Financial products refer to instruments that help you save, invest, get insurance or get a mortgage. These are issued by various banks, financial institutions, stock brokerages, insurance providers, credit card agencies and government sponsored entities. Financial products are categorised in terms of their type or underlying asset class, volatility, risk and return.
Types of financial products
Shares: These represent ownership of a company. While shares are initially issued by corporations to finance their business needs, they are subsequently bought and sold by individuals in the share market. They are associated with high risk and high returns. Returns on shares can be in the form of dividend payouts by the company or profits on the sale of shares in the stockmarket. Shares, stocks, equities and securities are words that are generally used interchangeably.
Bonds: These are issued by companies to finance their business operations and by governments to fund budget expenses like infrastructure and social programs. Bonds have a fixed interest rate, making the risk associated with them lower than that with shares. The principal or face value of bonds is recovered at the time of maturity.
Treasury Bills: These are instruments issued by the government for financing its short term needs. They are issued at a discount to the face value. The profit earned by the investor is the difference between the face or maturity value and the price at which the Treasury Bill was issued.
Options: Options are rights to buy and sell shares. An option holder does not actually purchase shares. Instead, he purchases the rights on the shares.
Mutual Funds: These are professionally managed financial instruments that involve the diversification of investment into a number of financial products, such as shares, bonds and government securities. This helps to reduce an investor’s risk exposure, while increasing the profit potential.
Certificate of Deposit: Certificates of deposit (or CDs) are issued by banks, thrift institutions and credit unions.They usually have a fixed term and fixed interest rate.
Annuities: These are contracts between individual investors and insurance companies, where investors agree to pay an allocated amount of premium and at the end of a pre-determined fixed term, the insurer will guarantee a series of payments to the insured party.
Complex Financial Products
There are certain financial products that are highly complex in nature. Among these are:
Excessive short-termism is always a problem for policy, but the Global Crisis has brought it sharply into focus. This column introduces a report that discusses how a shift to longer-term solutions is necessary and possible. A key message is that businesses as well as governments need to take a longer-term view. The report identifies ways to overcome the current impasse in key economic, climate, trade, security, and other negotiations.
Eric J. Gleacher Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. IMF’s Chief Economist from September 2003 to January 2007. Inaugural recipient of the Fischer Black Prize.
Chancellor of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom from 1992 to 2007. Prime Minister of the UK between 2007 and 2010. Inaugural 'Distinguished Leader in Residence' at New York University. Advisor at World Economic Forum