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Regulator bolsters guidelines on equity-tied securities to better protect investors

The financial watchdog said Monday it has strengthened guidelines on sales of equity-tied securities to better protect investors.

Equity-linked securities, which are hybrid debt securities whose returns are determined by the performance of underlying equities, have become one of best-selling alternative investment products in South Korea amid record-low interest rates. 


The products are structured to track the performance of underlying assets and not guarantee the principle, as investors prefer instruments that promise higher yields.

But the products are not protected by the Depositor Protection Act and investors can suffer from losses.

At the end of June this year, the outstanding value of ELS products stood at 101 trillion won ($89.2 billion), and retail investors held 46.7 percent of the products, according to the Financial Supervisory Service.

People aged 60 or above held about 19.7 trillion won worth of ELS products at the end of June, the FSS said.

The FSS said it will ask banks and brokerages to better notify investors of the risks of such products.

Currently, a grace period is given to investors aged 70 or above who inject their money into ELS products to cancel their investment, a measure that aims to reduce risk.

The FSS said it will ask banks and brokerages to better explain the grace period to elderly investors.

The issuance of ELS products jumped 35.1 percent on-year to 48.1 trillion won in the first six months of this year, as more investors turned to them amid increased stock market volatility, according to the FSS data. (Yonhap)