Tag Archives: vanguard

race-to-zero blackrock

ETF Fees-BlackRock Leads Race To Zero

Unless you are Rip Van Winkle, you don’t need to be a MarketsMuse to know that the primary value proposition put forth by the ETF industry has always been: “Lower Fees Vs. Mutual Funds!” Yes, the secondary ‘advantage’ is “liquidity,” given that investors can move in and out of exchange-traded-funds throughout the trading day, whereas mutual funds are priced on an end-of day basis.

Well, Issuers of exchange-traded funds are now eating their own lunches, as competing Issuers are now pursuing a “race-to-zero” path when it comes to administration fees—adding a further crimp to the mutual fund industry’s marketing complex—which is being rocked by allegations from PIMCO’s former top honcho Bill Gross who has alleged in a recent lawsuit that PIMCO’s administrative fees are equal to the management fees the firm charges (but, that’s another story!)

Courtesy of today’s column by WSJ’s Daisy Maxey ETF Fees: “The Arms Race to Nothing”, the story at hand is worth two in the bush…here’s an excerpt:


Daisy Maxey, WSJ
Daisy Maxey, WSJ

BlackRock Inc. exchange-traded fund can now claim the title of the lowest-cost stock exchange-traded fund—but it probably won’t have that distinction to itself for long.

BlackRock, the largest global provider of ETFs, on Tuesday cut fees on seven of its iShares Core ETFs. That included trimming the annual expenses of the $2.7 billion iShares Core S&P Total U.S. Stock Market ETF to 0.03% of assets from 0.07%, bumping a pair of Charles Schwab Corp. ETFs from the lowest-cost spot.

Within hours, Schwab vowed to match the cut on its $4.9 billion Schwab U.S. Large-Cap ETF, which currently has expenses of 0.04%.

“Our intention has always been to be the price leader in the ETF space, and we’re going to maintain that,” said a spokesman for Schwab, who didn’t give an exact time frame for the company’s planned move.

Low fees have been one of the big attractions of ETFs and providers have competed fiercely to whittle down their charges by additional hundredths of a percentage point. The latest cuts by BlackRock are being viewed as a challenge to Vanguard Group, the No. 2 in ETF assets, as well as a sign of the success of BlackRock’s iShares Core ETF lineup, launched three years ago.

The giants of the ETF business are BlackRock, with $818 billion in U.S. ETF assets under management; Vanguard, at $479 billion; and State Street Global Advisors, the asset-management business of State Street Corp. , at $418 billion, according to Thomson Reuters Lipper. Schwab is a distant No. 7, with $38 billion in U.S. ETF assets, according to Thomson Reuters Lipper.

BlackRock’s iShares Core ETFs, which now number 20, are marketed as simple and low-cost portfolio building blocks.

The lineup has grown to $160 billion in assets as of Sept. 30, according to BlackRock.

For the full story from WSJ, click here

Vanguard To Launch Its First Ever Muni Bond ETF

MarketMuse update profiles the largest mutual funds provider, Vanguard push to become the top ETF provider. Currently,  Vanguard is the second-largest provider of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in the world, with about $451 billion in ETF assets under management, as of March 2015. Now Vanguard seeks to become the top ETF provider with its first ever muni bond, the Vanguard Tax Exempt Bond ETF. The MarketMuse update is courtesy of an article from Investopedia’s 20 March article “Vanguard to Launch Muni Bond ETF”. Extracts from the article are below:  

Vanguard, well known for its stable of index mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), is rolling out its first muni bond index fund, the Vanguard Tax Exempt Bond ETF. The fund, which will have a mutual fund share class as well, doesn’t have a ticker symbol yet. This is Vanguard’s first muni bond index fund.

Muni bonds typically appeal to investors in a higher income tax bracket and are held in taxable investment accounts. The ETF will track the S&P National AMT Free Municipal Bond Index. The index currently yields 1.7% which equates to a 2.5% yield for those in the 33% income tax bracket.

The new fund is in line with Vanguard’s big push in the ETF space. Vanguard is currently the third largest issuer of ETFs and has been aggressively cutting expenses in an effort to build its asset base. It recently lowered expenses on 12 of its equity ETFs including 10 sector ETFs. Vanguard currently has 13 fixed-income ETFs including the giant Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (BND) with more than $24 billion in assets.

The Vanguard Tax Exempt Bond ETF (and associated mutual fund share classes) will likely be a viable competitor in the muni bond space right out of the box. The low expense ratio of 0.12% is less than half that of the largest index ETF competitor. Add to this Vanguard’s solid reputation as an index fund provider and its distribution muscle and the new fund will be well positioned to gain market share in this asset class.

To read the entire article from Investopedia, click here.

BlackRock Slashes Investing Cost Creating ETF War

MarketMuse update profiles BlackRock’s huge slash in investing cuts to cause pressure on rival is courtesy of Reuters’ Simon Jessop 10 March story “1-British ETF price war heats up with BlackRock FTSE 100 fee cut”

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, has slashed the cost of investing in Britain’s oldest FTSE 100 exchange-traded fund, ratcheting up the pressure on rival providers such as Vanguard.

Demand for exchange-traded funds (ETFs) has surged in recent years as a result of often anaemic returns from more actively managed funds.

BlackRock said on Tuesday that it would now charge 7 pence a year per 100 pounds invested in its ETF that pays out dividend income, down from 40 pence previously, to make it the cheapest such tracker on the market. Both Vanguard and Deutsche Bank charge 9 pence, it said.

“It really doesn’t leave much more room to fall, but I don’t think the price war has ended,” said Adam Laird, head of ETFs at fund supermarket Hargreaves Lansdown. “In the U.S., you can get mainstream ETFs with fees as low as 0.03 percent.”

However, he said he expected rival providers to wait and see if clients switched their money before responding.

The iShares FTSE 100 UCITS ETF (Dist) fund was the first ETF to launch on the London Stock Exchange in 2000 and currently holds 3.8 billion pounds ($5.7 billion) of assets under management.

To read the entire story on how BlackRock is starting a war with its competitors from Reuters, click here.

New Rules: SEC Set to Level Playing Field for ETF Issuers

Are you beginning to wonder why there is an avalanche of news stories profiling corporate bond ETFs? As we’ve posted here at MarketsMuse.com, one good reason might be rising concerns that when interest rates tick up and bond prices tick down, there could be a rush to the exits on the part of investment managers seeking to sell their corporate bond ETFs (or looking to sell select ETFs so as to hedge portfolio exposure in underlying issues held by these managers). Reuters’ Jessica Toonkel and Ashley Lau touch on that topic in recent story profiling a plan on the part of the SEC to “level the playing field” for newer firms entering the ETF Issuer club.

Here’s the extract:

By Jessica Toonkel and Ashley Lau

Reuters – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission may strip Vanguard Group, BlackRock Inc and State Street Corp, the oldest and biggest providers of exchange-traded funds, of an advantage they hold over newer rivals in how they assemble the shares of their funds, said sources familiar with the SEC.

etf-issuer-sec-level-playing-fieldsBut BlackRock, Vanguard and a few others, who were among the first to apply with the SEC to create ETFs, are allowed greater leeway: if they need a difficult-to-find security to create shares of their funds, they are permitted to use a similar security – not necessarily the same one – in the fund. This greater flexibility makes it easier and cheaper to run the older funds, and harder for newer entrants into the market such as Northern Trust, Van Eck Global and Charles Schwab Corp to compete.

The agency’s tentative plan – still in its early stages – would affect how companies manage their portfolios in illiquid markets, such as bonds. It may result in allowing the likes of Schwab to compete better with their older rivals, as well as manage their existing bond products at a lower cost.

The agency’s tentative plan – still in its early stages – would affect how companies manage their portfolios in illiquid markets, such as bonds. It may result in allowing the likes of Schwab to compete better with their older rivals, as well as manage their existing bond products at a lower cost.

For the full story from Reuters’ Jessica Toonkel and Ashley Lau, please click here

Vanguard Files For The Company’s First Muni Bond ETF

MarketMuse update courtesy of ETF Trends’ Tom Lydon’s 6 January story.

Vanguard, the third-largest U.S. issuer of exchange traded funds, has filed plans with the Securities and Exchange Commission to introduce the firm’s municipal bond ETF.

The Vanguard Tax-Exempt Bond Index Fund will be the firm’s first tax-exempt index fund and ETF. Pennsylvania-based Vanguard already has a substantial municipal bond footprint with about $140 billion in tax-exempt bond and money market funds, according to a statement issued by the firm.

Vanguard offers 12 actively managed municipal bond funds (five national, seven state-specific) and six tax-exempt money market funds (one national, five state-specific), according to the statement.

The Vanguard Tax-Exempt Bond Index Fund is expected to debut in the second quarter with three share classes – Investor Shares, Admiral Shares and ETF. The new ETF will have an annual expense ratio of 0.12%, well below the average annual fee of 0.49% on municipal bond ETFs, said Vanguard, citing Lipper data.

The statement did not include a ticker for the new ETF.

“For investors in high tax brackets, a high-quality, broadly diversified municipal bond fund or ETF can provide tax advantages as well as diversification from the risks of the equity market,” said Vanguard CEO Bill McNabb in the statement. “Vanguard is pleased to bring a low-cost index option to the municipal category as a complement to our lineup of low-cost actively managed tax-exempt bond funds.”

That jibes with Vanguard’s reputation for being one of the low-cost leaders in the ETF space. In December, Vanguard lowered fees on 12 of its equity-based ETFs, including 10 sector funds, moving the issuer into a tie with Fidelity for the least expensive sector ETFs.

Vanguard currently sponsors 13 fixed income ETFs, including the behemoth VanguardTotal Bond Market ETF (NYSEArca: BND). Home to nearly $24 billion in assets under management, BND was one of 2014’s top asset-gathering ETFs. Other Vanguard bond ETFs include the Vanguard Extended Duration Treasury ETF (NYSEArca: EDV) and the Vanguard Total International Bond ETF (NYSEArca: BNDX), two last year’s top performing bond funds.

Last year, investors poured a record $215.5 billion into Vanguard funds, including $75.3 billion into Vanguard ETFs. Including BND, four Vanguard ETFs were among the top 10 asset-gathering ETFs in 2014.

For the original story in ETF Trends, click here.


Fidelity to Open Cheapest Single-Industry ETFs in Asset Push


Fidelity Investments, the second-biggest mutual-fund provider, plans to open the cheapest lineup of single-industry exchange-traded funds as it seeks to break into a market dominated by Vanguard Group Inc. and BlackRock Inc. (BLK:US)

Fidelity on Oct. 24 will start 10 funds, focused on industries ranging from energy to telecommunications, with an annual expense ratio of 0.12 percent, cheaper by 2 basis points than Vanguard Group Inc.’s lineup of similar ETFs, according to a regulatory filing and data compiled by Bloomberg. The ETFs, distributed by Fidelity, will be managed by BlackRock, the world’s biggest money manager. A basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point.

“That tells me they want to be aggressive,” Michael Rawson, a fund analyst in Chicago-based research firm Morningstar Inc. (MORN:US), said in a telephone interview. “It’s going to be very difficult for them to build scale and liquidity in these products, but it’s a space they have to be in.”

Fidelity has been surpassed in assets by Vanguard and BlackRock in the past five years, in part because of the growth of index-based offerings such as ETFs. Fidelity, which offers only one ETF, has seen assets in its mainstay stock mutual funds decline 16 percent over the past five years, while management and advisory fees dropped an estimated 13 percent.

For the full story from Bloomberg BusinessWeek, please click here.

Vanguard’s CIO Gus Sauter: Agency Execution is our Preference

  Courtesy of  Gregory Bresiger.. Excerpts from Part 3 of a series of interviews with Vanguard Chief Investment Officer Gus Sauter

How does Vanguard Funds,’ famous for Fred Mertz like trading economy, go about finding the lowest possible costs? The process is detailed in Part Three of Traders Magazine’s Q&A with Vanguard chief investment officer Gus Sauter.

Traders Magazine: Why have you and your company launched this campaign to change what you perceive as an overpriced market structure?
Gus Sauter: I think transaction costs are surprisingly high.

Traders Magazine: You said in an interview that “a large part of indexing is actually being a trader.”  Does mean that, as with most traders, you’re using algos and using agency traders like ITG or Instinet. How does it work out for Vanguard?
Gus Sauter: We do most of our trading through agency brokerage. We will use brokers’ algos as well if we think that is appropriate for trading. We monitor the transaction costs on a broker by broker basis.

Traders Magazine: Even index fund managers need the same trading skills as though who are actively managing funds?
Gus Sauter: Yes, it really is important that our portfolio managers understand how to trade, how to execute, how to find the right strategies and venues. Should it be an algo or something they are using a dark pool.

Traders Magazine: Higher than most investors think?
Gus Sauter: Yes, a lot of people don’t realize how much money you could spend on transactions if you’re not careful. In other words, we trade hundreds of billions of dollars a year. If you lose , just a half a percent, you’re losing a billion dollars.

Traders Magazine: The implication of what you’re saying is the industry, especially in good times, is incredibly sloppy. Is it because it is other people’s money?
Gus Sauter: Yea, hard for me to tell you. Historically, people have never had respect for the magnitude of transaction costs. They really felt they provided so much alpha in their actively managed funds that they really didn’t have to worry about transaction costs.

Traders Magazine: Not over the past decade…
Gus Sauter: Yes, in a lower return environment people really recognize how much costs are.  And they are devoting more time to how they trade.


Full article: http://www.tradersmagazine.com/news/vanguard-sauter-brokers-capital-110393-1.html?zkPrintable=true


Vanguard Drops MSCI..

Widely reported..and excuse our delayed tape i.e. dissemination.

Excerpt courtesy of IndexUniverse

Vanguard, the world’s biggest mutual fund company, has decided to segue away from some MSCI indexes over the next several months in favor of benchmarks created by FTSE. The move was motivated in part by lower index licensing costs and will involve its $67 billion Vanguard MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VWO).

Vanguard’s switch affects six international equity funds that had total assets of $170 billion as of Aug. 31, FTSE said today in a press release, noting the transaction was the largest ever international index-provider switch. The switch leaves iShares, the world’s biggest ETF firm, as the ETF firm with the deepest ties to MSCI.

The six funds will change to benchmarks in the FTSE Global Equity Index Series, replacing MSCI, and VWO and the index mutual fund of which it is part will be based on the FTSE Emerging Index, FTSE said. One huge difference is the absence of South Korea from the FTSE index, while the MSCI index weights the country at around 15 percent.

In its own press release, Vanguard said that in addition to the six international benchmarks moving to FTSE indexes, it also plans to switch indexes on 16 U.S. stock and balanced index funds to benchmarks developed by the University of Chicago’s Center for Research in Security Prices (CRSP)—a leading provider of research-quality, historical market data and returns. The existing indexes on these U.S.-focused funds are also provided by MSCI.

Full story: Click Here for IU update

Industry Sounds Off On Paying ETF Market Makers

Courtesy of James Armstrong

If issuers of exchange-traded funds could pay to attract market makers to their products, would there be more liquidity in ETFs? Or would paying market-makers create a dangerous precedent and harm long-term investors? Or, is Tim Quast, MD of trading analytics firm “Modern Networks IR” correct when suggesting to the SEC in his comment letter “..paying market makers could constitute a racketeering felony and would increase speculative, short-term trading rather than focusing the markets on capital formation..”?

Both Nasdaq and NYSE Arca have proposed programs allowing ETF issuers to pay fees to the exchanges for market-maker support. The proposals are similar to a program already implemented on the BATS exchange, which has a handful of ETF listings. These proposals, according to comment letters to the Securities and Exchange Commission, are drawing strong reactions from key industry figures.

The Investment Company Institute has come out in favor of the measures, arguing they could result in narrower spreads and more liquid markets. In a letter to the SEC, ICI’s general counsel, Ari Burstein, said the organization has long advocated changes to increase the efficiency of markets. “As ETF sponsors, ICI members have a strong interest in ensuring that the securities markets are highly competitive, transparent and efficient,” Burstein said. “Liquid markets are critical for ETFs, particularly smaller and less frequently traded ETFs.”

Vanguard, the mutual fund giant which also offers a number of ETFs, said it neither supports nor opposes the Nasdaq proposal and certainly does not support the NYSE Arca proposal, at least as it is currently structured.

In a letter concerning Nasdaq’s ETF initiative, Vanguard’s chief investment officer, Gus Sauter, said payments to market makers have the potential to distort the markets and create conflicts of interest. Though Nasdaq proposed several safeguards to prevent that from happening, Sauter suggested a longer review and comment period would be a good idea.

BlackRock, the nation’s largest ETF issuer is opposed to the idea of paying market-makers.

Continue reading

SEC Punts on Payments to ETF Market Makers

Courtesy of Rosalyn Retkwa


The Securities and Exchange Commission has decided not to decide yet whether to approve proposals by Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange to pay market makers to make better markets in thinly traded ETFs. The proposals would require an exemption from a current prohibition against such payments.

Rather than approving or rejecting the idea, the SEC decided last Wednesday, July 11, to seek another round of comments on pilot projects put forth by Nasdaq and NYSE Arca (the electronic exhange formerly known as Archipelago). In its 83-page order instituting proceedings to determine whether to approve or disapprove the proposed pilots — posted on the SEC’s web site last Thursday — the SEC listed 27 questions asking for more input on specific points. “They’re keying up the issues,” said a source who asked not to be named.

Under the law, the SEC has 45 days to respond to these kinds of regulatory filings by the exchanges, with an automatic right to extend the initial deadline by another 45 days.

July 11 was the 90-day mark for the Nasdaq’s proposal, and while the SEC had until August 14 to respond to NYSE Arca, it decided to consider both proposals with a joint order — a suggestion made by Vanguard, the mutual fund and ETF sponsor headquartered in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, which filed separate comment letters on both proposals. Continue reading

UBS breaks ETF launch record


UBS is aiming to break into Europe’s exchange-traded fund big league following the listing of 64 of its funds on the London Stock Exchange, the largest number ever admitted to the LSE on a single day.

According to the LSE, the launch, which follows the listing of a suite of products by Vanguard Asset Management, has taken the total number of ETFs listed in London to 1,000.

The total value of ETF trading on the LSE has exceeded £500bn since the launch of the first fund in 2000, the exchange said.

UBS is carrying out the launch through its UBS Global Asset Management business. Its ETFs offer ‘A’ shares to retail investors and ‘I’ shares to institutional investors. Global head of ETFs Clemens Reuter said the unit size of ‘I” shares is a thousand times larger than ‘A’ shares: “Because they are dealt in bulk, the total cost of ownership becomes smaller.”

Of its London offerings, 17 will replicate the movement of indices through swap arrangements and a further 49 will operate in physical markets through the purchase and sale of underlying stocks. They will cover a range of equity sectors, plus investments in more esoteric areas such as infrastructure, rare earths and hedge funds.

For the full story, click here

ETFs Are Duking It Out Over Fees


Exchange-traded funds have lured many investors away from mutual funds by offering lower fees. But increasingly, some ETFs are also using fees to compete with other ETFs.

In a handful of high-profile cases, particularly in commodities and stocks, investors can choose between two ETFs that are virtually identical except for their fees. Gold bugs, for instance, can buy into a bar of bullion by holding shares in either SPDR Gold Shares GLD +3.88% or iShares Gold Trust IAU +3.94% . But the SPDR fund charges 0.4% of assets a year in fees, compared with the iShares fund’s 0.25%.

Disparities like that point to the rising importance of price as a distinguishing factor in what has become a crowded and confusing ETF marketplace for many individual investors. It isn’t clear yet how effective the tactic will be in the long run—there may be good reasons in some cases for investors to stick with or buy a higher-priced fund. But it seems to hold promise as a marketing tool.

Bogle Boggles and Balks re: ETFs

In the category of  “He who speaks with forked tongue…” Index Icon and Vanguard Group founder John Bogle once again threw a curve ball while speaking at today’s Bloomberg Portfolio Manager Mash-Up.

John Bogle, Vanguard Group founder

Stating “ETFs are the greatest trading innovation of the 21st century,” what the Midas of Mutual Funds added with a big (*) was : “But the question is,  ‘Are they the greatest investment innovation?’ and the answer is ‘no.”

According to coverage of the event, fully credited to InvestmentNews, Bogle pulled no punches by calling out BlackRock for “just making a muddy pool muddier” in reference to BlackRock’s aggressive product launches. Bogle, who is also known as the “Midas of  Mutual Funds”, reminded the Bloomberg conference attendees “There’s something like 2000 ETFs now. That’s almost as many stocks as there are.”

One attendee then asked Mr. Bogle, “How many mutual funds are there?” In lieu of replying, he headed to the loo, where the self-proclaimed Buffet-like Market Bull took a bio break.