Will BlackRock Cut iShares ETF Fees?
July 18th 2012 at 2:57pm by John Spence
BlackRock Chief Executive Larry Fink on Wednesday acknowledged the company’s ETF arm iShares is losing market share to low-cost competitors in some products but said the firm has a plan to bolster inflows.
BlackRock’s dominant position in the ETF business has slipped a bit recently as some investors migrate to cheaper funds managed by Vanguard. [BlackRock’s iShares ETFs ‘In the Middle of a Price War’]
“Without going into much detail we believe we have a plan to address it over the coming months. And it is a big issue and I have to give a lot of credit to Vanguard, they are a trustworthy brand and they have taken market share from BlackRock in the U.S. core type of equity products,” Fink said during BlackRock’s second-quarter earnings call Wednesday.
Many experts and advisors believe iShares will eventually have to lower expenses on its ETFs that compete with Vanguard’s, Reuters reports.
“I think they can pick their moment,” said ETFtrends editor Tom Lydon in the report. “Investors and advisers are still somewhat checked out, but once they start coming back to the markets, I believe iShares will … cut fees.”
Fink said iShares is holding its own in the global ETF business and has seen strength recently in the fixed-income side of the business.
However, he’s “not pleased” with BlackRock’s positioning in core U.S. products to date.
In core equity-based strategies, index-tracking ETFs are often seen as commodities with many investors and financial advisors choosing individual funds based on cost.
“Price becomes more dominant because competitors have equal liquidity, equal tracking error,” Fink said.
In U.S.-listed ETFs, iShares has gathered $16.2 billion of net inflows year to date as of June 30, compared with $29.6 billion for Vanguard, according to ETF Industry Association data.
The global iShares business captured $6.1 billion in net inflows in the second quarter, Fink said Wednesday.
The BlackRock CEO said iShares grabbed over 50% of the market share of fixed-income flows for the quarter with $11.7 billion, while “de-risking” is impacting its equity ETFs.
“And when you see risk-off globally, our iShares ETF platform will probably be more harmed in outflows because we have a multitude of products that are international-based that I would call more aggressive type of strategies than the core indexed, fundamental strategies,” Fink said.
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