Investment Products and Services Launches

BRI Launches Small Cap Index Powered by Wilshire; First Trust Launches Equity Index ETF; Vanguard Updates Benchmarks for Bond Funds; and more.
BRI Launches Small Cap Index Powered by Wilshire

The BRI Quality Small Cap Index Powered by Wilshire provides an enhanced beta benchmark for U.S. small cap equities. It uses a systematic, rules-based approach to create a portfolio of U.S. small-cap equities. The enhanced factor beta is unique to the stocks of small-capitalized companies. The index also leverages various selection criteria metrics to avoid stocks that are unprofitable, stocks that are the most volatile, and stocks that have the highest short-interest.

“The new BRI Quality Small Cap Index delivers enhanced beta returns previously available only through active strategies for a fraction of the cost,” says BRI Founder Adam Brass. “Investors and asset managers are deeply engaged in debate about alpha, beta, smart beta and passive versus active strategies. At BRI we have a clear focus. We are raising the bar on outdated passive market beta investments to deliver enhanced performance to investors.”

He adds, “Hundreds of billions of dollars have shifted from active strategies to passive index investing for good reason: nearly 85% of active managers consistently underperform their benchmark. Now investors can get the benefits of active in a passive product.”

The index is owned and was created by BRI Partners.

“Aligned with Wilshire as our index consultant and calculation agent, our objective to create a family of indexes that deliver enhanced beta on both traditional long-only and absolute return strategies continues to build,” says Brass.

For more information about the newly launched BRI index, visit

NEXT: First Trust Launches Equity Index ETF

First Trust Launches Equity Index ETF

The First Trust Dow 30 Equal Weight ETF [exchange-traded fund] seeks investment results that generally correspond to the price and yield, before fees and expenses, of the Dow Jones Industrial Average Equal Weight Index.

“The Dow Jones Industrial Average has been an important barometer for blue-chip US stocks,” says Ryan Issakainen, senior vice president, ETF strategist at First Trust. "The DJIA is a price-weighted index, comprised of 30 well-known, mega-cap companies. In contrast, the DJIA Equal Weight Index gives the same weight to each of the 30 constituents, allowing all companies to contribute equally, regardless of their price, which we believe may significantly reduce stock specific risk relative to price weighting. We believe that the equally weighted version of this index is a noteworthy enhancement for ETF investors, in comparison to the traditional price-weighted version of the index.”

S&P Dow Jones Indices expressed a similar sentiment: “We are excited to license the Dow Jones Industrial Average Equal Weight Index to First Trust Advisors,” says Joe Kairen, senior director, Strategy Indices at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The equal-weighted design of the index allows for each of the 30 companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, an iconic indicator of investor sentiment for more than 120 years, to have the same effect on its performance.”

NEXT: Vanguard Updates Benchmarks for Bond Funds

Vanguard Updates Benchmarks for Bond Funds

Vanguard announced plans to change the target benchmarks of three government bond index funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to pure Treasury indexes.

The Vanguard Short-Term Government Bond Index Fund and ETF, Vanguard Intermediate-Term Government Bond Index Fund and ETF, and Vanguard Long-Term Government Bond Index Fund and ETF are expected to transition from Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Government Float-Adjusted indexes to Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Treasury Float Adjusted indexes in the fourth quarter of this year.

“Following the transition, the funds will offer investors pure exposure to discrete segments of the U.S. Treasury market and provide them the flexibility to tailor their bond portfolios to reflect their risk and return objectives,” says Greg Davis, Vanguard’s chief investment officer. “In addition, with the greater liquidity in the Treasury market, we expect that the bid-ask spreads on the funds’ ETF shares will be considerably lower.”

Advisers, institutions, and individual investors will have a choice of index or active options in a range of maturities covering the corporate and U.S. Treasury market.

“Vanguard will continue to look for opportunities to broaden our bond ETF lineup with products that meet a durable and long-term investment need,” says Davis. The firm notes that despite a low-yield environment, bonds can play a critical role as a diversifier in investors’ portfolios.

John Hollyer, global head of Vanguard Fixed Income Group adds: “We believe bonds are an important component of a balanced portfolio, and investors should have exposure to both domestic and international bonds. Investors should also pay close attention to costs, as the impact of fees is amplified in a low-yield market environment.”

Vanguard expects no changes to the funds’ expense ratios and minimal, if any, capital gains realizations as a result of the transition.

NEXT: USA Financial Adds Asset Managers to Platform

USA Financial Adds Asset Managers to Platform

USA Financial Exchange has added Horizon Investments and Flexible Plan Investments to its list of asset managers on its turnkey asset management program (TAMP). The TAMP makes available dozens of institutionally managed investment strategies through a unified management account (UMA).­

Both firms expand USA Financial’s list of asset managers, which includes BTS Asset Management, Symmetry Partners and USA Financial Portformulas, among others.

“We’re not looking to add asset managers for the sake of adding managers,” says Matt McGrew, chief operations officer of USA Financial. “Our primary goal is to add managers with strategies that complement one another in the asset-management equation and are willing participants in partnering with us to educate and explain how their strategies work within an investment portfolio. Horizon and FPI each have a unique set of strategies that we’ve made available on the platform including some income-based solutions, as well as socially responsible and faith-based strategies."

NEXT: Voya Cuts Fees on Large-Cap Growth Fund

Voya Cuts Fees on Large-Cap Growth Fund

Voya Investment Management has slashed management fees and total expense ratios across all share classes of its Large-Cap Growth Fund.

The firm has also eliminated all waivers except for the one on Class I shares. In addition, 12b-1 fees for Class A shares have dropped from 0.35% to 0.25%. Across all share classes, the fund’s management fees have declined from 0.80% to 0.51%.

"On a regular basis, Voya's Product Team evaluates fees across our entire product line-up, relative to peers," says Jake Tuzza, managing director and head of Intermediary Distribution.  "We believe these changes position our fund competitively versus the Morningstar Large-Cap Growth Category peer group."

The Voya Large-Cap Growth Fund invests in stocks of large-sized U.S. companies within the range of companies in the Russell 1000 Growth Index. The Fund uses a fundamentals-based stock selection that seeks companies with positive business momentum, market recognition, and valuations with upside potential.

The investment team is led by Jeff Bianchi who has been on the Large-Cap Growth team since 1995. He became a portfolio manager for the fund in 2000. The Large-Cap Growth team manages a total $11.7 billion in assets across mutual fund, collective investment trust (CIT) and separate account vehicles.

"Our investment process is aimed at creating consistent and reliable returns with attractive risk-adjusted performance," says Tuzza.

For more information about the fund and a summary of its new fee structure, visit