Articles Tagged with Leverage ETFs

shutterstock_186471755The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) sanctioned broker Daniel Grieco (Grieco) concerning allegations that Grieco made recommendations of non-traditional exchange-traded funds (Non-Traditional ETFs) to various customers without having reasonable grounds to believe his recommendations were suitable.

Non-Traditional ETFs are behave drastically different and have different risk qualities from traditional ETFs. While traditional ETFs simply seek to mirror an index or benchmark, Non-Traditional ETFs use a combination of derivatives instruments and debt to multiply returns on underlining assets, often attempting to generate 2 to 3 times the return of the underlining asset class. Non-Traditional ETFs are also used to earn the inverse result of the return of the benchmark.

In addition, regular ETFs can be held for long term trading, but Non-Traditional ETFs are generally designed to be used only for short term trading. The use of leverage employed by these funds causes their long-term values to be dramatically different than the underlying benchmark over long periods of time. For example, between December 1, 2008, and April 30, 2009, the Dow Jones U.S. Oil & Gas Index gained two percent while the ProShares Ultra Oil and Gas, a fund seeking to deliver twice the index’s daily return fell six percent. In another example, the ProShares UltraShort Oil and Gas, seeks to deliver twice the inverse of the index’s daily return fell by 26 percent over the same period.

Between March 16, 2009, and September 21, 2012, FINRA alleged that Sunset Financial Services, Inc., (Sunset) failed to establish and maintain a supervisory system regarding the sale of leveraged or inverse exchange-traded funds, otherwise known as nontraditional ETFs, that was reasonably designed to comply with NASD Conduct Rule 3010.

Sunset has its principal offices in Kansas City, Missouri and is wholly-owned by Kansas City Life Insurance Company, Inc., an insurance company.  Sunset has approximately 302 branch offices, 504 registered individuals and 197 non-registered individuals associated with the firm.

FINRA alleged that Sunset’s written supervisory procedures did not address the selling of nontraditional ETFs in any fashion.  A leveraged ETF employs financial debt in order to amplify the returns of an underlying stock position.  Leveraged ETFs are generally available for most indexes like the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100.  For example, a leveraged ETF with 300% leverage will return 3% if the underlying index returns 1%.  Nontraditional ETFs can also be designed to return the inverse of the benchmark.

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