Tuesday, 29 June 2021 11:46

In the face of record inflation, the Virtus Real Assets Income ETF (VRAI) has done extraordinarily well, up 19% year-to-date, and significantly beating the S&P 500, which is up 14%. On top of this, the ETF generates compelling income of 3%, well above the 10 Year US Treasuries at 1.5%.


Investing in real assets is a winning strategy in an inflationary environment because tangible assets such as real estate, natural resources and infrastructure have intrinsic value. VRAI is the first ETF focused on real assets. Additionally, because of VRAI’s focus on income-generating real assets, VRAI also generates attractive income.


In terms of ETF construction, VRAI is designed to be one-stop solution for real asset exposure. VRAI consists of 90 US-traded companies, equally divided between real assets, natural resources, and infrastructure. Companies are filtered based upon market capitalization and selected based upon dividend yield. All stocks are equally weighted to ensure portfolio diversification.


Finally, in terms of costs, VRAI is very competitively priced at 55 bps (0.55%). This stands stark contrast to most energy and real estate ETFs and mutual funds, which typically cost over 100 bps (or 1%).

For more information on the investment case, check out this research piece produced by Virtus

n.b. This is sponsored content and not FINSUM editorial

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Thursday, 22 July 2021 17:46

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Many investors are worried that the huge growth in ESG assets might be causing a bubble in the most common stocks in ESG funds. However, the reality is that they are not. According to Bridgewater Associates: “The shift to ESG appears to be still in its early innings. Investor positioning in sustainable equities is not yet overextended … The US ESG index looks very similar to the aggregate market, and much less frothy than stocks that have been most popular with retail investors where we think valuations are most stretched”.


FINSUM: In other words, despite all the hype about ESG asset growth, overall valuations are in line with the broader market so there is no specific risk to ESG funds.

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Friday, 17 July 2020 16:40

(New York)

Because of how the polls are trending, very few seem to be thinking about the fact that a Republican sweep of all three chambers of the government could happen. When you step away from the polls and think about the fact that Republicans currently control two of the three chambers, it becomes more realistic; and even more so when you consider that polls are likely skewed towards Democrats because of “silent” Republican supporters. If the Republicans sweep, or even just if Trump wins, then the sectors that will surge are energy, banks, healthcare, and defense. In particular, think names like Marathon Petroleum, Bank of America, Pfizer, and Northrop Grumman.


FINSUM: This may be unlikely, but it is not as wildly unrealistic as some make it sound. Perhaps smart to have a portion of the portfolio in these sectors headed into the election?

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Friday, 09 July 2021 18:26

(New York)

Emerging markets are a key part of a well-diversified growth portfolio, but Covid has hindered how many…see the full story on our partner Magnifi’s site.

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Tuesday, 13 July 2021 17:50

(New York)

The market took a nosedive in the middle of the day today as investors were walloped with a hot CPI inflation reading. The CPI rose an eye-popping 5.4% in June, with core inflation coming in at 4.5%. The market was anticipating a flat 5.0% CPI number. Indexes turned downward immediately following the report. It should be noted than June 2020 was the nadir of the pandemic inflation readings, so that makes this report look even bigger.


FINSUM: The inflation boogeyman returns. Beware a big sell-off across the board in bonds, especially if the Fed or a member of the Fed makes any tightening comments.

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Thursday, 22 July 2021 17:47

(New York)

By any reasonable measure, high yield bond markets look very scary right now. The way that yields have plummeted, the way that covenants have weakened, and the general ease of accessing credit are all reminiscent of 2005. Spreads over Treasuries have fallen to just 300 bp. A year ago they were at 600 bp. Companies have successfully weakened investor protections in new issues without penalty, and crucially, default rates will likely fall below 1% this year. The picture was the same in 2005.


FINSUM: By the Crisis, default rates hit 14% and high yield investors got killed. However, a big correction in high yield would take a catalyst. Is it a sooner-than-expected Fed pullback?

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Friday, 23 July 2021 07:51

(New York)

When Schwab announced its acquisition of TD Ameritrade in November 2019, there was a big and sustained surge of consternation among RIAs. TDA had long been known as specializing in RIAs, especially on the smaller end of the spectrum. Schwab had exactly the opposite reputation. That has left a general void for the smaller advisor looking to go independent for the first time. However, Goldman is apparently ramping up its new custody unit and clearing platform for RIAs. The move is still in its early stages, but the firm is hiring several executives to lead the charge and seems to be aiming to compete with Schwab, Fidelity, BNY Mellon etc.


FINSUM: Advisors may recall that Goldman acquired United Capital in 2019. United was an RIA consolidator, so this seems like a natural step for the bank. In our view, it would be great for the industry to have more competition on the custodial front.

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Monday, 28 June 2021 10:38

(Silicon Valley)

Venture capital has always been a hard-to-access asset class for advisors and their clients. The funds tend to have high minimums and long lock-up periods with extremely low liquidity. That said, returns are historically strong, and VC can often be an un-correlated asset class whose returns are differentiated in scope and timing from publicly-traded markets. Because of the lack of liquidity and easy access it has been an asset class that has largely been overlooked by advisors and high net worth individuals. However, there are some ways to access venture capital through liquid funds which are likely worth a look.


FINSUM: Not only can returns because excellent and uncorrelated, but VC is likely to become a more important asset class in the next few years. Why? Because more and more large companies are staying private for longer, which means investors need to ways to access the asset class in order to participate in the total return of the market.

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