Displaying items by tag: ETFs

Wednesday, 21 February 2024 13:40

Model Portfolio AUM Reaches $420 Billion

Morningstar recently completed its annual review of the US Model Portfolio Landscape. It noted that assets under management (AUM) in model portfolios reached $424 billion, a nearly 50% increase over the last 2 years. 


Some of the drivers of growth include enabling an easier investment process, providing access to institutional investors’ insights, and increased fund selection. It allows advisors to outsource elements of the investment management process to the extent that they feel comfortable. The net benefit is that it allows for more time to be spent on client engagement, financial planning, and growing the business. 


Another factor is lower costs. On average, model portfolios are 19 basis points cheaper than comparable mutual funds. In terms of market share, Blackrock and Capital Group are the leaders with $84 billion and $75 billion, respectively representing 37.5% of total AUM. Launching of new model portfolios has slowed as there is saturation in many areas like income, ESG, passive, or active. Instead, new launches are predicted to focus on greater customization such as optimizing tax efficiency.


Finsum: Model portfolio AUM has risen by nearly 50% over the last two years. Reasons for growth include easing the investment process management process for advisors, lower costs, and a greater variety of options.

Published in Wealth Management
Sunday, 18 February 2024 05:03

Vanguard’s Outlook for Active Fixed Income

Fixed income investors have had to deal with considerable volatility over the past couple of years. The asset class has provided investors with generous yields between but has not lived up to its potential in terms of moderating portfolio volatility and serving as a counterweight to equities. 


In the near term, this volatility is likely to persist especially given uncertainty about the economy and interest rates. Due to these circumstances, fixed income investors should consider actively managed ETFs which are better equipped to navigate these conditions. Active managers are able to optimize holdings and take advantage of opportunities that are unavailable to passive managers. 


Not surprisingly, active bond funds have outperformed since 2022 when interest rate volatility started spiking. Yet, many advisors have been slow to embrace active fixed income ETFs. Some have stuck to actively managed mutual funds instead. According to Capital Group, 80% of assets in fixed income mutual funds are actively managed, while only 12% of assets in fixed income ETFs are actively managed. 


Actively managed ETFs offer advantages such as lower costs, more liquidity, and tax advantages. Capital Group attributes slow adoption to a lack of awareness of the benefits of active fixed income ETFs and limited supply among advisors. To this end, it’s investing in educating advisors about why they should consider actively managed fixed income ETFs over other options. 

Finsum: Active fixed income ETFs have many advantages over passive fixed income ETFs and actively managed fixed income mutual funds especially in the current environment. Yet, adoption has been slow for a few reasons.


Published in Bonds: Total Market

Passive fixed income inflows have accelerated in recent years, yet the category still trails passive equity strategies in terms of market share and adoption. Over the last decade, passive equity funds have become the dominant way in which investors get exposure to equities. Currently, passive equity funds account for 45% of global funds, while fixed income accounts for 24%. In terms of the global market, passive equity funds account for 19%, while passive fixed income comprises just 2%.


S&P Dow Jones Indices anticipates that we will see increased adoption of passive fixed income strategies over the next decade, similar to how passive took over the equity landscape. Already, inflows and market share of passive fixed income strategies are growing at a faster rate than equities. 


It should be noted that bond index funds in ETF form didn’t arrive until 2002, while equity ETFs launched in 199 and there are a limited number of fixed income benchmarks relative to equities. It’s also more difficult to replicate a bond index given that they tend to have thousands of securities, higher trading costs, more turnover, and require higher levels of oversight given maturation dates, defaults, credit rating changes, and new issues. Overall, it requires about 10 times more trades to track a fixed income benchmark than an equity benchmark. 

Finsum: Passive fixed income flows have accelerated in the last couple of years due to attractive yields. Here’s why some see the category exploding over the next decade, similar to passive equities, and what’s held it back.


Published in Bonds: Total Market
Wednesday, 14 February 2024 03:23

Investing in Corporate Credit

Two ever-present risks for fixed income investors are credit risk and interest rate risk. Rising interest and default rates diminish the value of bonds and have to be considered especially with corporate bonds. 


However, some ETF issuers now offer corporate bond ETFs with less credit and interest rate risk such as the WisdomTree U.S. Short Term Corporate Bond Fund (SFIG). It currently offers a 4.76% yield and invests primarily in short-term, corporate debt with an effective duration of 2.47 years. It’s notable that SFIG can offer such generous yields despite investing in high-quality debt with over 44% of holdings rated AA or A. 


Another potential catalyst for SFIG is when the Fed cut rates later this year. Currently, there are trillions on the sidelines in money market funds and some of this would migrate to funds with higher yields like SFIG.


According to BNP Paribas, another reason to be bullish on investment-grade corporate bonds is due to lower issuance and structurally, higher inflows. It sees less of a case for capital appreciation given the flat yield curve and recent rally, but it believes that yields at these levels are sufficiently attractive.

Finsum: Corporate bond investors have to be mindful of credit and interest rate risk. Investors can mitigate these factors with an ETF that invests in high-quality, short-term corporate debt.


Published in Bonds: Total Market

Entering the year, there was considerable optimism that the Fed could begin cutting rates as soon as March. However, the February FOMC meeting, recent inflation data, and the January jobs report have made it clear that the status quo of a data-dependent Fed, prevails. It’s clear that the Fed’s next move is to cut, but timing is the mystery.


This state of affairs means that the window for bond investors, seeking value, remains open. While recent developments have been bearish for bonds, investors have a chance to take advantage of higher yields if they are willing to live through near-term volatility. This is especially if they believe the Fed will cut rates later this year which will lift the whole asset class higher. 


According to Bloomberg, “The US economy is testing bond traders’ faith that the Federal Reserve will deliver a series of interest-rate cuts this year.” Investors can buy the dip with a broad bond fund like the Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund ETF, or they can search for more yield by taking on more credit risk with the Vanguard Short-Term Corporate Bond Index Fund ETF. Both have low expense ratios at 0.04% and 0.03%, respectively, and have dividend yields of 3.2%.  

Finsum: Bonds are experiencing a bout of weakness due to uncertainty about the timing and extent of the Fed’s rate cuts. Here’s why investors should consider buying the dip. 


Published in Bonds: Total Market
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