Vanguard Abandons Factor ETFs in U.K. - Adviser Investments

Vanguard Abandons Factor ETFs in U.K.

Vanguard Abandons Factor ETFs in U.K.

Vanguard’s U.K. outpost is closing its four global factor ETFs in February, according to the firm’s U.K. website. As you may recall, factor funds rely on factors like sales growth, dividend payouts, lower valuations or price momentum, instead of selecting stocks based on company size (large-cap/small-cap) or sector (health care, technology). Each factor is used to screen a universe of stocks based on the defined criteria.

We’ve been keeping an eye on the factor fad for several years now, and frankly, we haven’t been impressed. Many factor funds have higher expense ratios than their vanilla index counterparts, but that higher price often isn’t justified by better performance.

In this case, it seems probable that underperformance along with a simple lack of assets is the main reason for the closure. As the table below shows, the four ETFs have garnered just $299.5 million in assets through the end of October, nearly five years after their launch.

* Fund, not ETF. Sources: Adviser Investments, Morningstar. Returns annualized through 10/31/2020. Does not include U.S. Quality Factor ETF or U.S. Multifactor ETF.

To be clear, there are differences between Vanguard’s U.S. and international factor funds. The U.S. funds are newer, for instance, and the universe from which they select equities differs—U.S. factor ETFs select from the Russell 3000, while the global ETFs pick from the broader FTSE Developed All Cap Index of more than 5,600 U.S. and foreign stocks. But they have at least one thing in common: Performance has been uninspiring on both sides of the pond. We wouldn’t be surprised to see similar closures in the future among the U.S. factor ETFs.

Vanguard Announces ETF Distributions

Speaking of Vanguard ETFs, the Malvern, P.A. fund giant has updated its list of year-end ETF distributions. (Fidelity has yet to announce the distribution dates for their ETFs, but we’ll keep you posted when they do.)

As we covered last month, keeping an eye on distribution dates (and making sure not to trade near them) is essential for managing your capital gains taxes. You need to know two key dates: The fund’s “record date” and its “ex-dividend date.” Own the fund on the record date and you’ll be eligible to receive a distribution for that year’s gains—even if you just purchased your shares. To make sure you won’t face a costly tax bill, be certain to make any share purchases after the ex-dividend date, when the distributions for the fund have already been paid out and the share price adjusted. (ETFs’ record dates are generally the day after their ex-dividend date; due to the time it takes to settle trades, you won’t be the shareholder of record so long as you purchase after the ex-dividend date.)

Funds that do not appear here are not expected to make any distributions this year, though this information is subject to change, as are the distribution dates themselves.

Record date: 12/18/20                       Reinvest/Ex-date: 12/17/20

Communication Services ETF, Consumer Discretionary ETF, Consumer Staples ETF, Energy ETF, Financials ETF, Health Care ETF, Industrials ETF, Information Technology ETF, Materials ETF, Russell 1000 ETFs, Russell 2000 ETFs, Russell 3000 ETF, Utilities ETF.

Record date: 12/21/20                       Reinvest/Ex-date: 12/18/20

ESG International Stock ETF, ESG U.S. Stock ETF.

Record date: 12/22/20                       Reinvest/Ex-date: 12/21/20

Dividend Appreciation ETF, Developed Markets ETF, Europe ETF, Pacific ETF, Global ex-U.S. Real Estate ETF, High Dividend Yield ETF, International Dividend Appreciation ETF, International High Dividend Yield ETF, Total International Stock ETF, Total World Stock ETF, World ex-U.S. ETF, World ex-U.S. SmallCap ETF.

Record date: 12/23/20                       Reinvest/Ex-date: 12/22/20

S&P 500 ETFs, S&P MidCap 400 ETFs, S&P SmallCap 600 ETFs.

Record date: 12/24/20                       Reinvest/Ex-date: 12/23/20

Emerging Markets Govt. Bond ETF, Extended Duration Treasury ETF, Intermediate-Term Bond ETF, Intermediate-Term Corporate ETF, Intermediate-Term Treasury ETF, Long-Term Bond ETF, Long-Term Corporate ETF, Long-Term Treasury ETF, Mortgage-Backed Securities ETF, Short-Term Bond ETF, Short-Term Corporate ETF, Short-Term Inflation ETF, Short-Term Treasury ETF, Tax-Exempt Bond ETF, Total Bond Market ETF, Total Corporate Bond ETF, Total International Bond ETF, Total World Bond ETF.

Record date: 12/28/20                       Reinvest/Ex-date: 12/24/20

Extended Market ETF, Growth ETF, LargeCap ETF, MegaCap ETFs, MidCap ETFs, Real Estate ETF, SmallCap ETFs, Total Stock Market ETF, U.S. Liquidity Factor ETF, U.S. Minimum Volatility ETF, U.S. Momentum Factor ETF, U.S. Multifactor ETF, U.S. Quality Factor ETF, U.S. Value Factor ETF, Value ETF.

Record date: 12/31/20                       Reinvest/Ex-date: 12/30/20

ESG U.S. Corporate Bond ETF.

Fidelity to Close and Merge $4B Independence Fund, Two Others

Fidelity plans to merge several of its equity funds including its $4 billion Independence Fund, the firm announced late last month.

The Independence Fund will be folded into the $19.9 billion Magellan Fund, while the $1.1 billion Export and Multinational Fund will reorganize into the $4.9 billion Fidelity Fund and the $63 million Fidelity EMEA Fund will be merged with the $5.8 billion Fidelity Emerging Markets Fund.

Independence, Export and Multinational and EMEA will each close to new investors at the end of the year, with the mergers taking place in May, if approved by shareholders.

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Adviser Investments’ Market Takeaways

Between the election, the pandemic and impact of this year’s events on earnings, economic data and interest rates, there’s no shortage of hyperbolic headlines and provocative punditry in the financial media. Not here. In our Today’s Market Takeaways, members of our investment team provide timely videos that clearly and concisely explain what we’re seeing in the markets.

Recently, Research Analyst Liz Laprade spoke about whether the surge in IPOs means the market’s in bubble territory, and Vice President Steve Johnson talked about what he’s seeing for fixed-income investors as the yield on high-yield bonds hits an all-time low.

We hope you find them engaging and accessible, and please let us know if there are any topics you’d like to hear us address by sending an email to!

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