BlackRock Preps an Active ETF Offering

On the heels of the launch of PIMCO's and Bill Gross' first active exchange-traded fund, BlackRock has thrown its hat into the active ETF space with a proposed offering of its own.

According to a Securities & Exchange Commission filing, the firm is looking to launch the iShares Sovereign Screened Global Bond Fund, which will bet on developed and emerging markets bonds. The fund will not invest in swap agreements, futures contracts or option contracts.

BlackRock noted in the filing that "Unlike many ETFs, the fund is not an index-based ETF."

The fund's portfolio managers are James Mauro and Scott Radell. The firm did not disclose the fund's fees in the filing.

A BlackRock spokesperson was not immediately available to comment on the firm's latest offering.

Et Tu, Charles Schwab?

Charles Schwab Investment Management, Inc. also has filed paperwork with the Securities & Exchange Commission to launch active exchange-traded funds, which are getting a lot of buzz courtesy of PIMCO's latest offering and iShares' proposed fund.

According to the filing, Charles Schwab is looking to launch domestic and international equity and fixed funds as well as funds of funds. SEI Investments Distribution Co. will serve as distributor for the funds.

Vanguard Doubles Advisor Sales Staff

The Vanguard Group, Inc. has doubled its sales force, to 220 staffers, serving financial advisors in an initiative to promote its exchange traded-fund products.

The initiative is being led by 27-year Vanguard veteran Martha King, head of the firm's Financial Advisor Services division.

Under her direction, the group has grown from $85.4 billion in assets under management in 2002 to more than $520 billion as of the end of December. King was named a managing director at the company in January, reporting directly to Vanguard Chairman and CEO Bill McNabb.

Linda Wolohan, a Vanguard spokesperson, told Money Management Executive that the company is "augmenting its sales force to support the growing number of advisors who are investing their clients' assets in Vanguard's low-cost funds and ETFs."

"Vanguard has experienced incredible success with its ETFs-our ETF assets have grown 63% annually since 2005, our ETF assets under management are nearly $200 billion and our ETF net cash flow was more than $36 billion in 2011," she said. "We believe we can better support this demand if we have more of a regional presence in the advisor community, enabling us to more efficiently communicate with advisors and get them the product and services they need."

Wolohan added that the expansion will be a "multi-year effort," taking place in various regions nationwide over time.

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