Investment Products and Services

John Hancock introduces TDF analyzer tool; Charles Schwab enhances Institutional Intelligence Portfolios; Millennium Trust expands Fund Custody Solution; and more.

Vanare and FinMason Help Advisers Educate Investors About Risk 

Vanare, the wealth management technology platform with a white-labeled roboadviser, and FinMason, a financial education firm focused on investment risk, have partnered to help advisers educate investors about the importance of risk while demonstrating the merits of a professionally managed portfolio.

The integration gives advisers rigorous institutional capabilities to easily analyze risk across a multitude of investment types, delivered in a modern, web experience by advisers to clients, the firms say.

The integration will further enhance the data aggregation offering Vanare recently launched with advisers, which allows clients to see the value of all their assets and liabilities within a roboadviser or client portal offering.

“Platforms with such high-level analytical data have typically been reserved exclusively for institutional investors, are often prohibitively expensive and are rarely accessible to advisers and their clients. Our partnership with Vanare changes that fundamentally,” says Mark Hollingsworth, FinMason’s head of Advisor Solutions. “From the other side, recent mobile apps and user-friendly websites allow individual users to access a variety of financial assets, but they fail to provide meaningful analytical measures of investments with our level of rigor.”

“Advisers tell us how important it is for them to quickly communicate their value proposition to all types of investors,” says Vanare CEO, Rich Cancro. “Together with FinMason, we are offering the tools needed to demonstrate complex portfolio analytics at any level of sophistication in real-time. From an operations and compliance point of view, we also help firms incorporate ongoing risk assessment across an entire business to ensure proper portfolio alignment for each client; which is essential as the new Department of Labor fiduciary rule is implemented in 2017.”

NEXT: John Hancock Introduces TDF Analyzer Tool

John Hancock Introduces TDF Analyzer Tool 

John Hancock Retirement Plan Services introduced JH Target Date PathFinder—a tool designed to assist advisers servicing the 401(k) market to compare and analyze the target-date fund (TDF) suites offered on the JH Signature platform.

"The challenge associated with selecting a target-date suite has increased significantly in recent years, as the number of products, and the differences between them, have grown. Today, John Hancock offers nine suites from a range of investment managers including John Hancock, American Funds, T. Rowe Price, Vanguard, BlackRock, American Century and JP Morgan. John Hancock recordkeeping costs are completely independent of the investments selected, ensuring that the selection of a particular suite is driven by how well its design and risk/return characteristics align with the needs of plan participants. We wanted to provide advisers with an interactive tool to assist with this analysis, particularly in light of the recent expansion of our target-date lineup," says Patrick Murphy, president, John Hancock Retirement Plan Services.

JH Target Date PathFinder was designed to support both those who would like assistance navigating through the investment options with the inclusion of interactive questions, and those who quickly want to delve into the data.

The new website combines interactive glide path functionality with quantitative data and a customized summary report that documents the evaluation process. The report which was developed to align closely with the Department of Labor's "Target Date Fund – Tips for ERISA Plan Fiduciaries" can then be shared with the plan sponsor to support them with their fiduciary duties.

JH Target Date PathFinder is accessible to all advisers registered through

NEXT: Charles Schwab Enhances Institutional Intelligence Portfolios

Charles Schwab Enhances Institutional Intelligence Portfolios 

Charles Schwab announced a number of new features and enhancements to Institutional Intelligent Portfolios—the automated investment management platform designed specifically for independent advisers and sponsored by Schwab Wealth Investment Advisory, Inc.

The primary update is enhanced portfolio customization, which launches next month and will provide advisers greater flexibility to design portfolios based on their investment philosophies. Other enhancements include new account funding options, and ways for firms to manage multiple Institutional Intelligent Portfolios programs. In early 2017, Schwab will also roll out an updated client-user app for smartphones and tablets that will enhance navigation and deliver a more intuitive user experience.

“Automated investment management continues to be an important and evolving trend in our industry. Our research shows that advisers are optimistic that this technology can help scale their businesses and allow them to stay competitive in the marketplace,” says Jessica Heffron, vice president, client experience, Schwab Advisor Services. “Most advisers tell us that the biggest opportunity for automated investing tools is to more efficiently serve smaller accounts or reach clients that their firms have been unable to serve before.”

Features of Institutional Intelligent Portfolios include:

  • Enhanced portfolio customization. Schwab now offers more than 950 exchange-traded funds (ETFs) on the Institutional Intelligent Portfolios platform—more than double the number of ETFs that were available at launch last year. Starting next month, all advisers will be able to create up to 45 adviser-defined asset classes in each portfolio and offer multiple ETFs in each asset class.
  • Multiple-program. Firms can now offer separate programs at the adviser level or establish programs to target specific client segments.
  • New account funding options. Advisers now have more account funding options, in addition to cash, and can journal transfer of asset positions.
  • Easier account open for clients. Enhancements to the account opening process make account open faster and more flexible.
  • Client interface enhancements. In early 2017, Schwab will roll out a new Institutional Intelligent Portfolios app for both smart phones and tablets. The app will continue to be adviser-branded and will now include streamlined navigation and an improved client interface.
NEXT: SSGA Launches New ESG Strategies

SSGA Launches New ESG Strategies 

State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), the asset management business of State Street Corporation, announced that the SPDR MSCI EAFE Fossil Fuel Reserves Free ETF (EFAX) and the SPDR MSCI Emerging Markets Fossil Fuel Reserves Free ETF (EEMX) began trading on the NYSE Arca.

Developed to address growing client demand for environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies and help investors divest from companies owning fossil fuel reserves while maintaining the benefits of core exposures to key benchmarks, the newest additions to SSGA’s ESG line-up are the first MSCI EAFE and Emerging Markets ex Fossil Fuel Reserves Free ETFs, the firm contends.

The SPDR MSCI EAFE Fossil Fuel Reserves Free ETF (EFAX) seeks to track the MSCI EAFE ex Fossil Fuels Index. The Index is designed to measure the performance of companies in the MSCI EAFE Index that do not own fossil fuel reserves. Fossil fuel reserves are defined as economically and technically recoverable sources of crude oil, natural gas and thermal coal but do not include metallurgical or coking coal, which are used in connection with steel production.

The SPDR MSCI Emerging Markets Fossil Fuel Reserves Free ETF (EEMX) seeks to track the MSCI Emerging Markets ex Fossil Fuels Index. The Index is designed to measure the performance of companies in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index that do not own fossil fuel reserves, as defined above.  The MSCI Emerging Markets Index captures large and mid-capitalization representation across 23 emerging market countries.

The gross expense ratio for EFAX is 0.30% and the net expense ratio is 0.20%. The gross and net expense ratio for EEMX is 0.30%.

“With governments across the world committed to addressing climate change, investors have been increasingly looking to minimize the potential negative impact that exposure to companies owning fossil fuel reserves could have on their portfolios as traditional market-cap based passive strategies that do not screen out certain industries or business practices may not account for this risk,” says Christopher McKnett, managing director and head of ESG at State Street Global Advisors. “SSGA has managed ESG portfolios for 30 years and with client demand for these strategies higher than it’s ever been, this suite of SPDR funds is designed to provide investors with passively managed tools to divest from companies owning fossil fuel reserves while maintaining exposure to core US, international and emerging markets benchmarks.” 

NEXT: Millennium Trust Expands Fund Custody Solution

Millennium Trust Expands Fund Custody Solution 

Millennium Trust Company, a provider of custody solutions for institutions, advisers, and individuals, has expanded the offering of its Fund Custody Solution to include custody for registered investment companies ('40 Act Funds) as well as verification services.

"Millennium's Fund Custody solution was created in late 2010 to address advisers' need to comply with the SEC Custody Rule 206(4)-2, and to create much-needed transparency for the end investor," says Gary Anetsberger, CEO of Millennium Trust. "The services quickly attracted adviser-controlled funds investing in alternative assets such as marketplace loans, private equity, hedge funds as well as traditional assets.”

Millennium's Fund Custody expanded its services to support funds leveraging their loan portfolios by providing verification and certification services required by the funds' credit facilities. "This new service offers the ease of having custody and verification services with one service provider," notes Meg Zwick, Millennium Trust's director of Alternative Custody Services. In addition, Millennium expanded its services to include providing custody for '40 Act Funds. Assets under custody within the fund custody division surpassed $10.8 billion as of September 30.