Displaying items by tag: ETFs

Thursday, 01 February 2024 04:19

Vanguard Launches 2 Municipal Bond ETFs

Vanguard is launching 2 new ETFs giving investors exposure to the municipal bond market. The Vanguard Intermediate-Term Tax-Exempt Bond ETF (VTEI) and the Vanguard California Tax-Exempt Bond ETF (VTEC) launched on the CBOE BZX Exchange and are designed to offer targeted exposure to certain segments of the muni market with an emphasis on quality and yield. 


Both also have low expense ratios of 0.08%, making them among the least costly within the muni fixed income category. The intermediate-focused, tax-exempt ETF is particularly timely given expectations that interest rates will decline in 2024 due to a dovish Fed and weakening economic outlook. Thus, many investors are looking to lock in yields at these levels by moving out from the short-end into the intermediate and longer-end of the curve. 


In addition to quality and generous yields, municipal bonds also have tax benefits. While VTEI is designed to appeal to a wider swathe of investors, VTEC is for investors who want exposure to California municipal debt. The yield generated from this ETF is tax exempt at the federal and state level for California residents while also prioritizing credit quality. 

Finsum: Vanguard is launching 2 intermediate-term, municipal bond ETFs that offer investors tax benefits in addition to income and quality.  


Published in Wealth Management
Thursday, 25 January 2024 05:42

Dispersion in Fixed Income Performance in 2023

Taking a look back at the previous year can reveal some interesting lessons for fixed income investors. Overall, fixed income finished the year in the green as inflation finally started to ease. This led the Federal Reserve to pause interest rate hikes, and expectations are for it to start cutting rates sometime next year, resulting in the Bloomberg Aggregate US Bond ETF finishing up 5.5% last year. 


However, there was considerable variance in performance across the curve and within different sectors. The best-performing segment was CCC-rated corporate debt which finished the year up 20.1%. 


While the combination of low defaults and falling interest rates is a bullish combination for high-yield debt, this variance in performance also highlights the importance of selection. To this end, BondBloxx offers fixed income ETFs that target specific sectors and credit ratings. 


The BondBloxx CCC-Rated USD High Yield Corporate Bond ETF offers exposure to CCC-rated corporate debt. The firm also offers high-yield fixed income ETFs that provide exposure to specific sectors such as consumer cyclicals, or telecom, media & technology. In total, BondBloxx has 20 different ETFs with a cumulative total of $2.5 billion in assets. It’s known for its innovation in providing more targeted investment vehicles. 

Finsum: 2023 saw fixed income performance that was in-line with historical averages. However, there was considerable dispersion within the asset class. For instance, CCC-rated corporate debt finished the year up more than 20%. 

Published in Wealth Management

2023 saw many twists and turns in financial markets. Yet, one enduring trend was the growth of active and fixed income ETFs as measured by inflows and new ETF launches. Andres Rincon, the Head of ETF Sales and Strategy at TD Securities, shares why this was the case and what’s next for 2024.


A major factor is that mutual funds had net outflows, while ETFs had nearly an equivalent amount of inflows. This is an indication of a secular shift as investors and institutions increasingly favor ETFs due to more liquidity and transparency. In response, many asset managers are now converting fixed income mutual funds into active ETFs or offer dual versions.


Fixed income ETFs also benefited from yields being at their highest level in decades in addition to an uncertain economic outlook. Despite the rally in fixed income in the last couple of months of 2023, Rincon notes that investors had been positioning themselves for a downturn in the economy and pivot in Fed policy starting early in the year. 


Flows into active fixed income ETFs have also been strong, given that fixed income is more complex than equities. This is despite these ETFs typically having higher fees. Yet, active managers are able to take advantage of inefficiencies that are unavailable to passive funds. And, active is a particularly good fit for the current moment when there is indecision about the timing and extent of the Fed’s next move.

Finsum: TD’s Andres Rincon discusses what drove the surge of inflows into fixed income and active ETFs last year. And, why these trends should continue in 2024. 


Published in Bonds: Total Market
Wednesday, 17 January 2024 10:51

The Case for Active Fixed Income Management

There’s a major drawback to today’s hyper-connected world where investors are constantly receiving financial advice that is mostly short-term and doesn’t necessarily have the investors’ best interests in mind. Contrast that approach to a long-term, fundamental based approach that is based on timeless principles rather than impulsive thinking.


Recently, there has been a narrative that individuals should be buying individual bonds. Adam Abbas, a portfolio manager at Oakmark Funds, pushed back against this notion and made the case for why most investors are better off with mutual funds and ETFs. 


He acknowledges that bonds look very appealing given where rates are relative to historic levels and that default rates for high-quality securities are likely to remain low. However, the risk climbs when investors start ‘reaching for yield’ which tends to happen with individual investors. Therefore, some sort of comprehensive credit analysis is required from a bottom-up perspective. 


Further, most individual investors will not be able to sufficiently diversify their portfolios. This means that their portfolios would be damaged by a corporate bond default. In addition to understanding companies, investors also need to have a grasp on the macro picture as factors like inflation or rate policy can also impact returns. 


Given these difficulties, most investors are better off choosing an astute active manager to invest in bonds as they will conduct proper due diligence and ensure that portfolios are sufficiently diversified. 

Finsum: There’s a trend of individual investors buying individual bonds. Oakmark’s Adam Abbas pushes back against this and makes the case for why most investors are better off with a mutual fund or ETF. 


Published in Bonds: Total Market

According to a survey conducted of attendees at the VettaFi Income Strategy Symposium, 60% are looking to add fixed income ETF exposure from cash and/or equities. This aligns with the view of fund managers on the panel who also believe that the Federal Reserve is near the end of its hiking cycle. 


John Croke, Vanguard’s head of active fixed income product strategy, commented that this is a good time to invest in fixed income. He sees the economy heading for a mild recession in the middle of the year despite the better than expected, recent Q3 GDP figures. He agreed with attendees that the hiking cycle is in its final innings and believes that the Fed funds rate will be closer to 4% rather than 5%. 


For investors looking to up their fixed income exposure, he recommends an ETF such as the Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (BND). BND offers exposure to a diversified basket of investment-grade, US debt. He also recommends the Vanguard Ultra-Short Bond ETF (VUSB) for investors looking to exchange cash for bonds. VUSB is composed of a diversified basket of high-quality and medium-quality bonds with an average maturity between 0 and 2 years. 

Finsum: According to a survey of attendees at the VettaFi Strategic Income Symposium, 60% of advisors are looking to increase their fixed income ETF allocation in 2024. 


Published in Wealth Management
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