NEWS SCAN

BlackRock's Min Vol Funds Top $4 Billion

BlackRock last week announced that its U.S.-listed iShares Minimum Volatility suite of funds, which launched in October 2011, has crossed $4 billion in asset under management.

The funds are touted as a way to help investors reduce volatility and improve risk-adjusted returns in popular domestic and international equity exposures.

Wall Street, Bailout Executive Pay Skyrocket

Executive cash bonuses for the New York City securities industries are expected to jump by eight percentage points, rounding out to about $20 billion, New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said.

"Wall Street is still in transition, but is slowly adjusting to changes in its economic and regulatory environment," the state CFO said in a Feb. 26 announcement. "Profits and bonuses rebounded in 2012, but the industry is still restructuring."

Sec. Galvin Says Chuck is 'Disingenuous'

William Galvin, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, last week called out Charles Schwab & Co. for recently changing up its customer arbitration agreements by striking its investors' ability to join class action lawsuits.

In a letter to the San Francisco-based firm, Galvin said that the firm violated FINRA's rules prohibiting its members from preventing their own customers from joining civil class actions.

"Your firm's recent comments praising the decision and claiming that customers are better served through FINRA arbitration are disingenuous," wrote Galvin.

Vanguard Lowers Expenses for High Dividend, Select Value Funds

The Vanguard Group giveth and also taketh away. The firm last week slashed expense ratios for three funds while upping expenses for two others.

The High Dividend Index Funds ETF shares saw its expense reduced from 13 basis points to 10 bps while its investor share shed 5 bps from 25 bps to 20 bps.

Also, the Select Value Fund dropped its expense ratio from 45 bps to 38 bps.

However, two other funds, the International Explorer Fund and the Mid-Cap Growth Fund, upped their expenses from 42 bps to 43 bps and 53 bps to 54 bps, respectively.

Harbor Funds Separates From Parent

It's business as usual for Chicago-based Harbor Capital Advisors, a manager of managers shop. At least that's what the company line is after its parent, Netherlands-based Robeco, announced that it is being acquired by ORIX Corporation for $2.6 billion.

Stadion to Acquire ETF Fund of Funds

Chatham, N.Y.-based Aviemore Asset Management is prepping a merger of its ETF Market Opportunity Fund, a fund of funds, into a new separate series of the Stadion Investment Trust.

After a strategic review of the management and operations of the Aviemore Fund Aviemore's president Paul Frank has called a special meeting of the shareholders of ETF Market Opportunity Fund to be held on March 28 to vote on Aviemore Funds' reorganization into the Stadion Investment Trust, according to a regulatory filing. Aviemore's Board of Trustees has already given its blessings for the reorg.

Artisan Prices IPO

Milwaukee, WI-based Artisan Partners Asset Management has revealed in a regulatory filing that it expects the initial price of its Class A shares to be between $27 and $29.

The firm said it estimates that the net proceeds from the sale will be approximately $297.1 million, or approximately $342.3 million if the underwriters exercise their option to purchase additional shares of Class A common stock, based on an assumed initial public offering price of $28.00 per share. The underwriters are Citigroup, Goldman, Sachs & Co., Bofa Merrill Lynch, Keefe Bruyette & Woods, Sandler O'Neill + Partners, Morgan Stanley and Scotiabank.

Franklin Templeton Italy-Bound

Franklin Templeton plans to open three new offices in Italy.

The company announced today that the new Rome, Florence and Padua offices confirm the growth of assets under management in Italy, reports Investment Europe. Assets in Italy reached 24.5 billion euros at the end of January.

RESEARCH

FUSE Offers Closer Look Into Advisors' Sentiments

Want more insights into how advisors think?

FUSE Research Network last week announced a partnership with Penton's WealthManagement.com to launch the 2013 Advisor Trend Monitor Research Series, an annual series of five research white papers designed to explore advisor views on topics of affecting the asset management community.

PwC: Small-to-Mid-Sized Managers Ready for Deals in 2013

Financial services mergers and acquisitions will face both uncertainty and opportunities in 2013 due to increased regulatory costs, depressed organic growth, and the greater availability of attractive financing, according to a new report issued by PricewaterhouseCoopers US.

However, while 2012 proved to be a challenging year for announced deal activity in the financial services sector, PwC said there is some cause for optimism in 2013.

PRODUCTS

PIMCO Offers 'One Stop' Fixed Income Fund

PIMCO has launched the PIMCO Emerging Markets Full Spectrum Bond Fund (PFSIX), which it touts as a "one stop" fixed income strategy to bet on investment opportunities in the developing world.

The fund is managed by Michael Gomez, Managing Director and co-head of PIMCO's global emerging markets portfolio management team.

ARRIVALS

Newfleet Sets Course for Institutions, Consultants

Newfleet Asset Management, an affiliated manager of Virtus Investment Partners, has named Christopher Kelleher senior managing director and head of institutional asset management.

In this new position, Kelleher will oversee implementing the management of Newfleet's mandates, including its multi-sector core plus, multi-sector short duration, multi-sector opportunistic, high yield, and bank loans strategies, to institutional clients and consultants.

Echo Point Appoints Sales, Marketing Head

Echo Point Investment Management has a new head of sales and marketing.

The Old Mutual Asset Management affiliate has appointed John Larson as an executive director, responsible for direct marketing and client service at the Conshohocken, Penn.-based company. In his new role, Larson will focus on expanding Echo Point's consultant and plan sponsor relationships.

American Century Unveils Latest PMs

Three American Century Investments portfolio managers are popping the champagne after their latest promotions.

Three members within the investment management department-senior investment analyst Chad Baumler, senior investment analyst Steven Rodriquez, and senior fixed income trade Le Tran-were promoted to portfolio managers at the Kansas City, Mo.-based firm.

STATISTICS

26% of U.S. adults use social media for personal finance and investing purposes.

This rises to 34% for affluent investors.

SOURCE: Cogent Research

51 was the median age of individuals heading mutual fund-owning households in 2012.

Most mutual fund-owning households (66%) were headed by individuals between the ages of 35 and 64.

SOURCE: Investment Company Institute

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