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UK FSCS Confirms Foreign Investors of Traded Endowment Also Given 90% Protection Print E-mail

Some people have asked us whether FSCS 90% Protection is given to Foreign Investors of UK Traded Endowment Policies.

Below is a reply I received from FSCS when I sent them an email to enquire whether foreign investors are entitled to the Protection given by FSCS

Thank you for your e-mail of  today's date about the potential protection available from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) with regards to endowment policies. The FSCS was set up under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 as the fund of last resort for the financial services sector.  It exists to protect customers of authorised firms and covers deposits, insurance and investments.  The Scheme can pay compensation to customers who have lost money as a result of their dealings with authorised firms that are unable to pay claims against them, usually because they are insolvent or have stopped trading.  Financial services firms are authorised by the UK’s regulator, the Financial Services Authority (FSA). 


An endowment policy would fall within the definition of a long-term insurance contract for FSCS's purposes, and would therefore be protected at 100% for the first £2,000 and at 90% for the rest (unlimited), in the event that an authorised endowment provider was declared to be insolvent. For endowments, such protection is available to depositors not normally resident within the United Kingdom. 

 

Belos is the email I sent to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it :

I am a Singaporean residing in Singapore. I have invested money into an Endowment policy by buying a Traded Endowment Policy. I like to know that as I’m a foreign investor, am I also entitled to the Protection given by FSCS?

Looking forward to hearing from you via email.   

 
Do You Know that Lehman Brothers' Mini-bond is NOT a bond? Print E-mail

Should Minibond Series 3 have taken the retail route?

IF YOU want a front-row lesson in first-class financial obfuscation for structured products, then look no further than the way the recently collapsed Minibond Series 3 notes was packaged and marketed.

Up to $200 million of these notes were sold to a gullible retail public who probably thought they were buying a five-year bond issued by six leading banks that paid a 5 per cent coupon per year but were in reality, not only exposed to the US housing market but also to a complex credit default swap arrangement whose substantive party was the now-bankrupt Lehman Brothers.

The cover of the Pricing Document prominently stated that the issue was credit-linked to six financial institutions, namely Barclays Bank, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, UBS and UOB - these banks being defined as Reference Entities or REs. Much was made of the fact that the viability of the notes depended on whether these six banks or REs would go bankrupt and there are repeated warnings to this effect throughout the document. Investors were given plenty of information on the credit ratings of these six REs and links to their websites while Lehman is listed only as the Arranger in small print. The fine print at the bottom of the cover, however, states that Lehman is also Swap Counterparty, besides being the arranger. Not many retail investors would have seen this, and if they had, few would probably have understood the importance of this information.

More on this later. Investors, however, were urged to read the Base Prospectus in conjunction with the Pricing Statement. In the former's page 24, it is stated that 'the Notes are intended to provide investors with a coupon for assuming exposure to the credit risks of companies or of sovereign states, that is, the Reference Entities'. 'By acquiring the Notes, investors can gain exposure to the credit risks of the REs without directly holding debt obligations of the REs, for example, bonds issued by the REs.' Note that the language used creates the impression that gaining exposure to the credit risks of the six REs is something desirable - and, by extension, this suggests that the notes are good investments - when in reality, the key to the whole issue is in the words 'without directly holding debt obligations' of the REs. In other words, the six REs are not participants in the notes, receive no money from the issue and are not issuers of the notes. Instead, the next sentence reveals all: 'This (exposure) is achieved by linking payment of the principal and/or interest on the Notes to an RE's default.'

Who provides this link? In all the documents, this is given as Minibond Ltd but this is a special purpose vehicle with only US$1,000 in capital. The substantive party behind Minibond Ltd is most likely Lehman Brothers. Here's how it works. Lehman most probably owned securities in the six REs.

In order to hedge itself against a default by any of these REs, it set up Minibond to offer notes to the public. Minibond offered these notes with attractive terms and because of clever marketing and pricing, collects a certain amount of cash from retail investors. This money is then used to buy securities - in the case of Series 3, it was collateralised debt obligations (CDOs), most probably on US mortgage instruments. Minibond then collects the cash flows from these CDOs.

In order to pay investors the quarterly coupon and to ensure no problems with currency/interest rate fluctuations, it swaps these cash flows with a counterparty, which is Lehman. It is stated elsewhere that if the swap deals fail in addition to an RE default, the whole issue will be terminated. Thus, since Lehman has failed, so has the issue.

The crux of the entire deal appears on page 17 under Credit Default Swap where it is stated that Minibond has an agreement with Lehman in which Lehman pays Minibond a premium for insuring Lehman against credit losses on the REs. In effect, the money that Singapore retail investors exchanged for the notes were not for any bonds issued by the six names that appeared on the cover of the prospectus but instead, went towards insuring Lehman against losses in its portfolio.

The quarterly coupon investors received was not interest from the six REs but instead, Lehman paying an insurance premium, partly financed by cash obtained from CDOs. In short, Lehman structured a synthetic derivative product to hedge its own exposure to various instruments and linked it to the default likelihood of six major banks. Should the true nature of the instrument have been disclosed upfront? Yes, especially since it was marketed to retail investors - though it has to be said that many other notes and products have been sold in a similar manner and the only reason that the poor disclosure of this particular series of notes surfaced is that Lehman went bust. Had it not, or had it been rescued, the coupon payments would have continued as per normal and no one would have been the wiser. Moreover, while it is possible to piece together the actual substance of these notes from the documents available, it is a tedious process and arguably not within the ability of the average retail investor.

 

There are many issues also unresolved - for one thing, how many other similar products are out there? How could the authorities allow the conflicts of interest inherent in one party from being the arranger, issuer and swap counterparty? How is it that, if Lehman alone performed all these functions, there was virtually no disclosure of Lehman's financial position or credit rating? Instead, investors' attention was focused on the six REs - wrongly, as it turned out.

Finally, if disclosure was weak, then so was knowledge among distributors. Some brokers did not understand the true nature of the instrument and sold it as a bond. Maybe the name had something to do with it, though as investors have now found out painfully, what they had bought was not a bond but a convoluted swap-based instrument. Thus, should such products be allowed to continue to come into the retail market?

 
Someone asked:"I bought Lehman Brothers Mini-bonds, will I lose money? Print E-mail
Sharing some information I found on internet discussion forums on investment in Pinnalce Series 7 Notes:  nuts88 Wrote:
  
Hi I bought some Pinnacle Series 7 Notes and would like to ask for advice from any expert around here. reply by Disciple of Graham: A genuine expert would be unlikely to give you free advice. That said, there are some informed consumers here who can offer their personal views.

My own view is that you have to read the entire offering prospectus for the Notes to understand:

1. What the underlying investments are;
2. The conditions for mandatory redemption;
3. How the link to the reference parties is constructed;

For example, my friend's wife bought a "Minibond" arranged by Lehman Brothers. Upon reading the prospectus my friend found to his horror that:

Read more...
 
UK Retail Sales Up in August 2008, better than expectations Print E-mail
UK Retail Sales Unexpectedly Increase In August 9/18/2008 9:46 AM ET



UK retail sales grew unexpectedly in August, boosted by clothing and footwear sales, the Office for National Statistics or ONS said Thursday. Retail sales volume recorded a second unexpected monthly growth of 1.2% in August. Driven by a 4% rise in the clothing and footwear stores, retail sales growth improved from July's 0.9% rise. Economists
 
Where Can You Put Your Money that is Safe even if the Financial Institution Collapse? Print E-mail

The collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered the question:”who will be the next to fail?” And the answer seems to be:”it can be anybody.” 

 

Where can you put your money that is safe in the event of the collapse of the Financial Institution you placed money with? 

 

Singapore only has maximum Deposit Insurance up to S$20,000 per bank. Even if you have S$1 million with a bank, you only get back S$20,000 if the bank goes into trouble.I discovered one investment that providees 90% protection even in the event of the worst case scenario of the collapse of the financial institution – Traded Endowment.

For Traded Endowment, the protection is 90% of the amount of policy cash value, not subject to a maximum amount (see details below).

Information about FSCS

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) is the UK's statutory fund of last resort for customers of authorised financial services firms.

 

This means that FSCS can pay compensation if a firm is unable, or likely to be unable, to pay claims against it.

 

FSCS is an independent body, set up under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA). Our service is free to consumers.Compensation Limits
The maximum levels of compensation are:

      100% of the first £2,000 plus 90% of the remainder of the claim.

How to claim
It does not cost you anything to claim compensation, and our staff are always happy to answer your questions. We will do all we can to help you with your claim.
FSCS handles claims against authorised firms that are unable, or likely to be unable, to pay claims against them. We describe this as being in default.

You can search our default database to see if the firm you are making enquiries about has already been declared in default by FSCS. A declaration of default by FSCS opens the way for consumers who have lost money as a result of dealings with the firm to make a claim for compensation to us.
 
How to contact FSCS
Call our Customer Services Team on: 020 7892 7300
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Please include your full name and address with any message you send us.
Write to:

   Financial Services Compensation Scheme
   7th floor, Lloyds Chambers
   Portsoken Street
   London E1 8BN
   Fax: 020 7892 7301

 
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