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Q: Structured notes are a stock/bond hybrid with a limited life span or maturity. When an advisor touts them, they may sound appealing because they often combine high coupon rates with some level of principal protection that would enable their buyer to get their original investment back. Legally, they are unsecured debt obligations of the issuing bank. Unlike most bonds, their coupon payments are often contingent on the performance of an underlying asset such as a stock or index, which means coupons may not always be paid. Structured notes often have no potential to appreciate in price or have an explicit cap on maximum gains.

According to Amy Arnott, a Senior Portfolio Strategist at Morningstar,

“Structured notes may offer big payouts, but those advertised yields aren't always worth the risks. In fact, when we recently dug into some of the academic research on how structured notes have performed, we found that two of the three studies we reviewed found that on average, structured notes have failed to perform better than a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds, and at times have failed to keep up with risk-free Treasury bills.

Structured notes still account for a tiny fraction of investable assets in the U.S., but they've been gaining in popularity amid recent market volatility and record-low interest rates. They're often described as a way for risk-averse investors to capture additional income while limiting downside volatility. But their embedded costs, complexity, lack of liquidity and transparency, and often unfavorable payoff profiles make them difficult to use in a portfolio. Investors tempted by double-digit yields should therefore tread carefully--or take a pass.”

Can I please get your thoughts and views on structured notes and whether you are in agreement with Amy Arnott’s opinion on structured notes as an investment vehicle? Is this another losing investment opportunity like buying shares in WEED.TO back in the Spring of 2019?

Read Answer Asked by George on April 27, 2023
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