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Wednesday, 10 January 2018 10:42

What’s Next for ETFs in 2018

(New York)

Despite reaching a much more mature stage of their development, ETFs, overall, are still on a torrid run. But what is next for the all-consuming asset class? Barron’s argues there are a few trends to watch. The first will be an expansion of fixed income ETFs, which have grown considerably, but have much more room to run. Secondly, advisors might have bigger clout in the sector, as RIAs may start converting their own strategies into ETFs. Also, the further hybridizing of passive/active funds may go faster as Vanguard is debuting a new range of very low-cost active ETFs.

FINSUM: Mentally we sort of compare ETFs to the growth of Amazon. The question is where WON’T they head next.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018 10:39

FINRA Puts Out New Warning to Advisors

(New York)

Advisors keep your eyes open, FINRA has put out a new warning on what not to do. The regulator says that dually-registered advisors need to be very careful when moving client funds from a brokerage to an advisory account. FINRA explains best, saying “Finra will review situations in which registered representatives recommend a switch from a brokerage account where that switch clearly disadvantages the customer … such as where the registered representative recommended that the customer purchase a securities product subject to a front-end sales charge in a brokerage account and then shortly thereafter recommended that account be transferred to a fee-based account”.

FINSUM: This is sort of a suitability/fiduciary rule hybrid type of enforcement. We thought all advisors should be aware that FINRA is on the lookout for this.

Tuesday, 09 January 2018 09:35

GOP One Step from Eliminating Fiduciary Rule


Those hoping for a complete end to the DOL’s fiduciary rule should keep their fingers crossed, as despite political pushback, and success on slowing down the rule, the GOP is still working hard to defeat the rule. The newest chance comes in the form of a rider on the current spending bill which is designed to do away with the rule. Previous attempts at doing so have been heavily opposed by Democrats.

FINSUM: We think this one actually has a better chance of getting through. The reason why is that the tide has definitively turned against the DOL rule, and so Democrats may be more willing to give it up as a trade or concession as part of a spending deal.

Tuesday, 09 January 2018 09:34

Apple Faces Major New Probe

(San Francisco)

The risks of regulation on Silicon Valley are rising. Fake news and data leaks have raised the suspicion of media, consumers, and government, and just yesterday Apple’s shareholders called for an investigation into iPhone addiction and mental damage in children. Now, without even a day’s rest, there is a another major probe into Apple. This one is coming out of France and surrounds the allegation that Apple deliberately worsens performance in older phones. The company faces criminal charges for the behavior.

FINSUM: So this could go both ways. If France finds something, it could turn into a global PR nightmare that could really hurt the company. However, we are not sure how much information France will actually have access to, so it may turn out to be nothing.

Tuesday, 09 January 2018 09:33

Euphoria?: Investors Are Abandoning Hedges

(New York)

Call it euphoria, irrational exuberance, or a melt-up, everyone is looking for signs that market valuations are out of control and approaching a downfall. Some signs have finally started to show up in the last few months as stocks have steadily gained. One such sign can be seen across the market—the elimination of hedges. Consistently low volatility has reduced fear in investors’ hearts to the point that many are abandoning puts and other downside protections. They are trying to chase the performance of passives and don’t want to “waste” money on hedging. The chief market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald comments on the trend that “I haven’t seen hedging activity this light since the end of the financial crisis … It started in late 2016 and accelerated in the second half of the year”.

FINSUM: This is typical late cycle imprudent behavior, but chasing benchmark performance is a good explanation of the trend.

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