Finally a Free ETF

A cornerstone of the exchange traded fund industry’s disruptive, game-changing nature has been low fees. ETF providers have been able to pilfer assets from their actively managed mutual fund counterparts not only because an alarming percentage of actively managed funds lag benchmarks, but also because those funds charge gaudy fees for the privilege of sub-par returns.

Over the years, ETF issuers have moved from challenging mutual fund providers on fees to broadening the fee war within the ETF business itself. With competition increasingly intense in the ETF business, issuers, including some of the largest, have not shied away from reducing investors’ costs. [iShares Lowers Fees on 24 ETFs]

So familiar has ETF fee-cutting become that some industry observers have speculated that it is only a matter of time before a no fee ETF comes to market. That moment is nearly here as Mebane Faber’s Cambria Funds is expected to launch the Cambria Global Asset Allocation ETF on Wednesday.

The new ETF, which will be structured as an ETF of ETFs, will trade under the ticker “GAA.” California-based Cambria “won’t charge any fees to manage a portfolio that will mostly hold funds from big-name providers such as Vanguard Group and BlackRock’s iShares unit. Investors will pay only the expenses of the underlying ETFs, which will average about 0.29% of assets, or $29 a year on a $10,000 investment,” reports Karen Damato for the Wall Street Journal.