News, Vision & Voice for the Advisory Community



A look at the numbers shows that exchange traded funds are starting to move in lockstep with RIAs and vice-versa. RIAs invested $496 billion in ETFs in the 12-month period ended June 30, 2015 – that’s a $78 billion increase compared to the same period the year before. By comparison, the wirehouse channel added 20% fewer ETF assets, or $397 billion in the last year; granted, an amount that was $70 billion greater than its aggregate investment during the same 12-month period the year before, according to Broadridge Financial Solutions. RIAs that manage portfolios and make discretionary investment choices for their clients value ETFs because they provide advisors with easy access to market segments at a cheap price – an especially important factor for RIAs who are compensated on an asset-fee basis. Fee-based advisors appreciate ETFs’ tax efficiency, liquidity and broad exposure at low cost. Conversely, RIAs are a prized channel for ETF-makers like State Street, Invesco, PowerShares, Vanguard Group and BlackRock. ETFs are also a major ingredient in portfolios devised by robo-advisors -- essentially automated RIAs -- for the mass affluent who invest more than 90% of their assets using ETFs.

Urska Velikonja: We expect for these large asset managers to consider abortion in the same way they consider other social-policy issues.

Culture war envelops ESG. 'Big-three' face crisis on abortion rights • The population is 50.8% women, 13.4% Black, 18% Latinx, but 76.6% of financial planners are white men. • Schwab funds CFP effort to rebalance • S&P 1500 pension plans are running a $55 billion surplus • Vanguard nears BlackRock institutional asset sum • Daniel Crosby lures behavioral finance interest, via Diet Coke.

Saturday, June 11, 2022 – 1:05 AM by Oisin Breen

Vanguard Group, BlackRock, and State Street are being pressured to add abortion to ESG choices just as women appear to be on the verge of losing their right to choose. See: Suddenly Vanguard, BlackRock, State Street not only have the assets but the power of ...


Larry Fink: I don't want to be the environmental police.

The New York City manager of $9.6 trillion races to redefine -- and resuscitate -- reeling 'ESG' after the Ukraine war exposed perils of charging a premium fee to contain free market forces.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022 – 3:22 AM by Oisin Breen

Brooke's Note: ESG has been around for decades as a way for pensions like Calpers to flex muscles and a way for a fringe group of retail investors to express their deeps. Then along came the mainstreaming of ESG with BlackRock arguably its voice -- ...


Amy Lash: Like our clients, we think about performance over the longer-term.

Shareholder profits at the Malvern, Pa. company are being undercut by undisclosed millions in executive and staff pay raises as the company seeks to shore up its eroding value proposition.

Sunday, May 15, 2022 – 7:15 PM by Oisin Breen

Brooke's Note: Vanguard gets it from both sides. It got slaughtered last year when it launched a mobile app, Beacon, to boos. It also got hammered on service during the pandemic. Yet this article focuses on Vanguard, perhaps, taking the steps at modernizing its workforce ...


Alec Lucas: Vanguard has an 'at cost' philosophy but that doesn’t mean every product is priced such that its revenues exactly match its costs.

The $8.1 trillion in managed assets giant also cut fees on 32 funds, and kept fees at 109 funds unchanged, according to fiscal end-of-year reports, Sept. through Dec. 2021.

Saturday, March 5, 2022 – 1:19 AM by Oisin Breen

At Vanguard Group ownership is a privilege, but like most privileges, it cuts both ways with investors, who share the blessings of fee cuts and the burdens of price hikes.


Sue Thompson: The only free lunch in investing is diversification and that's the case here.

The $881 billion Manhattan alts investor will delve into junk in addition to safer senior loans with new ETF. Nobody will complain about the 70 basis-point fee, if it again delivers higher returns and the inflation protection of floating interest rate loans.

Thursday, February 24, 2022 – 2:26 AM by Brooke Southall

Brooke's Note: What are asset managers good for? Increasingly the answer is that they are finding ways of being the well-resourced middle player that tames Wall Street into delivering their expertise fairly and efficiently to Main Street investors. In this case, State Street is delivering ...


Larry Fink: It's just a number.

After record AUM high, BlackRock chairman and CEO Larry Fink brushes off a milestone • SchwabSchwab hits records; Wall Street wants more • Mutual fund giant's ETF conversion yields bragging rights • Regulation Best Interest headaches unnecessary, despite SEC brouhaha, lawyers say • Workplace scheme wins big for Fidelity.

Friday, January 21, 2022 – 3:16 AM by Oisin Breen

BlackRock's AUM tops $10 trillion -- "It's just a number," says CEO Larry Fink with likely a nod and a wink.


David Booth continues to follow the Vanguard lead with price cuts and ETF conversions at DFA.

Two of the favorite RIA index fund suppliers put more coal in the stockings of competitors and showed the era of fee compression hasn't found bed rock, yet.

Saturday, December 18, 2021 – 1:46 AM by Brooke Southall

The king of cheap and a pretender to the throne are kicking competitors while they're down with sweeping mutual fund and ETF fee cuts in a very Black Friday day that's redefining the meaning of "cut to the bone."


Fidelity Canada operates largely from this building in Toronto.

After Fidelity was rebuffed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Fidelity Canada had more luck by turning to its own securities cop with a more abiding outlook on crypto currency as an investible asset

Saturday, December 4, 2021 – 4:12 AM by Lisa Shidler

Brooke's Note: "Satoshi Nakamoto" released a paper describing a new software system he or it called Bitcoin. Nakamoto launched the bitcoin network on Jan. 9, 2009. We still don't know who or what Satoshi Nakamoto is, what its motives were, or are, or whether bitcoin is the ...


Dana D'Auria: 'Every basis point counts.'

The Chicago outsourcer is hopping on half a channel lane to sell house-brand ETFs that may make nifty 'sleeves' for model portfolios.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021 – 2:21 AM by Brooke Southall

Brooke's Note: Envestnet filed for its ETFs with the SEC quietly and with an air of utilitarian resolve to simply shave a basis point or two, a keyboard click and tax ramifications in the bargain. Yet I can't help wonder if it didn't also put ...


Walt Bettinger: If and when there is greater regulatory clarity for firms under our regulatory regime we would look forward to being able to offer direct trading.

The $7.6 trillion in administered assets giant sees mixed signals from regulators who are drawing lines as it goes along -- treacherous regulatory conditions for a big company not built to shift course at a whim.

Thursday, October 28, 2021 – 1:21 AM by Oisin Breen

Brooke's Note: Cryptocurrency is surely having it's moment in the sun but it's still all immersed in an air of radical unreality. It would sure seem more grounded if Schwab and Fidelity (which is far more advanced in Bitcoin investing) offered it matter of factly on ...


Tim Buckley: Vanguard will continue to innovate for clients.

The Malvern, Pa., giant maintains a towering lead in managing 401(k) assets in TDFs, but it'll take a merger and not a flick of the pen to post prices that could keep it near 37% market share.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021 – 2:01 AM by Oisin Breen

The Vanguard Group plans to radically restructure its target date funds (TDF) to push through price cuts after Fidelity Investments and BlackRock, for the first time in 12 years, won greater TDF inflows in 2020 from much smaller bases.


Ben Cruikshank: 'There's a really jarring disconnect between what's available to advisors and what's available to retail investors.'

The New York-based manager of $1 billion-plus of FDIC insured cash is banking on not getting ahead of the curve and getting crushed by Bitcoin ETFs down the road.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021 – 8:58 PM by Oisin Breen

MassMutual will compete with Coinbase and Robinhood as a vendor of direct trades in cryptocurrency using its RIA cash manager as the vehicle for reaching investors with about $600 billion.


Tom Rampulla: We are excited to integrate Just Invest’s personalized indexing offering into our intermediary business.

Just a day after Franklin Templeton bought RIA DI software provider, Canvas, the $8.3-trillion Malvern, Pa., giant announced it closed on its purchase of Just Invest today.

Saturday, October 2, 2021 – 8:51 PM by Brooke Southall

Vanguard Group today announced it has completed the purchase of Just Invest and will more broadly avail the technology to RIAs, banks and broker-dealer financial advisors doing business with Financial Advisor Services, its $3-trillion, financial intermediary business.


Eileen Duff: Grayscale is adhering to a higher level of scrutiny than many other players.

The New York City manager landed Schwab, Wealthfront and now the UHNW alts platform, iCapital, to provide a crypto asset that incites exuberant hopes, crippling fears and little between.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021 – 9:50 PM by Oisin Breen

Brooke's Note: The irony of this article about RIAs gaining Bitcoin access is that it took place during a few days when the cryptocurrency's value fell by 10%. It's down about 20% for September. Be careful what you wish for. That said, the full destiny of ...


Andy Rachleff chooses a high-priced mutual fund under unusual circumstances to check the crypto box.

The Redwood City, Calif., robo-advisor turned a hard 'no' into a soft 'yes' by dealing with Grayscale and its 200 basis-point-plus fees, which its robo rival in NYC -- also without a crypto path -- finds ludicrous.

Saturday, August 14, 2021 – 2:20 AM by Oisin Breen

Wealthfront came to a fork in the road with two bad options -- denying access to cryptocurrency or providing access outside its low-price, ETF-reliant paradigm. It chose the latter for up to 10% of an investor's holdings.