"These indices have to be really carefully studied," said Pierre-Yves Breton, co-head of structured product sales and structuring for Switzerland at Tradition Securities and Futures OTC. "The investor has to compare the different indices offered by the different banks, and especially in terms of structuring and management fees."

Quantitative strategies have often been dubbed black boxes because their creators try to keep secret the models dictating investment decisions.

Barclays says its quantitative indexes are rather designed to be "extremely transparent for our clients," said Jose Mazoy, a director of index, portfolio and risk solutions at the bank.

"We try and keep these as glass boxes, although we also try and ensure that we don't distribute the index rules too widely," Mazoy said. "All the index documentation is available to investors."

By making quantitative strategies more transparent, banks run the risk of diluting performance as successful models are copied by competing issuers, said Stuart Theakston, head of research at Glc Ltd. a London-based hedge fund.

"It's hard to sell stuff that's not simple, but it's very easy for people to replicate something too simple," Theakston said. "Any strategy that works will attract money, people will copy it and the performance will decay over time."

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