The strong demand for bonds this year has led to a windfall for BlackRock’s fixed-income exchange-traded funds. The fund giant has attracted more investor cash since U.S. rates started rising than all of its competitors combined. The inflows to fixed-income funds are being driven by regulatory changes and creative uses by wealth managers and other bond funds. Deborah Fuhr, the founder of the ETFGI consultancy, told FinancialTimes that “There have been significant changes about the way people think about fixed-income ETFs in the past year. We have seen large funds and asset managers put their portfolios in ETFs . . . rather than buying bonds and trying to manage them themselves.” Salim Ramji, BlackRock’s global head of ETF and index investments added, “We’re finding and expanding into all parts of the bond market in multiple different slices . . . Any part of the bond market that can be accessed through an ETF, we’re capturing that.” This includes ETFs such as IBTG, which only holds U.S. Treasury bonds maturing in 2026. Another fund is LQDB, which purely contains BBB-rated corporate bonds. These ETFs allow active fund managers to use them in different ways. For instance, some use a specific slice to tilt their portfolio either to longer or shorter-duration bonds, which depends on their view of the economy. Ramji also noted that BlackRock ETF users include nine of the ten largest active managers and eight of the ten largest U.S. insurance companies.
Finsum:As demand for fixed income increases, Blackrock has created ETFs that track a small slice of the bond market that active managers can use in a variety of ways.