Investment Products and Service Launches

Ascensus Enhances Managed Accounts Services with Morningstar; Goldman Sachs Launches New ETF; Pacific Life Releases New Index; and more.

Ascensus Enhances Managed Accounts Services with Morningstar

Ascensus, an independent retirement plan and college savings provider, has partnered with the investment-research firm Morningstar to unroll a series on enhancements to its managed accounts to help employees easily implement a personalized retirement savings strategy.

Managed accounts use personal data—including age, marital status, income, gender, state of residence, savings rate, and current account balance—to offer employees personalized retirement strategies tailored to their goals. Now, education specialists can also guide participants through the retirement planning process and describe the managed account service. The new managed accounts can deliver savings rates and investment recommendations, intuitive progress reports, and ongoing account oversight from Morningstar’s investment professionals.

Users can speak to one of these specialists over the phone or visit their retirement account websites to enroll through its Learning Center.

“Ascensus continues to enhance our services to ensure that employees have the knowledge and support they need to save for a comfortable retirement,” says Steve Schaitberger, vice president of participant services at Ascensus. “Through the introduction of experienced education specialists, we hope to help more employees have convenient access to Morningstar’s managed account service to implement a retirement strategy that is as personal as their savings goals.”

NEXT: Goldman Sachs Launches New ETF

Goldman Sachs Launches New ETF

Goldman Sachs Asset Management has announced the launch its new exchange-traded fund (ETF) called Goldman Sachs TreasuryAccess 0-1 ETF (Ticker: GBIL).

The firm says it’s the first ETF to offer same-day settlement of creations and redemptions in the short-term U.S. Treasury market.

GBIL will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Arca on September 8 with $20 million in assets. The cost to institutional investors is 14 basis points (bps). GBIL seeks to track the Citi US Treasury 0-1 Year Composite Select Index, which is designed to measure the performance of U.S. Treasury Obligations with a maximum remaining maturity of one year.

The firm says this ETF will provide daily liquidity and real-time cash redemption for the Treasury market to the firm’s institutional and banking clients; and deliver investors seeking incremental yield for their cash a Treasury investment option with longer duration than cash and full Bill curve access.

"The bond trading environment has become more complicated” explains Michael Crinieri, GSAM's global head of ETF strategies. “We wanted our first fixed-income ETF to provide investors a low-cost way to obtain the credit quality and income they look for in the Treasury markets, but with greater transparency and ease of use”

GBIL will be jointly managed by GSAM’s Liquidity Solutions team and its Quantitative Investment Strategies team. The Liquidity Solutions team has managed money market and short-duration strategies since 1988 and has more than $350 billion under management globally. The Quantitative Investment Strategies team was founded in 1989 and manages more than $83 billion globally.

GBIL offers flexibility to the ETF market’s key liquidity providers, called “authorized participants”- creations or redemptions of shares may settle within hours instead of days.

“We believe ETFs will continue to become a preferred vehicle for Treasury investing given the unprecedented level of demand for Treasuries as a result of recent regulation,” says Christina Kopec, head of product strategy for global fixed income.

NEXT: Pacific Life Releases New Index

Pacific Life Releases New Index

Pacific Life Insurance Company has launched Pacific Index Edge. The firm calls this new deferred, fixed indexed annuity the first to utilize the BlackRock Endura Index—a new volatility-controlled index.

“Pacific Index Edge brings together a new index from BlackRock, and a new opportunity for principal protection and market-based growth from Pacific Life,” says Christine Tucker, vice president of marketing for Pacific Life’s Retirement Solutions Division. “With four simple but diverse interest-crediting options to choose from, clients have opportunities for growth potential in various market environments.”

Pacific Life says this index is composed of U.S. equities that seek to have lower volatility compared to the broader U.S. equity market. It uses short-term U.S. Treasury bonds to help lessen downside risk. The index also seeks to minimize portfolio volatility to help deliver steady long-term growth.

“We are excited that Pacific Life is the first to launch a fixed indexed annuity with our BlackRock Endura Index,” says Hilary Corman, managing director at BlackRock. “The launch of this index demonstrates BlackRock’s commitment to innovation and working with clients to help solve their investment challenges.”

To complement the interest-crediting option based on the BlackRock Endura Index, Pacific Index Edge also offers two options based on the Standard and Poor (S&P) 500 index.

Pacific Index Edge is available with a choice of one of two optional benefits, available for an additional cost, depending on client goals. For lifetime income, there is the new Interest Enhanced Income Benefit, an optional guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefit. For clients who would like to leave a financial legacy to loved ones, there is Interest Enhanced Death Benefit, an optional death benefit.

“With the addition of Pacific Index Edge, Pacific Life now has a selection of fixed indexed annuities for a variety of client scenarios,” says Tucker. “This product is specifically designed to enhance the growth potential on the front end, and when paired with one of the optional benefits, a lifetime income or an enhanced death benefit for beneficiaries on the back end.”

NEXT: Morningstar To Launch Analyst Ratings for ETFs

Morningstar To Launch Analyst Ratings for ETFs

Investment-research firm Morningstar has announced the release of its Morningstar Analyst Rating to global exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The company will also combine ETFs and open-end funds into the same peer group when calculating its quantitative, backward-looking Morningstar Rating for funds.

The firm says both enhancements will allow investors to more easily compare investments across fund types. "Investors increasingly see open-end funds and ETFs as interchangeable options when choosing investments,” explains Ben Johnson, Morningstar’s director of global ETF research. “By combining them into the same peer group, investors can more easily compare investments regardless of the product structure. Assigning the qualitative Morningstar Analyst Rating to ETFs will help investors assess an ETF's future prospects based on the fundamental research our analysts conduct. These enhancements will better support advisers and other financial intermediaries in light of increasingly stringent regulatory requirements such as the U.S. Department of Labor's fiduciary rule. Our independent research and ratings, which we've been providing to investors for more than 30 years, will continue to aid due diligence efforts and serve investors' best interests."

Morningstar says it will assign Analyst Ratings to approximately 300 ETFs later this year and will continue to add Analyst Ratings for ETFs over time.

The Morningstar Analyst Rating is a qualitative rating that signals Morningstar analysts' conviction in a fund's ability to outperform relevant peers, including both mutual funds and ETFs, on a risk-adjusted basis over a full market cycle. The Morningstar Analyst Rating follows a five-tiered scale: Gold, Silver, Bronze, Neutral, and Negative. Analysts arrive at a rating through an assessment of five key pillars which are parent, people, performance, price, and process.

The new Analyst Ratings for ETFs will be available in Morningstar's flagship platforms for investors, including individual investor website, global investment analysis platform Morningstar Direct, and global practice and portfolio management solutions Morningstar Advisor Workstation and Morningstar Office. The Analyst Ratings for ETFs are also available for licensing through Morningstar Data.

More information including data and methodology for Analyst Ratings on ETFs can be found online here. Morningstar's Johnson will host a webinar about the Analyst Rating for ETFs on Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 1 p.m. CT. To register, click here.

NEXT: Northern Trust Adds Next Generation Trading Platform

Northern Trust Adds Next Generation Trading Platform
The Northern Trust Corporation, an asset-management services provider, has enhanced its 
Global Securities lending capabilities with a Next Generation Trading platform by Equilend. This addition will allow the firm to optimize its lending performance through increased customization and enhanced automation with borrowers, Northern Trust says. 

Global Securities Lending is Northern Trust’s single, multi-currency system for managing the securities lending process. With the integration of Next Generation Trading, the availability of securities is communicated in real time and can be tailored to meet a borrower’s specific needs, Northern Trust says. Next Generation Trading is currently live in Northern Trust’s 54 global fixed income and equity markets.

“Northern Trust has been committed to EquiLend's Next Generation Trading platform from the planning stages through to the global rollout of the platform,” says Dow Veeranarong, global product owner of EquiLend.  “As firms such as Northern Trust migrate their securities finance trading activity to Next Generation Trading, they benefit from increased trade-level transparency and improved workflow automation while generating greater efficiencies for the market.” 

EquiLend is a securities lending technology and market data provider owned by a group of 10 leading financial institutions, including Northern Trust.