Editor's letter



Distributors of derivatives-based investments are a lucky bunch. The number of structuring institutions seems to increase every month, and distributors therefore have a huge choice when it comes to picking a structuring partner. In Europe, however, it seems that distributors are also a loyal set, preferring to do business with just eight structured products manufacturers. These are the findings of our inaugural European distributor survey.

During the past two months, Structured Products has been polling Europe's distributors at both the retail and private banking level to ascertain who they rate as the top structurers in nine categories. The results appear on page 12 and make for interesting reading. We also asked distributors their opinions about wider market issues. Encouragingly, the consensus is that the structured products markets will go from strength to strength.

A possible stumbling block to growth is regulation, according to a majority of our survey respondents. And it's certainly an area that is causing headaches across Europe. As we report in our Focus on Italy, for example, uncertainty about which regulator will have ultimate responsibility for structured products has led to a slowdown in the distribution of notes (page S8).

But regulators shouldn't shoulder all the blame. As the UK's Financial Services Authority said at the end of August: "Providers (structurers) and distributors of financial products have differing, but interlocking, responsibilities for treating customers fairly and need to work together to help avoid potential future detriment for consumers."

Thankfully, it seems, structurers are taking this point seriously. Alvise Munari, Merrill Lynch's London-based head of equity-linked structuring and structured sales for EMEA, is an example of a structurer who is making a concerted effort in this area (page 30). It is this ongoing dialogue between structurers and distributors that will make the market even more successful.


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