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Vanguard Reopens Dividend Growth Fund, Increases Access to Alternative Funds

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Vanguard has reopened its $36.6 billion Vanguard Dividend Growth Fund (VDIGX) to all investors and will be reducing the minimum initial investment in the Vanguard Alternatives Strategies Fund (VASFX) and Vanguard Market Neutral Fund (FMNFX) for “sophisticated” retail investors who are clients of Vanguard Flagship or Vanguard Personal Advisor Services during the fourth quarter.

The mutual fund giant had closed its dividend growth fund to most new accounts in July 2016 following a period of rapid growth, but cash flow has slowed and market conditions have changed since then, according to the Vanguard announcement.

“After careful analysis of the fund’s current cash flows and asset level, and following consultation with the fund’s advisor, we’re confident that there is ample capacity to reopen the Fund,” said Matthew Brancato, head of Vanguard’s Portfolio Review Department, in a statement. He cautioned that the reopening not be construed by investors as a “buy signal” for the fund or dividend stocks in general.

Dan Wiener, editor of The Independent Adviser for Vanguard Investors, wrote that the Dividend Growth Fund has been experiencing “steady outflows, month after month, since its closing” but “has been one of the best active funds in Vanguard’s stable with a single fund manager, Don Kilbride, of Wellington Management Co., guiding its performance.

The five-star fund, which was introduced in May 1992, invests in high-quality companies that have the ability and commitment to potentially growth their dividends over time. It carries Morningstar’s top gold analyst rating and has outperformed most of its peers since 2011. Year to date, it ranks in the top 6% among more than 1,300 peers, according to Morningstar.

In addition to the reopening of its Dividend Growth Fund, Vanguard will be broadening access to two actively managed alternative investment funds, Vanguard Alternative Strategies Fund and Vanguard Market Neutral Fund during the fourth quarter.

Retail investors who are clients of the Vanguard Flagship, which requires a minimum $1 million in assets, and of Vanguard Personal Advisor Services (a $50,000 minimum) will be able to invest in Alternative Strategies and Market Neutral funds for an initial minimum investment of $50,000 rather than the current $250,000. The new minimum is the same as the minimum for the recently launched Vanguard Commodity Strategy Fund (VCMDX), and all three funds are managed by the firm’s Quantitative Equity Group.

More institutional investors will also gain access to the Vanguard Alternative Strategies Fund during the fourth quarter. The fund, which is currently only available to institutional investors enrolled in Vanguard Institutional Advisory Services as an underlying holding of the Vanguard Managed Payout Fund, will become available to other institutional investors and financial advisors, for no minimum.

All three Vanguard alternative funds — Alternative Strategies, Market Neutral and Commodity Strategy — “give sophisticated individual investors, advisors, and institutional clients the opportunity for additional diversification, reduced volatility and better risk-adjusted returns,” said Brancato. “However, given their complexity, distinctive characteristics, and risks, they are not appropriate for most individual investors and will not be offered to them broadly.”

— Check out Fidelity Expands Price War With Vanguard With New Index Fund Launches on ThinkAdvisor.