iM Global Partner Acquires Stake in Richard Bernstein

Paris-based iM Global Partner, a global asset management firm, said this week it has acquired a 45% non-controlling interest in Richard Bernstein Advisors, a New York-based ETF strategist founded in 2009 by Richard Bernstein, former chief investment strategist at Merrill Lynch.

RBA, which has $14.6 billion in assets under management and advisement, manages ETF-based SMA portfolios for wealth management and RIA firms, and sub-advises several mutual funds, unit trusts and ETFs.

Under the deal, RBA will continue to operate independently.

The deal expands iM Global’s U.S. presence, which also includes Polen Capital, Dolan McEniry, Scharf Investments and Litman Gregory.

“iM Global Partner’s proven European institutional distribution and offshore capabilities will expand RBA’s investor base globally, whereas RBA’s broad U.S. visibility will significantly enhance iM Global Partner’s rapidly growing presence in the U.S.,” Bernstein said in a statement.

ProFunds Debuts First Bitcoin Strategy Mutual Fund

Bethesda, Md.-based asset manager ProFunds has launched the Bitcoin Strategy ProFund (BTCFX), the first publicly available U.S. mutual fund or ETF correlated to the value of bitcoin.

While the fund does not directly hold bitcoin shares, it provides exposure through bitcoin futures contracts. The company says it eliminates the need for investors to buy bitcoin on unregulated exchanges.

“Compared to directly buying bitcoin, which may involve opening a new account with an unregulated party, this ProFund offers investors the opportunity to gain exposure to bitcoin through a form and investment method that tens of millions of investors are familiar with,” ProFunds CEO Michael Sapir said in a statement.

The fund has a net expense ratio of 115 basis points.

Vanguard to Launch Two New Active Bond Funds

Vanguard announced plans this week to launch two new active bond funds, the Vanguard Core-Plus Bond Fund and Vanguard Multi-Sector Income Bond Fund.

The Core-Plus fund will invest primarily in Treasury, mortgage-backed and other U.S. investment-grade securities. It may also invest in high-yield corporates and emerging markets debt of all credit quality ratings. It will charge 30 basis points for Investor shares and 20 basis points for Admiral Shares.   

The Multi-Sector Income fund will invest primarily in U.S. investment-grade securities, U.S. high-yield corporate securities and emerging markets debt of all credit quality ratings. It will charge 40 basis points for Investor Shares and 30 basis points for Admiral Shares.

Vanguard also announced plans to reopen the Wellington Fund, Vanguard’s oldest mutual fund, which was closed to new investors in 2013. The fund, which is a balanced fund managed by Wellington Management Company, now has improved liquidity and capacity.

Investors Saved $357B Thanks to Passive Indexing

The rise of passive investing is undeniable. Investors, attracted to their low-cost and simplicity, have been pouring money into index mutual funds and ETFs at the expense of active managers. 

New estimates by S&P Dow Jones Indices say investors have saved a cool $357 billion over the last 25 years thanks to the indexing boom, according to Bloomberg.

“In the 20 years ending in 2020, 94% of all large-cap U.S. managers lagged the S&P 500,” Anu Ganti, senior director of index investment strategy, wrote in a blog post this week. “As indexing has grown, investors have benefited substantially by saving on fees and avoiding underperformance.”

Bloomberg points out that the savings figure is likely even higher, since it leaves out other indexes, such as those from MSCI and FTSE Russell.

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