Displaying items by tag: active etfs
Active fixed income is one of the fastest growing categories in terms of inflows and new issues. It’s taking market share away from mutual funds and passive fixed income ETFs. Now, Vanguard is adding to its active fixed income ETF lineup with the launch of 2 new active fixed income ETFs for later this year.
The Vanguard Core Bond ETF and Vanguard Core-Plus Bond ETF provide exposure to a diversified portfolio of bonds across sectors, credit quality, and durations. The Core Bond ETF will focus on US securities with small allocations to higher-risk areas like high-yield credit and emerging market debt. The Core-Plus Bond ETF will have greater allocations to riskier parts of the fixed income market. Each has relatively low expenses at 0.10% and 0.20%, respectively.
Each of these has a mutual fund counterpart and will be managed by the same management teams, share benchmarks, and have the same costs. Yet, they are considered distinct products. It’s simply a reflection that a portion of investors, specifically younger investors, simply prefer the intraday liquidity and ease of these products vs mutual funds.
Active fixed income is also seeing greater interest due to the current uncertainty regarding monetary policy and the economy’s trajectory. Active managers have greater latitude and more flexibility to navigate this environment in contrast to passive funds.
Finsum: Vanguard is launching 2 active fixed income ETFs which are based upon successful mutual funds. The active fixed income category is rapidly growing in terms of inflows and new issues.
Demand for active fixed income has materially increased in 2023 due to a combination of secular and cyclical factors. Adoption is up due to institutions and advisors becoming more familiar with the new category, while recent data supports the notion that it can outperform passive at least in specific circumstances. From a cyclical perspective, higher rates and increased volatility are also leading to more demand for active fixed income products as managers have more latitude in terms of duration and credit risk.
AllianceBernstein recommends a systematic approach to fixed income in order to outperform benchmarks. It sorts through criteria to identify predictive factors which goes deeper than the traditional approach of duration, beta, and sector.
This criteria includes value, momentum, fundamentals, company financials, and historical market data. Many factors are only applied during specific market regimes when they have greater predictive power.
This strategy allows for increased diversification as returns are uncorrelated from benchmarks and other factors. They also typically have lower costs while allowing for greater customization to fit client needs. This sort of quantitative, factor-based investing is more prevalent in equities, but the company is looking to bring it to fixed income.
Finsum: AllianceBernstein recommends a systematic, quantitative approach when it comes to active fixed income. The key ingredient is dynamic weighing of quantitative factors.
BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager with $2.4 trillion under management, is launching a new active fixed income ETF. This marks BlackRock’s 422nd ETF and the second active fixed income ETF to be managed by Rick Rieder, BlackRock’s CIO of global fixed income.
The launch is also notable because the ETF is similar to its mutual fund offering, the BlackRock Total Return Fund. Both will invest its holdings into a diversified portfolio of fixed income securities. The ETF has an expense ratio of 0.34% while the mutual fund has a 0.45% expense ratio. Notably, the ETF will allow for intraday trading, offer more liquidity, and provide greater transparency of its holdings.
This is a continuation of a larger trend. Active fixed income ETFs are taking market share from mutual funds and passive fixed income funds. Many asset managers are converting mutual funds into ETFs or dual offerings.
The primary impetus is increasing comfort with the category from advisors and institutions. Additionally, active fixed income suits the current moment where there seems to be significant opportunity in the space, but headwinds linger due to a hawkish Fed and rising recession risk. The bet is that active managers are better suited to navigate this tricky environment.
Finsum: Blackrock filed for another active fixed income ETF which is modeled after its very popular BlackRock Total Return Fund.
In theory, active fixed income offers the best of both worlds. It has all the inherent benefits of an ETF structure leading to more liquidity, transparency, and lower costs, but it still gives managers flexibility to find the best opportunities in the fixed income space.
The category is seeing substantial growth in terms of inflows and new issues. Institutions and advisors are becoming increasingly comfortable with the asset class. Additionally, it’s well suited for this particular moment given the uncertainty about the Fed and the economy’s direction which should create more opportunities for alpha for active managers.
The latest mega-institutions to jump on the trend is the Bank of Japan. The central bank is shifting $62 billion of passively managed fixed income into active management. It believes this will help it finetune the risk profile of their holdings. It’s also consistent with its recent policy to gradually let yields rise in an effort to combat inflation.
In fact, this change in monetary policy is also contributing to bond market volatility. And, this jump in volatility is what is leading to opportunities for active managers that the Bank of Japan is keen to capitalize upon. The Bank of Japan is considered a trailblazer, so it will be interesting to see if other central banks follow suit and increase allocations to active fixed income.
Finsum: The Bank of Japan is converting some of its passive fixed income holdings into active fixed income. Find out why and whether other central banks will follow.
For Investment Week, Sarang Kulkarni, the Lead Portfolio Manager of the Vanguard Global Credit Bond Fund, shared some thoughts about active fixed income and the current state of markets. Overall, his goal is to identify and invest in the best credit opportunities to generate consistent, risk-adjusted returns over the long-term. He is agnostic in terms of geography, sector, duration, credit quality. Instead, the fund has a bottom-up approach with a bias towards value.
Recently, the fund has been investing in European financials due to favorable valuations and an improving regulatory environment. Additionally, it sees improving credit trends in the consumer discretionary sector and believes there’s upside in the bonds of companies in this sector.
In terms of its edge over other active managers, Kulkarni believes that other funds rely on betting on the direction of the bond market to ‘generate alpha’. Over the long-term, these strategies tend to underperform the benchmarks and can perform poorly in more volatile environments.
In contrast, Vanguard seeks to generate alpha over an entire market cycle in a transparent way. It avoids beta even at the expense of short-term returns. The fund also seeks to replicate the risk-return profile of the asset class which is key to consistent, long-term performance.
Finsum: Sarang Kulkarni, the Lead Portfolio Manager of the Vanguard Global Credit Fund, shares some thoughts on active fixed income and what makes his fund unique relative to its competitors.