Investment Product and Service Launches

Vontobel expands retirement plan offerings; Brooklyn Investment Group and Apex to launch A.I.-powered unified managed account platform; BlackRock updates multifactor ETF suite; and more.

By DJ Shaw
Art by Jackson Epstein

Art by Jackson Epstein

Vontobel Expands Retirement Plan Offerings

Vontobel has partnered with SEI Trust Company to deliver a suite of collective investment trusts. The new offering expands investor access to the high-conviction, long-only equity strategies of Vontobel’s quality growth boutique.

Since 1988, the quality growth boutique has followed a consistent investment philosophy rooted in rigorous research and a disciplined process. It also features an ESG-integrated approach. The 21-person team seeks to invest in stable and sustainable growth businesses, with the goal of providing absolute returns that beat the benchmark while exposing its investors to less risk through the economic cycle.

The boutique has six investment strategies, which are currently offered in several vehicles, including mutual funds and separate accounts. With SEI Trust Company as the CIT trustee, the new offering consists of four strategies: the Vontobel International Equity Trust, the Vontobel Global Equity Trust, the Vontobel Emerging Markets Equity Trust and the Vontobel U.S. Equity Trust.

BlackRock Updates Multifactor ETF Suite

BlackRock has implemented changes to the iShares Multifactor suite, bringing enhanced systematic multifactor investing capabilities to the foundation of portfolio construction. The iShares U.S. Equity Factor ETF and the iShares International Equity Factor ETF have both been updated.

The iShares U.S. Equity Factor ETF seeks to track the investment results of an index composed of U.S. large- and mid-cap stocks that have favorable exposure to target style factors, subject to constraints. The iShares International Equity Factor ETF seeks to track the investment results of an index composed of global developed market large- and mid-cap stocks, excluding the United States, that have favorable exposure to target style factors, subject to constraints.

“Our multifactor ETFs of mid- and large-cap stocks enforce balanced, consistent positioning to five historically rewarded factors at a low cost,” says Lukas Smart, managing director, head of U.S. iShares sustainable and factors at BlackRock. “Integrating factors can increase opportunities for incremental returns and be a differentiating strategy for core holdings used for long-term goals such as retirement.”

According to the firm, the use of factors allows investors to look beyond standard market exposures, as factors utilize characteristics such as value, quality, momentum, low size and low volatility to drive performance.

iJoin Launches Individualized Glide Path Solution

iJoin and Nexus338 have announced the launch of iGPS on iJoin’s managed account marketplace.

Nexus338’s individualized glide path solution combines the important attributes of personalization available through a managed account platform with an investment strategy that leverages cost-efficient target-date funds. Nexus338 has selected PIMCO to provide the personalized glide path construction methodology and its target-date CITs as investment options.

iGPS seeks to make personalization at scale a reality by individualizing glide paths for individual plan participants rather than via a universal glide path solving for the retirement income needs of an average participant.

iJoin makes participant data accessible to inform the application of PIMCO’s risk-allocation methodology and investment strategy to personalize retirement portfolios, says Nexus338 founder and architect of iGPS, Philip Chao. The firm aims to put personalized, goal-based enrollment and post-enrollment features, engagement tools, employer success reporting and managed account options in the hands of financial advisers.

Hartford Funds Launches Two New Mutual Funds

Hartford Funds has announced the launch of two actively managed mutual funds with primary exposure to international equities.

The new funds are the Hartford Schroders Sustainable International Core Fund and the Hartford Schroders International Contrarian Value Fund. Both funds will be sub-advised by Schroder Investment Management North America Inc. and Schroder Investment Management North America Ltd. will serve as secondary sub-adviser.

The Hartford Schroders Sustainable International Core Fund seeks long-term capital appreciation by investing primarily in international and emerging markets equities that meet Schroders’ sustainability criteria. To achieve this objective, the investment team aims to construct a diversified portfolio where stock selection is the primary driver of alpha; they will seek mispriced opportunities across a multitude of industries and regions. At the same time, the team strives to build a portfolio that has a positive impact on society by investing in companies that they believe have best-in-class stakeholder behaviors. Schroders’ proprietary sustainability criteria, which includes a framework that incorporates environmental, social and governance measures, helps the investment team determine a company’s societal impact.

The actively managed fund’s performance benchmark will be the MSCI All Country World Index Ex-U.S. Schroders’ Nicholette MacDonald-Brown serves as the fund’s portfolio manager, and she is supported by regional portfolio managers Scott MacLennan, Manish Bhatia and Kazuhiro Toyoda, who are based in London, Hong Kong and Tokyo, respectively.

The Hartford Schroders International Contrarian Value Fund utilizes a pure contrarian deep-value style, resulting in a portfolio that is unconstrained and concentrated with high active share. In managing the fund, the investment team seeks stocks that are significantly undervalued relative to their long-term earnings potential, and focuses on identifying out-of-favor stocks which have low valuations but are considered to have resilient earnings and/or misunderstood balance sheets. The team integrates financially material ESG characteristics such as climate change, environmental performance, labor standards and corporate governance into their investment process.

The actively managed fund’s performance benchmark will be the MSCI EAFE Value Index. The fund’s investment management team consists of portfolio managers Nick Kirrage, Simon Alder and Liam Nunn, who are part of the Schroders global value team.

Brooklyn Investment Group and Apex to Launch A.I.-Powered Unified Managed Account Platform

Brooklyn Investment Group LLC and Apex Fintech Solutions Inc. have announced a new offering that will enable a unified investor experience across traditional and digital assets. Brooklyn extends the concept of direct indexing by enabling personalization of portfolios at the individual client level. The solution will soon be available to independent financial advisers powered by Apex subsidiaries, Apex Clearing and Apex Crypto.

Apex empowers financial advisers to manage visibility across a client’s total financial picture, as it integrates crypto and fractional capabilities through its cryptocurrency and equities custody solutions.