Benefits and risk
Before making an investment decision, it is important to understand the key risks of leveraged and inverse products (L&I Products) first.
- Easy to trade: You can trade L&I Products via your intermediary (broker or bank) on the stock exchanges like trading stocks.
- Transparent: L&I Products have clear investment objectives, strategies and mechanics. Both product information and trading information are easily accessible.
- Cost effective: You can use L&I Products for hedging or taking leveraged/inverse position at a lower cost than using some other trading strategies such as margin financing and short selling.
- Established regime: Functions of the L&I Product issuer, participating dealers and market makers are well-defined. The operations of L&I Products are monitored by their trustees.
- Investment risk: Trading L&I Products involves investment risk and are not intended for all investors. There is no guarantee of repaying the principal amount.
- Volatility risk: Prices of L&I Products may be more volatile than conventional exchange traded funds (ETFs) because of using leverage and the rebalancing activities.
- Unlike conventional ETFs: L&I Products are different from conventional ETFs. They do not share the same characteristics and risks as conventional ETFs.
- Long-term holding risk: L&I Products are not intended for holding longer than the rebalancing interval, typically one day. Daily rebalancing and the compounding effect will make the L&I Product’s performance over a period longer than one day deviate in amount and possibly direction from the leveraged/inverse performance of the underlying index over the same period. The deviation becomes more pronounced in a volatile market.
As a result of daily rebalancing, the underlying index’s volatility and the effects of compounding of each day’s return over time, it is possible that the leveraged product will lose money over time while the underlying index increases or is flat. Likewise, it is possible that the inverse product will lose money over time while the underlying index decreases or is flat.
- Risk of rebalancing activities: There is no assurance that L&I Products can rebalance their portfolios on a daily basis to achieve their investment objectives. Market disruption, regulatory restrictions or extreme market volatility may adversely affect the rebalancing activities.
- Liquidity risk: Rebalancing typically takes place near the end of a trading day (shortly before the close of the underlying market) to minimize tracking difference. The short interval of rebalancing may expose L&I Products more to market volatility and higher liquidity risk.
- Intraday investment risk: Leverage factor of L&I Products may change during a trading day when the market moves but it will not be rebalanced until day end. The L&I Product’s return during a trading day may be greater or less than the leveraged/opposite return of the underlying index.
- Portfolio turnover risk: Daily rebalancing causes a higher levels of portfolio transaction when compared to conventional ETFs, and thus increases brokerage and other transaction costs.
- Correlation risk: Fees, expenses, transactions cost as well as costs of using financial derivatives may reduce the correlation between the performance of the L&I Product and the leveraged/inverse performance of the underlying index on a daily basis.
- Termination risk: L&I Products must be terminated when all the market makers resign. Termination of the L&I Product should take place at about the same time when the resignation of the last market maker becomes effective.
- Leverage risk (for leveraged products only): The use of leverage will magnify both gains and losses of leveraged products resulting from changes in the underlying index or, where the underlying index is denominated in a currency other than the leveraged product's base currency, from fluctuations in exchange rates.
- Unconventional return pattern (for inverse products only): Inverse products aim to deliver the opposite of the daily return of the underlying index. If the value of the underlying index increases for extended periods, or where the exchange rate of the underlying index denominated in a currency other than the inverse product's base currency rises for an extended period, inverse products can lose most or all of their value.
- Inverse products vs short selling (for inverse products only): Investing in inverse products is different from taking a short position. Because of rebalancing, the performance of inverse products may deviate from a short position in particular in a volatile market with frequent directional swings.