ETF Trends
ETF Trends

Vanguard’s decision this week to replace the benchmarks at 22 of its funds and ETFs is reverberating in the index-licensing business, typically a staid and academically-minded corner of the asset-management industry.

On Tuesday, Vanguard said it is swapping out of MSCI indices in several funds and ETFs, in favor of benchmarks managed by FTSE and the University of Chicago’s Center for Research in Security Prices (CRSP). [ETF Fee Wars Spill Into Index-Licensing Business]

MSCI shares were up 4% Wednesday morning after tumbling 27% the previous session on the Vanguard bombshell. [MSCI Shares Drop]

“Given Vanguard’s status as a key MSCI customer, the long-term implications of its decision to part ways with MSCI are worth evaluating carefully,” said Morningstar analyst Swami Shanmugasundaram in a note Tuesday.

MSCI said its annualized revenue and operating income associated with the Vanguard funds being transitioned are approximately $24 million.

The main reason Vanguard seems to have made the switch is that it will pay lower index-licensing fees to FTSE and CRSP.

“We negotiated licensing agreements for these benchmarks that we expect will enable us to deliver significant value to our index fund and ETF shareholders and lower expense ratios over time,” Gus Sauter, chief investment officer at Vanguard, said in a Reuters report.

Henry Fernandez, chief executive at MSCI, on a call Tuesday said ETF managers’ choice of index provider “may not be as sticky as we all thought,” according to the story.

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