Ten Myths of Structured Products

Myth 1 – They won’t work in portfolio planning

Structured products are often considered as stand-alone investments and compared as direct alternatives to for example cash, equities or corporate bond funds. This approach is based on limited understanding of how to construct investment portfolios that manage risk and create asset diversity.

They work best when used in conjunction with other investments where the defined returns and capital protection can be used to balance, perhaps, higher risk unprotected equity strategies or in lower risk portfolios to offer better than cash returns without risking capital.

In sophisticated portfolios structured products can also offer investors access to other assets or markets such as commodities or emerging economies with capital protection where investors can benefit in any uplift without directly buying into the market. This creates asset diversification into potentially volatile markets without necessarily increasing risk to capital.

Myth 2 – They are too complex for retail investors

Just as there are many kinds of mutual funds, there is great variety within structured products. Depending on their needs investors can select from the vanilla to the complex, similar for example to buying open ended tracker or hedge funds.

What makes structured investments stand out from the crowd is their transparency over how their returns are calculated. Payouts are often described as a formula based upon well known world indices with a specific investment horizon. Such products allow potential investors to clearly understand how a product will perform, both from a positive performance and downside risk perspective.

For a provider of a structured product to deliver transparent payouts that often differ from more traditional funds, products are hedged internally, a task that often needs derivatives. Considered in isolation derivatives are complex, but within a structured product they simplify investing because providers can define investment risk. It is perhaps the success of structured investments and their transparency, that there is a desire to understand these elements.

Myth 3 – Investors cannot get out of them when they want to

Structured investments are designed to payout on a given day in the future and as such are designed to be held until maturity. Terms often range between one and five years depending on the product.

This fixed term nature is often misunderstood as meaning that there is no opportunity, no matter what an individual’s circumstances are, to exit a structured product prior to this maturity date. This is often not the case. Within Europe there is a vibrant and active secondary market in structured products, and there are many possibilities where the ability to sell such products and potentially realise any gains made, can form an important part of a clients regular portfolio review.

What investors must be aware of is that all fees are predetermined and taken upfront on a structured product and there are many market attributes that can affect the current price of a structured product such as interest rates, market volatility (as well as the index level be) and time to maturity. The impact is that even for products offering 100% capital protection, investors can get back less than they invested if they chose to exit a structured investment early.

Myth 4 – Investors can’t access them in the same way as funds

It is true that financial advisers and investors have historically not been able to invest in structured products through fund platforms. Which is in part been due to the infrastructure challenges of adding fixed term structured products to such platforms.

However, the market is evolving. Platforms are listening to the demand from financial intermediaries and investors and some already offer structured products from selected providers.

Myth 5 – They underperform unprotected equities

Structured products can under and outperform unprotected equities depending on the structured product, the type of equity that is being compared and the prevailing economic environment when the comparison is made. The clear difference between unprotected equities and structured products is that the potential returns from a structured product are clearly defined and there is usually a degree of capital protection, which many investors find attractive when making the comparison.

Myth 6 – Consumers cannot judge risk since providers don’t disclose the counterparty or credit risk

A number of providers in the past used the credit ratings of external agencies, such as Standard & Poor’s, to describe the counterparty risk associated with a product. As the Lehman’s event showed, a greater level of disclosure was felt necessary for retail investors. Today the leading providers of structured products take particular care to provide information such as naming of the underlying counterparty and education relating to counterparty risk.

Myth 7 – Investors should avoid structures because they don’t benefit from share dividends

Structures often link the performance to the growth of an index, for example the FTSE 100. Normally the index chosen is known as a price return index which tracks the growth of underlying equities but does not include any dividends.

The reasons for this are clear and transparent. Structured investments are designed to deliver specific returns based on expectations of market growth, often providing a level of security against market falls. Defining returns in this way means it is possible, in simplistic terms, to exchange one feature for another to create different returns.

Dividends are a good example, as often their positive ‘value’ can be used to help offset negative market risks – exactly the type of trade off that structured investments specialise in. However, not all structured investments forgo dividends and there are many products linked to assets such as commodities or emerging markets where there are no dividends.

Myth 8 – They are not always available

The market for structured investments has grown considerably over recent years and continues to grow. 2009 has already seen more than 900 product launches with October alone seeing more than 100 product launches (structuredretailproducts.com), indicating there is a varied and regular stream of products available.

Myth 9 – Investors can’t monitor progress of them

The structured investment market has developed rapidly and the ability for investors and advisers alike to monitor performance has been one of the many areas that have seen advances.

Many providers are now offering product-monitoring tools on their websites and the introduction of structured products on platforms will mean more tools like this will become available. Structured investments are not an investment panacea, but they can and do provide excellent investments that millions of investors currently hold as part of a balanced and well allocated portfolio. That they will continue to do so is not a myth.

Myth 10 – They are too expensive

As with all investments, there are fees associated that reflect the launch costs and expected profits. Whether it be the product research, creation of literature, distribution costs or indeed the cost of advice, these fees can be defined at the outset of a product’s design and thus allows such costs to be ‘in-built’ into any product returns. This is due to the fixed term nature of structured products which allows providers to offer returns net of any fees. This enables investors to consider whether the investment meets their needs without having to consider the impact of charges, which can be an advantage.

Content Marketing – The Perfect Promotional Strategy

Many complain of the labor involved in content marketing and that there are easier ‘alternates’ for promoting online. Well both claims are true however what other online marketing strategy can offer you so many ‘deep rooted’ benefits? Publishing content is not a one dimensional approach to marketing on the internet. If done right it will accomplish a lot more than simply promoting goods and services. This strategy can also help build a solid and long lasting foundation for your business as well.

Let’s take a look at 5 very significant ‘contributions’ publishing content can make to your business when marketing on the internet.

Exposure

The exposure you receive when publishing content online is tremendous. Any information you publish tends to circulate for an extended period of time. In fact there is no telling where anything you have created may turn up since people will use it for their websites, blogs or even newsletters. Of course, being credited as the author, no matter where your content is used, will help you maintain a high profile on the internet.

Credibility

Another key benefit this online marketing strategy offers is that if what you publish is of good enough quality it will help you to develop a credible reputation. Credibility is important to have since it leads to trust, and if people trust you it will make your promotional efforts more effective.

Branding

Developing a brand online is another important aspect of marketing on the internet since it makes you more identifiable. By developing a unique identity you tend to stand out thereby giving you a competitive edge. When consistently publishing content that maintains a certain theme, people will begin to associate it more with you and/or your business. In effect what you are doing is reinforcing an ‘image’ that will only grow stronger over time.

Traffic Generating

Any information you circulate should always have a link back to one of your sites. When people become intrigued they will visit your site and if they are impressed will recommend others to do the same.

Viral Capabilities

Many people upon finding anything of interest online tend to share it with their friends and associates. When you circulate good quality information it is bound to be shared and this viral effect will help increase the circulation of your content. Your only effort was to create and publish the information, at this point you can ‘sit back’ and let others spread your work around.

Content marketing may well be a little labor intensive but this online marketing strategy does offers some long lasting benefits. When publishing content you are not only promoting goods and services but also building a strong foundation for your business as well. The 5 contributions this strategy can make to any business marketing on the internet, as mentioned above are hard to ignore. In fact, if you are considering working online, this is one strategy you would be foolish to overlook due to impact it can have on your business.

eBooks – 5 Ways to Sell Your Information Product Quicker Than Everyone Else

If you are just getting started in the eBook business, then you know there is cutthroat competition out there. In order to give yourself the best chance possible, you will need to follow the following 5 tips. Keep reading to find out how you can make your new eBook business prosper more than you ever thought possible.

Here are 5 things that you can do to make sure that your product sells quickly:

1. Learn to fail fast- If you have created a product and it is not selling in a short amount of time, there may be no customer want for it. When you are building an eBook empire, you will need to create multiple products before you can hit the jackpot. There will be a few duds and a few successes. Let your losers go quickly and keep adding to the topics of your winners.

2. You cannot promote your product too much- Use every avenue that you can think of to promote your new eBook. Write articles, use paid advertising, go off-line. There are customers in many different places and they don’t all use the same media to get their information. It’s important to develop as many customer streams as possible.

3. Create an eBook launch system- This is where you develop a marketing plan that slowly gets your customers ready for your product over a periods of time. You will let them know that it is coming and gradually show them what they will learn on the release date. If you do a good enough job of launching, most customers won;t even bother reading your sales letter. They will go straight for the order button.

4. Develop your own email list- You need to have your own list instead of relying on affiliates or JV partners to promote your product for you. You are the only one that cares the most about your product, so you must be the one in charge of your marketing message in order to sell it.

5. Feed a starving crowd- If you sell a product to a group of people that is already hungry for what you are selling, then you will have a million times better chance of closing the sale than you would if you were to develop a market from scratch. Do your homework BEFORE you develop your product and you will have a huge leg up on all the other people out there that are just floundering around with random ideas and no buyers.