Wealth Management

According to the SEC’s draft strategic plan for the next four years, the agency plans on shifting its enforcement focus regarding Reg BI to “making a recommendation.” The SEC’s Strategic Plan for 2022-2026 states that the agency intends to bring cases that matter to “all parts of the SEC’s mission.” This includes failure to act in a retail customer’s best interests when making a recommendation, among other items. Kurt Gottschall, a partner in Haynes Boone, and a former director of the SEC’s Denver Regional Office told ThinkAdvisor that the language “indicates the SEC is ready to move beyond basic compliance and disclosure obligations to scrutinize the placement of retail investors’ funds in advisory versus brokerage accounts, whether complex or risky products were offered to those investors, and registered representatives’ consideration of costs.”

Finsum:Based on the language in the SEC’s four-year strategic plan, advisors and Broker-dealers will need to pay more attention to compensation arrangements and product placements.

According to a recent report by Fitch Ratings, U.S. insurers are expected to continue to increase their fixed-income ETF holdings. In December, New York introduced new guidelines that allowed a fixed income ETF to receive bond-like capital treatment if the ETF is rated by a nationally recognized statistical rating organization. However, if rated, an ETF can receive this treatment only if it is invested in fixed income securities and cash, is passively managed, and has at least $1 billion in assets under management, among other criteria. So far, Fitch has rated 10 fixed-income ETFs from VanEck, Vanguard, and Invesco. Insurers have previously sought to increase their ETF holdings due to a mix of diversification, increased liquidity, and the ability to adjust overall portfolio allocations. According to SNL data, ETF holdings at insurers jumped from $3 billion in 2016 to $9.8 billion at the end of 2021.

Finsum:Since New York introduced new guidelines that allowed a fixed income ETF to receive bond-like capital treatment, insurers have been increasing their fixed income ETF holdings. 

When an investor owns a target date fund, the asset mix shifts over time. For younger investors, the portfolio emphasizes equities and allocates less to long-duration fixed income. When investors get older and approach retirement, target-date funds reduce the equity exposure and add duration to fixed income. Tyler Thorn, a multi-sector portfolio manager at PGIM Fixed Income, told Pension & Investments that this is the opposite of how duration should be managed. He believes that a target-date fund’s duration goes in the wrong direction. He stated, “Instead of starting low and rising with age, it should start high and decline with age.” Thorn believes that younger investors need more duration exposure since they will be spending a lot more in the future. Thorn also believes that if these changes were implemented, they could make the 60/40 portfolio more viable.

Finsum:A PGIM Fixed Income manager believes that the 60/40 portfolio can be fixed if bond duration was managed differently.

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