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Floating Rate Note (FRN)


A Floating Rate Note (FRN) is a type of bond or other type of debt instrument that has an interest rate which can change (or ‘float’) over time because it’s tied to a benchmark, such as the U.S. Treasury bill rate or the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). The interest payments to the investors can increase or decrease based on the fluctuations in the agreed-upon benchmark. This variable interest makes FRNs different from fixed-rate notes, where interest payments remain constant over the lifetime of the bond.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Floating Rate Note (FRN)” would be: Floating – /ˈfloʊtɪŋ/Rate – /reɪt/Note – /noʊt/F R N – /ˌef ˌɑːr ˈen/

Key Takeaways

<ol> <li>Variable Interest Rates: The prime characteristic of a Floating Rate Note (FRN) is its variable interest rate. Rather than offering a fixed rate of interest like traditional bonds, FRNs have interest payments that adjust according to the current market rates. This means that if market rates rise, so do the interest payments of the FRN, benefiting the holder.</li> <li>Lower risk: FRNs carry lower risk compared to fixed-rate bonds. This is because their interest payments are adjusted according to the prevailing market rates, which reduces the likelihood of interest rate risk. Hence, during periods of rising interest rates, FRNs can offer a cushion against potential losses that would have been experienced if one held fixed-rate notes.</li> <li>Default Risk: While having some advantages, FRNs don’t offer complete safety. Investors are still exposed to the risk of the issuer defaulting on their payments. These notes are sensitive to changes in credit ratings of the issuers, therefore, it’s essential to evaluate the creditworthiness of the issuer before investing.</li></ol>


A Floating Rate Note (FRN) is an important financial instrument used in business and finance primarily because it provides a hedge against interest rate risk. It is a form of debt instrument where the interest rate is variable and changes with fluctuations in the benchmark interest rate, such as LIBOR or federal funds rate. Thus, FRNs are unique as they allow investors to benefit from a rise in interest rates, unlike traditional fixed-rate notes where the rate stays constant. Their value remains relatively stable and thus, FRNs help reduce the risk associated with long-term fixed-rate debt instruments particularly in a rising interest rate environment. They also have lower default risk and provide steady income, making them a crucial part of individual and institutional investment portfolios.


The Floating Rate Note (FRN) serves as a debt instrument that carries a variable interest rate which changes periodically. The primary purpose of FRNs is to mitigate the risk of interest rate fluctuations in the financial market. A fixed interest rate could lead to a potential decline in value should the interest rate increase in the market. However, with FRNs, the interest rate adjusts depending on market fluctuations, allowing the potential for increased returns during periods of rising interest rates.FRNs are predominantly used by corporations and governments to finance their operations or fund certain projects. For investors, FRNs represent an attractive option given the decreased risk in regard to interest rates, providing protection against rising rates whilst offering income that can potentially grow over time. As a result, these notes serve a dual purpose of maintaining the borrowing cost for issuers while offering investors an investment that can adapt to changing market conditions. This flexibility is particularly beneficial in volatile markets or periods of economic uncertainty.


1. U.S. Treasury Floating Rate Notes: The U.S. Treasury Department began issuing Floating Rate Notes (FRNs) in January 2014 to diversify the tools it uses for financing the government’s operations. These notes have a maturity of two years and are indexed to the most recent 13-week Treasury bill auction High Rate before the new FRN’s issue date. They pay interest quarterly.2. iShares Floating Rate Bond ETF (FLOT): FLOT is an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that invests in a portfolio of Floating Rate Notes issued by corporate entities. These FRNs are typically short-term, allowing the ETF to adjust its interest rate quickly in response to changes in the market conditions.3. World Bank’s Floating Rate Notes: The World Bank issues FRNs tied to various benchmark rates globally, such as LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate) or EURIBOR (Euro Interbank Offered Rate). The rate on these notes changes periodically based on the underlying benchmark, providing investors with protection against rising interest rates.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Floating Rate Note (FRN)?

A Floating Rate Note (FRN) is a type of debt instrument that pays interest at a variable or ‘floating’ rate, which is reset at certain intervals (typically every one to six months), tied to a reference interest rate, like LIBOR or the U.S. federal funds rate.

How is the interest on a FRN calculated?

The interest rate on a Floating Rate Note is a variable rate and is typically calculated based on a reference rate (like LIBOR) plus a fixed spread. This rate is reset periodically.

Who issues FRNs?

Floating Rate Notes are issued by financial institutions like banks and governments. They are often used by these entities to finance short-term liabilities.

Can I buy or sell a FRN?

Yes, you can. Floating Rate Notes are typically traded over-the-counter, but can sometimes also be found on various exchanges.

How risky are Floating Rate Notes as an investment?

Floating Rate Notes come with an inherent level of risk due to the variable nature of their interest rates. If interest rates rise significantly, these notes can yield a higher return, however, in periods of low interest rates, returns can also be low.

What happens when the reference rate changes?

When the reference rate changes, the interest rate on the FRN changes, too. If the reference rate increases, the interest rate on the FRN increases and vice versa.

What are the benefits of investing in a FRN?

One main benefit of a FRN is the potential for increased returns when interest rates rise. Also, they present lower duration risk than fixed-rate bonds and can act as a hedge against interest rate risk.

What are the drawbacks of a FRN?

A drawback is the uncertainty of future payments due to variations in interest rates. If the rates decrease significantly, the returns can be much lower than for fixed-rate investments.

Who should consider investing in FRNs?

Investors who expect interest rates to rise in the future can consider FRNs. However, it’s important for each investor to evaluate individual financial goals, risk tolerance, and investment timeframe before making investment decisions.

Are FRNs safe?

The safety of a FRN largely depends on the financial stability of the issuer. A FRN issued by a stable government or financial institution may be considered relatively safe. However, all investments carry some level of risk, including the risk of loss.

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