Displaying items by tag: active management
Active management in its groove
Last year, active was the operative word, as passive management stared into the taillights of fixed income active managers, according to bsdinvesting.com.
In the midst of the Fed’s policy change and a rejuiced market, active management improved markedly in the second half of the year. Over the last two quarters, an average of 60% of active managers outdid passive management.
Meantime, in January, while Vanguard noted that additional volatility appeared to be in the cards this year, for active management, it foresaw a bigger opportunity for it to strut its stuff.
The decisions of active sector and security selection should carry a bigger stick in a market holding its own against macroeconomic forces or taking a back seat to central banks.
Across most segments, appealing yields are attainable, including some of the best value in higher quality bonds. Even in the face of watered down economic conditions, it should hold its own.
John Hancock: Active Fixed-Income ETFs Add Value
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.
Active Fixed Income Management Fees Drop After Poor Performance
According to Investment Metrics' most recent fee analyzer report, active management fees dropped last year after underwhelming returns. U.S. fixed-income managers saw the largest reduction in fees, with a 7% average annual cut. In fact, post-negotiated fees for active managers decreased in most categories last year. The report was based on the analyses of almost 490 distinct accounts and co-mingled funds. According to Investment Metrics, the fee reduction trend appears to correspond to poor performance of active managers as most categories fell short of beating their standards. Scott Treacy, a research consultant at Investment Metrics, wrote the following in the report, “Normally, the fixed-income asset class protects investors when equity markets crater, but that did not happen in 2022.” He added, “Active U.S. fixed income disappointed in particular. Unfortunately, at a median level, active managers were not able to perform well in this environment.” While active managers had a chance to demonstrate that their expertise could shield portfolios during the downturn, the underwhelming results may put greater pressure on active strategies. Treacy concluded that “Those active managers that were not able to perform in the down market of 2022 will most likely see their assets go to passive strategies, or to other active managers that performed well in this difficult environment.”
Finsum:Active management fees dropped last year after managers produced underwhelming returns, with U.S. fixed-income managers seeing the largest reduction in fees.
Cerulli Survey: Institutional Investors Increasing Active Allocations
Based on Cerulli Associates' research analysis of mutual fund and exchange-traded product trends in January, institutional investors expect to increase allocations to active investment strategies. According to the data, while mutual funds lost $1.9 billion to start 2023, a few asset classes are generating positive inflows. For instance, taxable bond mutual funds added more than $15 billion of inflows during January, while municipal bond mutual funds added $7.7 billion during the month. This bucked the trend in 2022 in which outflows were $148.7 billion. The release from Cerulli stated, “The gap between active and passively managed funds hit new lows in December 2022; however, [the] Cerulli survey [shows], most institutional investors still want a majority of their portfolios to be actively managed. A noteworthy number of institutional investors indicate increasing their allocations to active strategies in equities (28%) and fixed income (20%).” The release also stated that “Although mutual funds closed 2022 on a “sour note,”—having dropped 4.5% in December—they have so far reversed course in 2023, with assets climbing 5.8% to $17.2 trillion.” The report noted that the data was based on a survey administrated in the second quarter of 2022.
Finsum:According to the results of a recent Cerulli Associates report, institutional investors plan to increase allocations to active strategies as taxable bond mutual funds and municipal bond mutual funds saw a combined $22.7 in inflows during January.
Active Managers Make Use of Narrow Slices of Fixed Income Market
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.