level options into the condo ship market’. The lowest-priced home is the 237-sq-ft (22 sq m) ’Discover’ apartment. 

The cost will soar, however, for those in the market for one of the two-storey penthouses, which are worth up to $8million (£5.8million). These homes can stretch to 1,970 sq ft (183 sq m).

There will also be the option to avail of a 12 month or 24-month lease, and owners can rent out their properties to make some money through Storylines’ ‘Guest at Sea’ rental program.

The ship will be all-inclusive, but residents will be charged a ‘living fee’ to cover expenses like maintenance and food.

Storylines' MV Narrative, pictured, is billed as a new ‘residential community at sea’

Storylines’ MV Narrative, pictured, is billed as a new ‘residential community at sea’

This rendering shows one of the more affordable options - the 'Breeze' home. The bedrooms will feature queen-size Murphy beds and 'luxury' mattresses to ‘ensure maximum comfort at night’

This rendering shows one of the more affordable options – the ‘Breeze’ home. The bedrooms will feature queen-size Murphy beds and ‘luxury’ mattresses to ‘ensure maximum comfort at night’

Pictured is a lower-priced 'Explore' home on MV Narrative. The most affordable residence is the 237-sq-ft (22 sq m) ’Discover’ apartment

Pictured is a lower-priced ‘Explore’ home on MV Narrative. The most affordable residence is the 237-sq-ft (22 sq m) ’Discover’ apartment

Each home will be fully furnished with ‘Italian designed’ furnishings, and residents can choose between two different layouts for their properties. Pictured is a mid-range 'Dream' apartment

Each home will be fully furnished with ‘Italian designed’ furnishings, and residents can choose between two different layouts for their properties. Pictured is a mid-range ‘Dream’ apartment 

Each apartment will be fully furnished with ‘Italian-designed’ items, and residents can choose between two different layouts for their properties. 

Every home will be decked out with full kitchens, flat-screen TVs, ‘climate control’ systems, adjustable mood lighting and stereo speakers, and the bedrooms will feature queen-size murphy beds and ‘luxury’ mattresses to ‘ensure maximum comfort at night’.

When the MV Narrative is offshore, homeowners can wine and dine at the ship’s 20 bars and restaurants, which include an oyster bar, a Chinese restaurant, and an ‘ice creamery’. They can also order twenty-four-seven from a home delivery service.

A bathroom in a 'Global' two-storey penthouse. These homes are priced up to $8million (£5.8million)

A bathroom in a ‘Global’ two-storey penthouse. These homes are priced up to $8million (£5.8million)

A kitchen area of the 'Global' two-storey penthouses on the ship, which is due to launch in 2024

A kitchen area of the ‘Global’ two-storey penthouses on the ship, which is due to launch in 2024

Each home will be decked out with flat-screen TVs, ‘climate control’ systems, adjustable mood lighting and stereo speakers. Pictured is a bedroom in one of the penthouses

Each home will be decked out with flat-screen TVs, ‘climate control’ systems, adjustable mood lighting and stereo speakers. Pictured is a bedroom in one of the penthouses

There will be ‘resident choice’ days on the ship, where those living on board get to choose where the MV Narrative docks next. Pictured is the upper level of a penthouse

There will be ‘resident choice’ days on the ship, where those living on board get to choose where the MV Narrative docks next. Pictured is the upper level of a penthouse

As for entertainment, the ship will feature one cinema, a microbrewery, three pools and a 10,000-book library.

The Spa and Wellness Centre will encompass a salon, a juice bar, a yoga studio, and a whirlpool. A statement notes that the spa is ‘perfectly situated with sweeping 180-degree views’.

What’s more, there’ll be a golf simulator, an art space, and a dance floor. A statement adds: ‘Residents are encouraged to start special interest clubs; perhaps you are a chess, photography, wine, astronomy or bridge aficionado? Start a club or join in on the fun.’

Lectures and workshops ‘on and off the ship’ will also cover topics such as architecture, finance, local geography, philanthropy and art history. 

Pictured is the ship's 10,000-book library. Lectures and workshops ‘on and off the ship’ will also cover topics such as architecture, finance, local geography, philanthropy and art history

Pictured is the ship’s 10,000-book library. Lectures and workshops ‘on and off the ship’ will also cover topics such as architecture, finance, local geography, philanthropy and art history

One of three pools on board. The ship's Spa and Wellness Centre will feature a yoga studio, and a whirlpool

One of three pools on board. The ship’s Spa and Wellness Centre will feature a yoga studio, and a whirlpool

Pictured is the ship's Marina Lounge. Residents will be charged a ‘living fee’ to cover expenses such as maintenance and food on board the ship

Pictured is the ship’s Marina Lounge. Residents will be charged a ‘living fee’ to cover expenses such as maintenance and food on board the ship

The ship will spend between one and five days docked in ports around the world. A sample itinerary shows that residents will be able to explore the likes of Venice, the Maltese capital of Valletta, and Athens on a tour around the Mediterranean. 

There will also be ‘resident choice’ days, where those living on board get to choose where the ship docks next. Residents are welcome to invite guests on board when the ship is docked.  

For more information visit storylines.com.

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Where have all the old public buildings gone – the post offices, banks, churches and pubs – that used to line the High Street and be our local landmarks?

The answer is that, in many places at least, they have been converted into holiday lets.

Holidays in the UK have become the norm since Covid made travelling abroad so difficult,’ says Kate Eales, head of regional residential with Strutt & Parker. 

‘So, instead of renting a cottage in August, many people create their own holiday homes and recover some of the costs by letting.’

Historic: A two-bedroom apartment in the former Royal Navy building, Brewhouse at The Royal William Yard, Plymouth, is £575,000 with Knight Frank

Historic: A two-bedroom apartment in the former Royal Navy building, Brewhouse at The Royal William Yard, Plymouth, is £575,000 with Knight Frank 

There are several advantages to converting an old public building, according to Eales. 

‘You get a lot of property for your money, there is often car parking and you seldom have a garden to maintain — good news if you are letting,’ she says.

 ‘Above all, an old building in a brochure catches the eye. Families love the idea of holidaying somewhere quirky — in, say, a converted lighthouse, a school or a pub.’

You’d be hard pushed to find a more eye-catching holiday property than the four-bedroom, 3,800 sq ft Bath House in St Leonards, East Sussex, for sale for £1.5 million with Fine & Country.

This surreal conversion of the town’s old Turkish Baths is a homage to fairground art and glitz. 

It was created by music agent Solomon Parker who spent three years scouring the South’s antique shops looking for sufficiently gaudy ‘objets’ to match his vision.

The result is a cavernous room with a bowling alley (reputedly once owned by Roman Abramovich) running down the side, flashing signs saying ‘Carnival’ and ‘Dodgems’ and a gigantic clown’s face grinning from the wall.

A mezzanine hangs like a cage from the ceiling while the original tiling from the swimming pool can still be glimpsed. Parker is proud of his creation and defends St Leonards, which has had a bad press for its social problems over the years.

The converted Bath House in St Leonards is on the market with Fine & Country for £1.5million

The converted Bath House in St Leonards is on the market with Fine & Country for £1.5million

‘Since the pandemic a lot of London people have moved to the south coast and that’s been a good thing,’ he says. ‘The town now has a thriving arts scene and some fabulous restaurants.’

Making holiday lets from battered old buildings can make sound financial sense.

Twenty years ago Derek Thomas bought the abandoned chapel in Llanrug, North Wales for £85,000. He converted the building into two homes — Capel Mawr and Basement 19 — at a cost of £300,000.

Having at first lived in one of them himself, he now makes £60,000 a year letting them to holidaymakers who are attracted to the cottages for their proximity to Snowdonia and Anglesey. 

The properties’ value today is £800,000. ‘This place is my masterpiece,’ says Derek, who lets the homes through Sykes Cottages. ‘It’s the culmination of all I have learnt about building over the years.’

It would be wrong to assume that holiday lets only pay off in seaside locations. Other areas can attract visitors all year round. 

In Bath and North Somerset, for example, tourism contributes £470 million to the local economy. Martin Fahie, 65, makes about £12,000 a year from running the former Ebenezer Chapel in Wellow, Somerset as an Airbnb. 

The chapel, which still has many of its original features including the stained glass windows, was first converted in 1990.

‘Bath is a big attraction, both with tourists and parents visiting their children at university,’ says Fahie, a musician. ‘And Wellow itself, with its pub and old manor house, is the quintessential English village.’ Chapel House, Wellow is for sale with Knight Frank for £650,000.

Anyone contemplating investing in a holiday let would be wise to inspect the small print on the sales details. 

There is a stipulation, for example, that the three-bedroom flat for sale with Winkworth for £695,000 in the converted synagogue in Devonshire Place, a short walk from the seafront in Brighton, may not be used as a holiday let, perfect though it would be.

Pubs can also pose problems. Local planning restrictions usually state that a conversion can’t be carried out unless the owners are able to prove the pub cannot be profitable.

No such problems at the Nag’s Head, Avening in Gloucestershire for sale with Murray Estate Agents for £595,000. This former 18th-century inn is well placed for tourists.

‘We are in the middle of the Royal Triangle — the homes of Prince Charles at Highgrove, Princess Anne at Gatcombe Park and Badminton — so we get lots of royal watchers,’ says owner Nicole Sabine, a journalist. 

‘It has an easy-to-maintain terraced garden so it would make an ideal holiday let.’ 

On the market… Reinvented buildings

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A faked bump in Waitrose car park… and then my bank and credit cards were gone: MAGGIE PAGANO on how her bank helped foil fraudsters

  • Until recently, most fraud losses came from stolen payment cards 
  • But lockdowns have stopped criminals getting the cards
  • The focus has shifted to what’s called authorised push payment fraud 
  • Cracking whether a real-time transaction is genuine or not is tricky 
  • UK’s Featurespace created adaptive behavioural analytics to solve the problem










A few days ago, I shopped at my local Waitrose, leaving at around 5pm. Walking to my car in the parking area, I was approached by a bearded man with gleaming teeth, who said someone had just reversed into my bumper.

He bent down to show me where the driver had hit my car, urging me to look. 

There was nothing to see, other than a mark where he had wiped away the dirt. He said I was lucky the other vehicle hadn’t done any damage, and after a quick chat, a young woman appeared, and they were off. 

Back home, an hour or so later, a flurry of texts from Barclays asked me to confirm purchases on my card. They were not mine. I went to get my card from my wallet to ring the Barclays helpline. 

Under lock and key: Until recently, most fraud losses came from stolen payment cards - but lockdowns have stopped criminals getting the cards

Under lock and key: Until recently, most fraud losses came from stolen payment cards – but lockdowns have stopped criminals getting the cards

But all my cards – debit, credit and business – had vanished. 

Soon more texts came from Barclaycard, asking if I was having PIN problems taking money from an ATM? 

Something clicked. The man who stopped me must have been a conman. Whilst he distracted me, the woman had taken my wallet. Like a magician, she unzipped it, took the cards, and returned it to my handbag. What a fool I felt. 

The bank called, asking me to confirm more transactions; one for £999.00 at a local shop, four transactions at the local Tesco ATM for £250.00 each – timed at 5.12pm – and several small Barclaycard purchases at Sainsbury’s in a nearby town. None were mine so Barclays blocked my cards. 

What brilliant detective work by the bank. Not only did they stop these purchases, but overnight the £1,000 taken from the ATM was refunded. Other repayments are due. 

Most banks use a cocktail of solutions to catch out criminals but the pandemic has seen fraud soar and change. In the first half of 2021, £754m was stolen through fraud but the security systems I saw stopped another £736m disappearing. Until recently, most fraud losses came from stolen payment cards. But lockdowns have stopped criminals getting the cards.

The focus has shifted to what’s called authorised push payment fraud, where the customer is tricked into sanctioning a payment to a criminal’s account. 

Cracking whether a real-time transaction is genuine or not is tricky. It’s a problem that has been addressed by Featurespace, the company which created what’s known as adaptive behavioural analytics.

This alerts within seconds if a customer’s behaviour doesn’t fit patterns: it’s how Barclays knew it wasn’t me at the Tesco ATM. Featurespace was born out of the engineering department of Cambridge University. It is based on the work of the late Professor Bill Fitzgerald, and co-founder Dr David Excell, who were approached by Betfair to stamp out fraud in its real-time betting operations. 

The result was Adaptive Real-Time Individual Change (ARICs), a behavioural analytics engine aimed at flagging up anomalies as they occur. This was in 2008, when betting companies were the only ones dealing with real-time money flows. 

Now most UK financial institutions have caught up. They too deal with real-time money transfers and use the machine-learning processes developed by Featurespace. It is a private company, though one of its biggest investors is listed firm IP Group, which supports university spin-outs. 

There are many lessons from my being robbed. Most obviously, to ignore anyone telling you your bumper has been dented, but also to have faith in the brilliance of British innovation and, for once, to praise the banks for doing so much to track down the criminals. Credit where it’s due.

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Tony Hetherington is Financial Mail on Sunday’s ace investigator, fighting readers corners, revealing the truth that lies behind closed doors and winning victories for those who have been left out-of-pocket. Find out how to contact him below. 

Mrs K.A. writes: Our premium bond accounts were infiltrated by fraudsters. 

My husband and I found out when our bank account received £22,000 which was a complete mystery. 

The bank said the money came from premium bonds, and I then found my NS&I account was missing £22,000.

Infiltrated: The premium bond crooks got into two NS&I accounts and took £22,000

Infiltrated: The premium bond crooks got into two NS&I accounts and took £22,000

Tony Hetherington replies: Fraudsters are supposed to be clever and cunning. The fraudsters who tried to rob you were just plain incompetent. 

They managed to get into your NS&I account. They instructed NS&I to encash £22,000 of your premium bonds.

And then instead of transferring the loot to their own bank account, they sent the whole £22,000 to your bank account by mistake.

By the time you checked, the crooks had realised their mistake. They had deleted your bank from premium bond records and inserted an account they controlled at the Clydesdale Bank. 

You reported this to NS&I and were told that you and your husband must have gone into a fake National Savings website and given all your details – something you deny. 

Your husband asked how anyone could have answered your confidential questions, used to double-check who is accessing an account. It turned out that at least one question was answered incorrectly, but NS&I allowed the fraudster to continue. 

When your husband checked his own premium bond account, he found that £19,000 of his bonds had been encashed and the money was on its way to the Halifax, where he has no account. 

He immediately contacted NS&I but ran into a big problem because the crooks had not only changed the linked bank account, but also the confidential test questions. Your husband could not answer them, so was shut out of his own NS&I account. 

Fortunately though, staff at NS&I were uneasy enough to halt the £19,000 transfer. 

I asked officials at NS&I whether there were any indications to explain how two accounts could have been accessed by someone who apparently knew how to log in while appearing to be both you and your husband. 

All I can tell you is that there were no signs the details leaked from inside NS&I. However, you are right that one of the crooks did give the wrong answer to a security question. 

NS&I told me: ‘When answering security questions, if a customer answers a question incorrectly, they will be provided with an alternative question.’ 

It says this is normal industry procedure, allowing customers to make one genuine mistake before locking them out. 

NS&I has offered to reset your accounts with new security credentials, but you and your husband have declined and decided to close your accounts.

In safe hands?: Under the Government-backed Deposit Protection Scheme, landlords and letting agents hand over tenants' deposits for safe keeping

In safe hands?: Under the Government-backed Deposit Protection Scheme, landlords and letting agents hand over tenants’ deposits for safe keeping

My fight for ten-year-old deposits 

C.J. writes: I am having problems getting the Deposit Protection Service to reimburse deposits I lodged more than ten years ago.

Trying to resolve this with the service is like walking through treacle. 

I have written and spoken with staff many times but the DPS seems to follow a standard script, asking for information I have already given. 

Tony Hetherington replies: Under the Government-backed Deposit Protection Scheme, landlords and letting agents hand over tenants’ deposits for safe keeping until the tenancy ends satisfactorily, when the scheme returns the cash to the tenants. 

And this is the point: the scheme returns the money. As you discovered after mistakenly refunding your tenants personally, you can struggle to recover the money from the DPS. 

You supplied statutory declarations, explaining what had happened, but you got nowhere, and meanwhile the tenants had moved away and had no interest in sorting out what was your problem and not theirs. This did not mean the DPS should keep the money, of course. But it showed no signs of returning it either, until now. 

It told me: ‘The law sets out very clear parameters for dealing with deposit claims and payments as well as the validation of landlord and tenant information, including stating explicitly that landlords should never use their own money when protecting a tenant’s deposit.’ 

However, scheme bosses should have sorted this out earlier. They have now apologised and handed over more than £2,500 to you.

Energy firm’s £150 for this nightmare is not enough 

Ms E.S. writes: We moved into a new-build property in 2016 and I contacted Scottish Power to set up a dual fuel direct debit. 

I was told there was no need to take any action yet, and it would be in touch. After three failed attempts to set up a direct debit, I kept money aside and waited for the company to get in touch. 

Its first communication was a debt collection letter, with the threat of a visit from its operatives, plus a visitation charge. 

Scottish Power used a debt collector to threaten a visit from its operatives & a visitation charge

Scottish Power used a debt collector to threaten a visit from its operatives & a visitation charge

Tony Hetherington replies: Forgive me for publishing only the first few sentences of your letter, which cover just the start of a nightmarish experience. 

When the debt collection letter arrived, you called Scottish Power and found there had been a mix-up between your address and your meter number. Nevertheless, you paid the full bill, and you managed to set up a direct debit. 

All was well until 2020, when a letter arrived, saying: ‘Welcome to your new home.’ This was closely followed by a demand for £2,579, supposedly for gas used since 2016. 

The demand showed a completely new account number. When you contacted Scottish Power, you were told your own gas meter number really belonged to a different property nearby. 

You made a complaint, but after that the demands poured in, even though you were still making monthly payments to Scottish Power. Nobody was willing or able to sort out the wrong account numbers, meter numbers or addresses. 

At one point, Scottish Power refused to speak to you, insisting you live at the ‘wrong’ address. 

Then, last March, it closed your account, opened it again under another number, and claimed you owed £994 because the monthly payments it collected had been credited to your original account. You ended up with five different account numbers, and you complained to the Energy Ombudsman. 

Scottish Power has told me there is a widespread problem on your housing estate, with meter numbers not matching addresses and a number of different suppliers trying to unravel this mess. 

After I contacted officials, it froze the demands. It has since closed your gas account, scrapped the charges, and tidied up your dual fuel account. 

It has reinstated your direct debit and credited you with £150 as what it describes as a goodwill gesture. Frankly, I think this is far too little but at least the nightmare is over – I hope.

If you believe you are the victim of financial wrongdoing, write to Tony Hetherington at Financial Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS or email tony.hetherington@mailonsunday.co.uk. Because of the high volume of enquiries, personal replies cannot be given. Please send only copies of original documents, which we regret cannot be returned. 

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

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THE BANKERS INVESTMENT TRUST: A steady Eddie with 55 years of rising dividends that investors can bank on










A week tomorrow, the board of global investment trust Bankers will confirm the final quarterly dividend that shareholders will receive for financial year 2021

Although the payment in monetary terms will be small – probably 0.55 pence per share – it will mark another year of dividend growth (of around one per cent) for the £1.6 billion trust. 

With 55 years of annual dividend increases then behind it, Bankers will be on a par with City of London as the investment trust with the longest record of dividend growth. 

‘It’s a modest dividend increase,’ says Alex Crooke who has been overseeing the trust for the past 19 years. 

‘But in being cautious now, it means we can be more generous with our dividends next year. We’ve been living through lots of uncertainty.’ 

Both City of London and Bankers are trusts that are run by investment managers at Janus Henderson. 

What separates them, apart from having different managers at their helm (Job Curtis runs City of London), is that City of London is focused on the UK stock market while Bankers spreads its wings further afield. 

Over the past decade, Bankers has been steadily reducing its holdings in the UK – from 50 per cent to below 20 per cent of the portfolio – with the biggest remaining UK stocks being RELX, Diageo, Lloyds and AstraZeneca. 

The result is that its largest asset allocation is now in North America (35 per cent) while the trust’s top 10 holdings are all listed in the United States. 

It also has key geographic positions in Europe, Japan and the rest of the Pacific region. 

Although Crooke is the trust’s manager, he doesn’t pick the individual stocks, of which there are 165. 

His role is to determine the allocation of assets under the trust’s bonnet – he then gets Janus Henderson’s regional equity teams to run the money allotted to them. 

He also decides how much money the trust should borrow if he wants to increase its exposure to stock markets – new borrowings were taken out last year at an attractive interest of two per cent. The overall results are satisfactory, if not spectacular. 

Over the past year, total returns are around 10 per cent. ‘Any year when you are generating a return of 10 per cent or more is a good one,’ says Crooke. 

Over the past three and five years, returns are 64 per cent and 93 per cent respectively. 

Crooke is optimistic about the year ahead, although he says he would be surprised if investor returns exceed 10 per cent. ‘Between five and 10 per cent is what I am expecting, better than investing in fixed interest.’ 

The best market value, he says, is to be found in Asia and Japan – underperforming markets in 2021. 

The trust’s shares, currently priced at just above £1.20, stand at a small discount to the value of the underlying assets. 

Total annual charges are low at 0.5 per cent and the trust’s stock market ticker and identification code are respectively BNKR and BN4NDR3. 

The annual income it generates for shareholders is equivalent to around 1.7 per cent – modest, but growing.

‘Bankers is diverse, has holdings across the world, and is more cautious than some of its peers,’ says Crooke. 

This is demonstrated by the fact that over the past five years, some rival global trusts such as Scottish Mortgage and Monks (both managed by Baillie Gifford), have delivered far superior returns. 

Compared to these, Bankers is a steady Eddie. A suitable investment for first-time investors and for those happy to hold long-term and enjoy the rising stream of dividend payments. 

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