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Alternative and Complex Products

Investment products abound that offer alternatives to conventional stock and bond investments. These products are sometimes referred to as structured products or non-conventional investments. They tend to be both more complex—and more risky—than traditional investments, and often tempt investors with special features and higher returns than offered by basic investments.

Some examples of complex products include notes with principal protection and high-yield bonds that have lower credit ratings and higher risk of default, but offer more attractive rates of return. Complex products may use futures and options, as well as complicated trading strategies, to achieve investment objectives.

Although these products may have attractive qualities, it is crucial to understand each investment’s distinct features, risks and rewards. FINRA’s investor alerts and information can help.


  • Slow Down When You See High Yield
    High-yield or junk bonds typically offer a higher rate of return than investment-grade bonds, but the higher yield comes with increased risk—specifically, the risk that the bond’s issuer may default. Learn more about bond default and credit risk.
  • Equity-Indexed Annuities: A Complex Choice
    Also known as "fixed-indexed insurance products" and "indexed annuities," equity-indexed annuities (EIAs) are complex financial instruments that have characteristics of both fixed and variable annuities. Be prepared to ask your insurance agent, broker or other financial professional lots of questions about whether an EIA is right for you.