Low cost, tax advantaged, and transparent. Those are the hallmark advantages that ETFs provide over mutual funds, but BlackRock has filed a request with the SEC to upend one of those three prongs – transparency.
BlackRock is currently the largest ETF provider in the world with its iShares line of ETFs. They offer over 700 ETFs and have over $1 trillion in assets under management.
The Wall Street Journal reported today that, “In a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission dated November 12th BlackRock units sought approval that sought approval that ‘would permit applicants to operate actively managed exchange-traded funds that do not disclose their portfolio holdings on a daily basis'”.
The transparency of ETFs has long been an allure of the vehicle. The shielded and mysterious nature of many active mutual funds has driven many investors to the lower cost alternative. As investors become increasingly informed and information is ubiquitous they have enjoyed knowing what underlying stocks they own and how they’re being traded.
Of course, from the perspective of ETF issuers this causes a glaring competitive democratization. BlackRock and other providers of active funds pour resources into the development of active strategies and opening the hood to investors also means opening it to competitors.
BlackRock said Monday, “As we evaluate our options for nontransparent active ETFs, we remain focused on offering exposure-based iShares ETFs that provide daily transparency across the most global range of exposures to meet our clients’ investment needs…”.
Options. That’s what benefits all investors, the prevalence of options for their particular situation and non-transparent, actively-managed ETFs – alongside their passively managed, transparent alternatives – are a natural evolution of the marketplace. Investors only stand to benefit from a diversity of ways both active and passive to capture better yields and returns.