by 5paisa Research Team Last Updated: 2023-10-10T12:11:19+05:30
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Floating rate notes (FRNs) are a dynamic and versatile financial instrument that has gained popularity in fixed-income investments. Unlike traditional bonds with fixed interest rates, FRNs offer investors a unique proposition: their interest rates fluctuate in sync with prevailing market conditions. This flexibility makes FRNs a good option for both issuers and investors. In this blog, we will look into the intricacies of floating rate notes and the factors that influence their interest rate adjustments. By the end, you'll understand why FRNs are essential to modern investment portfolios.


What are floating rate notes?

Floating Rate Notes are a type of debt security with a fluctuating interest rate. Unlike traditional fixed-rate bonds, the interest rate on an FRN is determined by a reference benchmark, usually a short-term interest rate index. As market interest rates rise or fall, the interest payments on the FRN adjust accordingly. Investors in FRNs benefit from protection against interest rate risk, as the notes' values are less affected by changing rates. FRNs are commonly issued by governments, corporations, and financial institutions to raise capital while managing interest rate exposure.


Understanding Floating Rate Notes

Floating Rate Notes are debt securities with variable interest rates. Unlike fixed-rate bonds, FRNs' interest rates adjust periodically, typically based on a benchmark rate like LIBOR or a government bond yield. This makes them less susceptible to interest rate fluctuations, providing investors with some protection against rising rates. When rates increase, the coupon payments on FRNs rise, offering investors a potential hedge against inflation. FRNs are issued by governments, corporations, and financial institutions, making them a versatile investment choice. They suit investors seeking income with a variable-rate component and are a valuable tool for diversifying a fixed-income portfolio.


How can we calculate the floating interest rate?

To calculate the floating interest rate on Floating Rate Notes (FRN), you typically start with a reference rate and add a fixed spread. The formula is Floating Interest Rate = Reference Rate + Fixed Spread. This determines the interest rate for a specific period, which can change as the reference rate fluctuates.


Callable Floating Rate Notes vs. Non-Callable Floating Rate Notes

Callable Floating Rate Notes and Non-Callable Floating Rate Notes differ regarding issuer flexibility. In a Callable FRN, the issuer reserves the right to redeem the note before maturity, typically when interest rates decline, which can result in lower yields for investors. Conversely, a Non-Callable FRN lacks this feature, providing investors with more predictable cash flows. Callable FRNs often offer slightly higher yields to compensate for the call risk, while Non-Callable FRNs are considered more stable but may offer slightly lower yields. The two choices depend on an investor's risk tolerance and interest rate outlook.


Floating Rate Notes Example

One of the examples of Floating Rate Notes is the Savings Bond by RBI. The interest rate on these bonds is connected with the existing government bond yields. It can also be subject to regular adjustments. These FRNs offer the investors an opportunity to earn a variable interest rate. This is possible while preserving capital and enjoying the backing of the government.


Floating Rate Notes Pricing And Valuation

A number of factors determine the pricing and valuation of Floating Rate Notes (FRN). The reference benchmark rate (e.g., MIBOR or government bond yields), the fixed spread, and the time until the next interest rate reset are all examples. Typically, FRNs are offered as a spread over the reference rate. The value of FRN is decided according to the market rates currently prevalent. The interest rates and the value of the FRN are inversely related. 


Floating Rate Notes Discount Margin

In Floating Rate Notes (FRNs), the Discount Margin (DM) is a critical metric used for pricing and valuation. It represents the additional spread or margin that must be added to the prevailing reference benchmark rate (such as MIBOR or government bond yields) to make the FRN's present value equal to its market price. The DM reflects the perceived credit risk and liqu of the FRN, as well as investor demand. A higher DM implies a broader spread and potentially higher returns, attracting investors seeking more significant compensation for risk. Accurate DM calculations are essential for investors and FRN market issuers.


Advantages of Floating Rate Notes:

  1. Interest Rate Protection: FRNs offer investors protection against rising interest rates because their coupon payments adjust with changes in market rates. This shields investors from interest rate risk.
  2. Inflation Hedge: FRN coupon payments increase as interest rates rise, potentially providing a hedge against inflation. This makes them attractive to investors concerned about rising prices eroding their purchasing power.
  3. Portfolio Diversification: FRNs can diversify a fixed-income portfolio by providing exposure to variable-rate instruments, reducing overall portfolio risk.
  4. Liquidity: FRNs are often more liquid than fixed-rate bonds due to their alignment with current market rates, making them easier to buy or sell in the secondary market.
  5. Favorable Yield: FRNs may offer higher yields in rising interest rates than fixed-rate bonds with similar maturities, attracting income-seeking investors.


Disadvantages of Floating Rate Notes:

  1. Lower Initial Yield: FRNs typically offer lower initial yields than fixed-rate bonds of the same issuer and maturity, which can be less appealing to investors seeking immediate income.
  2. Interest Rate Risk: While FRNs protect against rising rates, they can underperform in declining rate environments, leading to lower income for investors.
  3. Complexity: The variable nature of FRNs can make them more complex for investors to understand and analyze, which may deter some from including them in their portfolios.
  4. Call Risk: Some FRNs may be callable, meaning the issuer can redeem them before maturity if interest rates decline. This can lead to reinvestment risk for investors.
  5. Market Volatility: The value of FRNs can still fluctuate due to changes in interest rates, impacting their market prices and potentially leading to capital losses for investors if sold before maturity.



In conclusion, Floating Rate Notes (FRNs) represent a dynamic and versatile investment option in the fixed-income world. Their ability to adapt to changing interest rates provides investors with protection and the potential for higher returns in a rising rate environment. However, they come with nuances like call risk and lower initial yields that investors should consider. FRNs play a vital role in diversifying portfolios and hedging against inflation, making them a valuable addition for those seeking a well-rounded investment strategy. Ultimately, investing in FRNs should align with individual financial goals, risk tolerance, and market outlook.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Floating rate notes can be a good investment for those seeking protection against rising interest rates and inflation.

No, floating rate notes are not money market instruments; they are typically considered part of the bond market.

Yes, floating rate notes are generally more liquid than fixed-rate bonds due to their interest rate adjustments.

It depends on the issuer; some floating rate notes are secured, while others may be unsecured.

You can buy floating rate notes through brokerage accounts, financial institutions, or directly from issuers in the primary market.

Floating rate notes carry some risks, including interest rate risk, call risk, and market price volatility.

The duration of a floating rate note is typically shorter than that of a fixed-rate bond due to its variable interest rate.

Yes, floating rate notes are generally considered more liquid than fixed-rate bonds, making them easier to buy or sell in the secondary market.