Some investors seek alternative investment options with a little more adventure because they prefer taking calculated risks. One option that has become increasingly popular with both issuers and investors alike is called a ‘hybrid security.’
While these investments can act like bonds which commonly provide regular income via quarterly payments, their value can also fall dramatically just like normal shares. So, in order to help you work out if hybrid securities are suitable for your portfolio, here is everything you need to know.
What are hybrid securities?
Hybrid securities are single tradable investments containing two or more different types of financial products or multiple kinds of security features. Often simply referred to as hybrids, these are complex financial investments that are usually labeled as either preferred, convertible, or redeemable. They combine the characteristics of both debts and equities and can generate returns as dividends or as interest, whether based on company performance or at an established rate. This typically means that while they offer guaranteed payment like a bond, hybrid securities also have the potential for capital appreciation of a stock.
Generally purchased or sold through a broker or an exchange, these securities provide banks and companies with investment capital facilitated via different mechanisms than standard stock or bonds. Hybrid investments also have features that can impact their future value, as they usually pay returns at a fixed or floating rate until a previously specified date, so there’s no guarantee on interest timing or payment amounts.
Investors should also be aware that they’re riskier than typical bonds and the returns are generally on the lower end of the spectrum. So despite the appeal of hybrid securities as a financial product, they may not be suitable for investors looking for capital security or who need steady returns.
Risks and rewards of hybrids
Because they often have complicated and risky profiles, Hybrid securities aren’t usually marketed toward retail investors with an average portfolio. Because not only is each hybrid completely unique, they can also be named or described inconsistently.
Some hybrids are so difficult to understand, simply defining them as debt or equity can be quite complicated, which can have far-reaching effects. In fact, even the most experienced institutional investors can sometimes fail to completely understand features like risks and terms when purchasing some hybrid securities. So it’s important that you understand the specific features of each hybrid by reading each prospectus before investing.
In addition to being complicated, another criticism of hybrid securities is they usually require a much higher risk with lower potential returns when compared to the value stocks or bonds that they incorporate.
Hybrids may also be less reliable because they have more market exposure than vanilla bonds and less liquidity than a stock, which can make it more difficult to move out of your portfolio. Plus, they can be difficult to sell because hybrid securities are often considered to be obscure or complex investments. Other common risks regarding hybrid securities include market volatility, deferred interest, early repayments, illiquidity, and insolvency.
When it comes to the rewards and benefits of hybrid securities, some of them can still be extremely useful investments when they’re in the right portfolio. Because when their risk profile is greater, hybrid securities will usually also have a much higher rate of return compared to a comparable single investment bond.
Not only will this return the face value of the hybrid to the holder when they eventually mature, but some may also have taxation advantages. So as you can see, each type of investment in hybrid securities will have its own unique characteristics when it comes to risks and rewards. If you’re interested in adding funds that incorporate hybrid securities into your portfolio, they have the potential to add some useful diversity to your investment strategy.
The bottom line
While hybrid securities may have the potential for higher rates of return in normal market situations, they also have a much higher risk profile than ordinary securities. Because they can be riskier investments in general, investors should always analyze everything carefully and research all possible future market scenarios before deciding to put money down.