Industry Updates

Was Ed Miliband right about active managers?

David Tuckwell

Three interesting and important ETF stories from around the web.

1) European investors getting robbed by fees

Investors across Europe saw active managers eat half their returns as a result of fees, one-off charges and inflation between 2013 and 2015 - a new report by the European Securities and Markets Authority has found.

Austrians were the worst-off with half of their returns getting eaten on average. The British were the best off with "only" 25 percent of theirs getting taken on average. The report, which shines a deeply unflattering light on the fees charged by active managers, gives body to a report published by Ed Miliband's Labour opposition in 2012. The old report - dismissed by the British pensions industry at the time - found that fees could eat away up to half of funds' returns in worst case scenarios.

2) NASDAQ sues world's biggest white labeler

World's top white labeler ETFMG is being sued by NASDAQ for dumping it as index provider to its successful cybersecurity ETF (HACK:US). NASDAQ claims that ETFMG was looking for an excuse to take control of the fund's index and thus made "frivolous" claims about NASDAQ mismanaging HACK's index. ETFMG counters that the NASDAQ was not only reluctant to cut index fees, which would help the fund perform better, but wasn't doing any research to support the index. As HACK makes $300,000 a month in profit expect the fight to be intense.

3) Charles Schwab set to benefit a lot from passive

Inflows into ETFs correlate with fees. The lower a fund's fees, the more inflows it sees. Everyone knows this, but none better than Charles Schwab, which charges fees so low that its ETFs are basically free.

Schwab recently listed an ETF tracking the biggest 1,000 US stocks, in a move aimed at reducing iShares Russell 1000 (IWB)'s market share. IWB has almost $20bn in assets and is one of the world's most successful ETFs. But it charges 0.15%, three times what Schwab does. What will happen next?

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