Displaying items by tag: inflows

Assets in model portfolios grew by nearly 50% over the last 2 years. By fully or partially outsourcing the investment management function, it frees up more time for advisors to focus on building their practice, client service, financial planning, and prospecting. According to a recent survey from Cerulli, 12% of advisors are using model portfolios primarily, with 22% using a hybrid approach. 

In addition to benefiting advisors, model portfolios have become a major distribution channel for asset managers such as Blackrock. Among asset managers, Blackrock has the most assets in model portfolios at $84 billion. Blackrock anticipates model portfolio assets exceeding $10 trillion within the next 5 years, more than doubling from $4.2 trillion currently. Model portfolios comprised 50% of flows from US investors into iShares ETFs last year.

WisdomTree is another major beneficiary of the boom in model portfolios. Last year, the company saw a 100% increase in the number of advisors using its model and had asset growth of 40%. It sees model portfolios as a ‘key growth driver’ for the firm in the coming years.

As model portfolios become a larger presence in wealth management, there will be large shifts of flows in and out of various ETFs depending on decisions made by asset managers. For instance, JPMorgan found that ETFs that were held in its model portfolios had significantly more inflows than ETFs not in model portfolios, at $80 billion vs. $30 billion. 

Finsum: Model portfolios are forecast to exceed $10 trillion in assets within the next 5 years. They are becoming increasingly integral for advisors and asset managers. 

Published in Wealth Management
Saturday, 18 May 2024 12:54

Fixed Income ETF Flows Pick Up in April

April was marked by a mean reversion as robust inflation data and continued economic resilience dampened expectations of Fed dovishness later this year. As a result, flows into equity ETFs dropped from $106 billion in March to $41 billion in April. 

In contrast, flows surged into fixed income ETFs, increasing more than 60% to $27.4 billion. Lower-risk government bond ETFs attracted the most inflows at $10.1 billion, which was the highest since October of last year. Within the category, short and intermediate-term Treasuries captured the most inflows. 

In the US, flows into fixed-income ETFs were greater than equity ETF flows, at $15.2 billion vs. $14.1 billion. Scott Chronert, the global head of ETF research at Citi, noted “US-listed ETF flows decelerated this month against a generally risk-off backdrop. Underlying trends also pointed to more cautious positioning. Fixed income led all asset classes, but the gains were skewed towards core products, shorter durations, and Treasuries.”

Until something material changes in regard to inflation or the economy, it’s likely that investors will continue to favor ETFs that benefit from short-term rates remaining higher for longer. 

Finsum: Fixed income inflows into ETFs sharply increased in April, while equity inflows declined. This was a downstream effect of reduced expectations of Fed rate cuts in the second half of the year due to an uptick in inflation.

Published in Bonds: Total Market
Thursday, 04 April 2024 13:11

Active ETF Inflows Reach New Heights in March

In March, inflows into active ETFs reached a new monthly record of $26 billion. It’s somewhat counterintuitive given the strong performance of global equity markets, which tend to favor flows into passive funds. 

For the first quarter, total inflows into active ETFs reached $64 billion, a new quarterly record. YTD, 32% of ETF inflows have been into active ETFs, despite accounting for only 7% of total ETF assets. Based on the current pace, active ETF inflows should exceed $200 billion this year, a more than 50% increase from last year’s record of $130 billion.

A key factor behind the growth of active ETFs is a desire to reduce exposure to mega cap tech stocks, which account for an increasingly large share of popular market-cap, weighted indices. And this has only been exacerbated in Q1, with these stocks tacking on double-digit gains. 

Additionally, there are concerns that financial markets could get choppier given uncertainty around monetary policy and the economy. This is leading many market watchers to believe that we are shifting to a new market environment, which should favor lagging stocks and stock-picking strategies over passively holding indices. According to Noah Damsky of Marina Wealth Advisors, “We think a more active approach is appropriate as we anticipate more choppy markets with upcoming rate cuts by the Fed. We’re making active tilts in our portfolio to laggards such as health care, and over time we anticipate increasing exposure to utilities as rate cuts draw nearer.”

Finsum: Inflows into active ETFs reached new records in March and the first quarter. Active ETFs account for only 7% of total assets. So, it’s impressive and telling that 32% of ETF inflows were into active ETFs in Q1.  

Published in Wealth Management
Friday, 23 February 2024 03:16

Here’s Why High-Yield Bonds Are Outperforming

Recent economic data and tea leaves from Fed officials have resulted in more challenging conditions for fixed income. Essentially, there is much less certainty about the timing and direction of the Fed’s next move as economic data and inflation have been more robust than expected. 


According to Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street, this presents an opportunity with high-yield bonds given that yields are at attractive levels while a strong economy indicates that defaults will remain low. So far this year, high-yield bonds have outperformed with a slight positive return, while the iShares Core US Aggregate Bond ETF (AGG) and Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (BND) are down YTD.


This is a contrarian trade as high-yield bond ETFs have had $387 million of outflows YTD, while fixed income ETFs have had $2.8 billion of net inflows YTD. It’s also a way for fixed income investors to bet that the US economy continues to defy skeptics and avoid a recession despite the Fed’s aggressive rate hikes. 


Currently, high-yield bonds have an average spread of 338 basis points vs Treasuries. Many of the most popular high-yield ETFs have effective durations between 3 and 4 years which means there is less rate risk. Spreads have remained relatively tight and could widen in the event of the economy slowing. 

Finsum: High-yield ETFs are offering an interesting opportunity given attractive yields. This segment of the fixed income market also is benefiting from recently strong economic data which indicates that default rates will remain low.


Published in Bonds: Total Market

Passive fixed income inflows have accelerated in recent years, yet the category still trails passive equity strategies in terms of market share and adoption. Over the last decade, passive equity funds have become the dominant way in which investors get exposure to equities. Currently, passive equity funds account for 45% of global funds, while fixed income accounts for 24%. In terms of the global market, passive equity funds account for 19%, while passive fixed income comprises just 2%.


S&P Dow Jones Indices anticipates that we will see increased adoption of passive fixed income strategies over the next decade, similar to how passive took over the equity landscape. Already, inflows and market share of passive fixed income strategies are growing at a faster rate than equities. 


It should be noted that bond index funds in ETF form didn’t arrive until 2002, while equity ETFs launched in 199 and there are a limited number of fixed income benchmarks relative to equities. It’s also more difficult to replicate a bond index given that they tend to have thousands of securities, higher trading costs, more turnover, and require higher levels of oversight given maturation dates, defaults, credit rating changes, and new issues. Overall, it requires about 10 times more trades to track a fixed income benchmark than an equity benchmark. 

Finsum: Passive fixed income flows have accelerated in the last couple of years due to attractive yields. Here’s why some see the category exploding over the next decade, similar to passive equities, and what’s held it back.


Published in Bonds: Total Market
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