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VanEck Launches the First U.S.-Listed Green Bond ETF: Portfolio Products

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VanEck launched the first U.S.-listed fixed income ETF to provide targeted exposure to the fast-growing green bond category: VanEck Vectors Green Bond ETF (GRNB).

“Until now investors have had limited options for efficiently accessing ‘green’ fixed income exposure,” Ed Lopez, head of ETF Product Management and Marketing with VanEck, said in a statement.

Green bonds are debt instruments issued to finance projects or activities that promote climate change mitigation or adaptation, or for other environmental sustainability purposes, and, according to VanEck, appear poised for significant growth.

Indeed, Natixis Asset Management U.S. recently filed plans with the SEC to launch the first ESG-focused target date funds, which will include green bond funds in the mix.

(Related on ThinkAdvisorNatixis Plans First Target-Date Suite Focused on ESG: Top Portfolio Products)

Issuance of green bonds has grown rapidly since the European Investment Bank issued the first green bond in 2007, according to VanEck. It cites data from the Climate Bonds Initiative, an investor-focused non-profit organization working to promote low-carbon investments, showing that $81 billion of green bonds were issued in 2016 and $150 billion is expected to be issued in 2017.

“We believe there’s demand for green bonds from ESG-focused investors, but there may be appeal to traditional fixed income investors as well,” Lopez said in a statement. “Green bonds are simply conventional bonds with an environmentally friendly use of proceeds. So, global bond investors can make an allocation to green bonds without significantly altering the risk and return profile of their portfolio.”

GRNB seeks to track the performance and yield characteristics of the S&P Green Bond Select Index (SPGRNSLT). To be included in the fund’s underlying index, a bond’s issuer must clearly disclose the rationale for the issuance, such as the use of proceeds, and the bond must be flagged as “green” by the CBI. All bonds must be rated by at least one rating agency and additional filters are applied with respect to minimum par amount outstanding, maturity, and market of issue. The Index is weighted by market value, and includes a 10% issuer cap and a maximum allocation of 20% to high yield.

Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Launches Two Sustainable Investing Portfolios with Reduced Account Minimums

Morgan Stanley Wealth Management launched two sustainable investing model portfolios with reduced account minimums of $10,000 on its “Investing with Impact” platform.

These new portfolios – Investing with Impact Access Balanced and Investing with Impact Access Equity – will provide investors with diversified goal-specific solutions to help align financial goals with personal values.

The Investing with Impact Access Portfolios leverage the asset allocation expertise of Wealth Management Investment Resources, the rigorous investment manager evaluation and due diligence from the Global Investment Manager Analysis (GIMA) team and the investment product selection and portfolio construction recommendations from the Manager Solutions team. Eligible investments include mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) approved by the GIMA team.

Franklin Templeton Launches a Crowdfunding Tool for College Savings

Franklin Templeton Investments announced the launch of its new crowdfunding tool, designed exclusively for NJBEST and Franklin Templeton 529 College Savings Plan account holders.

Spryng (pronounced “spring”) was developed in house to harness the power of crowdfunding and social media, by creating a secure and convenient method to engage family and friends in saving for future higher education expenses.

The account owner can create a Spryng profile quickly, which can be customized with a picture, personal message and information on savings goals. Once the profile is established, Spryng generates a secure URL that can be emailed or shared with potential gift givers via various social media platforms.

When gift givers access the gifting profile, they can choose an amount to contribute (a minimum of $10 and a maximum  of $2,500), enter their payment method and send a personal message to the account owner. Payments are validated in real time, and Spryng emails a transaction confirmation to the gift giver with a thank you message from the account owner.

Nasdaq Private Market Expands into Alternative Investments

Nasdaq Private Market announced the launch of Alternatives, a new business line designed to address the challenge of liquidity in alternative investment funds.

NPM Alternatives brings together participants—including fund managers, financial advisors, investors and secondary liquidity providers—to facilitate regular, auction-based liquidity events for alternative investment funds.

Through NPM’s automated web-based platform, participants can manage each aspect of the transaction process, including reviewing fund materials, submitting buy and sell interest, executing agreements and facilitating transfer and payment.

NPM will initially support secondary liquidity for private equity feeder funds as well as funds registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940, including those also registered under the Securities Act of 1933.

Motif Launches Impact Portfolios to Align Personal Values and Financial Goals

Motif introduced Motif Impact Portfolios, the first fully-automated investing service that aligns investors’ pers­onal values with their financial goals. Investors can now go to to create their own Impact Portfolios.

Each Motif Impact Portfolio blends direct stock ownership with a proprietary investment model built to feature companies that demonstrate leadership in one of three social values: sustainable planet, fair labor, or good corporate behavior.

Through a partnership with MSCI ESG Research, Motif Impact identifies best-in-class companies that meet an investor’s personal as well as financial criteria.

Alpha Vee Examines How to Control Risk in Equity Focused ETFs

Alpha Vee Solutions recently published the first of a four-part series of white papers defining methods of managing, mitigating and risk control within passive equity-focused ETF investment models. Alpha Vee’s main objective is to focus on equity investments with a particular focus on using smart beta ETFs. The full white paper is available here for download.

Brighthouse Financial Introduces Annuity and Life Insurance Solutions

Certain annuity and life insurance solutions that were previously offered under the MetLife brand will now be offered under the Brighthouse Financial brand. Brighthouse Financial is an operating segment of MetLife, Inc. MetLife has initiated the regulatory process for the planned separation of Brighthouse Financial.

The affected products include Brighthouse Shield Level Selector Annuities, Brighthouse Variable Annuities with FlexChoice, and Brighthouse Premier Accumulator Universal Life. Brighthouse Financial also offers fixed, deferred and immediate income annuity solutions, as well as term life insurance, under the Brighthouse Financial brand.

—Read last week’s portfolio product roundup: Research Affiliates Launches Smart Beta Factor Valuation Tool: Portfolio Products

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