What Is a Structured Finance?

Introduction to Structured Finance

Structured finance is a type of debt-based capital structure used to offer investors higher levels of security. It combines debt and other financial instruments to create a new financial product. This product is often used to finance major companies as well as large-scale commercial real estate investments. Structured finance has become a popular way of raising capital as it provides greater flexibility and higher potential returns than more traditional forms of financing.

Structured finance can be broken down into several categories. These include:

  • Asset-backed securities (ABS)

  • Mortgage-backed securities (MBS)

  • Collateralized debt obligations (CDO)

  • Synthetic investments and derivatives

  • Structured investment vehicles (SIVs)

Each type of structured finance product has unique features, benefits and risks. It is important for both individuals and institutions to understand these differences in order to make informed investment decisions.

Benefits of Structured Finance

Structured finance is a form of lending that involves the structuring of cash flows from the repackaging and securitization of assets. It is designed to improve a company's debt position, enabling them to access more capital for a variety of projects. Structured finance can be beneficial for businesses in a range of different situations, from reducing the cost of capital to helping them diversify their financial portfolios.

Key Advantages

Structured finance provides a number of key advantages to businesses, including:

  • Reduced Cost of Capital: Structured finance can enable businesses to access capital at a lower cost than traditional lending, as the assets used to back the loans are typically higher in quality and lower in risk.
  • Flexibility: Structured finance can be customized to match the needs of the business. This enables companies to leverage the assets they hold in order to access the capital they need.
  • Diversification of Financing: Structured finance can be used to diversify a business's financial portfolio and provide them with the means to access different forms of capital.

Risk Mitigation

Structured finance can also be beneficial for businesses in terms of risk mitigation. Through the use of securitization, a business can transfer the risk of the asset to another party, allowing them to focus on the long-term objectives of the project. Structured finance can also be used to reduce interest rate risk, as the rate of the loan is typically fixed, enabling businesses to access capital at a lower cost.

Drawbacks of Structured Finance

Structured finance can be a great tool for businesses that need to raise funds, but it’s not without its drawbacks. Despite the potential benefits, there are some potential drawbacks that should be considered before using a structured finance product.

Complicated Structures

One of the primary drawbacks of structured finance is the complexity of the structures themselves. Structuring a finance product requires intricate analysis of multiple components such as tax, legal, accounting, and economic factors. This can be extremely time-consuming and difficult to understand, especially if the person doing the structuring is not familiar with the process.

Difficulty of Liquidation

Another potential drawback of structured finance is the difficulty of liquidation of the asset or transaction. Structured finance applies to long-term investments and transactions, so the process of liquidation can be complicated and time-consuming. This can mean that the initial investment may not be fully recovered, and the investor may incur losses.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Structured Finance

Structured finance is commonly used in a variety of transactions and can provide many potential benefits. It also involves some possible risks and trade offs that may reduce the overall utility of employing the strategy. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of structured finance is essential for making an informed decision regarding its use.


  • Structured finance can help to diversify investment portfolios while mitigating risk. Utilizing a combination of debt securities and derivative instruments can help to generate attractive returns in a variety of environments.
  • Rather than relying strictly on one type of asset class for growth, structured finance allows for exposure to multiple asset classes for mitigating risk and creating high returns. This approach to investment may be ideal for those with higher risk tolerance.
  • Structured finance can also help to generate targeted returns. By creating structured financial instruments with customized features, it is possible to create a product that meets specific return objectives.


  • Structured finance transactions may involve complex documents, transactions and legal language. Without a comprehensive understanding of the terms, conditions and associated risks, an investor can easily become exposed to more than they bargained for.
  • Structured finance transactions also often involve leverage which can amplify gains and losses potentially leading to more significant financial losses than expected. As such it is important to employ protections in structured financial transactions.
  • Structured finance can be more expensive to implement and manage than other more straightforward investments, reducing potential returns.

What is a Structured Finance?

Structured finance is a form of financial engineering involving the pooling of specialized debt and equity assets, including public and private funds, to facilitate the use of capital for particular projects or businesses. It helps to create a financial model specifically tailored to the needs of a particular business or project, either in terms of an corporate debt restructuring or development of a customized asset-backed security.

Uses of Structured Finance

Structured finance is primarily used to minimize financing costs and manage various risks associated with the development of businesses or projects. It also helps to bridge the gap between limited available funds and large capital structure needs. Structured finance can also be used to substitute traditional banking finance, venture capital, or leveraged buyouts when they are not available.

Types of Structured Finance

The two main categories of structured finance are asset-backed securities (ABS) and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). ABS are usually backed by a portfolio of debt or equity and can be used to finance projects such as leveraged buyouts and housing developments. CDOs are pools of debt obligations, often backed by pools of corporate debt, mortgages and other assets to provide capital to an entity.

Examples of Structured Finance Transactions

Leveraged Buyouts

A leveraged buyout (LBO) is a form of structured finance in which a company is taken-over with a high degree of debt financing to purchase it. To finance the purchase, the acquirer sets up a financial package, which consists of bank debt, issued bonds, and equity. This structure allows the purchase of the company to be made with relatively low levels of equity, traded for a much higher amount of borrowed funds.

Project Finance

Project finance is another type of structured finance, which is used to fund infrastructure, power projects, and other major projects where the cash flows generated by the underlying project are the primary source of repayment of the loan. In this structure, lenders rely heavily on the cash flows of the project rather than the creditworthiness of the sponsors, which could reduce risk and improve the terms of the loan.

To ensure the repayment of the loan, lenders will often require the project sponsors to provide a “non-recourse” loan, meaning that the project sponsors are not personally responsible for the loan obligations should the project fail or cash flows not meet expectations.

Loan Securitization & Asset-Backed Securities

Structured finance is a process of pooling together financial assets (such as loans, mortgages, or credit card receivables) and packaging them together into a new financial product or security that can be sold to investors. This new product or security can be traded or used as collateral in other transactions. A key feature of structured finance is the creation of securities that are backed by these pooled financial assets. These securities are known as loan securitization and asset-backed securities, or ABS.

How Loan Securitization Works

In loan securitization, banks and other financial institutions pool a large number of loans into a single security for sale to investors. The loans that are pooled could include mortgages, business loans, car loans, student loans, or virtually any type of loan. The loan originator serves as an intermediary, buying the loans and putting them into a trust. The trust then issues ABS in the form of bonds, notes, and other debt instruments.

The trust typically establishes several classes of debt with varying degrees of risk and return. By doing this, the trust is able to cater to different investor types, while the loan originator is able to reduce its exposure to the credit risk of any one loan. Any payment received on the individual loans is passed through the trust to the purchasers of the corresponding debt instruments.

Typical Assets Backed by Securitization

Securitized debt instruments are backed by diverse assets, including:

  • Mortgage loans
  • Auto loans
  • Credit card receivables
  • Student loans
  • Business loans

These are some of the most common assets that are securitized and sold to investors. In some cases, securitization can also be used for other types of assets, such as artwork, life insurance policies, and aircraft. In the case of aircraft, the aircraft itself can be used as collateral for the securitized debt.


Structured finance is a type of debt-based financing used to finance large-scale projects such as development projects or infrastructure investments. It involves a complex web of corporate entities and uses structured debt instruments, such as bonds, securitised bonds, derivatives, and other securities, to meet a specific financing need. Structured finance is an effective way to access large amounts of capital for projects that would otherwise be difficult to finance.

Overall, structured financing can be beneficial in a variety of cases, from infrastructure investments to investment in technology companies. It allows access to capital with more flexibility and lower risk than traditional financing. Structured finance is a complex practice, but it can be useful in helping businesses and projects access the capital they need to succeed in today’s global economy.

Benefits of Working with Structured Financing

The use of structured finance can be beneficial in a variety of circumstances, since it allows for more flexible access to capital with lower risk. These benefits include:

  • A larger pool of potential investors from around the world, allowing for access to more capital.
  • The ability to create complex investment structures tailored to a specific need.
  • Lower costs of financing due to the fact that structured finance typically involves lower interest rates than more traditional forms of lending.
  • Lower risk since the risk of non-repayment is slightly reduced due to the structure of the loan.

Key Takeaways

  • Structured finance is a type of debt-based financing used to finance large-scale projects such as development projects or infrastructure investments.
  • It can be beneficial in a variety of cases, from infrastructure investments to investment in technology companies.
  • Benefits of structured finance include a larger pool of potential investors, the ability to create complex investment structures, lower costs of financing and lower risk.

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