In a recent article for John Hancock’s Recent Viewpoints, Steve L. Deroian, Head of Asset Allocation Models and ETF Strategy offered his take on why active fixed-income ETFs provide value. Deroian noted that while active ETFs have slowly gained traction since they first appeared in 2008, there have been recent signs that investors are becoming more interested in gaining exposure to active management in ETFs. In fact, since 2008, the number of active fixed-income ETFs has grown exponentially. In John Hancock’s opinion, one factor behind the rapid growth is the changing composition of the U.S. bond market over the past ten years. Passive strategies have become much more concentrated in government debt. At the end of December, Treasuries accounted for over 40% of the Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Bond Index, while the duration of the index has risen and is now at more than six years, indicating passive fixed-income ETFs carry a fair amount of interest-rate risk. Active fixed-income ETFs, on the other hand, aren’t required to track the benchmark. They can instead shift duration based on the manager’s outlook for interest rates. The management team can also manage sector allocation based on its ability to find relative value opportunities. Since the range of returns between fixed-income sectors can often be large, this creates an opportunity for active managers to add value over time.
Finsum:The number of active fixed-income ETFs has grown exponentially and John Hancock’s Steve L. Deroian believes one reason for that is the concentration of government debt in passive bond ETFs that carries a fair amount of interest-rate risk.