Investment Products and Service Launches

Morgan Stanley Releases Gender Diversity Toolkit; Northern Trust Launches Goal Engineer Series for IRAs; OppenheimerFunds Launches Semi-Custom TDF Program for Advisers; and more. 


Morgan Stanley Releases Gender Diversity Toolkit

Morgan Stanley Wealth Management has released its Gender Diversity Tool Kit, which is designed to help the firm’s financial advisers develop tailored investment strategies for individual and institutional clients looking to integrate gender diversity criteria into their investment portfolios.

“We are pleased to provide our clients with this latest Tool Kit,” says Lily Scott Trager, Director of Investing with Impact for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. “As an investment opportunity, gender diversity is about identifying the ways in which achieving balance in representation, empowerment and economic opportunity is material for financial outcomes. With the support of a Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor, investors can take actionable steps toward incorporating gender diversity into investment decisions in a variety of ways.”

Morgan Stanley says investors can minimize exposure to companies with poor gender diversity records, which may reduce exposure to certain long-term risks within a portfolio, or provide investors with a mechanism to align their investments with a core value or social mission. The firm adds, “For some investors, it is important to identify companies with leading gender diversity records as a means of achieving both financial return alongside greater gender balance or equality.”

“Within each of these approaches across the framework, there are opportunities for investors to generate financial return while creating a social impact,” Morgan Stanley explains. “Examples include investments in companies with greater representation of women on Boards of Directors and in senior leadership, and in funds focused on women’s health care solutions or increasing access to capital for women entrepreneurs in developing countries.”

More information about Morgan Stanley’s Gender Diversity Tool Kit can be fund online here

NEXT: Schroders Acquires Brookfield Investment Management’s Securities Team

Schroders Acquires Brookfield Investment Management’s Securities Team

Global asset manager Schroders announced that it has completed its acquisition of Brookfield Investment Management’s securitized products investment management team.

The team of eleven individuals led by Michelle Russell-Dowe, Head of Securitized Credit, will join Schroders in overseeing more than $8 billion in assets.

“Since the announcement of this acquisition in May, we have been working closely alongside our partners at Brookfield, and Michelle and her team to ensure a seamless transition for their existing client base,” says Karl Dasher CEO North America and Co-Head of Fixed Income at Schroders. “We have received a very favorable response from those clients with over 98% of the acquired client assets consenting to the transition, with in excess of $4.3 billion transitioning over. We also have received shareholder approval to sub advise two closed end funds for Brookfield with an additional $770 million under management and have received indications of near term additional investments of more than $1 billion across the acquired strategies. This acquisition reinforces our commitment to strengthening our investment capabilities in areas of secular demand. Michelle and her team’s expertise in securitized markets is an important strategic addition in our quest to deliver higher return opportunities within fixed income for both U.S. and non-U.S. investors.” 

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

NEXT: Northern Trust Launches Goal Engineer Series for IRAs

Northern Trust Launches Goal Engineer Series for IRAs

Northern Trust Asset Management is rolling out its Goal Engineer Series of target-date managed accounts in response to growing demand for robust individual retirement account (IRA) solutions. This series of seven portfolios is aimed at investors who are either saving for retirement or managing their investments in retirement, the firm says. 

The Goal Engineer Series uses a diversified asset allocation framework and Northern Trust’s investment glidepath, which aims to minimize the effects of market volatility by automatically adjusting the investment mix from more aggressive to more conservative as the target date draws near.

The series utilizes factor-based equity strategies, fixed income investments, and inflation-sensitive securities. The growth component of these portfolios uses Engineered Equity, Northern Trust’s targeted equity exposure strategy that focuses on such factors as value, low volatility, quality, and size. “Through equity factor exposures, this method can provide greater consistency, less risk and added transparency, as well as the potential for higher returns with less risk compared to traditional equity indexing,” Northern Trust says.

“Unlike traditional target-date funds in which all the asset classes are contained within one fund, Goal Engineer is a separately managed account investing in Northern Trust products to gain multi-asset class exposure,” Northern Trust explains. “This structure provides enhanced transparency into the asset allocation. Additionally, it provides flexibility in the event investment objectives change in the future.”

Goal Engineer is available to individual investors through registered investment advisers. More information can be found online here.

NEXT: Elkhorn Investments Rolls Out Its First Commodity ETF 

Elkhorn Investments Rolls Out Its First Commodity ETF

Elkhorn Investments has launched the Elkhorn Fundamental Commodity Strategy exchange-traded fund (ETF), which it describes as the first ETF based on Research Affiliates’ fundamental research.

“Commodities are a forgotten asset class in today’s market,” says Ben Fulton, founder and CEO of Elkhorn. “As a result, product innovation has lagged that of other asset classes for the better part of a decade. Together with Research Affiliates, we are excited to create a better way for investors to access the broader commodity market in an ETF without a K-1 tax form.”

The Elkhorn Fundamental Commodity Strategy ETF is an actively-managed ETF that seeks to provide investment returns that are highly correlated to the Dow Jones RAFI Commodity Index by investing in exchange-traded commodity futures contracts and other commodity-linked instruments, the firm explains. The Dow Jones RAFI Commodity Index offers an alternative beta strategy that uses price momentum and roll yield to outperform the broad market. The ETF is designed to be a fundamental factor-weighted, broad-market commodity strategy with a modified dynamic roll.

The fund’s assets will also be invested in a short duration portfolio of highly-liquid, high-quality bonds to collateralize exposure and target a total return which exceeds that of the Dow Jones RAFI Commodity Index, according to Elkhorn Investments.

Rob Arnott, chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Research Affiliates says, “Much is made of smart beta strategies within equities and increasingly bonds. The need for smart beta strategies within broad commodities, however, has largely been overlooked. We believe commodities can be a powerful inflation hedge and diversifier. Commodities can also offer excellent long-term return potential, especially from current levels, especially if the index rebalances against fads and bubbles.”

The Elkhorn Fundamental Commodity Strategy ETF is one of two actively-managed, commodity-based ETFs that the company recently launched. The second is the Elkhorn Commodity Rotation Strategy ETF. The firm’s ETF lineup also includes the Elkhorn S&P High Quality Preferred ETF. 

More information about the Elkhorn Fundamental Commodity Strategy ETF can be found online here

NEXT: OppenheimerFunds Launches Semi-Custom TDF Program

OppenheimerFunds Launches Semi-Custom TDF Program

Global asset manager OppenheimerFunds is rolling out its (k)ustom Advisor Program designed to provide plan advisers for defined contribution (DC) retirement plans with a framework for implementing semi-custom target-date funds (TDF)s into their plans’ investment offerings.  

These investment vehicles are essentially TDFs designed to give plan sponsors greater control over asset selections as well as allocation adjustments, while leveraging the help of recordkeepers and third-party administrators (TPA)s, Oppenheimer explains.

The company says its program will allow plan sponsors to evaluate a 401(k) plans’ participant demographics and underlying investments, while also managing fiduciary responsibility. The program consists of webinars, adviser-focused checklists, guide discussions and other resources.

"Seventy-five percent of 401(k) plans today offer pre-packaged target-date funds,” says Kathleen Beichert, head of Retirement at OppenheimerFunds. “While appealing for their simplicity, these funds may not be flexible enough to meet the diverse needs of an entire workforce. At the same time, while fully custom TDFs can offer greater control, they potentially add administrative responsibilities for the plan sponsor. We believe that semi-custom TDFs can provide the best of both worlds, enabling sponsors to offer tailored retirement plan solutions while easing much of the administrative burden for themselves."

Global research firm Cerulli Associates projects that assets in custom and semi-custom TDFs could reach $218 billion by the end of 2016. But with the greater adoption of these investment instruments also comes a greater fiduciary responsibility. The Department of Labor (DOL) has encouraged the considerations of custom solutions in retirement plans, which may account for deeper examination of investment performance and underlying fund fees.

"As adoption of TDFs increases, we want to help educate DC plan sponsors about the fiduciary requirements and best practices associated with implementing them. For example, sponsors would have less latitude to remove underperforming funds in a pre-packaged TDF than they would in a semi-custom TDF," says Paul Temple, East Coast National Retirement Sales at OppenheimerFunds. "In addition, by boosting advisers' knowledge of this next generation retirement plan offering, we can help enhance their conversations with clients, enabling them to maintain and grow their retirement practices."

More information about the (k)ustom Advisor Program can be found online here