If there has been one driving force in exchange-traded funds (ETFs), it’s been the proliferation of smart beta funds. Using various screens and other weighting methodologies, smart beta attempts to blend the best of both indexing and active management into one.
And ETFs are just perfect for smart beta strategies, which helps to explain why there are so many smart beta ETFs on the market these days.
And the number continues to grow.
This week saw another big round of smart beta launches – all of which focus on a multitude of fundamental factors to create their portfolios.
|Ticker||Name||Issuer||Launch Date||ETFdb.com Category||Expense Ratio|
|(CSML )||IQ Chaikin U.S. Small Cap ETF||IndexIQ||05/16/2017||Small Cap Value Equities||0.36%|
|(LVIN )||Hartford Multifactor Low Volatility International Equity ETF||Hartford Funds||05/10/2017||Global Equities||0.39%|
|(LVUS )||Hartford Multifactor Low Volatility U.S. Equity ETF||Hartford Funds||05/10/2017||Large Cap Blend Equities||0.29%|
|(SHAG )||WisdomTree Barclays Yield Enhanced U.S. Short-Term Aggregate Bond Fund||WisdomTree||05/18/2017||Total Bond Market||0.12%|
IndexIQ Shows Its Intelligence
Now part of New York Life, IndexIQ made a name for itself with hedge fund replication ETFs and alternative strategies. An offshoot of that has been a series of launches related to smart beta and fundamental indexing. Its latest – the IQ Chaikin U.S. Small Cap ETF (CSML ) – is just the next step in that lineup.
As the name implies, CSML will target U.S. small and micro caps by tracking the custom-created NASDAQ Chaikin Power U.S. Small Cap Index. The index follows a multi-factor strategy developed by Marc Chaikin, who has 50 years of industry experience as an investment strategist. CSML uses a system called the “Chaikin Power Gauge” to find the best stocks with the most potential to grow over time. In this system, small caps are scored and ranked on various value, growth, technical and market sentiment factors. Hypothetical back testing has shown that the index has resulted in greater returns than the bread & butter small-cap benchmark, the Russell 2000.
Investors will have to wait and see the ETF’s results. Expenses for CSML run at just 0.36%, or $36 per $10,000 invested.
For a full list of all of IndexIQ ETFs, check out its issuer page here.
A Mutual Fund Powerhouse Adds More ETFs
With many traditional active mutual fund houses feeling the heat from ETFs, several have embraced the fund type in spades, including Hartford Funds. The manager now has several ETFs under its umbrella.
Both ETFs roughly follow the same strategy with the idea of smoothing out the ride of the stock market. The funds will screen for stocks that have lower volatility than the broader market, as well as use an optimization process for diversification purposes. The idea is that the ETFs will provide investors with equity exposure that has a quarter less volatility over a complete market cycle than “regular” indexes. LVUS will focus on the U.S., while LVIN will hone in on the international space, including both developed and emerging markets.
Overall, LVIN and LVUS can be used to reduce the risk of a portfolio and to complement more aggressive components. Expenses run at 0.29% for the U.S.-focused LVUS and 0.39% for LVIN.
An ETF Austin Powers Would Love
While investors won’t admit it, we have an affinity for funny word tickers. Name recognition can be a key way to gather assets into a fund. The latest from WisdomTree is a prime example of this, and one that international man of mystery, Austin Powers, would be proud to own.
The WisdomTree Barclays Yield Enhanced U.S. Short-Term Aggregate Bond Fund (SHAG ) will target bonds with effective maturities of less than five years. These can include Treasuries, corporate bonds, and ABS/MBS-backed securities. The kicker is that instead of just straight indexing like rival ETFs, SHAG will use a smart beta twist to craft its portfolio.
The ETF will use a custom and rules-based methodology to re-weight the subgroups in the broader Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index. By value-weighting the index and re-configuring the subgroups/sectors, SHAG is designed to produce a higher yield, while still benefiting from the short-term nature of the bonds. This means when rates rise, SHAG will likely profit.
In the end, SHAG allows investors to get a higher current yield – which is needed – while still having the ability to hedge against rising rates. With low expenses of just 0.12%, SHAG makes an ideal portfolio component.
For a list of all new ETF launches, take a look at our ETF Launch Center.
The Bottom Line
Smart beta continues to dominate the ETF landscape, and this week’s launches are no different. By using fundamental factors, the idea is that this week’s funds will outperform their traditional rivals. While that remains to be seen, on paper, at least, the latest launches look good.
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