In 2018, there were more than 200 exchange-traded funds brought to market. What’s in store for this growing space in 2019?
Several industry leaders weighed in on different trends — from regulations to factors — that they see as important for 2019 in the ETF space.
1. SEC’s ETF Rule
Next year will likely bring the implementation of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s long-awaited ETF rule, which is intended to lower some of the barriers to entry for new issuers and new products.
Under current rules, wannabe ETF issuers must get SEC permission — a process known as exemptive relief.
The SEC proposed in June a plan to allow many ETFs to come to market without first obtaining exemptive relief from the Investment Company Act of 1940 — a plan that updates and attempts to streamline 26 years of ETF approvals by the agency through hundreds of exemptive orders. The comment period for this proposal ended at the beginning of October.
According to IndexIQ, the rule will bring a more level playing field to the ETF industry. The ETF provider also thinks the rule could allow for more innovative fixed income approaches.
“Some provisions of the rule, such as more allowances for the use of ‘custom baskets,’ could open the door for new types of fixed income ETF approaches brought to market, which would not have been feasible under the old approach,” IndexIQ said in a statement.
Active Non-transparent ETFs
Multiple asset management firms have filed applications with the SEC for exemptive relief that would allow them to actively manage funds under a non-transparent product structure, according to an ALPS white paper exploring these structures. According to this paper, just two of these non-transparent structures — Eaton Vance’s NextShares and one from Vanguard — have gained SEC approval to date.
However, Natixis — one of the asset managers that has filed with the SEC — thinks more active non-transparent ETFs will move through the SEC review process in 2019.
Natixis filed its exemptive relief application in January 2018 (and an amended application in June) in conjunction with the New York Stock Exchange. The two institutions are presenting an actively managed ETF model currently called Periodically Disclosed Active ETFs (NYSE PDA).