Momentum Serves This Financial ETF Well

It is no secret that the financial services sector, the second-largest sector weight in the S&P 500 behind technology, has struggled to start 2015.

For example, the Vanguard Financials ETF (NYSEArca: VFH) is down nearly 2%. With a similar loss, the Financial Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLF) is the worst performer of the nine sector SPDR ETFs to start 2015, but all is not lost for ETFs tracking financials.

On Thursday, 37 ETFs made fresh all-time highs. The PowerShares DWA Financial Momentum Portfolio (NYSEArca: PFI) was one of those 37. PFI was one of 10 PowerShares ETFs, including nine sector funds, that transitioned to momentum-based Dorsey Wright indices in February. Those indices focus on identifying stocks with impressive relative strength and have fostered performance advantages for several other ETFs in that PowerShares stable. [Index Swap Helping These ETFs]

Over the past year, PFI has trade in-line with rival, cap-weighted financial services ETFs, but over the past six months, the momentum-driven PFI has started to pull away from its competitors. In that time, PFI has surged 9%, double the performance of VFH over the same period. PFI’s industry mix is a big reason why.

While traditional financial services ETFs have been plagued by slack earnings results, increased regulatory burdens and high legal fees for big money center banks, PFI has been somewhat immune to those themes because the ETF currently allocates just 18% of its combined weight to banks and capital markets firms. [Bank ETFs Could Disappoint]

The ETF is home to just one money center bank: Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC). No investment banks are found in the fund.