Tuesday, June 22, 2010

FINRA Issues Investor Alert Regarding Reverse Convertibles

FINRA has issued a warning on its website to investors of Reverse Exchangeable Securities ("Reverse Convertibles").

Although often described as debt instruments, Reverse Convertibles are debt obligations of the issuer that are tied to the performance of an unrelated security or basket of securities. The Alert describes Reverse Convertibles as far more complex than a traditional bond and involve elements of options trading. In addition, Reverse Convertibles expose investors not only to risks traditionally associated with bonds and other fixed income products—such as the risk of issuer default and inflation risk—but also to the additional risks of the unrelated assets, which are often stocks.

FINRA issued the alert to inform investors of the features and risks of reverse convertibles that can be difficult for individual investors and investment professionals alike to evaluate. According to FINRA, if investors are considering purchasing Reverse Convertibles, it is critical that they look beyond the high coupon rate and focus on the risks of the underlying asset. FINRA warns ivnestors that even if the issuer of the reverse convertible is able to meet its obligations on the note—and even if the yield keeps pace with or surpasses inflation—investors could wind up, when the note matures, with shares of a depreciated—or even worthless—asset. Click here for the Full Investor Alert.

If you have suffered losses in Reverse Convertibles and would like more information, or would like to consult with an attorney on a confidential basis, contact SLG at 415-217-7300 or fill out our contact form.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

SEC proposes new disclosures for target-date funds

On Wednesday June 16, 2010, Federal regulators proposed new disclosure rules for target-date retirement funds that would require sponsors to spell out how they are investing the money and to warn about risks.
Click here for entire article.

Under the SEC proposal, target-date funds' marketing materials would have to include a prominent table, chart or graph showing the allocations among the various assets over the life of the fund. A statement would have to explain that the asset allocation changes over time, and tell prospective investors that they should consider their financial situation and tolerance for risk before going into a fund.

Target-date funds came under criticism during the market meltdown of 2008 and in its aftermath. Among 31 funds with a 2010 target date, the average loss in 2008 was nearly 25 percent.

Before the vote on the proposed rules, SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro stated: "It's clear that investors need more information than just the date in a fund's name."