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Thursday, 18 November 2010

Kick Out the Kick-out Bond

John Kay has seized upon the 'kickout bond' as an excellent example of how our creaking financial regulatory framework works against consumers.

John focused on the product as offered by RBS and distributed by Barclays Wealth, but even the Skipton Building Society is at it.

It is not possible to do the product any justice by summarising it in plain English. By all means study it yourself. But my reaction, like John Kay's, is to wonder why a retail bank or building society would offer an investment product with apparently massive bonuses when they can borrow money - or attract deposits - by offering very modest savings rates? If they've done their homework, this product should be very, very unlikely to cost them any more. In fact, the structure and layers of intermediaries involved should mean additional revenue based on fee and dealing charges and returns below the trigger for any 'bonus' payments. As Mr Kay says:
"Like so many structured products, these bonds are bought only by people who do not really understand what they are doing."
Why the FSA allows a product of this complexity to be offered to unwitting investors, yet refuses to provide guidance for the launch of simple, transparent, low cost funding platforms is utterly beyond me.

Remember: you're on your own - pay less, diversify more and be contrarian.

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