Structured Products

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Trade barriers

Disclaimers + sales restrictions = trade barriers On the right side of the homepage of this website is a menu with many issuer links. Each link redirects you to the homepage of an issuer. What do you see first? A DISCLAIMER! And all too often, a choice of countries with the request to select your country of origin. If you ever read all the small-printed stuff (often over 100 lines of text), were you all the wiser? I wasn't. In fact, I never read it. Given, I'm a product specialist, so I should know. But I am sure that no investor will get any information in the text that will help him or her choose the product that is right for his/her risk profile.

So apart from wasting the time of potential investors, it's utterly useless. It's even counterproductive. While trying out several websites, I couldn't help but notice how the total available number of products varied depending on the country of origin I selected when I entered the site. It turned out that similar products are not always offered for investment in all countries. Let me explain: take a floored floater; by selecting the country of origin "Switzerland", I get 8 products for a given issuer. No I go back and select "Germany"; now I get 12 products! They're all floored floaters, some have even identical features, but the German gets more choice than the Swiss! If anybody can give me a logical economical reason of why such a situation should exist, I'd be most glad, because as of today, I don't see any. Of course, there may be dozens of legal reasons, but frankly, legal hasn't to exist for the sake of legal. Sales restrictions are another useless bother. Why is every country developing ever more complex restrictions for informing investors about structured products? In my humble opinion, the only reason can be protectionism. As each country develops its own set of rules, it becomes increasingly difficult for issuers to act globally. Imagine that you're a market leader in your country, and you have developed an efficient cost-saving platform to handle your products. Your products have therefore more attractive conditions than those of your competitors. Now suppose that you would like to offer this platform and products to potential clients in the neighbouring countries. The costs are immense! every single document has to be adjusted for each country and the platform must deliver different information or reports to each financial administration! You'd have to redesign and reprogram your whole setup, which is daunting in terms of costs. It doesn't prevent an issuer in a neighbour country to continue placing cost-intensive products with worse features than yours, though. Can somebody please file a complaint at WTO, please?