Amidst the complexity of Structured Products, it doesn’t end there. There is still such a thing as Structured Investments.
Much like Structured Products (link to Structured Products: Basics), Structured Investments are hard to pin down with one general description because of the same reason: it is highly customizable, thus, its rules and inner working differ per company. As investors, the only way to protect oneself from financial harm is due diligence.
What are Structured Investments?
Structured Investments are so specified that the only way to truly understand just one product by one institution is through sheer due diligence. In this case, structured investments will be tackled in a general view. Take note that things may vary depending on the institution you are familiar with.
To give you a quick view of structured investments, understand it in this way: structured investments are products provided by financial institutions. These products are linked to the performance of different assets packaged within a product. These assets may be currencies, equities, fixed income instruments, and so much more.
How are Structured Investments different from fixed deposits?
Like fixed deposit instruments, structured investments allow for the entire principal to be paid in lump sum at the time of maturity. Also, to those with a minimum interest feature, they both have fixed interest rate returns.
The differences are vast and may vary per company. Generally, structured investments showcase more risk as investors may lose a part of their initially invested money. Another risk involved is that returns can be affected by various risks of the market, currencies, and interest rate.
Just like any other investment, high returns come with higher risks. In this light, structured investments provide higher returns for investors who have a high-risk appetite. These returns may not be possible with fixed deposits. However, it does come with potentially higher risk as well.
Standard features of Structured Investments
Though products differ from one company to another, there are still some very normal characteristics across most structured investments products.
Firstly, investors keep their money in these vehicles for a fixed term to maturity for a lump sum of returns, depending on the conditions stipulated in the investment. Secondly, structured investments can be principal protected or non-principal protected. When your principal is not protected, there is no guarantee that you will still get your principal back after the holding period. There is a possibility for you to lose money.
Though riskier, non-principal protected structured investments provide higher returns compared to those that have a protected principal feature. This is because the first one generally has greater risks involved.
Questions you should ask when learning about structured investments
Structured investments are complex products and are definitely not for every investor. If you are ready to invest in this type of investment, make sure that you have understood all of the features of the product you are investing in. Ask for the specifics and make sure that any commitment is not achieved in a rush.
Since structured investments differ regarding features, it is best to seek professional advice when it comes to the details of the products different companies provide.
Here are some questions you can ask companies for you get more details about their structured investment products:
- What are the underlying assets in your product?
- What are the main features? Can you please provide illustrations?
- What is the potential return offered? Is this realistic? When will I get the payout?
- What happens if I withdraw everything before it matures?
- What type of risks will affect the returns?
- Do you have other products that give the same benefits?
- Why is this suitable for someone like me? For my risk appetite?
- How will this achieve my financial goals?
- What are the potential losses in a worst-case scenario?
- How is the return computed?
- Can you provide a record of this product’s historical performance?
After finding out, ask these questions to yourself. If these meet your standards, then feel free to invest in structured investments.
- When are the gains payable to me?
- Can I afford to stay invested for the whole holding period?
- Am I comfortable with the level of risk involved in the investment?
- What is the amount of losses that I am prepared to incur?
- Have I understood everything about the product? Did I miss out anything?
- Most importantly: Does this product meet my investment objectives and needs? Will this help me achieve my financial goals?
Structured Investments are complex and should not be taken lightly, especially if you are seriously thinking of including this type of investment in your portfolio. The only way for an investor to succeed is to do her part and study everything she needs to know before deploying her money to work for her.
Being a savvy investor also means knowing your current financial status and how far you are from your financial goals. Aside from the technical things about Structured Investments, find out what kind of investor you are and how you are currently doing financially. These things will help you know if adding this to your portfolio will truly help.
Read on to see more questions you can ask to help you understand yourself as an investor: 10 Smart Questions to Ask a Financial Consultant.
This savings calculator may also help you find out your current standing.
She was nominated and selected for FORTUNE Most Powerful Women conference in 2016 (Asia) and 2015 (San Francisco, Next Gen).
Anna has 10 years of experience in the financial sector and is currently a Director in Tera Capital. Her previous work experience includes positions at Citigroup, United Overseas Bank, a regional role in Business Monitor and a boutique private equity firm based in Shanghai. She graduated from Singapore Management University (Finance and Quantitative Finance).