FocusShares Make Splashy Return
March 30, 2011
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FocusShares, the exchange-traded fund company that shuttered its lineup of niche funds in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, came roaring back to life today by launching 15 ETFs focused on various sectors and styles in the U.S. equity universe, some that are the cheapest on the market.
The Montvale, N.J.-based company’s Focus Morningstar US Market Index ETF (NYSEArca: FMU) has an annual expense ratio of 0.05 percent, 0.01 percent cheaper than the Schwab U.S. Broad Market Equity ETF (NYSEArca: SCHB). Moreover, its Focus Morningstar Large Cap Index ETF (NYSEArca FLG)—also priced at 0.05 percent, is 1 basis point cheaper than the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: VOO).
The company’s splashy return to the vibrant and highly competitive world of ETFs is predicated on it being acquired in June 2010 by Scottrade, the St. Louis-based online discount brokerage. The transaction was completed stealthily, without press releases, in part because Scottrade is privately held. Word of the deal percolated through the ETF industry rumor mill, as did talk the new ETFs would be available commission free to Scottrade clients.
Terms of the acquisition weren’t disclosed, but on Wednesday a Scottrade official confirmed that trading of the new ETFs will be commission free to Scottrade’s 2 million clients as well as 800 financial advisors who are part of its Scottrade Advisor Services. The launch of cheapest-in-class ETFs and free trading sends a clear signal that together, FocusShares and Scottrade are dead serious about getting traction in an ETF world that increasingly is defined by low prices.
“These are the first proprietary products that Scottrade has ever had,” Kelly Doria, the top public relations officer at Scottrade, said in a telephone interview on March 30. “We think these 15 domestic equity ETFs are a good foundation, and we’ll be looking to expand that at some point in the future, and time will tell what specific products will be.”
The 15 ETFs, their trading symbols and their expense ratios are:
“These ETFs really can be for an investor, for a trader, for an advisor, for the institutional market—they’re completely flexible for whoever wants to trade and for whatever they want to trade them for,” Doria said.
Partnering with Morningstar was an important piece of the strategic vision for both FocusShares and Scottrade, Doria said. The world of exchange-traded funds doesn't yet have many ETFs with the Chicago-based financial information firm as index provider, which is likely to give FocusShares and Scottrade another arrow in their marketing quill, she added.
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