Top Portfolio Products: Schwab, Piper Jaffray to Boost Muni Bond Access

Compass EMP Funds introduces 13 new funds; more

New products introduced over the last week include an arrangement between Schwab and Piper Jaffray to provide investors greater access to the latter’s new muni bonds; 13 new funds from Compass EMP Funds; a new short tax-free fund from BMO Global Asset Management; and a new stable value fund from New York Life Investments and Reliance Trust Company.

In addition, Loomis Sayles increased its emerging market debt investment capabilities; Northern Lights expanded services; PowerShares lowered the costs of six ETFs; and LPL Financial (LPLA) introduced eSignature to its advisor technology platform.

Here are the latest developments of interest to advisors:

1) Schwab, Piper Jaffray Partner to Expand Investor Access to New Bonds

Charles Schwab (SCHW) announced that it has joined with Piper Jaffray to provide clients with access to Piper Jaffray’s new issue municipal bonds through Schwab’s BondSource platform.

Schwab clients can view or place orders for new municipal bond issues on the BondSource platform and can visit the new issue calendar to view upcoming offerings and set customized alerts. The bonds available through Piper Jaffray complement the new issue municipal bonds already available to clients on the BondSource platform through prior existing agreements.

2) Compass EMP Funds Introduces 13 New Mutual Funds

Compass EMP Funds announced Wednesday the launch of 13 new mutual funds. The funds included in the traditional growth asset class and their tickers are the Compass EMP U.S. 500 Volatility Weighted Fund (A shares: CFLAX; T shares: CFLTX; C shares: CFLCX; I shares: CFLIX); the Compass EMP U.S. Small Cap 500 Volatility Weighted Fund (A shares: CHSAX; T shares: CHSTX; C shares: CHSCX; I shares: CHSIX); the Compass EMP International 500 Volatility Weighted Fund (A shares: CTIAX; T shares: CTITX; C shares: CTICX; I shares: CTIIX); and the Compass EMP Emerging Market 500 Volatility Weighted Fund (A shares: CMKAX; T shares: CMKTX; C shares: CMKCX; I shares: CMKIX).

The alternative long/cash (hedge) asset class funds are the Compass EMP U.S. 500 Enhanced Volatility Weighted Fund (A shares: CUHAX; T shares: CUHTX; C shares: CUHCX; I shares: CUHIX); the Compass EMP International 500 Enhanced Volatility Weighted Fund (A shares: CVHAX; T shares: CVHTX; C shares: CVHCX; I shares: CVHIX); and the Compass EMP REC Enhanced Volatility Weighted Fund (A shares: CWRAX; T shares: CWRTX; C shares: CWRCX; I shares: CWRIX).

The alternative long-only asset class fund is the Compass EMP Commodity Strategies Volatility Weighted Fund (A shares: CCOAX; T shares: CCOTX; C shares: CCOCX; I shares: CCOIX).

The alternative long/short (hedge) growth asset class funds are the Compass EMP Commodity Long/Short Strategies Fund (A shares: CCNAX; T shares: CCNTX; C shares: CCNCX; I shares: CCNIX) and the Compass EMP Long/Short Strategies Fund (A shares: CHLAX; T shares: CHLTX; C shares: CHLCX; I shares: CHLIX).

The Compass EMP Long/Short Fixed Income Fund (A shares: CBHAX; T shares: CBHTX; C shares: CBHCX; I shares: CBHIX) is in the alternative long/short (hedge) income asset class.

Traditional income asset class funds are the Compass EMP Enhanced Fixed Income Fund (A shares: CEBAX; T shares: CEBTX; C shares: CEBCX; I shares: CEBIX) and the Compass EMP Ultra Short-Term Fixed Income Fund (A shares: COFAX; I shares: COFIX).

3) BMO Global Asset Management Launches Short Tax-Free Fund

BMO Global Asset Management announced Thursday the addition of the BMO Short Tax-Free Fund (MTFYX, MTFIX). By primarily investing in municipal bonds, the fund will seek to provide current income exempt from federal income tax consistent with the preservation of capital. It will typically maintain a dollar-weighted effective maturity between one and three years. The benchmark for the fund will be the Barclays Municipal Short (1-5 Year) Index.

The BMO Short Tax-Free Fund will be managed by the same investment team, and with a parallel philosophy and process, as the BMO Ultra Short Tax-Free (MUYSX, MUISX) and Intermediate Tax-Free Funds (MITFX, MIITX).

4) New York Life Investments, Reliance Trust Introduce New Fund, Trust

New York Life Investments, a subsidiary of New York Life Insurance Company, and Reliance Trust Company announced Thursday the introduction of a new stable value fund. The Reliance Trust New York Life Anchor Account Series I is available through the Reliance Trust Company Stable Value Employee Benefit Investment Trust, a collective trust established by Reliance Trust Company, which will serve as trustee and manager.

Investment in the collective trust provides plans with a choice of three stable value share classes. The collective trust is intended to target the small-plan defined contribution retirement market. It is valued daily and seeks to preserve principal and offer competitive yields.

The stable value fund held by the collective trust is managed by New York Life Fixed Income Investors and backed by the financial strength of New York Life Insurance Company, including an Aaa financial strength rating from Moody's and AAA from Fitch Ratings. The new collective trust invests in a diversified portfolio of fixed-income investments within the stable value fund, through a New York Life group annuity contract.

5) Loomis Sayles Boosts Emerging Markets Debt Investment Capabilities

Loomis, Sayles & Company announced Tuesday that it has added resources to bolster its emerging market debt investment capabilities. Peter Frick has been named dedicated EMD portfolio manager alongside comanagers Edgardo Sternberg and Dave Rolley. Frick possesses over 25 years of experience in the global fixed income marketplace, most recently serving as product manager covering EMD and global bonds. Elisabeth Colleran joins the EMD product team full time as an EM credit strategist. Previously, she acted as a senior analyst on the credit research team.

The firm also added professionals specializing in emerging markets to its credit research, trading, and product management teams. Matt Welch moved from technology credit research to focus solely on EM credit research; Li Ping Yeo was hired in the company's Singapore office as a senior credit analyst responsible for covering Asian credits; Lynn Parker now acts as EM markets strategist and EM trader on a full-time basis; and Hank Lynch was hired to replace Frick as a global bond and EMD product manager.

6) Northern Lights Distributors Announces Expanded Services

Northern Lights Distributors, LLC (NLD) announced Tuesday expanded services and regionalized leadership structure. The expansion is designed to provide enhanced strategic opportunities for funds to help raise assets through additional distribution channels and facilitation of industry partnerships.

As part of NLD’s regional expansion, Jonathan Poyer and Michael Lambatsos have joined NLD as sales and distribution managers. The expanded team will assist regional clients in developing strategies to help raise assets, as well as define and implement customized marketing and distribution plans unique to each fund. Poyer and Lambatsos will work directly with clients in their respective regions.

7) PowerShares Drops Costs on 6 ETFs

Invesco PowerShares said late Thursday that it lowered the expense ratios of six PowerShares ETF portfolios effective Nov. 21. The declines range from 31 to 36 basis points.

Fees have been dropping throughout the industry, with BlackRock and Vanguard among the most recent industry players to cut costs and adjust their ETF lineup. In September, Charles Schwab cut ETF fees, some as much as 59%, and Fidelity Investments had waived trading commissions in 2010 and 2011 on a group of ETFs.

Read the full story at AdvisorOne.

8) LPL Financial Introduces eSignature to Advisor Technology Platform

LPL Financial said Tuesday it introduced DocuSign’s eSignature solution to streamline document processing and enhance the client experience. This new technology tool will increase efficiency, reduce paperwork and improve both the client and advisor experience when signing and submitting LPL Financial forms.

In compliance with the Federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National (ESIGN) Commerce Act of 2000, eSignature does not require a “wet ink” signature and is authenticated through an access ID and a knowledge-based authentication process.

Powered by DocuSign, the global leader for electronic signature, eSignature is now available across LPL Financial as part of its BranchNet technology platform at no additional cost to advisors or their clients. The tool streamlines the account-opening process and reduces document submission turnaround time.

It also provides automatic routing to multiple signers, automated tracking of pending documents and automated client reminders; the ability to eSign documents on mobile devices anytime, anywhere; and enhances auditing and risk management practices.

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Read the Nov. 21 Portfolio Products Roundup at AdvisorOne.

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