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Salary sacrifice

Some employers offer you benefits, such as childcare vouchers, which you ‘sacrifice’ part of your pre-tax salary for. Salary sacrifice means you save the tax you’d otherwise pay on that part of your salary.

Savings account

A deposit account with a bank or building society on which you are paid interest. Savings certificates are issued by the government’s own bank, National Savings & Investments.

Secured loan

A loan which is secured on a tangible asset, like your house or your car. Secured loans are often cheaper than unsecured loans, but you risk losing your home or other assets if you can’t keep up repayments.


This is a deposit or a stake in an asset. For example, the security for a mortgage is the property it is secured on.

Self-Invested Pension Plan (SIPP)

A personal pension in which the person saving for their retirement is given the flexibility to make their own investment decisions.


A share represents a slice in the ownership of a company or a fund.


The owner of shares in a company. Shareholders supply what is known as the risk capital and share in the success of the company. If the company is a success and makes a profit, shareholders receive the rewards of increasing dividend income and capital gains on the price of their shares. If the company is a failure, shareholders stand to lose the whole of their investment.

Share certificate

Proof of ownership of shares in a company. These days, most shareholders do not have paper certificates but instead hold their shares in nominee accounts with stockbrokers. Shares still held on paper certificates can be more difficult and costly to transact.

Stamp duty

Stamp duty is a tax levied on share dealings and house purchases. On properties selling for more than £125,000, the current rates of stamp duty range from 1% to 5% - depending on the cost of the property. Until March 2012, first-time buyers will pay no stamp duty on properties up to £250,000. The current rate levied on share purchases is 0.5%.

Standing order

Authority given by you to a retailer or other service provider to take a sum of money set by you from your bank account at set periods. Similar to a direct debit, but with a standing order, you say exactly how much will be taken and when. This is why standing orders are used to pay for services where the price remains constant.

State Earnings-Related Pension Scheme (SERPS)

A top-up pension scheme to boost the state basic pension. SERPS was replaced by the State Second Pension (SP2) in April 2002.

Standard & Poor's Stock Index (S&P500)

A US performance index of 500 widely-held stocks.


A firm or a person who buys and sells shares on your behalf for a fee. An execution-only stockbroker just transacts the deals as instructed by you, and offers no advice. An advisory or discretionary broker offers advice on whether you should buy or sell certain shares. Execution-only brokers are cheaper than those offering advice.

Stock exchange

A main place of trading for stocks, shares and other securities.

Store card

A card issued by a retailer. Interest rates on store cards tend to be higher than those on credit cards, unless you clear your balance every month.

Surrender value

The cash amount received if an insurance policy is cancelled before its maturity date.


If you buy a house you are likely to have a survey conducted - either a valuation survey, a homebuyer’s survey or a full structural survey. A valuation survey is the cheapest and will be demanded by a mortgage lender. A homebuyer’s is the standard survey, and a full structural is the most thorough and expensive.

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