Vanguard’s recent decision to drop MSCI benchmarks at its exchange traded funds is reverberating through the ETF industry.
However, some firms such as Van Eck have developed their own indices rather than paying licensing fees to third-party benchmark providers. WidsomTree is another ETF company that has designed its own indices. [Vanguard Benchmark Trade Shakes Up Index Industry]
Vanguard’s transition “does reflect multiple options out there for indices,” said Adam Phillips, chief operating officer at Van Eck, in a recent telephone interview.
For some ETFs, Van Eck licenses benchmarks from independent providers but also uses indices from its own index affiliate.
“We’re always looking at ETF fees,” Phillips said. “We’re trying to keep it low-cost.”
One example is Van Eck’s Market Vectors Brazil Small-Cap ETF (NYSEArca: BRF), which tracks a Market Vectors index.
“In this instance, we wanted to make sure there was certain methodology in terms of liquidity, caps on stock and sector weights, investability, and covering the full universe,” Phillips explained.
There is separation between the ETF manager and the index provider.
“There are safeguards in place, and we received self-indexing relief from the SEC which comes with guidelines in terms of firewalls,” the Van Eck COO said.
Overall, Phillips said the firm has seen interest recently in its gold miner ETFs, Market Vectors Gold Miners (NYSEArca: GDX) and Market Vector Junior Gold Miners (NYSEArca: GDXJ) after strong performance in September.
Another recent trend has been flows to its municipal bond products, especially Market Vectors High-Yield Municipal Index ETF (NYSEArca: HYD). [Muni Bond ETFs: Red Light, Green Light]
Other hot products include Market Vectors Preferred Securities ex Financials (NYSEArca: PFXF) and Market Vectors Mortgage REIT Income ETF (NYSEArca: MORT), Phillips said.