Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin is investigating the sales materials of fund companies that sell leveraged exchange-traded funds.

The state has sent letters to three of the leaders in the space, Direxion Funds, Rydex Investments and ProShares.

"These are highly volatile instruments," Galvin said. "We want to make sure that if they are sold to average investors, they are told there is risk here. This is not a save-and-hold investment."

Specifically, Galvin is investigating whether leveraged ETFs should be sold with detailed warnings about the funds' ability to double or triple losses. He is also concerned that there are 140 leveraged ETFs on the market with $33 billion in assets.

Late last month, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority asked brokers and registered investment advisers to provide it with information on the sale of leveraged and inverse exchange-traded funds between Oct. 1, 2008 and March 30 to investors who held them for 10 business days or longer. The authority is looking for all sales and marketing materials, customer communications and complaints, arbitration claims and written supervisory procedures regarding the sale of such funds.

But the companies at the heart of the probes defend both their approach and marketing strategies, saying they are complying with current regulations.

"We remain committed to the highest standards in sales practices, as well as to our investor-focused educational efforts for all topics related to our funds," maintained Andy O'Rourke, marketing director for Direxion.

 

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