As a Wealth Manager, your role involves guiding clients towards investment decisions that align with their financial goals and risk tolerance. In the realm of structured products, it is essential to consider the associated risks, leverage the concept of gearing, and understand the benefits of diversification within your clients’ portfolios. Let’s delve into these critical aspects.

Risks in Structured Products:

Structured products offer unique investment features, but they come with specific risks that both wealth managers and investors need to be aware of:

  1. Credit Risk: Structured products are unsecured debt obligations of the issuer. Investors face the risk of default if the issuer cannot meet its financial obligations. The issuer’s creditworthiness plays a crucial role in the safety of the investment.
  2. Liquidity Risk: Structured products are often not traded on exchanges and may lack a robust secondary market. This limited liquidity can make it challenging for investors to sell these products before maturity, potentially resulting in a loss.
  3. Pricing Risk: The value of structured products is linked to underlying assets, and there may not be an established trading market for these products, making them difficult to price accurately.
  4. Income Risk: Structured products may not provide regular interest payments, which may not suit investors seeking current income. Returns are often variable and dependent on the performance of underlying assets.
  5. Complexity and Derivatives Risk: Structured products frequently use derivatives, which can introduce additional complexity and special risks.
  6. Pay-Out Structure Risk: Some structured products may have limits, caps, and barriers that affect their potential returns. Barriers can nullify returns if breached, while some products may not yield returns unless specific thresholds are met. Participation rates may also limit an investor’s share in the returns of underlying assets.
  7. Volatility and Historical Performance: Past performance of underlying asset classes does not guarantee future results, and the value of underlying assets can experience significant fluctuations and underperformance.
  8. Costs and Fees: The costs associated with structured products can vary, so investors must understand the fees they may incur.
  9. Tax Considerations: Structured products may have tax implications, and it’s essential to consult a tax advisor for guidance.

Gearing in Structured Products:

Gearing, the practice of using leverage or derivatives, can amplify returns but also increase risk. Investors should carefully consider the level of gearing in structured products and its impact on their portfolio.

Gearing can have the following roles in portfolio planning:

  • Amplify returns when positive returns are expected.
  • Provide capital efficiency by freeing up capital for other investments.
  • Offer tax advantages, particularly for high tax-paying investors.

Diversification in Structured Products:

Diversification is a fundamental principle in portfolio construction. It helps reduce risk and improve the risk/reward ratio. Diversification occurs at two levels: between different asset classes and within each asset class.

Structured products play a role in diversification by offering:

  • Diversification within the asset class by using various underlying assets.
  • Access to asset classes that are not easily accessible through traditional funds.
  • Reduction of risk or enhancement of returns through packaged products, such as those linked to inflation or hedge funds.

In extreme market conditions, when diversification may not provide the expected risk reduction, structured products can offer capital protection and act as a valuable support.

Structured products offer the flexibility to customize a portfolio to align with an investor’s risk tolerance, income requirements, and market outlook. Wealth managers can use them strategically to optimize client portfolios based on their unique financial situations.

In conclusion, structured products can be valuable components of a well-diversified portfolio when used wisely and with a clear understanding of their features and associated risks. As a Wealth Manager, it’s crucial to work closely with clients to ensure that structured products align with their investment objectives and risk profiles.