Hi Kin Lian,
Read your blog. I have thought about many of the issues in your blog for a long time and having worked as in the banking industry for 20 years, I have been long concerned about the products the banks are pushing out. As I shared, some of the products are so sophisticated and 'well-structured' that even financial professionals have difficulty telling the risks they are taking.
Here ia an example of an option product I came across 8 years ago, which on surface yields a whopping 18% interest. However, this 18% is merely the premium for writing a put option on HSBC shares that my CFO bought from his private banker. If the strike price was reached, his shares would be 'switched out'. Actually, this is when the option would be exercised. I saw the danger of such a product and even plotted a graph to show him that his upside was capped and his losses were unlimited. That kept him sweating for a few months until this option expired. Luckily for him, he got to 'milk' the 18%. I thought the financial institution was the greatest gainer and reaped him off completely!!
Reply: There are many products like this. It is quite common. The financial institution sells an option and takes the exess profit, leaving the investor to take an unlimited loss.
I have for a long time mistrusted banks and regulators to look after my welfare. Never invested in any of those structured deposits or even buy shares. I get saddened whenever I see folks who get trapped into this. Every time my mum brings home a brochure, I told her to dump it. To me, the financial system will fail one day. What are we to do? We certainly cannot put our money under our pillows and in biscuit tins. Surely, there must be more sober and honest institutions in the making that will look after the needs of ordinary people. Do you have any idea what this institution should be like? Can we implement that legally from our own capacity?
Reply: I hope that someone can set up a new institution, similar to the Central Provident Fund, that invest money honestly in the interest of the investors. It is just a low cost mutual fund, similar to an indexed fund.
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