John Hancock Selects Dimensional to Manage Smart Beta ETFs

images-1 updates that fund giant John Hancock Investments will partner with Dimensional Fund Advisors on six “smart-beta” exchange-traded funds, according to paperwork filed with regulators early on Monday.

Dimensional, based in Austin, Texas, is one of the earliest proponents of factor investing. They blend elements of index-based investing and active investing in order to predictably exploit market returns and minimize trading costs. Many of today’s smart beta products — from index providers including FTSE Russell, WisdomTree, Research Affiliates — are based on a similar premise.

John Hancock unveiled in its preliminary prospectuses for the factor-based ETFs that DFA, the market-beating investment firm that adheres to the academic work of Eugene Fama and Kenneth French, will be the sub-advisor for its ETFs. John Hancock has worked with DFA on mutual funds and asset-allocation strategies since 2006.

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John Hancock initially filed plans for ETFs nearly four years ago, but has yet to bring an ETF to market. However, a new filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission indicates the firm is getting closer to launching its first ETFs.

The new filing provides details and expense ratios on the proposed ETFs. For example, the John Hancock Multifactor ETF, which is expected to charge 0.35% per year, will track an index comprised a subset of securities in the U.S. Universe issued by companies whose market capitalizations are larger than that of the 801st largest U.S. company at the time of reconstitution. In selecting and weighting securities in the Index, the Index Service Provider uses a rules-based process that incorporates sources of expected returns. This rules-based approach to index investing may sometimes be referred to as multifactor investing, factor-based investing, strategic beta, or smart beta.

John Hancock manages nearly $130 billion in mutual funds and money-market funds. Dimensional manages $406 billion. Dimensional already advises on John Hancock-branded mutual funds that have $3.2 billion in assets.

CitiGroup Hired As Puerto Rico’s Broker-Dealer


Puerto Rico has hired CitiGroup as a broker-dealer as the island seeks to restructure its debt, an industry source said on Wednesday.

The bank will host a meeting with creditors in New York on Monday, Melba Acosta, head of the island’s Government Development Bank, said. That will be the first meeting with creditors since Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla said a week ago that he wants to restructure its $72 billion debt.

The gathering will focus on a report released last week by three former International Monetary Fund officials that said Puerto Rico is in a dire position because of high debt, unstable finances and a stagnant economy. Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla on June 29 said he would seek to delay some debt payments for “a number of years.”

His administration has yet to say which securities would be affected or how such a restructuring would work. Some bonds are protected by the commonwealth’s constitution or backed by revenue such as sales-tax collections. Garcia Padilla said the government would draw up a proposed restructuring plan by the end of August.
The meeting comes after the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority paid all principal and interest due to bondholders last week, buying the publicly owned utility time as it works to reach a deal with creditors. The authority, known as Prepa, said it had agreed with creditors, which include bondholders, banks and bond insurers, to extend restructuring talks to September.

A bondholders’ group said in a news release that they would continue to work with Prepa to reach a long-term plan. In addition to negotiations about Prepa’s $9 billion in debt, the talks involve plans to modernize the utility’s operations.

Investors and analysts had feared a default by Prepa could be the first of many from the commonwealth. Now, there’s hope among some investors that the utility will work out an agreement that could be a model for restructuring other Puerto Rico agencies.

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Cetera Financial Institutions To Provide Broker-Dealer Services


Cetera Financial Institutions, a firm within Cetera Financial Group, the retail advice platform of RCS Capital Corporation, that provides customized investment solutions to nearly 500 financial institutions nationwide, announced today that it will provide broker-dealer services and solutions to the wealth management programs of Valley National Bank, one of the largest commercial banks headquartered in New Jersey.

Cetera will white-label Broadridge Financial Solutions’ recently launched mobile app geared toward enabling easy access to client data from anywhere in the world.

On the platform, advisers will be able to view their clients’ portfolios and account information and work within the app from their smartphone or tablet. Broadridge Mobile also provides real-time market information.

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The app for the self-clearing broker-dealer division of Cetera Financial Group, which is RCS Capital Corp.’s retail investment advice platform, will include trading functionality for funds, equities and options as well, according to Broadridge. Other features include document sharing between advisers and clients, client searches and reporting, account inquiry, and book-of-business analysis.

The app is very new itself, having only come onto the market a few weeks ago. The next step for the company’s mobile app is creating an investor-centric mobile experience, where clients and advisers can communicate in a collaborative environment, as well as integrating more components of the platform with other software, based on brokerages’ suggestions.

To read the full report from MarketWatch, click here.

India To Curb HFT and Algo Trading to Check Spoofing


India is considering placing restrictions on HFT (high-frequency trading and algorithmic schemes to help check manipulation by traders.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India, the nation’s market regulator, is examining a lock-in proposal that prevents traders from canceling an algo order for a given period of time, the people said, asking not to be identified as they aren’t authorized to speak on the subject. Sebi is evaluating proposals to better manage algo trading, Chairman U.K. Sinha said Tuesday, without elaborating.

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Regulators around the world are probing high-frequency trading structures after a series of mishaps and an illegal practice known as “spoofing” convulsed financial markets. In India, the CNX Nifty suddenly fell 2 percent on May 6 amid speculation algo trades sparked a sell-off, triggering closer scrutiny. The rising share of algo orders poses “systemic risks,” the Reserve Bank of India said last month.

High frequency orders worsened the so-called flash crash of May 2010, briefly wiping $862 billion from American equities, when Navinder Singh Sarao helped send the Dow Jones Industrial Average on a wild 1,000-point slide, according to U.S. authorities.

According to SEBI, the share of algo orders in total orders and the share of cancelled algo orders in the total number of cancelled orders was around 90 per cent. It also observed that volumes in algo trading and high-frequency trading increased substantially in the cash segment of the equity market to about 40 per cent of total trades in both the exchanges in March 2015.

SEC OK’s Start-Ups’ Use of Social Media


Trying to figure out how many investors might want to fund your small business? Go ahead and tweet about it.

The US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) has given a social media greenlight to startups seeking to raise money and this week updated rules allowing for use of Twitter and other social media tools to solicit investors.

The Division of Corporate Finance announced that tweets of 140 characters or less are a proper way for a startup to gauge potential investor interest in a stock or debt offering. The posting must include a link to a disclaimer that says the firm isn’t yet selling securities.

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Bloomberg noted that the SEC has been warming up to social media since April 2013, when it approved the use of posts on Facebook and Twitter to communicate corporate announcements such as earnings. Its latest endorsement of social media applies only to companies looking to raise up to $50 million a year.

Firms that use Twitter to solicit investor interest must include a link to a required disclaimer that says the firm isn’t yet selling securities, the SEC said in this week’s announcement.

It’s not clear how many companies will take advantage of the higher fundraising cap. Fewer than 30 offerings were made from 2012 to 2014, when the limit was $5 million, according to the SEC.

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