Growing risk appetite spurs return to structured notes A 77-year-old grandmother lost HK$260 million on a stock accumulator with UBS. Citic Pacific founder Larry Yung Chi-kin lost control of his company buying currency accumulators with a dozen investment banks. So are people still scared of the I-kill-you-later? The evidence would suggest otherwise. Last month, sales of structured notes (accumulators included) in Hong Kong topped HK$7.8 billion, the highest in a decade, according to Bloomberg. As Hong Kong investors' appetite for risk rises in the low interest rate environment, structured product sales by the end of June were up 46 times from January when only HK$167 million of notes were recorded. Timothy Lo, the managing director of private bank CIC Investor Services, said he saw more accumulator products being offered in the past three months, with many filled within a day. One of the key reasons is that accumulators now have more downside protection. For example, most contracts expire in six months, compared to the previous 12 to 24 months. Also, the downside is now limited to only the principal amount, where previously it could have been at least two times the original investment. So, does this mean the business will blossom again? 'We were in heaven in 2007, but down to hell in 2008. Now we are better than last year,' said Mr Lo. Repeat performance Superman he may be, but it's not a wise idea to buy stocks on Li Ka-shing's birthday. Yesterday was the tycoon's 81st birthday and it coincided with the Hang Seng Index ending its rally with a 489.04-point decline. It wasn't a good day for Cheung Kong (Holdings) either, which tumbled back below the HK$100 level, closing 4.23 per cent down at HK$98.45. On his 80th birthday last year, the Hang Seng Index fell 429 points, while Cheung Kong slipped 2.2 per cent to close at HK$107.90. In fact, the birthday losing streak can be traced back to 2004. Of course it's all circumstantial. Mr Li was born on July 29, 1928, but he usually celebrates his lunar birthday which falls next Monday. Watch this space. On call at Hutchison We got an insight yesterday into how Hutchison Whampoa managing director Canning Fok Kin-ning (below) runs the sprawling conglomerate. It came from Frank Meehan, who is in charge of Hutchison's first mobile manufacturing unit INQ, which produces a phone with social networking capability for MSN and Facebook. In an interview, Mr Meehan revealed that his boss had a habit of making random calls to test him on the division's financial performance. This was consistent with the story we heard from a couple of his other managers, some of whom explained that the random calls, which sometimes came after midnight, were made because he was overseas. It seems Mr Fok, like his boss Li Ka-shing, prefers straight talking, not SMS, video calls, or Twitter. Run for your lives You can't hide, but at least you can run. That was the message from Sun Hung Kai Properties vice-chairman Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong to a group of teenagers yesterday. The tycoon met 50 youngsters - recovering drug addicts, residents from Tin Shui Wai and Vocational Education school students - at the developer's Park Island theme park, where he told them about running marathons. Mr Kwok said he had been taking part in marathons for more than 10 years. He said he found the training tough and often thought of quitting, but in the end he always hung on, something he advised the teenagers to do. 'Don't hide at home and play computer games all day,' he said. 'Go out and get wet - you'll feel much better.' To encourage the teens, he gave them all HK$500 coupons to buy running shoes. Top of the class? It's all about timing. HSBC yesterday announced that it had received a Global Finance magazine award for coming top of the class with its internet banking services for personal and corporate customers in Asia. Unfortunately, it came on the same day as a press report that the bank had sent an incorrect confirmation message about how many BBMG Corp shares its customers had been awarded.