Category Archives: ETF Managers Group

Schwab Survey Shows Which Generation Has Taken to ETFs the Most?

Investors’ knowledge and use of exchange traded funds nearly doubled over the past five years, and 42% expect ETFs to become their primary investment vehicle in the future, according to Charles Schwab’s 2017 ETF Investor Study.

The seventh annual study interviewed 1,264 investors in June between the ages of 25 and 75. They needed to have purchased an ETF in the last two years and have at least $25,000 in investable assets.

Eight percent of the investors said their portfolios already consist of only ETFs and 43% would consider holding only ETFs instead of individual securities.

The millennials generation has taken to ETFs the most — 56% of them say they’re their investment vehicle of choice. Among the members of Generation X, 44% said ETFs were their favorite vehicle; for baby boomers it was 30%; and for matures, those older than baby boomers, it was 23%.

Of millennials, 60% expect ETFs to be their primary investment vehicle in the future. That drops to 45% among Generation X, 23% among baby boomers and 17% for matures.

At least some financial advisors are scratching their heads over the survey results.  “I haven’t found that to be the case,” said Robert Karn, president of Karn Couzens & Associates, a registered investment advisor in Farmington, Conn. “Many of our clients have heard about ETFs, but they don’t know what they do. I don’t see millennials leading the charge. I don’t see in my practice what they’re saying in the survey.”

A low expense ratio is the most important factor in choosing an ETF, according to 62% of the respondents. Total cost was second, followed by, in declining order, the ETF provider’s reputation; how well it tracks its index; its historical returns; its liquidity/trading volume; if it’s commission-free; its exposure to a specific part of the market; its Morningstar rating; and finally, its total assets.

Investors are placing increased importance on the ability to trade ETFs without commissions. This year 55% said working with a brokerage that offered commission-free ETFs was very or most important, up from 38% in the 2012 survey.

Only 1 in 10 currently invest in socially responsible investments (SRI), 55% say they’ve heard about SRI and 35% don’t even know what SRI is. However, interest in SRI is growing. About 51% of the respondents said they would invest in SRI strategies if more education on products or asset allocation were provided.

Still, almost half of the ETF investors said it was important to them to invest in funds that align with their beliefs, 30% said they would actively seek out socially responsible funds and 42% preferred a strategy that was tailored to their values. About 53% said they had a “pretty good understanding” of how socially responsible their investments are and 46% said it was important to invest in socially responsible funds because they want their investments to align with their beliefs.

Interest in SRI investing is highest among millennials at 48%. Only 32% of Gen X investors seek out SRI strategies. That drops to 14% for baby boomers and 9% for matures.

“It surprised me how it reinforced my understanding of the demographic tilt toward ETFs,” said Steven Schoenfeld, founder and chief investment officer at BlueStar Indexes, which provides the benchmarks for the VanEck Vectors Israel ETF (ISRA) and the ETF Managers Trust BlueStar TA-BIGITech Israel Technology ETF (ITEQ). “It shows the appeal when people see they can do almost as well, if not as well, by aligning their values. It just makes them feel better and might make them better investors if their connection is more than just better returns. Then when the market gets volatile they might stick with it.”

With smart beta, 29% of the respondents said they currently invest in smart beta strategies and 59% said they planned to increase their investments in smart beta in the next year. About two-thirds of ETF investors have reduced active exposures over the last three years and replaced them with smart beta exposures.

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Fed Ready? New Sit ETF Hedges Hikes In Interest Rates

Nobody should invest in bond exchange traded funds without understanding that when interest rates increase, the bond’s price declines. With significant improvements in the economy and unemployment rate, the Federal Reserve is expected to raise rates before 2015 ends. This will affect securities across the entire bond market.

So, what is a bond ETF investor to do? A new exchange traded fund from ETF Managers Group seeks to help investors hedge rising interest rates by using a concept called negative duration that actually creates price appreciation when interest rates advance.

Sit Rising Rate ETF (RISE) holds a portfolio of futures and options contracts weighted to achieve a targeted negative 10-year average effective portfolio duration. Because it holds futures, the ETF is structured as a commodity pool.

Sam Masucci, founder and chief executive of ETF Managers Group, said the ETF should be used as a hedge, or insurance, to protect a bond portfolio from interest-rate volatility. “A small allocation of 10% to 20% in RISE can significantly reduce the interest rate risk within a bond portfolio.”

Duration calculates a bond’s sensitivity to interest-rate volatility. It measures how much the price of a bond is expected to fall when interest rates rise 1% — and rise when rates fall 1%. The longer the duration, the greater the interest rate risk. Negative duration determines how much the price will go up when rates rise. RISE tries to get a 10-to-1 ratio. So if rates rise 1%, the price should go up about 10%.

Bryce Doty, the senior fixed-income portfolio manager at Sit Investment Associates, manages the ETF based on the Minneapolis firm’s strategy.

Where RISE Fits In

Doty said an investor with a bond portfolio with an average duration of four years might choose to sell 20% of the portfolio and invest that money in the negative 10-year duration ETF. This cuts the interest rate risk by almost 70%.

The ETF achieves this effect by holding only four positions. Focused on the risk to short-term rates, 85% of the ETF’s portfolio is in short positions tied to 2-year U.S. Treasury and 5-year U.S. Treasury futures contracts. It also buys a put option on the 10-year U.S. Treasury futures contract. This means if rates rise on the 10-year note, the ETF gets price appreciation. But if rates fall, the EFT is only out the price of the put.

Compared with bond index ETFs, which typically charge expense ratios of less than 10 basis points, RISE, which is an active ETF, charges an expense ratio of 50 basis points. With other expenses factored in, the true cost can rise as high at 1.5%, although the fund is targeting a cost around 85 basis points.

“When you rebalance every month and short new Treasury futures to get target duration, you might get a tax hit at the end of the year,” said Thomas Boccellari, an analyst at Morningstar. “The benefit of the active management is, you pay the manager to control the duration for you and to get it right. But you need to understand that you are giving up a lot of yield to get this product and you need to be sure that is what you want to do.”

Two negative duration ETFs tracked by ETF.com are WisdomTree Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Negative Duration Fund (AGND) and WisdomTree BofA Merrill Lynch High Yield Bond Negative Duration Fund (HYND) has $32 million in assets, average daily volume of about 11,000 shares, an expense ratio of 0.28% and is up 0.44% year to date. HYND has $6.5 million in assets, average daily volume of about 9,000 shares, a 0.36% expense ratio and is up 2% this year.

Originally published in Investor’s Business Daily.