Regulators have finally gotten the message that structured products can be hazardous to your wealth .
Structured products are notes that promise a high yield and are linked to derivatives sold by a bank or broker. After I wrote a column based on a study I conducted for The Nation Institute on May 17 exposing the dangers of these vehicles, the SEC and industry regulator FINRA issued two warnings.
The SEC followed up with a sweeps probe of brokers selling these products and released the results July 27. The agency found evidence of unsuitable recommendations, omission of material facts and “questionable sales practices.”
Why are regulators finally telling you to stay away from retail structured products? They carry embedded risks and high costs that brokers and banks are not clearly disclosing to you. Since the sales commissions on these notes are high, many brokers are aggressively selling them.
The Georgia Secretary of State, for example, is probing the sale of reverse convertible notes, which are bets tied to underlying stocks. The state has subpoenaed UBS AG, Morgan Stanley and Ameriprise seeking information on product sales and customers. The companies have denied wrongdoing.