New products and changes introduced over the last week include the reopening of two bond funds from Vanguard and the closing of its Capital Opportunity Fund; two low-volatility equity funds from MFS; and an emerging markets aggregate bond ETF from Market Vectors.
In addition, Abacus Group announced that it has expanded its application hosting services partnership network; AssetMark launched its business assessment tool; and DealVector announced its InvestorLink.
Here are the latest developments of interest to advisors:
1) Vanguard Reopens Two Funds, Closes Another, Adds Manager
Vanguard announced Monday that it has reopened the Vanguard High-Yield Corporate Fund (VWEHX), managed by Wellington Management Company LLP, and Vanguard Intermediate-Term Tax-Exempt Fund (VWITX), managed by Vanguard Fixed Income Group, effective immediately. At the same time, it said that it was closing the Vanguard Capital Opportunity Fund (VHCOX), managed by PRIMECAP Management Company, to most new accounts, also effective immediately. VWEHX had been closed in May 2012 and VWITX in February 2013, while VHCOX had just reopened to all retail investors in April of this year.
The firm also announced that the board of trustees of the Vanguard Long-Term Investment-Grade Fund (VWESX) has approved the addition of Vanguard Fixed Income Group to the fund’s advisory team. Wellington Management Company will continue to serve as the lead advisor.
2) MFS Launches Two Low-Volatility Equity Funds
MFS has announced the launch of two low-volatility mutual funds, MFS Low Volatility Equity Fund (MLVAX) and MFS Low Volatility Global Equity Fund (MVGAX). The funds seek capital appreciation with reduced volatility relative to their respective benchmarks indices, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index and the MSCI All Country World Index, over a full market cycle. Each fund will invest in stocks that are attractive from both a fundamental and quantitative perspective and seeks to achieve lower levels of volatility than its benchmark through individual stock selection, the elimination of many of the most volatile stocks in their investment universes, and by using a disciplined portfolio construction process.
James Fallon and Matthew Krummell manage MLVAX, and Fallon is joined by Jonathan Sage on MVGAX. The funds are available for purchase in multiple share classes (A, B, C, I, R1–R5) through financial advisors, financial planners, broker/dealers and other financial intermediaries and retirement platforms.
3) Market Vectors Launches Emerging Markets Aggregate Bond ETF
Market Vectors ETFs announced Tuesday the launch of its Market Vectors Emerging Markets Aggregate Bond ETF (EMAG), which completes the conversion announced in October of the Market Vectors LatAm Aggregate Bond ETF (BONO) into this new fund.
EMAG seeks to track, before fees and expenses, the price and yield performance of the Market Vectors EM Aggregate Bond Index (MVEMAG), which includes the four major categories of emerging markets bonds: U.S. dollar- and euro-denominated sovereigns; local currency sovereigns; U.S. dollar- and euro-denominated corporates; and local currency corporates. The index is also diversified across credit qualities and across currencies. The index is also diverse from a geographic perspective and continues to include Latin American debt as an important component, as well as debt from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.
4) Abacus Group Expands Application Hosting Services Partnership Network
Abacus Group LLC announced Monday the expansion of its application hosting service partnership network. The firm's partnership program provides hedge fund and private equity firms with access to fully hosted and managed business applications on the AbacusFLEX private cloud platform.
The increase in its application hosting service provides greater overall business and workflow efficiency to fund managers, with applications hosted in the private cloud offering better system resiliency, redundancy and data backup capabilities, and support services are available from around-the-clock IT staff. AbacusFLEX offers integration with front-office trading applications and back-office reporting systems, and manages e-mail and files. It also incorporates a compliance feature that allows firms to meet the Dodd-Frank electronic message monitoring policy.
5) AssetMark Announces Business Assessment Tool
AssetMark, Inc. recently announced its new Business Assessment Tool, which is designed to help an advisory firm conduct an objective analysis of its business value and identify areas of growth and opportunity.
The business assessment begins by entering 10 key quantitative data points about the firm. The advisor chooses the appropriate time period for analysis and enters the firm’s financials to establish a framework to measure continued success. The tool then focuses on the qualitative factors that can affect an advisory firm’s performance and by extension the monetary value of the practice. Its proprietary value maximization indicators then provide a framework for self-assessment across four key areas of the advisor’s business: Managing Your Practice; Marketing Your Business; Empowering Your Team; and Optimizing Your Operations. The total score, the value maximization index, estimates relative business risk, transferability, sustainability and growth potential.
6) DealVector Launches InvestorLink
DealVector announced Monday announced the launch of InvestorLink, designed to streamline communication in the structured credit markets. Created primarily for issuers, collateral managers and trustees, InvestorLink opens a direct communication channel between deal administrators and holders. InvestorLink's features include accelerated execution of amendments, waivers, consents and other voting events; improved liquidity and transparency; and differentiation for collateral managers as an investor-friendly provider of administrative services.
InvestorLink allows deal administrators, investors, lawyers and other affiliated parties to create asset-specific microsites to communicate with holders about an upcoming event. That allows the author to describe the event and actions required, make pertinent documents available for download, and create a customized URL for distribution through DTCC, Euroclear, Clearstream or other channels. Visitors to the site can correspond with the site’s author through an identity-protected communication channel. Issuers, collateral managers and trustees can also print InvestorLink URLs on monthly trustee reports, inviting holders to “follow” their deals and thereby receive direct notification on future events. Investors who follow a deal can communicate with each other as well as with the deal administrators, making it easier to source or sell their paper and enhancing deal liquidity.
Read the Dec. 6 Portfolio Products Roundup at ThinkAdvisor.