Despite an enduring bull market, an investment product favored by conservative investors seems to be making a comeback.
This week LaSalle Bank, a Chicago subsidiary of ABN Amro of Amsterdam, introduced a callable, equity-linked certificate of deposit tied to the Standard & Poor's 500 index.
The five-year, FDIC-insured CD guarantees the principal when held to maturity. Customers get interest equal to each month's percentage increase in the index.
The call provision lets the bank redeem the CD on a specified date in years one through four; subsequent offerings will let the bank do so in years two through four. Investors can redeem the CD every quarter after the first year at prices determined by the bank.
Gary Peters, the manager of LaSalle's broker-dealer services division, described the CD as "a way to play the equity market with a safety net." It is designed to appeal to "borderline people who want to be in the stock market without the fear of losing their nest egg," he said.
The CD will be sold through broker-dealers.
Many banks introduced CDs linked to the stock market in the early 1990s, only to drop them because of lack of customer interest and poor performance thanks to a dip in the market. During last year's volatile third quarter, some banks dusted off the products to appeal to more cautious investors.
But the stock market does not have to be in a nosedive for equity-linked CDs to make a comeback, said Les Dinkin, a managing principal of NBW Consulting Group of Westport, Conn.
With market awareness at an all-time high, such products help bring in the holdouts who otherwise would stick to "plain-vanilla" CDs, Mr. Dinkin said. And since few institutions offer equity-linked CDs, those who do differentiate themselves in the market, he added.
LaSalle is not the only institution trying to encourage timid investors to get off the fence.
Charles Schwab & Co. of San Francisco began offering CDs linked to the Standard & Poor's 500 index in March.
The majority of investors have been Schwab customers who had invested in low-risk investments such as regular CDs and money markets, said Leslie Durschinger, Schwab's vice president of structured products. But, she said, more and more of the CDs are being purchased by customers opening their first Schwab accounts.
Though Ms. Durschinger declined to reveal the number of clients or the amount invested in the equity-linked CDs, she said the product has been successful and has grown in popularity.