(Bloomberg) — Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. is hedging its bets when it comes to turning its investment strategies into exchange-traded funds.
The Columbus, Ohio-based insurance and financial services company, best known for the slogan ‘‘Nationwide is on your side,’’ has decided not to pick sides in one of the fiercest battles in asset management: the fight for the billions fleeing mutual funds for ETFs.
The firm’s fund business is in talks with Precidian Investments to license a type of active ETF that would keep its holdings hidden, Precidian announced Thursday. That came a week after Nationwide sought regulatory permission to launch a fund using a rival structure from Eaton Vance Corp. Nationwide is also considering starting its own passive ETFs.
“With much uncertainty and speculation in the industry at this point, Nationwide is keeping its options open,” Mike Spangler, president of Nationwide Funds, said by email. “Index-tracking and active strategies help us meet the needs of different investors. Like many in the industry, we believe they can both play a role in a diversified portfolio for any investor.”
Nationwide’s three-pronged approach to the ETF business shows how much is at stake. The company’s tilting for a slice of an almost $3 trillion industry, and for some of about $10 trillion currently invested in actively managed mutual funds. While mutual funds have lost their luster in recent years, ETFs are booming.
Active strategies, however, account for about 1% of ETF assets. That’s because many managers have balked at the daily disclosure demanded of these funds, fearing this would reveal their “secret sauce.”