October 2020 IssueLong scroll reading

Briefly Noted

By David Snowball


FPA has filed to launch FPA Queens Road Small Cap Value Fund. As we noted a couple of months ago, Bragg Capital, an adviser to the Queens Road Funds, entered into an agreement with FPA to have FPA take responsibility for marketing the funds. That allowed FPA to leverage their marketing group and allowed Bragg to focus on running two really exceptional funds: Value and Small Cap Value. This partnership is likely a substantial win for all involved, investors and advisors alike.

FPA, meanwhile, will no longer be managing the Goldman Sachs Multi-Manager Alternatives Fund (GMAMX).

The industry’s hottest – which is to say, most desperate – trend roars on adding “Sustainable” to names.

Briefly Noted . . .

Effective June 30, 2021, Michael Stack will retire from Wellington Management Company and will no longer serve as a portfolio manager for Vanguard Wellesley Income Fund, Vanguard Global Wellesley, and Vanguard Global Wellington.

The folks at Tweedy Browne really think you should read Nir Kaissar’s article, “Money managers are punished by a runaway S&P 500,” Bloomberg, 1 September 2020. A quick synopsis: the S&P is driven by a half dozen companies, even really, really smart investors who try to get out of the way of that particular train (the endowments at Harvard and Yale, for instance) have been left behind. The question is, have the country’s smartest long-term investors all gone stupid simultaneously, or is there a warning there for those who continue to pile on?


Effective October 19, 2020, Goldman Sachs International Small Cap Insights Fund will reopen for investment by new investors. It’s a four-star, $3 billion small-cap growth fund that seems to have had slow but minor outflows over the past two years.

Effective October 19, 2020, Hartford Schroders Emerging Markets Equity Fund will also be reopening to new investors. Four-star, four billion, generally stable asset base. The somewhat less-compelling Hartford International Value and Hartford Small Cap Growth funds reopen the same day.

CLOSINGS (and related inconveniences)

Effective at the close of business on December 31, 2020, Morgan Stanley Global Opportunity Portfolio will close to new investors.

Poplar Forest Cornerstone Fund (PFCFX) has closed its “A” share class. Current “A” holders become “Institutional” holders.

Newfound Risk Managed U.S. Growth Fund (formerly Newfound Risk Managed U.S. Sectors Fund) has done likewise.


On December 1, 2020, Aberdeen Select International Equity Fund becomes Aberdeen International Sustainable Leaders Fund. They got a whole new management team in early 2019 and its been a really solid fund since then, with $125 million in assets. Not immediately clear that they have special expertise in sustainable investing but … you know, marketing. At the same time, Aberdeen U.S. Multi-Cap Equity Fund becomes Aberdeen U.S. Sustainable Leaders Fund. Okay, it’s almost mostly large-cap and the portfolio has an okay sustainability profile, though it tends to lag 70% of its peers. The more problematic change is the transformation of the small and bad Aberdeen Focus US Equity – a large-cap fund – into Aberdeen U.S. Sustainable Leaders Smaller Companies Fund. The fund currently has no small-cap exposure, which suggests a complete portfolio rebuild.

On December 14, 2020, Highland Total Return Fund and Highland Fixed Income Fund morph into First Foundation Total Return Fund and First Foundation Fixed Income Fund. No substantial changes which, let’s be honest, is unfortunate. Total Return is a one-star fund with $67 million and Fixed Income is a two-star fund.

Thornburg Low Duration Income Fund has become Thornburg Ultra-Short Income Fund.

Effective October 1, 2020, the USAA World Growth Fund changed its name to the USAA Sustainable World Fund.

Uniformly, the Walden Funds have become the Boston Trust Walden Funds.

Wells Fargo is rechristening all of its “WealthBuilder” funds on November 2.

Current Fund Name New Fund Name
Wells Fargo WealthBuilder Conservative Allocation Fund Wells Fargo Spectrum Income Allocation Fund
Wells Fargo WealthBuilder Equity Fund Wells Fargo Spectrum Aggressive Growth Fund
Wells Fargo WealthBuilder Growth Allocation Fund Wells Fargo Spectrum Growth Fund
Wells Fargo WealthBuilder Growth Balanced Fund Wells Fargo Spectrum Moderate Growth Fund
Wells Fargo WealthBuilder Moderate Balanced Fund Wells Fargo Spectrum Conservative Growth Fund


Effective on or about November 20, 2020,  AllianzGI Emerging Markets Small Cap Fund will be liquidated and dissolved.

On October 15, 2020, AlphaSimplex Tactical U.S. Market Fund will be liquidated.

BMO LGM Frontier Markets Equity Fund is in the process of liquidating and has begun making payouts to its former shareholders.

On October 14, 2020, Brown Advisory Strategic Bond Fund will be liquidated.

On November 27, 2020, Copeland International Risk Managed Dividend Growth Fund will be liquidated.

The tiny, two-star Frost Value Equity Fund has closed to new investors and will be liquidated on November 27, 2020.

On September 25, 2020, Hartford High Yield HLS Fund was merged into Hartford Total Return Bond HLS Fund, and Hartford U.S. Government Securities HLS Fund was absorbed by Hartford Ultrashort Bond HLS Fund.

On September 25, 2020, the ICON Risk-Managed Balanced Fund was merged into the ICON Equity Income Fund

LMCG International Small Cap Fund will be liquidated on October 12, 2020.

On October 9, 2020, Levin Easterly Value Opportunities Fund will be liquidated.

On October 12, 2020, Newfound Risk Managed Global Growth Fund (formerly Newfound Risk Managed Global Sectors Fund) slides beneath the waves.

At some point or another, Old Westbury Multi-Asset Opportunities Fund will be liquidated. Not quite sure of when that will happen. Might have happened (Morningstar no longer lists them, or sites do).

Orchard Small Cap Value Fund has been liquidated.

Pacific Select Funds plan to liquidate their International Equity Income Portfolio on October 30, 2020.

On October 1, 2020, ProShares Ultra Communication Services Select Sector and ProShares UltraShort Communication Services Select Sector ceased communicating.

On September 25, 2020, the Segall Bryant & Hamill Small Cap Value Dividend Fund was merged into the Segall Bryant & Hamill Small Cap Value Fund.

On December 18, 2020, State Street Dynamic Small Cap Fund becomes, you know, less … dynamic. Or dead.

On December 18, 2020, TIAA-CREF Quant Large-Cap Growth Fund, TIAA-CREF Quant Large-Cap Value Fund, and TIAA-CREF Quant International Equity Fund will be liquidated. So we’ve sort of started the countdown on the quant funds?

USCF Summerhaven SHPEI Index Fund (BUY) becomes a (SELL) on October 14, 2020.

US Global Investors All American Equity Fund is likely to be reorganized in the Global Luxury Goods Fund. All American is a small, underperforming fund that promises you the opportunity to invest “right here at home” and the fund’s homepage is a marketing mash of All American imagery. There’s a cynical irony to imagining replacing the scenes of American flags and cornfields with Chinese yuppies wearing Prada clutching Gucci bags.

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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.