Displaying items by tag: bonds
2 Factors Boosting Bond Market Liquidity
In an article for ETFStream, Theo Andrew discussed how bond market liquidity has improved in recent years due to increased electronic trading and fixed income ETFs. Bond ETFs have gone from $729 billion in assets under management to $1.7 trillion between 2017 and 2023. By the end of the decade, it’s projected to reach $5 trillion which would equate to 5% of the global bond market.
In some smaller markets, ETFs are accounting for an increasing share of trading volume. Institutions are increasingly getting comfortable with these instruments especially to manage credit risk. Trading in ETFs is also less costly than individual bonds.
Due to increasing liquidity, there is increased price transparency and tighter spreads. It also is enabling more portfolio trading, where asset managers can automate rebalancing and quickly implement changes in the portfolio.
Growth in portfolio trading and fixed income ETFs has been symbiotic as a deeper and richer fixed income ETF market makes portfolio trading more appealing. In turn, more allocations to portfolio trading inevitably boost inflows into fixed income ETFs.
Finsum: Fixed income ETFs are leading to an increase in bond market liquidity. In turn, this is leading to more adoption of portfolio trading.
Black Rock Increasing Focus on Active Funds
In an article for Vettafi, Todd Rosenblum covers the growth of active equity and fixed income funds, and how they are taking an increasing share of the ETF market.
The category has seen 50% growth in assets over the last 3 years and now comprises 6% of the total ETF market. In response to this demand, there has been an increase in the issuance of active ETFs.
It’s particularly relevant for fixed income as active funds can take advantage of opportunities unavailable to passive funds. One example is the Blackrock Flexible Income ETF which is designed to give investors opportunities for yield in more obscure markets.
Blackrock is a major presence in the active ETF market and also recently launched the BlackRock Ultra Short-Term Bond ETF and the BlackRock Short Maturity Bond ETF. Overall, Blackrock is looking to create a comprehensive ‘active ETF platform that complements its existing lineup of passive ETFs and active mutual funds. It gives advisors and investors access to its investment resources and management while retaining the benefits of an ETF.
Finsum: Active ETFs are booming, and Blackrock is looking to capitalize with several recent offerings in the space.
Quant Funds Could Be Responsible for Dampening Volatility
One of the most puzzling aspects of markets in 2023 for investors has been the relative weakness in volatility. This is despite a plethora of risks for the economy and markets including rising recession risk, elevated levels of inflation, a hawkish Fed, deep stresses in the banking system, and a looming debt ceiling standoff that seems certain to go till the deadline.
Yet, stocks are at their highest levels in more than a year, while volatility is at its lowest level in a couple of years. In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Caitlin McCabe discusses the potential impact of quant funds on volatility, and why it could potentially account for the discrepancy.
Basically, quant funds have been piling into stocks even though most investors remain on the sidelines. Currently, these funds have a net exposure level to stocks that is the highest since December 2021, before the bear market started. In contrast, investors have a relatively low allocation to stocks and have reduced it this year.
Some see risks in the concentrated positions of these quant funds which increase the odds of a market dislocation in the event of bad or unexpected news. Another factor in reduced volatility has been steady inflows from corporate buybacks. Overall, it’s been an exceptionally calm stretch with less than a 1% move for the S&P 500 in 36 out of the last 46 sessions.
Finsum: One mystery for markets in 2023 has been the steady drop in volatility despite growing risks. One potential reason may be quant funds which are aggressive buyers of stocks.
Insurers Bet Big on Fixed Income ETFs
In an article for ETFTrends, Todd Rosenbluth discussed how US insurance companies are aggressively investing in fixed income ETFs. Last year, the industry invested a total of $37 billion in ETFs. This is a small portion of the overall ETF market and the $7.9 trillion that is cumulatively managed by US insurance companies.
However, insurance companies are some of the largest holders of fixed income ETFs especially for corporate bonds according to a report from S&P Dow Jones Indices. S&P Dow Jones believes that insurers are gravitating to these products because of increased liquidity and higher yields. Additionally, these ETFs functioned well over the last couple of years despite periods of considerable market stress.
In terms of ownership, insurance companies own 14% of the iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF at year-end 2022. The average duration is 8 years with a split of A- and BBB-rated bonds.
2 more popular bond ETFs are the iShares 1-5 Year Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF andthe iShares 10+ Year Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF (IGLB). Both invest in similar products but with different durations. Each has 11% and 7% ownership by the insurance industry, respectively.
Finsum: Fixed income ETFs are becoming increasingly accepted by institutional investors. Research from S&P dow Jones shows that insurance companies are some of the largest holders.
Model Portfolios Can Help Advisors Optimize Their Practice
In an article for ETFTrends, Tidal Financial Group discussed the major challenge facing financial advisors. Clients want customized and personalized services, but growing the practice requires creating standardization of systems and processes and finding efficiencies.
These conflicting demands tend to create a lot of stress for advisors and can limit their growth and effectiveness. Too much personalized service will impede your ability to attract new clients and grow the business while too many efficiencies will lead to unsatisfied clients and ultimately retention issues.
Model portfolios can help advisors resolve this dilemma. They can help you offer more personalized services to clients without taxing an advisors’ time and resources. These models can be used for a variety of purposes such as reducing tax liabilities, values-based investing, more complex strategies, etc.
Instead of spending time on portfolio management, advisors can spend more time on marketing, client outreach, financial planning, etc. Advisors with a smaller practice may not appreciate the benefits of model portfolios until they get to a larger scale. Other benefits include simplifying client communication, leveraging research and education, and synergies between marketing and investing.
Finsum: Model portfolios are one way for advisors to become more efficient while also creating a more personalized experience for their clients.