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Top Portfolio Products: New ETFs from ALPS, Compass & First Trust

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New products and changes introduced over the last week include a gold ETF from ALPS, two ETFs listed on NASDAQ, two fixed index annuities from Forethought, and a fixed index annuity and changes to a variable annuity by Sammons Retirement Solutions.

In addition, Aequitas Capital started an RIA membership network; and the Saudi Arabian market pened to foreign investors.

Here are the latest developments of interest to advisors:

1) ALPS Announces Sprott Gold Miners ETF

ALPS has announced the launch of the Sprott Gold Miners ETF (SGDM), a fund designed to deliver exposure to the Sprott Zacks Gold Miners Index (ZAXSGDM), which uses a transparent, rules-based methodology designed to identify 25 gold stocks that historically have the highest beta to the spot price of gold, with each stock’s weighting in the index adjusted based on its quarterly revenue growth and long-term debt to equity. The stock selection and index weighting criteria were co-developed by Sprott Asset Management.

As a principal investment strategy, SGDM will normally invest at least 90% of its net assets in component securities that comprise the Sprott Zacks Gold Miners Index. The Index is rebalanced on a quarterly basis to incorporate the latest financial data into the screening process.

2) NASDAQ Lists Two ETFs

NASDAQ OMX has announced the listing of two ETFs: the First Trust Enhanced Short Maturity ETF (FTSM) and the Compass EMP U.S. Discovery 500 Enhanced Volatility Weighted Index (CSF).

FTSM is actively managed and seeks to provide current income, consistent with preservation of capital and daily liquidity. Its strategy invests in short-duration securities that are primarily U.S. dollar-denominated investment-grade securities. The fund will be invested across a broad range of asset classes to maintain diversification and at least 80% of the fund’s assets will be investment-grade securities. FTSM seeks to achieve its objectives by strategically laddering highly liquid investments over the near-term horizon. As market conditions change, the portfolio managers have the flexibility to strategically rotate among various market sectors while maintaining a focus on preservation of capital and liquidity.

CSF is designed to track the performance of the CEMP U.S. Small Cap 500 Long/Cash Volatility Weighted Index, before expenses. The fund will track the CEMP Smart Beta Index and will combine Smart Beta methodologies with the ability to move cash in the event of a market decline. The CEMP U.S. Small Cap 500 Long/Cash Volatility Weighted Index is based on the daily price of the CEMP U.S. Small Cap 500 Volatility Weighted Index. The index represents the broad U.S. small cap stock market, and is designed to hedge downside risk potential.

3) Forethought Launches Two FIAs for Broker-Dealer Distribution

Forethought Life Insurance Company has announced the launch of two fixed index annuities designed for broker-dealer distribution.

The first, ForeAccumulation, is designed for clients seeking savings potential and protection, while the second, ForeIncome, offers a guaranteed lifetime income stream for retirement.

4) Sammons Announces Fixed Index Annuity, Changes to VA

Sammons Retirement Solutions Inc. has announced the launch of the LiveWell Fixed Index Annuity (FIA), issued by Midland National Life Insurance Company, as well as changes to the LiveWell Variable Annuity, also issued by Midland.

The LiveWell FIA offers the LiveWell Income for Life rider that can guarantee income for life while allowing consumers to maintain control of their money. This feature offers the option to stop and start once income is elected, as well as the flexibility to decide frequency for scheduled payments.

The LiveWell VA now has increased fund options and an endorsement that offers investors a way to reduce long-term annuity costs. The addition of American Funds, Alps, Oppenheimer Funds and Transparent Value means that the VA now offers more than 135 investment options from 28 money managers.

The LiveWell value endorsement lowers fees by offering clients the option to reduce their separate account annual expenses by 0.20% (to 1.15%) in exchange for a surrender schedule. The VA with the value endorsement allows advisors to create an individual strategy for each client based on time horizon, risk tolerance and tax deferral goals. Additionally, the VA offers a return-of-premium death benefit.

5) Aequitas Capital Launches RIA Membership Network

Aequitas Capital has announced the launch of Aequitas Capital Partners (ACP), a new business division created to support growth-oriented RIAs with intellectual, financial and human capital to fuel succession planning and firm mergers or acquisitions.

6) Ashmore Calls Saudi Arabia’s Equity Market a $560 Billion Opportunity

Saudi Arabia has given approval for its equity market to open to foreign investors, with the market expected to open in the first half of 2015.

Ashmore Investment Management Ltd. has characterized the change as a $560 billion opportunity, the amount of the market cap of the Tadawul All Share Index. The index is made up of more than 160 companies, and the Saudi stock exchange is ranked seventh out of 58 emerging and frontier market equity exchanges, 20th in the world.

According to Ashmore, it is too soon to know whether Saudi Arabia will be included in indices as an emerging or a frontier market, although MSCI has said it need not necessarily be classed as a frontier market before being upgraded to an emerging market. Its designation will depend on how accessible it is to foreign investors. The firm pointed out that the Saudi government will issue rules for foreign investors (Qualified Foreign Investor) and will probably also impose foreign ownership limits (FOL), both of which will likely affect not just the market’s accessibility but also its designation.

Read the August 3 Portfolio Products Roundup at ThinkAdvisor.


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