ETF Index Changes Show Methodology Matters

July 15th at 10:32am by Tom Lydon

When it comes to ETF benchmarks it may seem like one index is as good as another. But that’s certainly not the case, especially for sophisticated institutional investors.

For example, State Street Global Advisors recently switched indices in a trio of its ETFs, moving to Russell benchmarks in place of the existing Dow Jones indices. The transition affects a U.S. total market ETF, a large-cap ETF and a mid-cap ETF managed by State Street, which also changed to tickers for the funds.

The three funds will now be called SPDR Russell 3000 ETF (NYSEArca: THRK), SPDR Russell 1000 ETF (NYSEArca: ONEK) and SPDR Russell Small Cap Completeness ETF (NYSEArca: RSCO).

“The changes appear to be aimed at breathing new life into a set of broad index ETFs that have struggled to gain traction with investors,” said Morningstar ETF analyst Robert Goldsborough. “One of the existing ETFs has more than $500 million in assets, but the others have about $40 million and $100 million in them. Now, State Street’s reboot has resulted in a cohesive family of new funds tracking Russell indexes, all of which carry very competitive price tags.”

State Street also rolled out a new small-cap fund, SPDR Russell 2000 ETF (NYSEArca: TWOK), that will compete with existing ETFs tracking the same Russell index. [IWM Gets a New Rival]

“The Russell indexes are strong U.S. equity benchmarks that are backed by a transparent, rules-based methodology that is accurate and replicable,” said Jim Ross, global head of SPDR ETFs at State Street Global Advisors.

“State Street is excited to deepen our relationship with Russell Indexes, as an institutional leader in indexing and to provide clients more access to the US equity market,” added David Mazza, head of ETF investment strategy, Americas, at State Street. “The State Street Russell ETFs allow for a modular approach to U.S. index investing by offering precise exposure to large cap, small cap, small to mid cap and the total market.”

Separately, Vanguard last year announced it was switching to FTSE and CRSP indices from MSCI benchmarks at several of its ETFs. [Vanguard ETFs Gather $40 Billion After Index Transition]

The moves show that ETF providers will take proactive steps to get the best indices for their investors, and at the lowest cost.

NOTE: Later this week, ETFtrends.com will be hosting a webcast Why Methodology Matters. The webcast is scheduled for Wednesday, July 17, at 2 pm ET.

A panel will discuss index rebalancing and how it may affect asset allocation and portfolio construction, best practices for benchmarking and other topics. ETFtrends editor and publisher Tom Lydon will moderate the panel, which includes State Street’s Mazza, and David Koenig, investment strategist at Russell Indexes.

Financial advisors can register for the webcast here. Accepted for 1 CFP and CIMA CE Credit.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.

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