Investment Products and Services Launches

First Trust Launches Index Based ETF; BCG Adds Stadion 401(k) Managed Account on Recordkeeping Platform; Mercer Partners With Investment Metrics for Client Reporting; and more.

First Trust Advisors L.P., an exchange-traded fund (ETF) provider and asset manager, has announced that it has launched a new index-based ETF, the First Trust Indxx Innovative Transaction & Process ETF.

The fund seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield (before the fund’s fees and expenses) of an index called the Indxx Blockchain Index. The index, which is created and administered by Indxx, LLC, tracks the performance of exchange-listed companies across the globe that are either actively using, investing in, developing, or have products that are poised to benefit from a new technology known as blockchain. The index seeks to include only companies that have devoted material resources to the use of blockchain technologies.

To be included in the index, a company must meet strict eligibility criteria which include market capitalization and trading minimums. The index construction process sorts the companies into categories based on their exposure to blockchain technology and selects only those companies which are actively investing resources into products or services that use blockchain technology. The selected companies are equally weighted within their category and the index is capped at 100 companies. 

Blockchain is essentially a network of computers that keep transactions secure in a decentralized database, or “digital ledger,” similar to a shared spreadsheet, that the network can see and must approve before it can be verified and recorded. Once recorded, no one person can change it without the agreement of others and is nearly impossible to tamper with, according to First Trust.

Blockchain allows customers and suppliers to connect directly, without the need for a central entity, like a bank or financial institution, to make a transaction.

First Trusts characterizes Blockchain as a technology that underpins digital currencies, like bitcoin, but with more possible uses with the potential to move data of any kind swiftly and securely.

“Although blockchain is still in its early stages, it promises to disrupt a variety of industries, potentially improving efficiency and security, while also reducing or removing the need for intermediaries,” says Ryan Issakainen, CFA, senior vice president, ETF strategist at First Trust. “This ETF enables investors to gain exposure to a diversified portfolio of companies that are involved in this cutting-edge innovation.”

BCG Adds Stadion 401(k) Managed Account on Recordkeeping Platform

Benefit Consultants Group (BCG) has added StoryLine, a 401(k) managed account solution from Stadion Money Management, to its daily-valued recordkeeping product offering.

StoryLine, built with SPDR exchange-traded funds (ETFs), is a retirement planning solution built specifically for 401(k) participants in adviser-sold plans. StoryLine offers plan level customization with the option of participant level customization.

StoryLine’s approach recognizes every plan sponsor and employee as unique. Its participant-centric web interface is designed to encourage employees to define their individual investment paths based on personal risk profiles, expectations, and goals. StoryLine will also allow—at the employee’s discretion—the inclusion of outside assets to facilitate more comprehensive retirement planning. According to Stadion, the end goal of this is to have each participant on a retirement path personalized to their own circumstances and needs.

“StoryLine has helped reinvent the delivery of participant-level plan advice, customized in a way that allows individuals to select not only the most appropriate path to retirement, but also to develop a more holistic picture through the inclusion of outside assets,” says Beau Adams, EVP at BCG. “We’re delighted to make StoryLine available on our platform.”

Mercer Partners With Investment Metrics for Client Reporting

Investment Metrics has announced that its platform will be deployed across Mercer’s Wealth business in the U.S.

Mercer will leverage the Investment Metrics solution to power its institutional client reporting, investment analytics and research capabilities to serve the needs of its institutional defined benefit (DB), defined contribution (DC), endowment, foundation, wealth management, and delegated investment advisory clients.

According to Mercer, comprehensive analytics and more flexible reporting options available on the Investment Metrics platform will enable Mercer to increase productivity and enable new levels of engagement and collaboration with its clients. 

“We are excited about how quickly we have been able to successfully deploy this solution and we are impressed with Investment Metrics’ technology and the team’s vast domain expertise, technology and ability to solve complex problems with short lead times,” says James Guilfoyle, Mercer’s U.S. head of Performance Reporting Operations. “Our selection of Investment Metrics is based upon a shared commitment to satisfy the needs of our clients and business partners by fostering greater innovation in our industry.” 

BCM TDF Series to Offer Protection Within Uncertainty

In an effort to create versatile retirement investment solutions, Beaumont Capital Management (BCM) created the BCM DynamicBelay Target Date Funds (TDF) series, now in its third year.

The DynamicBelay portfolios aims to provide both growth in up markets and protection in periods of severe market drawdowns, according to BCM. These products are designed to give investors greater choice in the TDF marketplace to help better match goals and risk profiles. 

The series is currently offered in 10-year intervals through 2060, and are designed as age-based portfolios to meet a variety of retirement needs and goals. Whereas first-generation TDFs generally only make small annual adjustments, the DynamicBelay series is said to offer overall strategic allocations that are adjusted over longer periods, the way most investment advisers would manage a long-term portfolio. Then, they use underlying tactical allocations to adjust to current market conditions, allowing portions of the portfolios to move to cash only when necessary. 

“Our industry learned a tragic lesson in 2008. Most TDFs failed to deliver protection from major losses, even for investors fast approaching their retirement date,” says David Haviland, managing partner and portfolio manager of Beaumont Capital Management. “We took this lesson to heart. The DynamicBelay TDFs address the shortcomings of the set-it-and-forget-it TDFs that still dominate the market today and put retirement investors at unwarranted, and often unknown risks.” 

With flawed trends such as uncertain diversification, faulty glidepaths and unmatched risk continuing to menace the industry, Haviland believes the demand for sounder TDFs is still crucial.   

“As uncertainty looms in the markets again, plan sponsors and financial advisers are duty-bound to equip their clients with more versatile retirement options,” says Haviland. “We strongly feel that investors need both realistic growth and defensive capabilities designed to kick in only when necessary. If people preparing for their retirement know they are being given appropriate investments options, it could increase their confidence to remain invested longer providing them with a comfort they deserve.” 

Putnam Plans to Reposition Certain Funds


In a continuing effort to provide financial advisers and their customers with a broad and well-defined set of strategies to address specific investment objectives and larger portfolio construction needs, Putnam Investments announced plans to reposition a number of funds to best serve the marketplace, pending Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) staff review.


In particular, the firm is planning the following product moves:

  • Putnam American Government Income Fund will be merged into Putnam U.S. Government Income Fund, which is being repositioned as Putnam Mortgage Securities Fund. The repositioned fund, which is expected to have over $1 billion in assets, will deepen its investment focus to include a host of mortgage instruments. In addition, the repositioned fund will experience a substantial decrease in the fund’s total expense ratio, which is expected to fall from 64 bps to 50 bps (class Y shares).
  • Putnam Absolute Return 100 Fund will be repositioned as a short-term bond fund and renamed Putnam Short Duration Bond Fund. From a risk-return perspective, the repositioned fund will reside between the firm’s ultra-short fixed income offering, Putnam Short Duration Income Fund, and the firm’s intermediate-term fixed income offering, Putnam Income Fund. The fund is expected to have nearly $200 million in assets. 
  • Putnam Absolute Return 300 Fund will be renamed Putnam Fixed Income Absolute Return Fund. The new fund, which is expected to have over $450 million in assets, will maintain its current investment strategy.
  • Putnam Absolute Return 500 Fund will be merged into Putnam Absolute Return 700 Fund, and the combined fund will be renamed Putnam Multi-Asset Absolute Return Fund. The new fund, which is expected to have over $2 billion in assets, will maintain the current investment strategy of Putnam Absolute Return 700 Fund.