Is it still possible to create innovative ETFs?

12 February 2019 by Joe Nakhle
Open architecture

I am proud to announce that National Bank Investments (NBI) has launched its first series of four exchange-traded funds (ETF).

We are very aware that we are not the only players in the ETF space, but in the last few years, many financial institutions have launched conventional ETFs and passive index tracking ETFs.

Rather than further saturate the Canadian market with similar products, we wanted to drive the evolution of ETF solutions by offering investors innovative opportunities for risk and portfolio diversification.

This launch is in line with our mission of offering a comprehensive range of investment products and solutions that respond to the various needs of investors. This will allow them to stay focused on their financial objectives, despite the complexities of today’s markets.

Emphasizing active management

With today’s markets being more sophisticated than ever, we firmly believe that active management can result in further value. Our first series of four ETFs offer exposure to non-traditional niches, both active and alternative, and allows investors to reduce the risk of their portfolios.

Adopting a 100% open architecture approach

Our four ETFs adhere to our 100% open architecture approach, which empowers us to pick and choose from among the world’s best portfolio managers. We base our selection process on the following criteria: organizations with a proven track record; tried-and-true stock selection processes; optimal portfolio construction; performance; and the integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria.

Should results fall short of expectations, this approach allows us to act quickly. Our decisions are guided by one dominant goal: to offer investment solutions that meet the requirements of different risk profiles, tailored to today’s market conditions.

Opting for non-traditional niches

The investment objective of our NBI Global Real Assets Income ETF (TSX: NREA) is to create income and long-term capital growth while focusing on hedging against inflation.

It invests, directly or through investments in securities of other mutual funds, in a portfolio composed primarily of common shares of companies located around the world in industry sectors associated with real assets.

These real assets are publicly traded securities of real estate and infrastructure companies. In terms of portfolio diversification, such exposure has shown an ability to generate attractive returns in both bull and bear market scenarios.

In the current market, it takes time to generate returns on real estate investments. With this ETF, we prioritize publicly traded companies that build infrastructure projects supported by different governments. These can include hospitals, prisons and water systems in North America and Europe, or telecommunications infrastructure in the United States and Italy. In most cases, such projects generally move forward, regardless of socio-economic or political changes.

Because this is a niche market, it doesn’t correlate precisely with stock fluctuations. And yet, for this very reason, it can serve as a way to hedge against market downturns, because irrespective of the financial or geopolitical landscape, the world will always need adequate infrastructure.

The investment objective of our NBI Active Canadian Preferred Shares ETF (TSX: NPRF) is to generate tax-efficient dividend income while focusing on capital preservation.

It invests, directly or through investments in securities of other mutual funds, in a portfolio composed primarily of preferred shares of Canadian companies and other income-generating securities of Canadian companies.

Exposure to preferred shares is appropriate for most investment portfolios, as they pay fixed dividends that have priority over dividends on common shares.

For investors looking for a non-traditional product, this ETF provides an opportunity to reduce risk and is comparatively less costly. The portfolio manager’s active style favours a balanced approach that avoids undue exposure to certain risks.

Trusting Canadian stock market analysis

The investment goal of our NBI Canadian Family Business ETF (TSX: NFAM) is to ensure long-term capital growth by replicating, to the extent reasonably possible and before fees and expenses, the performance of a Canadian equity index that measures the investment return of family-owned, publicly listed Canadian companies. Currently, this ETF tracks the performance of the NBC Canadian Family Index.

The NBI Canadian Family Business ETF invests directly, or indirectly through investments in securities of other mutual funds, in a portfolio composed primarily of shares of family-owned Canadian companies.

Of our four ETFs, it is the only one that employs passive index management. Over the last 10 years, the NBC Canadian Family Index has shown that family-owned companies tend to perform satisfactorily and stably. Once again, this ETF stands out for its highly niched exposure strategy, while diversifying traditional Canadian index products.

Rethinking liquid alternatives ETFs

Our NBI Liquid Alternatives ETF (TSX: NALT) aims to provide positive returns while also seeking to reduce volatility and to lower correlation to the returns of the world’s major equity markets.

This mandate will be upheld, regardless of prevailing market conditions or general market direction, by investing primarily in long and short positions on financial derivatives providing exposure to major asset classes such as government bonds, currencies, equities and commodities.

When investors think liquid alternatives, they tend to think high volatility and high returns. This can lead to disappointment in the asset class in general; when the markets have pulled back in the past, liquid alts have not fared well. Such liquid alts, however, were designed to provide returns under full exposure to risk.

With the NBI Liquid Alternatives ETF, we are not aiming for full risk. Indeed, there is little appetite for going full risk in a volatile market. But there is a desire to hedge risk while achieving returns above and beyond what liquidity-based portfolios can offer. With this ETF, we are giving the portfolio manager greater flexibility to pursue non-traditional products.


Legal notes

NBI ETFs are offered by National Bank Investments Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of National Bank of Canada. Commissions, management fees and expenses all may be associated with investments in exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Please read the prospectus or ETF Fund Facts document(s) before investing. ETFs are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated. ETF units are bought and sold at market price on a stock exchange and brokerage commissions will reduce returns. NBI ETFs do not seek to return any predetermined amount at maturity. Index returns do not represent NBI ETF returns. The indicated rates of return are the historical total returns for the periods including changes in unit value and reinvestment of all distributions and do not take into account sales, redemption, commission charges or income taxes payable by any unitholder that would have reduced returns.

® NATIONAL BANK INVESTMENTS is a registered trademark of National Bank of Canada, used under license by National Bank Investments Inc.

The information and the data supplied in the present document, including those supplied by third parties, are considered accurate at the time of their publishing and were obtained from sources which we considered reliable. We reserve the right to modify them without advance notice. This information and data are supplied as informative content only. No representation or guarantee, explicit or implicit, is made as for the exactness, the quality and the complete character of this information and these data.

The opinions expressed are not to be construed as solicitation or offer to buy or sell shares mentioned herein and should not be considered as recommendations.

National Bank Investments is a member of Canada’s Responsible Investment Association and a signatory of the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment.

© 2020 National Bank Investments Inc. All rights reserved. Any reproduction, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited without the prior written consent of National Bank Investments Inc.


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