“Eventually, every asset manager will probably have an ETF product,” said Elya Schwartzman, who spent nearly a decade at BlackRock Inc. before founding ES Investment Consulting LLC. “There are very few out there that don’t have ETFs at least under their umbrella.”
Among the most dramatic new entrants was Dimensional Fund Advisors, which recently launched two actively managed products — one focused on U.S. equities and the other tracking international stocks. It was just the first step in the $527 billion manager’s plans to convert six of its tax-managed mutual funds into ETFs, for a total of nine offerings.
T. Rowe Price Group Inc. released four funds that only report their holdings once every quarter, in contrast to the daily disclosure of traditional ETFs. Bank of New York Mellon Corp. joined the industry, with the first ever no-fee U.S. fixed-income fund — BNY Mellon Core Bond ETF, or BKAG. Leuthold Group, Fisher Investments Inc. and Tactical Fund Advisors LLC also entered the market this year.
For Michael Winter, founder of Leatherback Asset Management, the ETF rule “put a light bulb on.” His firm released the Leatherback Long/Short Alternative Yield ETF (LBAY) in November, an actively managed fund that holds long positions in equities and other securities to seek attractive yields.
“It’s been mostly passive ETFs for years and years and years, and then active started trickling out,” he said. “Leatherback’s mission is to be that premier provider of active alternatives in the most optimal wrapper — the ETF wrapper.”
Debuts from Wells Fargo & Co. and Federated Investors will potentially come to market in 2021, according to regulatory filings and company statements.
“We expect to see, now that we have more of a level playing field and fewer barriers to entry, increased interest in ETFs coming out,” said Sal Bruno, chief investment officer of IndexIQ.