February 8, 2013

Top Portfolio Products: Schwab Debuts Zero-Commission ETF Platform

LPL Financial's Fortigent and Central Park Group join forces to offer more access to hedge funds, private equity, real estate and funds of funds

New products introduced over the last week include a commission-free ETF platform from Schwab and R shares on two Thornburg funds.

In addition, Vanguard tweaked asset mixes for 20 funds, Fortigent and Central Park Group announced a strategic partnership, ZT Wealth introduced its new Sapphire Group, and BullionVault’s Gold Investor Index dipped in January.

Here are the latest developments of interest to advisors:

1) Schwab Rolls Out ‘Game-Changer’: A Commission-Free ETF Platform

Charles Schwab announced Thursday the launch of an exchange-traded fund platform, Schwab ETF OneSource, that offers advisors and retail investors commission-free access to 105 ETFs from six leading providers.

The new platform spans all 14 Morningstar asset-class categories, with funds from six leading providers, including State Street SPDR ETFs, Guggenheim Investments, PowerShares, ETF Securities, United States Commodity Funds and Charles Schwab Investment Management.

Read the full story at AdvisorOne.

2) Vanguard Tinkers with 20 Funds, Including TDFs

Vanguard said Wednesday it was tweaking the asset mix of 20 funds, including several target-date retirement funds, “to further diversify these broad, balanced portfolios” and to incorporate the new Vanguard Total International Bond Index Fund, now in registration with the SEC.

The fund giant is adding the international bond index fund to the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTI, VTSMX), Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund (VXUS, VGTSX) and Vanguard Total Bond Market II Index Fund (VTBIX). In addition, 12 Target Retirement Funds, four LifeStrategy Funds, two Managed Payout Funds and two Variable Insurance Funds will allocate 20% of their fixed-income holdings to the new bond fund.

Read the full story at AdvisorOne.

3) Thornburg Introduces R Shares for Two Funds

Thornburg Investment Management recently announced the addition of R share classes for its International Growth Fund (TIGAX, R6) and Developing World Fund (THDAX, R5 and R6). The shares, to be offered through defined contribution and defined benefit pension plans, are free of 12(b)-1 or other shareholder servicing fees.

Also, in keeping with last year’s fee disclosure regulations from the Department of Labor, the R shares will enable plan sponsors to separate mutual fund expenses from their recordkeeping and other service provider fees when determining if fees paid for plan services are reasonable.

4) Fortigent and Central Park Group Announce Strategic Partnership

Fortigent LLC and Central Park Group LLC recently announced the formation of a new strategic partnership to provide investment advisors and financial institutions served by Fortigent with expanded access to a platform of institutional hedge funds, private equity, real estate and funds of funds enhanced with research, due diligence and asset allocation guidance. Fortigent is a wholly owned subsidiary of LPL Financial Holdings, the parent company of LPL Financial LLC.

Additionally, as part of this strategic partnership, Fortigent selected Central Park Group as adviser and manager of its access funds. The former Fortigent funds are now part of the Central Park Group platform.

5) ZT Wealth Introduces High-Net-Worth Sapphire Group

ZT Wealth has launched the Sapphire Group, an exclusive offering for high-net-worth individuals. Sapphire provides money management services, tax, business and full personal advisory needs for a complete suite of platinum services.

An extension of ZT Wealth Management, Sapphire offers a new level of individualized service with a view toward partnering to address all of a client’s financial needs, including not just creating wealth, but also preserving it. It also provides the opportunity to participate in private equity investments, as well as offering advisory and consulting services.

6) BullionVault's Gold Investor Index Dips in January

BullionVault's Gold Investor Index dipped in January to 54.9, following a steady month-to-month rise that began in July and peaked at 58.3 in December. The down trend signals a bearish shift in January among the survey of BullionVault's 44,800 private investors in 159 countries, with $2.2 billion in stored bullion. A reading of 50.0 would signal a perfect balance of buyers and sellers. The index peaked in September 2011 at 71.7.

The Gold Investor Index takes the balance of net buyers (who added to their holdings) versus net sellers over the last calendar month on BullionVault, the world's largest provider of physical gold ownership to private investors. This gives a clear indication of how private households are reacting to economic and financial news by either buying, selling or continuing to hold gold.

Read the Feb. 1 Portfolio Products Roundup at AdvisorOne.

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