**Nominal
is not true**

Whilst
it is tempting to say 1% per month is 12% per annum, clearly it is not true.
However lenders do use the term *Nominal* rate.
12% pa nominal *can* mean 1% per month provided it is stated as
such. It could equally mean 3%
compounded quarterly. The effect of more frequent compounding is higher overall
interest, so we need to know more than just a rate.
Whilst financial Institutions often quote a nominal interest rate,
without knowing the compounding frequency, it means very little.

So
a correctly defined interest rate must also indicate the compounding frequency
or the number of rests per annum. 12%
per annum nominal, compounding monthly (ie twelve *rests *per annum) means
1% per month true and is mathematically equivalent to 12.683% per annum true.
Since the true rate is approximate (there are actually more decimal
figures) it is often more convenient to just say 12% pa *nominal *payable
monthly*.*

Lenders
are seldom precise about this. In
short, be sure you know just what it means when an interest rate is quoted.
Why do we want to know the true annual rate?
Why is it so important? The practical answer is for comparison purposes.
We need a consistent standard to compare all loans, regardless of their
compounding frequency. Quoting
rates on a true, annual basis is the most familiar standard and common usage has
made it prevalent.
The later
section on *Technical Bits* provides more details about the mathematics.

**The importance of
the compounding frequency
**

Interest can compound at many other frequencies as well as monthly. The

This table highlights the fact that unless one knows the compounding frequency, the nominal rate is meaningless. Moreover the difference is certainly not trivial.

Figure
4
The
true rate rises more slowly at the higher compounding frequencies and
fortunately trends towards a maximum.
The practical effect of growing £1,000 over 30 years is shown
for perspective. |

Over 100 years the difference between daily and annual compounding is even more staggering:

£1,000 @ 12% pa compounding *annually*
produces £**83,522,266**

£1,000 @ 12% pa compounding *daily *produces
£**162,434,128**

That is a difference of almost ** £79 million**,
using the same nominal rate, but with different compounding frequencies –
almost double the annual figure! You
can now see the importance of identifying the true rate.