Investment Product and Service Launches

Victory Capital expands VictoryShares ETF offerings; RetireOne and Midland National launch portfolio retirement income guarantee solution; Transamerica broadens availability of stable value option; and more.


Art by Jackson Epstein

Art by Jackson Epstein


Victory Capital Expands VictoryShares ETF Offerings

Victory Capital Holdings Inc. announced that its wholly owned investment adviser, Victory Capital Management Inc., has launched three new active exchange traded funds (ETF) under the VictoryShares brand, all of which integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria into their respective processes. The new strategies offer investors Victory Capital’s active capabilities in core plus fixed income, corporate bonds and U.S. mid-cap equities in an ETF wrapper.

“Active ETFs continue to gain traction with investors seeking to access managers who have proven successful in mutual funds and other investment vehicles,” says Mannik Dhillon, VictoryShares and Solutions president.

Two of the ETFs, VictoryShares ESG corporate bond ETF (UCRD) and VictoryShares ESG core plus bond ETF (UBND), are managed by USAA Investments, a Victory Capital investment franchise. The third ETF, VictoryShares THB mid-cap ESG ETF (MDCP), is managed by the Company’s THB Asset Management franchise.

“These new ETFs are distinct in that they combine our bond-by-bond fundamental analysis with our sophisticated, proprietary ESG scoring system,” said James Jackson, head of fixed income portfolio management for USAA Investments.

UCRD and UBND seek to provide investors with above-average income through yield-focused portfolios. UCRD offers exposure to primarily investment-grade corporate bonds and UBND offers exposure to intermediate-term bonds.

“MDCP invests in a focused, high-conviction portfolio of approximately 30 mid-cap stocks that our team believes represent high-quality, low-risk businesses with the potential to prudently grow shareholder equity over time,” said Christopher Cuesta, chief investment officer for THB Asset Management. “We are excited to bring our team’s long history of integrating ESG factors into our investment process to investors through an ETF vehicle.”

RetireOne and Midland National Launch Portfolio Retirement Income Guarantee

RetireOne and Midland National Life Insurance Company (Midland National) have announced the launch of a new, zero-commission contingent deferred annuity (CDA) called Constance. This stand-alone living benefit unbundles the annuity’s insurance component from its underlying investments. In doing so, Constance allows registered investment advisers (RIA) flexibility to wrap client brokerage accounts, individual retirement accounts (IRA) or Roth IRAs with this lifetime income protection.

“Historically, advisers have avoided annuities because they’ve been difficult to integrate into client portfolios,” says David Stone, RetireOne founder and CEO. “Through this innovative retirement solution, they can now integrate guaranteed income using institutional-priced funds and ETFs at the custodian of their choosing.”

Selected ETFs and mutual funds from BlackRock, Dimensional Fund Advisors, Franklin Templeton, Vanguard and other managers are available within Constance as investments for potential growth in addition to protected income, and many more are slated to be vetted and approved.

The firms say Constance is designed to act as a “personal pension” to transfer longevity risk to an insurance company. This also empowers advisers to help their clients navigate sequence of returns risk, return volatility risk and longevity risk, while providing guaranteed income for life.

RetireOne’s technology provides the infrastructure behind the development of Constance by consolidating data from insurance companies and custodians for ongoing servicing and administration. With Constance, advisers can help clients remain in control of their assets and tax treatment by keeping covered assets with the custodian in either qualified or non-qualified accounts. Unlike funding a traditional annuity by selling out of existing positions, advisers may cover client’s existing mutual fund or ETF investments with Constance, without enduring the impact of a capital gain tax event.

“By insuring part of a client’s portfolio with Constance, advisors can potentially increase their clients’ risk budgets, gain greater equity exposure, and possibly increase their spending power in retirement,” says Rob TeKolste, Sammons Independent Annuity Group president, a division of Midland National.

Constance is offered exclusively on the RetireOne platform.

Transamerica Expands Availability of Stable Value Option

Transamerica announced the availability of its flagship stable value option, the Transamerica Guaranteed Investment Option, on an investment-only basis. The Transamerica product is now available to almost any retirement plan provider. The option is designed to be compatible with virtually any type of employer-sponsored retirement plan.

The Transamerica Guaranteed Investment Option is a stable value product that guarantees principal and interest. The option’s objective is to provide maximum return consistent with a principal-protected product backed by the financial strength of the Transamerica Life Insurance Company general account.

“Financial advisers and plan sponsors have asked for a stable value solution that can fit any retirement plan provider’s needs. With the Transamerica Guaranteed Investment Option, we are providing that solution to the retirement marketplace as a whole,” says Bradie Barr, Transamerica Stable Value Solutions Inc. president. “This option offers safety through a full guarantee of principal and interest, supported by a portfolio of high-quality, fixed-income securities within the general account. In addition, this stable value option offers liquidity to participants, as they can withdraw or transfer funds daily at book value regardless of market conditions.”

A differentiating feature available with this product is a flexible contract holder termination option. In advance of the contract’s issuance, the plan sponsor may select the potential length of a book value termination period to align with their plan’s goals and objectives.

With this stable value option, all deposits are credited with the same interest rate daily. Crediting rates are established based on the prevailing interest rate environment at the time. The Transamerica guaranteed investment option is available to all qualified retirement plans with a minimum of $5 million in assets to transfer into the account.

Securian Financial and SageView Advisory Group Introduce Personalized Managed Account Solution

Securian Financial is expanding its retirement plan distribution relationship with SageView advisory group with the introduction of SageView Personalized Portfolios—an adviser managed account solution that maximizes personalization to manage risk and help employees of all ages reach retirement income goals.

SageView Personalized Portfolios securely leverage employee data to create an investment allocation unique to each employee. Using data already provided streamlines processes and keeps costs reasonable. Employees who want to provide additional data can do so to further personalize their allocation.

SageView works with each plan sponsor to develop an investment menu that addresses the unique needs of the company’s employee base while adhering to fiduciary best practices. From there, participants who enroll in SageView personalized portfolios receive customized asset allocations that align with their financial situations and retirement goals.

SageView partners with Stadion Money Management to ensure that participant portfolios are monitored continuously and remain suitable as finances and life circumstances change over time. All aspects of portfolio management are integrated with Securian Financial’s recordkeeping system, resulting in a seamless experience for SageView, employers and employees.

PGIM Investments Expands Alternative Investment Lineup with PGIM Wadhwani Fund

PGIM Investments has expanded its platform of alternative investment solutions with the launch of the PGIM Wadhwani systematic absolute return fund, a proprietary quantitative and systematic global macro strategy seeking long-term risk-adjusted total return. This is PGIM Investments’ first PGIM Wadhwani strategy offered as a U.S. mutual fund.

“Investors are facing a challenging market environment where stock market valuations are historically high and bond market yields are historically low. Alternative investment solutions like global macro strategies may offer a compelling way for investors to generate uncorrelated risk-adjusted returns to complement their traditional 60/40 portfolios,” says Stuart Parker, president and CEO of PGIM Investments.

The fund invests across global equities, fixed income and currencies­ either directly or by using derivatives, taking both long and short positions, to capture alpha opportunities and limit downside risk.

“With risk management integral to the way we construct portfolios, we employ an agile approach, dynamically tilting and timing our exposures and combining signals in a non-linear fashion to try to limit portfolio drawdowns,” explains Sushil Wadhwani, chief investment officer of PGIM Wadhwani and a named portfolio manager of the fund.

Wadhwani has 31 years of investment experience, which includes work in academia and the financial sector, as well as several years on the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee.

Dimensional Unveils Expanded Separately Managed Accounts Offering

Dimensional Fund Advisors unveiled the firm’s expanded separately managed accounts (SMAs) offering, which broadens access to customized Dimensional investment solutions. Dimensional’s tech-enabled platform offers personalized investment options that previously were often available only for seven and eight-figure account minimums.

Discretionary accounts that allow investors to exclude select securities within broader strategies, SMAs have long been used by ultra-high-net-worth and institutional investors with unique holdings requirements. By lowering the typical separate account minimum from more than $20 million to $500,000, Dimensional is empowering financial professionals to offer flexible solutions to a broader set of individual investors.

The new SMA platform integrates hundreds of customization options for their clients, including preferences around tax management; environmental, social and governance characteristics; and industry and security exclusions. The offering is intended to help financial professionals implement tailored solutions within well-designed, highly diversified and cost-efficient portfolios.

The firm’s SMA solutions are based on Dimensional’s core investment strategies—which begin with systematic tilts toward sources of higher expected returns, rather than commercial indices that are often the starting point for direct-indexing products.

“The future of wealth management will be marked by continued personalization of investments and client service,” suggests Dimensional Co-CEO Dave Butler. “Our expanded SMA offering is a natural extension of Dimensional’s investment process delivered in a customizable vehicle, and it furthers our aim to offer more choice in how financial professionals serve their clients.”

Riskalyze and Allianz Life Form Strategic Alliance on Annuity Technology and Analytics

Riskalyze has announced a new partnership with Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (Allianz Life).

As part of this relationship, Allianz Life will be featured in the Riskalyze partner store, and platform coverage of its index variable annuity (IVA) and fixed-index annuity (FIA) products will be enhanced with rich data updates on a regular basis. The Riskalyze partner store is where advisers can tap into the key materials, research and strategies from some of the industry’s leading firms. In addition, Allianz Life has purchased licenses for its retirement and risk management consultants across the country to utilize Riskalyze when working with financial professionals.

“We’re thrilled to establish this new partnership with Riskalyze to help demonstrate how Allianz Life products can help people manage risks to their retirement security,” says Corey Walther, president, Allianz Life Financial Services LLC. “With our annuity products available in the Riskalyze partner store, financial professionals will be better able to position and validate these products as an important risk-management component within a broader, more holistic financial plan.”

The relationship between Riskalyze and Allianz Life will help aid financial professionals in evaluating Allianz Life’s annuity offerings that can help mitigate market risk and ascertain allocation recommendations.

“Our partnership with Allianz Life is such an important part of empowering people to build their retirement security, and we’re excited to expand our work with them today,” adds Aaron Klein, founder and CEO at Riskalyze. “From the ability to access modern risk analytics and portfolio analysis, to every user of our platform getting enhanced coverage of these innovative Allianz Life products, this partnership is a win-win for both firms.”

PGIM Investments Expands ESG Line

PGIM Investments is expanding its commitment to ESG investing with the launch of the PGIM ESG Total Return Bond Fund, its first dedicated ESG strategy offered to U.S. investors. The new fund is an alternative but complementary offering to PGIM’s $60 billion PGIM Total Return Bond Fund.

The fund seeks total return by investing in a diversified portfolio of bonds across multiple fixed-income sectors, emphasizing issuers with stronger ESG characteristics and practices than traditional intermediate core-plus bond portfolios.

The fund is managed by an experienced team of PGIM Fixed Income portfolio managers including Gregory Peters, Robert Tipp, Michael Collins, Richard Piccirillo and Lindsay Rosner, averaging 27 years’ investment experience.

PGIM Fixed Income’s methodology begins with an exclusionary screen and then utilizes a proprietary scoring methodology to assign ESG impact ratings and construct the fund’s portfolio.

“As one of the largest fixed income fund providers, we recognize the increased demand from clients for optionality between traditional and ESG investment strategies,” says Stuart Parker, president and CEO of PGIM Investments. “With this launch, we are pleased to offer our clients the ability to express their values and beliefs through their investments, while continuing to deliver on the rigorous investment standards PGIM Fixed Income is known for.”

ProShares Launches Three New Thematic ETFs

ProShares has announced the launch of three new thematic ETFs, including the ProShares S&P Kensho Smart Factories ETF (MAKX), the ProShares Big Data Refiners ETF (DAT) and the ProShares S&P Kensho Cleantech ETF (CTEX).

According to the firm, each ETF is designed to offer investors exposure to a rapidly changing industry, from the automation of manufacturing, to enhanced analytics and big data processing, to powering the transition to clean energy.

Nuveen Enhances Real Assets Platform

Nuveen enhancing its real assets platform by bringing together its private real asset capabilities and launching two new business units, with the goal of creating a more streamlined approach as investors seek to increase exposure to real assets and alternatives.

The newly structured platform will consist of capabilities in real estate, farmland, infrastructure, timberland, agribusiness and commodities. These will be organized under three core pillars, including two newly launched units: Nuveen Natural Capital and Nuveen Infrastructure. These two pillars will sit alongside Nuveen’s real estate line and will be enhanced by targeted and complementary capabilities across Nuveen’s private impact and commodities lines.

“The strengthening of the platform represents the next step in our evolution in becoming the leading land-based asset manager, investing in a sustainable way for the enduring benefit of our clients and society,” says Nuveen CEO of Real Assets Mike Sales.