WASHINGTON—The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) issued a new Investor Alert called Duration—What an Interest Rate Hike Could Do to Your Bond Portfolio. FINRA is issuing this Alert to help investors understand the importance of duration risk. Although stated in years, duration is not simply a measure of time. The duration of a bond or a bond fund also signals how much the price of a bond investment is likely to fluctuate when interest rates move up or down.
"With interest rates hovering near all-time lows, investors should make sure they know their duration numbers. Whether investors own individual bonds or bond funds, they need to understand that outstanding bonds with a low interest rate and high duration may experience significant price drops if interest rates rise," said Gerri Walsh, FINRA Vice President of Investor Education.
As explained in FINRA's Alert, a bond fund with a 10-year duration will decrease in value by 10 percent if interest rates rise 1 percent. In contrast, if a fund's duration is two years, then a similar 1-percent rise in interest rates will result in only a 2-percent decline in the bond fund's value.
To find your bond fund's duration, investors should look on the fund's fact sheet. Investors holding individual bonds should start by asking their investment professional or the bond's issuer.
Investors should also keep in mind that just because a bond or bond fund's duration is low, it does not mean the investment is risk-free. In addition to duration risks, bonds and bond funds are subject to inflation, call, default and other risk factors.
FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is the largest independent regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States. FINRA is dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective and efficient regulation and complementary compliance and technology-based services. FINRA touches virtually every aspect of the securities business – from registering and educating all industry participants to examining securities firms, writing rules, enforcing those rules and the federal securities laws, informing and educating the investing public, providing trade reporting and other industry utilities, and administering the largest dispute resolution forum for investors and firms. For more information, please visit www.finra.org.