New products introduced over the last week include a digital retirement center launched by BlackRock, four new core ETFs from iShares and two new SPDR Tilt ETFs from State Street Global Advisors.
In addition, RiverNorth launched a buy-write fund, the Shenzhen Stock Exchange and the Options Industry Council signed a memorandum of understanding regarding joint options research and education, and Aegon launched three volatility-capped risk profile solutions.
Here are the latest developments of interest to advisors:
1) BlackRock Launches New Digital Retirement Center
BlackRock launched a new digital retirement center providing insights, resources and tools at www.blackrock.com/retirement. The Oct. 22 launch was timed to coincide with the congressionally sanctioned National Save for Retirement Week, which ran from October 21 through 27. The BlackRock Retirement Center features age-based content and insights to help individuals better prepare for retirement in what BlackRock has called a “new world of investing,” in which yields are low, markets are volatile and confidence is scarce.
The age-based content assists investors with defining needs, identifying goals and providing actionable steps when saving and investing for or during their retirement. Features and the age groups they are intended for include Just Starting Out (20s and 30s); On Your Way (40s and 50s); Nearing/At Retirement (60s and& 70s); and Enjoying Retirement (70s+). The website also features the Define Your Retirement Tool; a weekly tip subscription titled Just One Thing; and additional features.
2) iShares Launches International Equity and Fixed-Income Core ETFs
BlackRock announced Oct. 22 that its iShares ETFs business has launched four new core funds designed to meet the needs of long-term investors looking for exposure to international equities and U.S. fixed income. These new funds will complement the six existing funds in the iShares Core Series, which is designed to provide broad equity and fixed-income exposure and allow long-term investors to tailor the mix of funds in their portfolio to match their individual choice.
The funds are iShares Core MSCI Total International Stock ETF (IXUS), which tracks the MSCI ACWI ex USA Investable Market Index (IMI), with management fees of 0.16%; iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (IEMG), which tracks the MSCI Emerging Markets Investable Market Index, with management fees of 0.18%; iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF (IEFA), which tracks the MSCI EAFE Investable Market Index, with management fees of 0.14%; and iShares Core Short-Term U.S. Bond ETF (ISTB), which tracks the Barclays U.S. 1-5 Year Government/Credit Bond Index, with management fees of 0.12%.
3) State Street Global Advisors Launches Pair of SPDR Tilt ETFs
State Street Global Advisors, the asset management business of State Street Corp., announced Thursday the launch of the SPDR S&P 1500 Value Tilt ETF (VLU) and the SPDR S&P 1500 Momentum Tilt ETF (MMTM). The new SPDR ETFs offer investors an opportunity to access potential sources of outperformance with advanced indexing methodologies that reconfigure how index components are weighted.
VLU seeks to track the performance of the S&P 1500 Low Valuation Tilt Index, which applies an alternative weighting methodology to the S&P 1500 Index so that stocks with relatively low valuations are overweight relative to the S&P 1500 Index and stocks with relatively high valuations are underweight. VLU’s expense ratio is 0.35%.
MMTM seeks to track the performance of the S&P 1500 Positive Momentum Tilt Index, which applies an alternative weighting methodology to the S&P 1500 Index so that stocks with relatively high momentum are overweight relative to the S&P 1500 Index and stocks with relatively low momentum are underweight. MMTM’s expense ratio is 0.35%. 4) RiverNorth Launches RiverNorth Dynamic Buy-Write Fund
RiverNorth Capital Management announced on Tuesday the launch of the RiverNorth Dynamic Buy-Write Fund (RNBWX), a new options/volatility mutual fund. Different from most other buy-write—also known as covered call—investment strategies, in which an investor buys a single security or portfolio of securities and writes (sells) calls against the underlying positions, RNBWX is constructed by selling what the fund advisor believes to be the most attractive covered equity options.
RNBWX is a no-load vehicle and utilizes a strategy that capitalizes on implied volatility mispricing in the equity options market, seeking to generate alpha through the volatility management of risks inherent in options portfolios, rather than through individual security selection. Assets are allocated across U.S. exchange-listed equity options, equities and exchange-traded funds. It is designed to complement or replace alternative equity allocations and seeks to provide a greater risk-adjusted return than the S&P 500 Index.
5) Shenzhen Stock Exchange and Options Industry Council Sign MOU
The Shenzhen Stock Exchange (SZSE) and The Options Industry Council (OIC) announced Tuesday that they have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding joint options research and education. The ceremony was held with members of the OIC and SZSE in Shenzhen, China.
As China focuses efforts on diversifying investment products, both OIC and SZSE recognize the need for investor education and research programs to contribute to the development and responsible use of suitable financial products. The MOU also addresses mutual cooperation and sharing of information about the U.S. and Chinese financial markets.
6) AEGON Launches Volatility-Capped Solutions
AEGON announced Thursday the launch of three volatility-capped risk profile solutions that invest in funds managed by investment manager J.P. Morgan Mansart Investments, aligned with JPMorgan Chase & Co. These solutions are available to U.K. retail investors and will be available exclusively through AEGON. There are three AEGON funds at launch of the same name: the Scottish Equitable J.P. Morgan Mansart Risk Profile 10, the Profile 12, and the Profile 14. Each aims to keep volatility at or below a yearly cap of 10%, 12% and 14% respectively.
The funds differ from most other risk profile solutions currently on the market because they use daily risk budgeting with the aim of keeping risk at or below a volatility cap. The J.P. Morgan Mansart Investments funds follow a systematic investment strategy using swaps, which allows the new funds to efficiently gain exposure to the returns of U.K. fixed interest and developed market and emerging market equities, while aiming to maintain risk in line with the respective risk profile. The AEGON funds will fully benefit from this approach through their investment in the J.P. Morgan Mansart Risk Profile Funds.
Read the Oct. 19 Portfolio Products Roundup at AdvisorOne.