The ETF industry has been undermining the mutual fund business for years, but it is now set to undergo a transformation itself. In particular, as many as half of the 2,000+ ETFs currently listed are likely to close in the next few years as they die off from a lack of assets. Most ETFs need to reach somewhere between $50m and $100m to break even, but currently more than half of the 2,100 or so ETFs have less than $100m. The problem is that the market has become so inundated with new concepts—and so top heavy from broad index funds—that attracting assets is very difficult. Accordingly, many ETFs, including from large providers, are likely to close over the next couple years.
FINSUM: Big names have already started shuttering funds that were underperforming in terms of assets. Expect more of the same.
Yes, you read the headline correctly. The original DOL rule—the one vacated by the courts in 2018—is seeing new life breathed into it. We are not talking about the DOL Rule 2.0 effort being led by Scalia and company at the DOL, we are talking about the Obama era proposal. So who is bringing the new rule back, or at least proposing to do so—Elizabeth Warren. In a little covered policy release earlier this month, Warren vowed she would restore the Fiduciary Rule (1.0). She wanted to bring back “The Labor Department’s fiduciary rule that the Trump administration delayed and failed to defend in court, so that brokers can’t cheat workers out of their retirement savings”.
FINSUM: Add this to the long list of CFPB-oriented measures Warren wants to enact if she wins the election. On a separate note, it is very annoying how politicians so casually call all brokers cheaters when it is really a small sample of bad actors.
The Department of Labor has just proposed a new rule for advisors. We know what you are thinking—“oh boy, another DOL rule”. However, this new one might be quite a positive development. The new rule concerns disclosure. Specifically, it is a new proposal to allow retirement plan sponsors to make disclosures electronically. It would actually make electronic disclosure the default method. The proposal also includes additional protections for participants, including standards for the websites where disclosures are made.
FINSUM: This seems on the surface like a good idea, as it saves time, money, and hassle. Industry commentators have so far been supportive of the idea, but there has not been an in-depth review yet.
Retirement takes a lot of planning, which every financial advisor knows intimately. Yet, retirees themselves often forget some of the big things that can derail their financial plans. Accordingly, here is a list of several important high expense items that retirees forget to account for. Firstly, one-time big ticket things, like new furnaces, air conditioning units, repainting the house etc. This big expenses can catch retirees off-guard. Relatives in need are often another big commitment that retirees don’t see coming. Additionally, many don’t realize that as their Social Security distributions rise, they can be moved into a higher tax bracket and may also see their Medicare premiums rise.
FINSUM: This is a just a good reminder piece of some of the pitfalls of retirement.
Speaking as a financial publication, the SEC’s new Reg BI has been an odd story to cover. For something so consequential to the industry, there has been quite scant coverage of it, and very little industry commentary from actual advisors and networks. Unlike the DOL rule, there has not been the ceaseless cacophony of voices chiming in for and against the rule. But why? The answer is that the SEC has much sharper teeth than the DOL. Unlike the DOL, which has a very narrow scope of regulation in wealth management, the SEC is the principal regulator of the industry, and thus nobody wants to get on its bad side with aggressive commentary about the rule. Accordingly, everyone has been quite tight-lipped, even in interview requests.
FINSUM: This makes a lot of sense. If one wants to get really critical of the SEC’s new rule, they better have very deep pockets for lawyers, as the SEC can basically put any firm out of business.
Warren and Sanders’ tax plans have been scaring those on the right for several months, especially as Warren has risen to become the dominant candidate for the Democratic bid. But how much of a negative effect might her plans have on the market? The answer is probably not much, and if anything, it will be bullish for risk assets. Firstly, Warren’s plan will only touch the top 75,000 households in the country, so it is a niche focus. But secondly, because of the taxes imposed, ultra high net-worth families will need to be more aggressive in their asset allocation in order to continue to grow their wealth, meaning they will likely put more capital into risk-on investments.
FINSUM: This was quite a useful insight. It is hard to imagine Warren’s wealth tax being good for the market, but the logic of this argument (from Barron’s) seems sound.