Floating rate Term Deposits is a relatively new product and was introduced in September 2010 by a leading public sector bank. It means that the product will offer no guarantee on returns as the interest rate will change in tandem with the base rate, as and when a revision in the benchmark rate takes place. If a depositor wants flexibility in returns he can go in for the floating option.  Floating rate term deposit will allow the investor to take advantage of any interest rate changes even in the short term.




Rationale: Fixed deposits/term deposits should match fluctuating interest rate cycles. The change in the nature of term deposits should move in line with the change in movement of the market of the whole economy. Retail investors borrow at floating rates, but invest at a fixed rate, and are therefore exposed to high interest rate risk. Since retail investors cannot hedge their interest rate risk, investing in floating-rate products appears to be the only alternative to lower this asset-liability mismatch.  The advantages of commercial banks offering floating rates on deposits along with fixed rates can be better understood with an example.


Housing loan typically figures as the single largest component of an individual's liability. For most middle-income individuals, fixed deposits are the major investment. This naturally leads to an asset-liability mismatch, because housing loans have floating rate of interest while deposits have fixed rate of interest. If interest rates were to move up, an individual would have to pay more on the housing loan because the benchmark rate would have moved up too. The interest earned on the fixed deposits would, however, remain unchanged. This leads to negative cash flows for the individual. This is because of the difference in the interest rate sensitivity of the asset-liability portfolio. This difference in sensitivity can be lowered if the individual is able to partially immunize his asset-liability portfolio.


If banks were to offer floating rate deposits, individuals can partially immunize their asset-liability portfolio. An individual may have taken a housing loan for Rs 25 lakh at, say, the 10-year government bond yield plus one per cent with a six-month reset. The same individual may choose to invest Rs 5 lakh in a 10-year floating-rate deposit with or without the same reset and benchmark. When interest rate increases, the outflow on the housing loan will be higher, but so will the inflow from the floating rate deposit.


Banks normally do not offer such products, as they do not have the technology to support them. The reason that floating rate of interest is now being offered by banks is that floating-rate deposits may also improve their asset-liability maturity gap. If banks continue to push individuals to borrow at a floating rate and invest at a fixed rate, the customers over a period of time will move to short-term deposits, if they perceive interest rates moving up as short-term deposits carry low reinvestment risk. Retail investors can easily switch to higher interest bearing deposits should interest rates increase in the future. When more individuals move to short-term deposits, the asset-liability maturity gap of banks will widen. This is because banks would have lent money for the long-term, but borrowed for the short-term. If interest rate moves up, banks' borrowing cost will also increase. Of course, if their assets earn floating rate, the asset-liability maturity gap may not necessarily result in negative cash flows but would certainly mean lower spreads.


Banks have to also contend with the cost of maintaining deposits. Employee time could be better served in core banking operations such as lending rather than on continual renewal of short-term fixed deposits. There is also a secondary positive effect of offering floating rate deposits. Typically, interest rates on fixed deposit rate will be higher than the floating rate deposit, as the former bears higher interest rate risk. Professional money managers can extract the banks' perception of interest rate movements by modeling a cross-section of the rate differentials.


Eligibility: Any individual can open the account singly or jointly


Minimum amount: The minimum amount of deposit is Rs 1000 and multiples thereof. Maximum amount is Rs.15lakhs


Period of deposit:  1, 3 and 5 years


Interest rate: The interest will be reset every time that the base rate is changed with an upper cap of 200 base points above the fixed term deposit rate. Interest will be paid quarterly/monthly discounted


Liquidity: Loan/overdraft can be availed against the FRTD (Floating rate term deposit) up to a maximum of 90% of FRTD amount at 1.5% interest above the interest paid on the deposit.


Automatic renewal: The deposit will be renewed automatically for same period as that of matured deposit at the interest rate prevailing at the time of maturity, unless instructed otherwise by the depositor


Premature withdrawal: Interest to be paid on premature withdrawal of term deposits is at 1.00% below the term deposit rate applicable for the period the deposit has remained with the Bank.


Disadvantages:  It is a complicated procedure. The customer has to be aware which way interest rate is going to go in the future and accordingly has to take an informed decision. Otherwise he may end up getting lesser returns than fixed rate products. If the base rate is revised upwards, the customer is benefitted but in case of downward revision, the customer stands to lose vis-a-vis a fixed rate product.


(c): iibf

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