Are Structured Notes For You? Pros and Cons

Structured notes have become a new type of investment in recent years, according to the financial market. These notes provide an alternative to investing in stocks and bonds because they combine features from both types of investments. In essence, they combine a bond with a derivative, offering the possibility of greater returns while also limiting the risk of negative returns. However, before embracing structured notes, it's crucial to weigh their benefits and drawbacks to decide if they're a good fit for your investment portfolio. 

To assist you in making an informed choice, we'll examine some potential benefits of structured notes in this blog post before moving on to some drawbacks.


Things To Consider Before Investing in Structured Notes

There are several important things to consider when thinking about investing in structured notes. 

Consider the following points:

Market Conditions 

Market circumstances have an impact on the performance of structured notes. It's crucial to take into account the current market situation and any potential effects on the notes' underlying assets. For instance, structured notes connected to the stock market suffered significant losses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Credit Risk

Typically, banks or other financial institutions are the ones who issue structured notes. So, before making an investment, it's critical to evaluate the issuer's creditworthiness. According to Moody's report, low interest rates and economic difficulties have made European banks, who are the main issuers of structured notes, less creditworthy.


Structured notes have costs, just like any other investment. These can include up-front costs, ongoing management fees, and early redemption expenses. Before making an investment, it's critical to comprehend the costs connected with a specific structured note. A study by the Securities Litigation and Consulting Group found that the median upfront fees for structured notes were 2.5%.


Structured notes are usually intended to be kept until maturity. However, there could be situations where an investor needs to sell the notes before they mature. Understanding a structured note's liquidity as well as any penalties for early redemption is crucial. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority claims that because structured notes are frequently illiquid, finding a buyer on a secondary market can be difficult.

Potential Returns

Compared to conventional fixed-income securities, structured notes have the potential to yield higher returns. It's crucial to comprehend the note's structure and potential returns, though. A University of New South Wales study found that structured notes linked to stocks had an average annual return of 3.23% as opposed to the underlying stock index's 8.09%.

Risk Tolerance

Risks accompany structured notes, so it's critical to comprehend the degree of risk a given note entails. It's critical to consider your risk appetite and whether the structured note is consistent with your investment goals.

Pros of Investing in Structured Notes

Customized Payouts

Structured notes provide the class with flexibility because growth notes mix fixed income coupons with upside optionality that resembles stocks, while income notes offer fixed income coupons that resemble bonds. Investors have the choice to select a structured note that matches their investment objectives and risk tolerance thanks to this tailored payout structure.


Structured notes give investors access to an underlying asset, such as the performance of a single stock, an index, a commodity, or other underlying assets. Through the use of a single structured note, investors can invest in various market segments, allowing for portfolio diversification. 


Structured notes offer investors the chance to recover their principal as well as some income even if the underlying asset declines, offering the potential for strong returns with downside protection. This is one way to invest in a blue-chip stock that a shareholder may feel is too expensive to own outright.

Time Savings 

Investors can save time by using structured notes instead of building a diversified, hedged portfolio using options, equity, and bond positions, which can take a lot of time and knowledge. Structured notes offer greater diversification without the need for active management by combining a portfolio into a single investment.

Cons of Investing in Structured Notes

Limited Liquidity 

Structured notes are a more recent financial invention than stocks, bonds, or exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and they are not as frequently traded. This may reduce the notes' liquidity and force investors to hold off on receiving a return on their principal and the final payment until the notes mature.

Pricing Rigidity 

Structured notes are frequently priced using a matrix, which makes investors susceptible to missing out on final or coupon payouts in the event that the underlying asset is volatile or subject to sporadic trading.

Call Risk 

Some structured notes include a call option that allows the issuer to repurchase the notes at a fixed price after a specified period of time (but before maturity). Due to the call risk introduced by this, investors may be forced to reinvest their money at an unfavorable time.


Given the greater cost of their creation and upkeep, structured notes have higher fees than more established assets. The time savings that structured notes can provide are exchanged for this. 

Can Structured Notes Help Diversify Your Portfolio?

Yes, structured notes can be a great tool for a portfolio's diversification. They give investors the chance to be exposed to various asset classes and offer a payout structure that can be customized to meet the needs of each investor. Additionally, structured notes can be utilized to lower the risk of market declines or losses in conventional investments.

Structured notes can potentially offer higher returns than conventional fixed-income securities while lowering portfolio risk by giving investors indirect exposure to a variety of underlying assets. To increase diversification and strike a balance between risk and reward in their investment strategy, investors should think about incorporating structured notes into their portfolios.

Key Takeaways

A brief pros & cons analysis on structured notes: 


  • Customized payouts tailored to an investor's goals and risk tolerance
  • Exposure to underlying assets for diversification and potential higher returns
  • Downside protection to gain principal back even if underlying asset goes down
  • Time savings by packaging a diversified portfolio into a single investment


  • Limited liquidity, as structured notes are not widely traded
  • Pricing rigidity that can cause missed payouts
  • Call risk where the issuer can buy back notes at a potentially unfavorable time
  • Higher fees than more established assets

To summarize

Structured notes are a relatively new form of investment that combine traits of both bonds and derivatives. They limit downside risk while also offering the possibility of higher returns. Before investing in structured notes, there are a number of things to take into account, including market conditions, credit risk, fees, liquidity, potential returns, and risk tolerance. Structured notes have the potential to offer higher returns than conventional fixed-income securities while also reducing portfolio risk.

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Q1.What questions should I ask about structured notes?

You should enquire about the terms and conditions of the note, such as the underlying assets, the payoff structure, and any potential risks, before investing in structured notes. Inquire about the issuer's creditworthiness and any fees or commissions related to the investment as well.

Q2.Why not to invest in structured notes?

The complexity and opacity of structured notes can make it challenging for investors to fully comprehend the risks and potential rewards. Additionally, because banks and other financial institutions frequently issue structured notes, investors are exposed to the issuer's credit risk. Last but not least, structured notes might be illiquid, making it challenging to sell the investment before maturity.

Q3.What happens when a structured note matures?

An investor receives the last payment when a structured note matures in accordance with the terms of the note. This payment could have a fixed rate of return or be based on how well the underlying assets perform. If the note is callable, the issuer may decide to do so before the note matures, in which case the investor would receive the principal amount plus any accumulated interest.

Q4.How are structured notes taxed in the US?

In the US, structured notes are typically taxed at ordinary income rates, which means that any interest or other income received as a result of the investment is subject to the investor's marginal tax rate. The investor might be able to postpone paying taxes on their investment until retirement if the structured note is kept in a tax-advantaged account, like an IRA or 401(k).

Q5.Can structured products be traded at any time?

Depending on the particulars of the product, structured products have different levels of liquidity. Investors may be able to buy or sell certain structured products at any time because they are built to be traded on exchanges or other secondary markets.