The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) warned investors today about the risks of leveraged and inverse exchange traded funds (ETFs). The joint statement said:

“These products are complex and can be confusing. Investors should consider seeking the advice of an investment professional who understands these products, can explain whether or how they’ll fit with the individual investor’s objective and who is willing to monitor the specialized ETF’s performance for his or her customers.”

FINRA warned advisors in June about the dangers of leveraged and inverse ETFs, but has since backed off its initial warning and noted that the funds can be appropriate for use by financial professionals.

Leveraged and inverse ETF providers all have addressed the issues and misperceptions about their funds that have cropped up in the last several months.

  • Direxion noted that there is no one holding period that’s universally appropriate for leveraged and inverse funds. The products can be held for days, weeks or even a month or more, depending on the market, the investor’s view and goals.
  • ProShares released their own study last month about the effects of compounding.

The bottom line is, before any investor chooses to buy these funds, they need to understand how they work. They’re not like other ETFs, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad. It’s also important to note that these funds are not for everyone, something even the providers have repeatedly stressed.

For more stories on leveraged and inverse ETFs, visit our long-short category.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.

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