Principal Asset Management recently announced that it is enhancing its fintech-enabled model portfolios by incorporating individual bonds as an option for the portfolios. The company collaborated with YieldX and Smartleaf Asset Management to offer the only full portfolio direct indexing solution, enabling advisors to expand the capabilities of direct indexing beyond equities to individual bonds. Principal launched fintech-enabled model portfolios last year in collaboration with Smartleaf to make it easy to construct and manage custom portfolios. As part of the announcement, Jill Brown, Principal's managing director of U.S. Wealth Platform, stated, “We are the first asset manager to work with YieldX to incorporate individual bonds into model portfolios, making the combinations of mutual funds, ETFs, individual equities, and now individual bonds available through our 37 model portfolios even more powerful.” Adam Green, CEO of YieldX added “Through the addition of capabilities from YieldX, advisors will now have the option to include individual fixed-income securities.”
Finsum:Principal collaborated with YieldX and Smartleaf to offer individual bonds as part of its direct indexing model portfolios.
Corporate executives are warning that the volatile market, combined with the Fed’s rate hikes and the war in Ukraine will negatively impact fourth-quarter earnings, while analysts have downgraded earnings expectations in every sector. However, there may be a bright spot during earnings season, ETF issuers. According to ETF.com data, ETF flows came in at $203 billion in the fourth quarter, nearly double the third quarter's flows of $105 billion. The increase in flows should help fourth-quarter earnings for ETF issuers. It would also be a reversal from the previous quarter when State Street reported $14 billion in net outflows and Schwab’s ETF revenue declined sharply. ETF inflows at BlackRock’s iShares also fell by more than half compared with the third quarter of last year. The surge in inflows during the fourth quarter can be attributed to the rising demand for fixed-income ETFs. Investors are flocking to bond ETFs as they are considered safe havens during downturns. BlackRock President Rob Kapito said on the company’s third-quarter earnings call, “We're going to see dramatic and large inflows into fixed income over the next year as interest rates rise.” ETF.com data shows that fixed-income funds saw inflows of $61 billion in the fourth quarter, up nearly 13% from the $54 billion in the prior-year quarter.
Finsum:While analysts are predicting a dismal fourth-quarter earnings season, ETF issuers may be a bright spot as fixed-income funds saw inflows of $61 billion during the quarter.
Last month, we wrote about a survey that revealed advisors are seeing the importance of active ETFs since owning passive index-only ETFs left them too exposed to market conditions. Another survey was performed this month showing similar results. VettaFi held a webcast called Active Strategies for Rising Rate Headwinds that featured Franco Ditri and Chris Murphy of T. Rowe Price and Todd Rosenbluth of VettaFi talking about the Fed’s monetary policy outlook and how financial advisors can incorporate active strategies into a bond portfolio. After the webcast, a poll was taken revealing that more advisors are seeing the need to add active management to their portfolios, given the likelihood that the Fed will continue to raise rates. The majority of respondents expect to increase their exposure to active ETF strategies, with 50% being “very likely” and 39% saying they are “somewhat likely.” Of those, 39% of respondents said they would most likely consider high-yield/bank loan funds for exposure, with 27% saying they would consider active short-term bond funds. In addition, 20% are contemplating core-plus and 14% are looking toward core bond funds. If the Fed continues its tightening policy, actively managed fixed-income strategies could help reduce risk.
Finsum:A post-webcast poll revealed that more advisors are seeing the importance of active fixed income with the Fed continuing to pursue a tight monetary policy.
If your clients are invested in Chinese companies and have a preference for ESG, it may be time for a change in their portfolios. It appears sustainability rules in western countries are at odds with what’s happening in China. While Chinese equities offer strong growth potential, their ESG ratings rank lower than western nations and most emerging markets. For instance, Sustainalytics, a sustainable rating agency owned by Morningstar, downgraded three Chinese big-name tech companies on its watchlist in October. The three stocks, Tencent, Weibo, and Baidu, were moved to the category of “non-compliant with UN principles.” In addition, Hong Kong Watch, a UK-based group that researches investment and human rights issues in China, recently said in a report that “many of the biggest asset management, state pension, and sovereign wealth funds were passively invested in companies allegedly involved in the repression of Uyghur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region.” The report found three major stock indices provided by MSCI included at least 13 companies that “have allegedly used forced labor or have profited from China’s construction of internment camps and surveillance apparatus in Xinjiang.” Another problem is that Chinese companies are less likely to respond to queries from ESG rating agencies.
Finsum:With ESG investing continuing to gain momentum, it appears that many Chinese companies are at odds with ESG due to censorship and repression in China.
After a tough year for fixed income, many bond strategists are expecting 2023 to be a great year for bonds. But where should advisors and investors look to invest? In an interview with Yahoo Finance Live, PIMCO Managing Director and Portfolio Manager Sonali Pier offered her perspective on where the sweet spot will be for bonds this year. She believes that despite potential volatility, “there’s a lot of room now for income-producing assets.” She stated, that “a sweet spot may be those Triple Bs within investment grade, for example, where dollar prices have come down a lot as a result of the interest rates rising as well as credit spreads having widened.” In the interview, she also talked about what areas of the corporate bond market to avoid. Her firm is most concerned with areas where there are “low multiples on businesses, low margins, high cyclicality, where it's very difficult to weather a storm like a recession when you have those types of things against you as well as still inflation as an impact.” She mentioned industries such as retail, autos, and wire lines to avoid that are seeing declines due to a “shift in investor demand as well as disruption from the supply chain.”
Finsum:PIMCO portfolio manager Sonali Pier believes that a sweet spot for bonds this year may be triple Bs within investment grade while avoiding industries such as retail, autos, and wire lines.
According to Cerulli Associates' U.S. Exchange-Traded Fund Markets 2022 report, active fixed-income ETFs present a massive opportunity for firms. Daniil Shapiro, a director in product development at Cerulli, said in a recent interview that "a mix of factors" have combined to create the opportunity. He stated, "You have investors that are showing an increased preference for the ETF structure and they're increasingly open to accessing fixed income through the ETF structure. At the same time, you have interest rates that are increasing, which makes fixed income more attractive to investors." The report was based on polling Cerulli conducted in the third and fourth quarters of last year. It revealed that among advisers using ETFs, the portion using U.S. fixed-income ETFs has continued to increase, with 70% reporting such use in 2022, up from 63% in 2021. In addition, when ETF issuers were asked to gauge key drivers of fixed-income ETF flows over the next 24 months, greater adviser familiarity with fixed-income ETFs topped the list, cited by 66% of respondents. The second biggest driver was the increased use of fixed-income ETFs by institutions, which was cited by 55% of respondents.
Finsum:According to a new report by Cerulli Associates, active fixed-income ETFs present a massive opportunity for firms due to investors preferring the ETF structure and fixed income being more attractive with higher rates.