Being a big believer in diversification, and having no great faith in the FTSE, four years ago I invested one of those structured products: Protected Capital and Growth, meaning a guaranteed minimum 21% return - or more, if the FTSE over-performs - and my original investment is secure. Note how I didn't use inverted commas there, trusting soul that I am. You know what's coming.
So. Today Legal and General write to me. It starts innocently enough.
"We'd like to let you know ... oh? that's kind ... about an important change we've made to your investment ... and how it will affect what you get back when your plan ends ... but isn't that, err, 'secure', to use your word ? ... Your investment works by investing in a fund, which in turn invests in a number of financial institutions ... go on, I am beginning to get the picture ... These provide the return of your original investment plus growth potential."
OK, so by now I am guessing that the next bit will effectively read: "Or not, as the case may be." Right?
"The institutions invested in were: A, B, C, D, E, F, and ... wait for it ... Irish Life & Permanent plc."
"As you can see, one of the institutions was Irish Life & Permanent... Irish financial institutions are less likely to be able to pay back what they owe. We've sold this investment earlier than intended and received less than the original value ..."
16% less, in fact, resulting in a net haircut of 2.63%. AND it is not covered by the Financial Services Compo Scheme, it seems, because Legal & General itself has not failed to meet its obligations. Or so they tell me.
And this, I suspect, is increasingly what we will all be confronting as the postman makes his daily deliveries.
Still, good old A, B, C, D, E & F; and praise the Lord for diversification, eh? Until the next letter hits the mat...