Fund giant BlackRock is warning regulators that the SEC's new proposed rules to fight greenwashing by fund managers could create more confusion and lead investors to think their holdings are more socially conscious than they are. Specifically, the firm is concerned over a key detail in the proposal that would require managers to say how ESG issues fit into strategies that also consider other factors. It sent a letter to the SEC arguing that the detail could mislead investors about how much environmental, social, and governance issues factors into stock and bond decisions. The SEC had proposed new regulations for ESG funds in May, which are expected to be finalized in the coming months. BlackRock’s argument has been echoed by industry trade groups such as the Investment Company Institute and the Managed Funds Association. However, these arguments are unlikely to stop the SEC’s crackdown on ESG labels.
Finsum:Blackrock sent a letter to the SEC warning that the new proposed rules on ESG labels will only muddy the waters.
iCapital, a leading global fintech platform, announced today that it agreed to acquire UBS Fund Advisor LLC, UBS’s legacy proprietary US alternative investment manager. The agreement also includes the feeder fund platform that UBS manages. The platform, which is also referred to as “AlphaKeys Funds,” represents more than $7 billion in client assets. It includes private equity, hedge fund, and real estate feeder funds. iCapital will now manage and operate the platform, while UBS Financial Advisors continue to serve their high and ultra-high net worth clients that hold feeder funds. UBS became an investor in iCapital in 2017 and entered into a strategic relationship to structure new feeder funds going forward. It also integrated iCapital’s proprietary technology into its private fund operations. In 2021, the partnership was enhanced to further digitize the UBS Advisor experience. The transaction is expected to close sometime this year.
Finsum:iCapital, which has had a long-standing relationship with UBS, is acquiring its Alternative Investments Feeder Fund Platform which represents more than $7 billion in client assets.
With most stocks falling yesterday, the Cboe Volatility Index (VIX), also known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, jumped 15.5% to close the day at 23.80. This was the index’s highest closing level in almost three weeks. This resulted in volatility-related ETFs seeing large jumps in performance. For instance, the ProShares VIX Short-Term Futures ETF (VIXY) rose 6.5% on the day, while the leveraged ProShares Ultra VIX Short-Term Futures ETF (UVXY) jumped 9.7%. The VIX had previously been on a downturn since the market bottomed in June, but with anxiety beginning to hit investors once again, volatility is returning. The jump in the VIX can be attributed to investors anticipating another round of interest hikes in September. Plus, last Thursday’s month-end options expirations likely contributed to a resurgence in volatility.
Finsum: Month-end option expirations and concerns over additional rate hikes drove the VIX higher yesterday, resulting in strong returns for volatility ETFs.
New York state’s Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) has proposed updates to regulations in the oversight of cybersecurity risks. The proposal would require board approval of cyber policies at banks, insurers, and other financial institutions that meet a certain size threshold laid out by the regulator. Companies would also have to disclose whether their directors have the expertise to oversee security risks or if they rely on outside cyber consultants. The proposal updates New York’s first-of-its-kind cybersecurity rules for financial institutions. Companies that run afoul of the new rules would risk NYDFS fines. The proposal follows similar federal proposals in which the SEC had highlighted board cyber expertise in proposed breach-reporting rules. Both the SEC and NYDFS proposals highlight the fact that increased threats from ransomware are too broad for security experts to oversee on their own. The updated regulations are expected to increase pressure on companies to quickly gauge the business impacts of such events.
Finsum: Following in the SEC’s footsteps, the NYDFS has proposed an update to cybersecurity regulations that would require board approval of cyber policies at financial institutions.
Western International Securities Inc., which is the first broker-dealer to be sued by the SEC for alleged violations of its Regulation Best-Interest fiduciary rule, is expected to spend at least $1 million on its defense. The broker-dealer is accused of failing to meet its fiduciary obligations by selling $13.3 million in high-risk, unrated junk bonds that were not in the best interest of retirees and other risk-averse retail customers. Western said it plans to “actively defend” itself against the SEC’s allegations. Brian Rubin, a partner at Eversheds Sutherland LLP, estimated that Western’s legal fees will cost anywhere from several hundred thousand dollars to well over $1 million. He believes that it’s likely that the SEC demanded too much to settle due to it being its first Reg BI enforcement case. Since the conduct took place after the effective date of Reg BI in June 2020, the SEC brought the charges under Reg BI as opposed to its predecessor suitability standard.
Finsum: Western International Securities is expected to spend at least $1 million on attorney fees as it fights the first Reg BI lawsuit.
The rumble for a trend called direct indexing seems to be accelerating, as a burgeoning number of investors are displaying a demand for specialized portfolios, according to markettradingessentials.com. The upshot: eschewing ownership of a mutual or exchange traded fund, direct indexing’s flashing the wallet on stocks of an index, the site continued. The idea’s to hit to hit paydirt on, for example, tax efficiency, diversification or values-based investing.
“It says a lot that these large fund providers are leaning into direct indexing,” said Adam Grealish, head of investments at Altruist, an advisor platform with a direct indexing product. So, in light of the ascension of direct indexing, investors might be asking, pre tell, how to build a portfolio in which this strategy’s incorporated, according to corporate.vanguard.com. Well, presto, investors can cull ways to meet that goal through a framework available in Personalized indexing: A portfolio construction plan, a Vanguard research paper recently published.
“Our research represents a sensible starting point for potential direct indexing investors who want to include this strategy in their portfolios,” said Vanguard senior investment strategist Kevin Khang, Ph.D., one of the paper’s authors.