Regulatory Notice 09-31

FINRA Reminds Firms of Sales Practice Obligations Relating to Leveraged and Inverse Exchange-Traded Funds

Executive Summary

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that offer leverage or that are designed to perform inversely to the index or benchmark they track—or both—are growing in number and popularity. While such products may be useful in some sophisticated trading strategies, they are highly complex financial instruments that are typically designed to achieve their stated objectives on a daily basis. Due to the effects of compounding, their performance over longer periods of time can differ significantly from their stated daily objective. Therefore, inverse and leveraged ETFs that are reset daily typically are unsuitable for retail investors who plan to hold them for longer than one trading session, particularly in volatile markets.

 

This Notice reminds firms of their sales practice obligations in connection with leveraged and inverse ETFs. In particular, recommendations to customers must be suitable and based on a full understanding of the terms and features of the product recommended; sales materials related to leveraged and inverse ETFs must be fair and accurate; and firms must have adequate supervisory procedures in place to ensure that these obligations are met.

 

Questions concerning this Notice should be directed to the Office of Emerging Regulatory Issues at (202) 728-8472.