Vanguard Opens Behavioral Research Center: Top Portfolio Products

In other product news, new funds launched from Westwood Funds, Praxis and Symons

Vanguard's newly established Center for Investor Research aims to enhance the company’s efforts to drive investor success through behavioral research and experimentation, according to an announcement.

The new center will be initially dedicated to the study of the behavior of individual investors — examining how investors make decisions through observational studies based on Vanguard’s administrative data and the growing pool of digital interactions.

According to Vanguard, the center will also design experimental interventions — or “nudges” — to directly improve investor outcomes.

“The center will take a data-driven, scientific view of investor behavior, and transform this knowledge into practical application,” Steve Utkus, principal and head of the Center for Investor Research, said in a statement. “Our research agenda will advance our understanding of the fundamental nature of investor decision-making and uncover strategies to improve the financial lives of our investors.

The new center is an evolution of the Vanguard Center for Retirement Research that was founded in 2001. The new center will continue producing defined contribution-centric research such as How America Saves, Vanguard’s flagship DC publication, which is widely leveraged by plan sponsors, consultants, regulators and academics alike.

The new center, though, will extend its reach to include a range of individual investor types and demographics, including direct and advised clients, and 401(k) participants, as well as millennials, accumulators and retirees.

Planned research topics include investor expectations for stock market returns, the role of trust in advisor-client relationships, and the transition from work to retirement.

In addition, with more than 90% of U.S. direct and 401(k) client interactions at Vanguard conducted online or via a mobile application, the new center will explore how investors make choices in the digital realm, informing test-and-learn strategies to guide online investor behavior.

InvestCloud Acquires Babel Systems for $20M

InvestCloud Inc. announced a strategic acquisition of London-based Babel Systems Limited. The value of the deal was $20 million.

This strategic acquisition links InvestCloud’s digital platform with Babel’s trading and accounting capabilities — enhancing InvestCloud's robo capabilities.

Westwood Funds Launches Low-Volatility Equity Fund

Westwood Holdings Group, Inc. (NYSE: WHG) announced the Westwood Dividend Growth Fund (WHGDX) has transitioned to the Westwood Low Volatility Equity Fund effective Dec. 30, 2016, and will trade under the ticker WLVIX.

The new mandate will incorporate a fundamental bottom-up approach to low-volatility investing, primarily in equities and convertible securities, with a goal of providing investors participation in up-markets with loss limitation in down-markets and an attractive current yield.

Symons Capital Management Introduces
 Concentrated Small Cap Value Institutional Fund

Symons Capital Management introduced its second equity mutual fund strategy, the Symons Concentrated Small Cap Value Institutional Fund (SCSVX).

The strategy is an extension of the Symons Concentrated Small Cap Value composite. The Symons Concentrated Small Cap Value Institutional Fund will purchase stocks with market capitalizations of less than $3 billion and will hold fewer than 20 stocks across a broad sector allocation.

Praxis Introduces Small Cap Index Fund

Praxis Mutual Funds, advised by Everence Capital Management, announced a transition of its Praxis Small Cap Fund to an optimized index investing strategy. Effective Jan. 1, the Praxis Small Cap Fund became the Praxis Small Cap Index Fund, and now seeks to deliver performance consistent with its new benchmark, the S&P SmallCap 600 Index.


The move allows Praxis to meet investor interest in index strategies with lower expenses, pairing it with the unique Praxis Values + ESG screening. 
 


Fees Lowered for Praxis International Index Fund

Praxis introduced breakpoints for its International Index Fund investment advisory fees, according to an announcement. This change is expected to lower the fund’s overall expense ratio by four to five basis points, based on current assets.


SunAmerica Mutual Funds Rebrand to AIG Funds

American International Group announced the rebranding of its retail mutual fund family to AIG Funds from SunAmerica Mutual Funds, effective Feb. 28, 2017.

There will be no change to the retail mutual funds’ advisor (SunAmerica Asset Management LLC) or to the funds’ investment goals or strategies, portfolio managers, ticker symbols or CUSIPs in connection with the transition.

ALPS Adds Momentum to Its ETF Factor Lineup

ALPS — in partnership with Dorsey, Wright & Associates, a Nasdaq Company (DWA) — launched a new factor exchange-traded fund that is designed to capture momentum investing at both the sector and stock level.

The ALPS Dorsey Wright Sector Momentum ETF (Nasdaq: SWIN) leverages Dorsey Wright’s proprietary Point and Figure Relative Strength charting to create a high-conviction portfolio of 50 stocks. The fund seeks to track, before fees and expenses, the Dorsey Wright US Sector Momentum Index (DWUSSR), an equally weighted index consisting of 50 large and midcap stocks listed in the U.S.

CBOE Vest Launches Enhanced Growth Strategy Fund

CBOE Vest launched the CBOE Vest S&P 500 Enhanced Growth Strategy Fund (ENGIX), which is designed to track the CBOE S&P 500 Enhanced Growth Index Balanced Series (SPEN).

The Enhanced Growth strategy seeks to provide two-to-one enhanced returns on the appreciation of the S&P 500 Index up to a capped level, while providing one-to-one exposure to losses.

--- Read last week’s roundup here: ProShares, UBS Launch 2 Oil-Linked ETNs: Top Portfolio Products

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