Cathie Wood is heating up Wall Street’s exotic bond business
Feb 9, 2021
By Claire Ballentine
Lenders have issued about 50 structured products tied to Ark’s ETFs in the past three months, according to filings with the SEC. JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley are the most prolific with around 30 and 10 notes, respectively. Wood is the CEO and founder of Ark, whose ETFs have attracted billions, vaulting her to celebrity and even inspiring a line of merchandise. A spokesperson for JPMorgan declined to comment, while Morgan Stanley representatives didn’t respond to a request for comment. Structured notes are debt securities that use derivatives to provide exposure to an underlying asset, like a basket of stocks or an ETF. While they can offer eye-popping coupons or leverage, they also charge high fees and can be difficult to exit. Wall Street sold some $70 billion of the securities last year, according to data provider Structured Products Intelligence. Buyers include Dan Clifford of Princeton, New Jersey, who commissioned his first $1.05 million note tied to three Ark ETFs in October. “Ark’s holdings don’t resemble any major index and are not static,” said the senior portfolio manager at White Knight Strategic Wealth Advisors. “These are the main features that attracted us to their ETFs and gives us confidence that they will continue to provide stellar returns.”
Clifford’s three-year security, which was created for him by BNP Paribas SA, works like this: On the note’s maturity date in 2023, investors receive 1.75 times the performance of the worst-performing of three Ark ETFs. But if any of the ETFs drop more than 20%, the noteholder participates fully in those losses. Things are looking good for Clifford so far. The Ark Innovation ETF ( ARKK ) is up 23% this year alone after a 149% gain in 2020. The Ark Genomic Revolution product ( ARKG ) and the Ark Next Generation Internet fund ( ARKW ) are both up more than 20% year-to-date.