July 2020 IssueLong scroll reading

Briefly Noted . . .

By David Snowball

Effective on October 1, 2020, all of the Alpha Architect funds will transition from index funds to actively-managed ones, though the change will likely be undetectable to investors since “the adviser’s methodology will be substantially unchanged from the current approach it uses.” The funds in question are

  • Alpha Architect U.S. Quantitative Value ETF (QVAL)
  • Alpha Architect International Quantitative Value ETF (IVAL)
  • Alpha Architect U.S. Quantitative Momentum ETF (QMOM)
  • Alpha Architect International Quantitative Momentum ETF (IMOM)
  • Alpha Architect Value Momentum Trend ETF (VMOT).

On June 30, Trillium Asset Management was acquired by Australian financial Firm Perpetual Limited. Trillium is a US-based ESG manager with $3.8 billion under advisement. The change mostly benefits Perpetual, which gets access to ESG strategies, without noticeably inconveniencing – or immediately benefiting – Trillium investors.


BlackRock has dropped the expense ratios for three giant ETFs by one basis point each: Core S&P 500 (IVV), Core S&P Mid-Cap (IJH) and Core S&P Small Cap (IJR). The resulting fees will be 3, 5 and 6 basis points, respectively. The cuts are mostly just to match Vanguard’s fees and deny them a marketing advantage.

Effective as of June 1, 2020, Boston Partners Small Cap Value Fund II dropped its investment advisory fee to 0.85% from 0.95%.

Effective immediately, RESQ Investment Partners, LLC, (the “Adviser”), has agreed to reduce the management fee of the RESQ Strategic Income Fund and RESQ Dynamic Allocation Fund from 1.45% to 1.20%.

Janus Henderson is reopening the no-load share class for all 38 US funds, beginning in July. Those include the famous (Janus Overseas), the infamous (Global Unconstrained Bond, the fund they whipped together to showcase Bill Gross’s skills), and some that are actually very good. Janus Henderson Balanced and Global Real Estate are both recognized as MFO Great Owl funds for their consistently top-tier risk-adjusted returns and Developed World Bond, which has outperformed its peers on the basis of a raw returns, as well.

Effective June 18, 2020, RBC Emerging Markets Small Cap Equity Fund (RSMAX) is dropping its investment advisory fee is reduced from 1.25% to 1.04%.

CLOSINGS (and related inconveniences)

Aegon Emerging Markets Debt (AMMVX) has closed to new investors, which is almost surely a prelude to its liquidation.

American Beacon has announced that effective May 29, 2020, they will no longer sell American Beacon funds directly to you. If you want to buy them, you’ll need to go to a supermarket just like everybody else.

Ivy Funds have eliminated the E, T, R, and Y share classes on a bunch of their funds.


American Century Income & Growth Fund will be renamed Disciplined Core Value Fund effective as of September 25, 2020.

Effective as of July 1, 2020, Boston Partners Emerging Markets Long/Short Fund (BELSX) became Boston Partners Emerging Markets Dynamic Equity Fund. So far as we can tell, it’s still the same long/short fund, which is okay but hasn’t been anything special.

Cambiar Global Ultra Focus Fund has become Cambiar Aggressive Value Fund.

On or about September 2, 2020, Columbia Global Dividend Opportunity Fund becomes Columbia International Dividend Income Fund.

On June 15, 2020, Global X Future Analytics Tech ETF became Global X Artificial Intelligence & Technology ETF.

On August 30, 2020, Goldman Sachs Blue Chip Fund (GAGVX), which receives a low ESG grade from Morningstar, relaunches as Goldman Sachs U.S. Equity ESG Fund.

On July 1, 2020, Holmes Macro Trends Fund become Holmes Global Luxury Goods Fund.

Effective on or about September 30, 2020, Invesco Developing Markets Fund will be renamed Invesco Emerging Markets All Cap Fund.

Effective on or about August 4, 2020, Invesco Floating Rate Fund becomes Invesco Floating Rate ESG Fund with the necessary attendant tweaks to the portfolio.

On or around July 20, 2020, Knights of Columbus Global Real Estate Fund becomes Knights of Columbus Real Estate Fund.

Effective on or about July 1, 2020, MFS Strategic Income Fund becomes MFS Income Fund. Same fund just less … strategic about it.

Effective August 30, 2020, the Oppenheimer name disappears from 42 Invesco Oppenheimer funds. In a few cases, the inherited name also gets tweaked but with no substantive change to the fees, strategy or team.

Effective on or about September 30, 2020, Principal Shareholder Yield Index ETF becomes Principal Value ETF. At the same time, Principal Price Setters Index ETF becomes the Principal Quality ETF and Principal International Multi Factor Core Index ETF morphs into Principal International Multi-Factor ETF.

On June 30, 2020, Vaughan Nelson Value Opportunity Fund became Vaughan Nelson Mid Cap Fund with the consequent need to, you know, invest in mid cap stocks.

Effective on August 11, 2020, Western Asset SMASh Series Ec Fund will be renamed Western Asset SMASh Series Core Plus Completion Fund.


Eighty-six funds and ETFs are leaving us soon. That’s an unprecedented wave of disappearances, more than twice what we recorded last month. While 20 of those are mergers, in which one fund simply consumes one of its siblings, 66 are straight liquidations. Those are occurring at both large (BlackRock) and boutique (Amidex) firms, with niche and mainstream funds, and with funds with both weak and respectable records. Thirteen of the disappearances are ETFs with several other ETFs becoming “repurposed” in a way that represents the virtual liquidation of the original fund.

Ben Strack of Fund Intelligence, an industry newsletter, reports that the rate of ETF liquidations is running at double last year’s total (“ETF industry poised for record number of fund closures in 2020,” June 22, 2020). He’s projecting 150 closures by August.

The Condemned Date of execution
Aberdeen Diversified Alternatives Fund August 17, 2020
Aberdeen Diversified Income Fund August 17, 2020
Aberdeen Dynamic Allocation Fund August 17, 2020
Aegon Short Duration High Yield Fund  (ADHVX) June 30, 2020
AmericaFirst Seasonal Rotation Fund (STQAX ) June 29, 2020
American Century Multi-Asset Income Fund October 16, 2020
American Century Multi-Asset Real Return Fund  October 16, 2020
AMIDEX35 Israel Fund (AMDAX) June 19, 2020
Amplify EASI Tactical Growth ETF July 6, 2020
BlackRock LifePath Smart Beta Retirement Fund, BlackRock LifePath Smart Beta 2025 Fund, BlackRock LifePath Smart Beta 2030 Fund, BlackRock LifePath Smart Beta 2035 Fund, BlackRock LifePath Smart Beta 2040 Fund, BlackRock LifePath Smart Beta 2045 Fund, BlackRock LifePath Smart Beta 2050 Fund, BlackRock LifePath Smart Beta 2055 Fund, BlackRock LifePath Smart Beta 2060 Fund and BlackRock LifePath Smart Beta 2065 Fund September 2, 2020
Brookfield U.S. Listed Real Estate Fund (BRUAX) June 29, 2020
Camelot Excalibur Small Cap Income Fund (CECAX) July 31, 2020
Campbell Dynamic Trend Fund (CDRTX) July 15, 2020
Caravan Frontier Markets Opportunities Fund (CSFOX) June 30, 2020
Causeway Global Absolute Return Fund (CGAVX), which is underwater by 25% since inception July 20, 2020
Centre Active U.S. Treasury Fund will be merged into Centre Global Infrastructure Fund. Huh? They’re merging a Treasury bond fund into a global equity fund? Skeptics might suspect that this is little more than an attempt to take the $24 million in assets from the bond fund and pour it into the $24 million equity fund (which, one notes, is underwater since inception). Pending shareholder approval
CM Advisors Small Cap Value Fund (CMOVX) August 18, 2020
Columbia Contrarian Europe Fund is merged into Columbia Overseas Core Fund, Columbia Disciplined Small Core Fund merges into Columbia Small Cap Value Fund, Columbia Select Global Growth Fund merges into Columbia Select Global Equity Fund and Columbia Small/Mid Cap Value Fund merges into Columbia Select Mid Cap Value Fund July 10, 202
Delaware Global Real Estate Opportunities Mid-August, 2020
Delaware Government Cash Management Fund Sept. 25, 2020
DGHM V2000 SmallCap Value Fund (DGSMX) June 24, 2020
FormulaFolios US Equity Portfolio June 30, 2020
Hartford Multifactor REIT ETF and Hartford Multifactor Low Volatility US Equity ETF August 14, 2020
Highland Long/Short Equity Fund merged into Highland Merger Arbitrage Fund June 29, 2020
Hotchkis & Wiley Capital Income Fund will merge into Hotchkis & Wiley High Yield Fund Pending shareholder approval
Invesco Global Market Neutral Fund, Invesco Global Opportunities Fund, Invesco Long/Short Equity Fund and Invesco Low Volatility Emerging Markets Fund August 5, 2020
Invesco RAFI Strategic Developed ex-US Small Company ETF (ISDS) August 24, 2020
IQ Short Duration Enhanced Core Bond U.S. ETF, IQ 50 Percent Hedged FTSE Europe ETF, IQ 50 Percent Hedged FTSE Japan ETF, IQ Global Agribusiness Small Cap ETF and IQ Leaders GTAA Tracker ETF August 12, 2020
iShares Europe Developed Real Estate ETF (IFEU) August 20, 2020
John Hancock International Value Fund will merge into their Disciplined Value International Fund Just as soon as shareholders agree
MFS Blended Research Global Equity Fund August 21, 2020
Mirae Asset Emerging Markets VIT Fund June 3, 2020
Morgan Stanley Institutional Fund Trust Liquid Assets Prime Portfolio June 19, 2020
MProved Systematic Multi-Strategy Fund July 15, 2020
O’Shaughnessy Small Cap Value Fund (OFSIX) July 27, 2020
Pacific Funds Large Cap Fund  (PFLAX),  Small-Cap Growth Fund (PFMAX) and Mid-Cap Equity Fund (P Class) July 31, 2020
Parametric Research Affiliates Systematic Alternative Risk Premia Fund July 30, 2020
Pioneer Global Multisector Income Fund August 28, 2020
Principal Contrarian Value Index ETF August 19, 2020
Principal Sustainable Momentum Index ETF August 19, 2020
Pzena Long/Short Value Fund (PZVLX) August 21, 2020
Rational Iron Horse Fund (IRHAX) July 31, 2020
SystematEx International Fund will be merged into Principal Diversified International Fund Likely late in the 3rd quarter, 2020
TETON Westwood Intermediate Bond Fund June 29, 2020
Thrivent Partner Growth Stock Portfolio is merging into Thrivent Large Cap Growth Portfolio July 17, 2020
Transamerica Emerging Markets Equity September 18, 2020
Transamerica Global Real Estate Securities September 18, 2020
Trend Aggregation Dividend and Income Fund (TRADX) and Trend Aggregation Growth Fund Class (TRAAX) June 19, 2020
Virtus Herzfeld Fund and Virtus Horizon Wealth Masters Fund August 18, 2020
Virtus Rampart Multi-Asset Trend Fund will merge into Virtus Tactical Allocation Fund and Virtus Rampart Sector Trend Fund merges into Virtus Tactical Allocation Fund Hmmm … sometime before year’s end
Westfield Capital Large Cap Growth Fund (WCLGX) July 1, 2020
Westwood Emerging Markets Fund (WWEMX) July 24, 2020
Xtrackers MSCI Latin America Pacific Alliance ETF June 26, 2020

In addition, Hartford announced eight mergers taking place in September

Going away Holding on Closing Date
Hartford Global Growth HLS Fund Hartford Disciplined Equity HLS Fund September 18, 2020
Hartford Growth Opportunities HLS Fund Hartford Disciplined Equity HLS Fund September 18, 2020
Hartford MidCap Growth HLS Fund Hartford MidCap HLS Fund September 18, 2020
Hartford MidCap Value HLS Fund Hartford MidCap HLS Fund September 18, 2020
Hartford Value HLS Fund Hartford Dividend and Growth HLS Fund September 18, 2020
Hartford High Yield HLS Fund Hartford Total Return Bond HLS Fund September 25, 2020
Hartford U.S. Government Securities HLS Fund Hartford Ultrashort Bond HLS Fund September 25, 2020


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About David Snowball

David Snowball, PhD (Massachusetts). Cofounder, lead writer. David is a Professor of Communication Studies at Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois, a nationally-recognized college of the liberal arts and sciences, founded in 1860. For a quarter century, David competed in academic debate and coached college debate teams to over 1500 individual victories and 50 tournament championships. When he retired from that research-intensive endeavor, his interest turned to researching fund investing and fund communication strategies. He served as the closing moderator of Brill’s Mutual Funds Interactive (a Forbes “Best of the Web” site), was the Senior Fund Analyst at FundAlarm and author of over 120 fund profiles. David lives in Davenport, Iowa, and spends an amazing amount of time ferrying his son, Will, to baseball tryouts, baseball lessons, baseball practices, baseball games … and social gatherings with young ladies who seem unnervingly interested in him.