vehicles from friends provident and standard life offshoots among offerings last month
The ever-active structured product arena saw a further 40 launches in September, down slightly from the 45 products added in August, according to website structuredretailproducts.com.
Managing director of the site Robert Benson said launches in September included high-profile first offerings from offshoots of two of the UK's largest life offices.
The first, Friends Provident International's Capital Plus Account, wrapped as an offshore life bond, is an early release, or knockout call-type, capital protected product linked to the FTSE 100 index.
The vehicle offers 100% capital protection after five-and-a-half years plus 100% of the rise in the index. However, if the index is up by 30% or more after three years, the product matures at that time, paying out 130% of the original investment.
The other life office offshoot with a product launch last month is Standard Life Bank, which offered two variations of its Capital Protected Bond. Both are deposit-based vehicles linked to the FTSE 100 and offering 100% minimum return at maturity.
The difference between the two variations comes in the maturity and participation levels, with the three-year product offering 100% of the upside in the index and the five-year product offering 115%.
Benson said one point to note on this product is the choice of name. While most deposit-based products in the UK use the word guaranteed in the name, which is believed to offer a significant advantage in marketing terms, this vehicle, even though a deposit, is called capital protected.
Benson said: "The issuer has claimed the decision to do this reflects its own stance on not wanting to be misleading but it will be interesting to see if other deposit providers take a similar view."
Benson noted it was a busy month overall in terms of issuers, with 25 different companies launching products. This included new offerings from many major providers such as National Savings, Halifax Life, Abbey, Scottish Widows, Woolwich Plan Managers, Keydata and Premier Fund Managers.
Only one pure income product was launched last month, however, the Capital Secure Income Bond from Bristol & West. This has a six-year term that aims to pay 7.5% per year and return capital in full at maturity, said Benson. Income products with variable yield but 100% capital protection have been seeing something of a revival recently, he added.
Birmingham Midshires recently had a similar product, with income based on the FTSE 100 index being higher than its initial level on each annual payment date.
Citigroup has also been pre-marketing its Income Plus fund, based on a call option over-writing strategy, said Benson, while Woolwich has just launched its own version, the Global Distribution Bond, albeit without capital protection.
Benson concluded that with last year's total sales now exceeded and 80 companies having launched products already this year, compared to 85 in 2003, the UK market appears to be in a healthy state overall.