ETF Trends
ETF Trends

Investors seeking a mix of income and a shield against higher interest rates have discovered bank loan ETFs. The category has matured to a degree that they can choose from both actively managed funds and passive, index-linked ETFs.

“There are a number of mutual funds, closed-end funds, and exchange-traded funds that invest in bank loans. There are pros and cons to investing in each fund format that are important to be aware of,” says Morningstar ETF analyst Timothy Strauts. “Exchange-traded funds are a relatively new vehicle for gaining exposure to bank loans.”

PowerShares Senior Loan Portfolio (NYSEArca: BKLN) is the oldest ETF in the group, launching in March 2011. The fund holds $4.8 billion of assets and is currently paying an SEC yield of 4.17%. BKLN is one of the best-selling ETFs this year. It has an expense ratio of 0.66%.

“ETFs have the advantage of offering below-average fees and intraday liquidity and tend to trade near net asset value. ETF investors have the choice between passive or active strategies in the ETF wrapper,” Strauts wrote in an article posted on Morningstar’s website Friday. “And for investors who value intraday liquidity, the current crop of bank-loan ETFs has greater trading volumes, on average, than its [closed-end fund] peer group.”

SPDR Blackstone/GSO Senior Loan (NYSEArca: SRLN), an active ETF, has grown to more than $400 million in assets after launching in April. [Senior Loan ETFs Face New Actively Managed Rival]

“Investors’ apparent enthusiasm for the fund is likely attributable to name recognition. Blackstone is an institutional asset manager that specializes in private equity. GSO is a subsidiary of Blackstone that focuses on credit-oriented alternative investments,” Strauts noted.

“SRLN’s 0.90% expense ratio is low relative to actively managed bank-loan funds. The fund has a current SEC yield of 2.7%,” he added.

Elsewhere in bank loan ETFs, Highland/iBoxx Senior Loan (NYSEArca: SNLN) is index-based, while First Trust Senior Loan Fund (NasdaqGM: FTSL) is actively managed. [Bank Loan ETFs: Active or Passive?]

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of John Spence, 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.