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Vanguard filed a preliminary registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday for the Vanguard International Core Stock Fund. The new actively managed fund will be managed by Wellington Management and is expected to be available to investors in the fourth quarter of 2019, Vanguard said.

Vanguard has been expanding its actively managed roster over the last two years, introducing a suite of factor ETFs, an ESG fund, a commodities fundtwo global balanced funds and two fixed income funds: Vanguard Global Credit Bond Fund and Vanguard Emerging Markets Bond Fund.

The Vanguard International Core Stock Fund will provide “broad equity exposure to both developed and emerging non-U.S. markets, blending growth and value styles and diversifying across” various sectors, the firm said in its announcement. Its goal is to provide long-term capital appreciation and hold about 60-100 stocks, with no individual positions representing more than 5% of the portfolio. The fund is expected to have moderate overweight or underweight allocations to sectors and regions relative to the MSCI ACWI ex USA Index.

Vanguard estimates the fund’s net expense ratio will be 0.35% for Admiral Shares, which require a $3,000 minimum, and 0.45% for Investor Shares, both significantly lower than the asset-weighted average expense ratio of 0.75% for the industry’s foreign large-blend fund category, according to the firm.

Just ahead of Vanguard’s announcement, Fidelity Investments announced the launch of four new core equity index mutual funds that charge a net expense fee of 0.05% each and one new muni bond index fund that charges 0.07%, slightly lower than comparable Vanguard funds.

Athene Introduces Its First Registered Index-Linked Annuity

Athene USA launched Athene Amplify, its first registered index-linked annuity (RILA). The annuity is issued by Athene Annuity and Life Co., a subsidiary of Athene, and offers design features that set it apart in what has become a “fast-growing product category,” according to the company’s announcement.

The new annuity “offers greater asset accumulation potential with a level of protection from market risk that other investment products may not provide,” the company said.

Athene Amplify differentiates itself by various options, including a buffer for protection against a specified percentage index decline as well as a cap on the upside and different segment term periods with a choice of three available indexes.  

Refinitiv, Appway Team to Streamline Client Onboarding

Refinitiv is fully integrating Appway’s suite of onboarding capabilities on the Refinitiv BETA Platform. 

The seamless integration with Appway will help financial intermediaries and wealth advisors using the BETA Platform to connect end-clients with a fully digital onboarding solution that Refinitiv said “reduces time and costs, while improving workflow efficiencies across the board.”

“Having full integration with Appway’s state of the art user experience underscores our commitment and aligns to our strategy of expanding our BETA Platform ecosystem with best-of-breed partner solutions,” Tim Rutka, head of BETA Platform at Refinitiv, said in a statement  

The Refinitiv platform is a complete suite of brokerage capabilities used by many U.S. wealth management and brokerage firms. 

“Our orchestration and collaboration capabilities paired with Refinitiv’s BETA Platform will dramatically transform their client onboarding processes and lead to enhanced experiences for all stakeholders,” Andrew Besheer, director for Financial Services Solutions at Appway, said in the announcement.  

FlexShares Introduces Three New Funds

Northern Trust Asset Management’s FlexShares Exchange Traded Funds launched a suite of three low-volatility funds: U.S. Quality Low Volatility Index Fund (QLV); Developed Markets ex-US Quality Low Volatility Index Fund (QLVD) and Emerging Markets Quality Low Volatility Index Fund (: QLVE).

QLV has an expense ratio of 0.22%; QLVD, 0.32% and QLVE, 0.40%.

The funds use a quality screen that is designed to “provide exposure to high-quality companies with lower absolute risk, thereby limiting potential future volatility,” the company said in a statement.

The screen analyzes a wide universe of equities based on key indicators including profitability, management efficiency and cash flow, and then excludes the bottom 20% of stocks with the lowest quality score. The index is then subject to regional, sector and risk-factor constraints to manage unintended style factor exposures, significant sector concentration and high turnover, it said.

“Existing low-volatility strategies often rely exclusively on historical return data and fail to account for future price fluctuations and unintended risks,” said Christopher Huemmer, senior investment strategist at FlexShares, in the launch announcement. The FlexShares funds address “these flaws in an effort to provide a more efficient means of accessing the low-volatility factor,” he said.

— Check out last week’s portfolio product roundup here: Skience Launches New Version of Its Wealth Management Platform: Portfolio Products