A customised approach to ETFs
Christine St Anne  |  26/10/2012Text size  Decrease  Increase  |  

Christine St Anne: UBS recently launched in Australian equities exchange-traded fund, or ETF, to the Australian market. To give us an insight into how this ETF works, I'm joined by Ben Heap. Ben welcome.

Ben Heap: Thanks, Christine.

St Anne: Ben, UBS has been offering ETFs globally since 2001, why have you decided to offer ETF now into the Australian market?

Heap: This is a market that's one of the larger investment markets in the world and it's a market where UBS has been committed for a long time. With respect to asset management, we've seen the success with our ETF offshore and we've seen the steady growth of the market here, and so we think that growth will continue. We think that’s one of the things investors are looking for and our mantra is always to give investors products that meet their needs.

St Anne: There are a number of established ETF providers already in Australia. Ben, how is UBS going to distinguish itself from those other providers?

Heap: It's a very good question. I think a number of competitors, as you rightly say, have been here for a while and offering traditional passive ETF products. We had sought to do something a little bit different. We've sought to develop a product in our initial ETF, which offers a solution for investors which is a little bit better than might be available through a traditional passive ETF.

And in doing that what we've done is taken traditional market cap-weighted index and instead developed an index which takes account of quality of underlying stocks. In other words, do I hold all the stocks ASX 200, if instead you can hold a subgroup of those stocks which are likely to be better performing.

St Anne: Ben, can you tell us a little bit about the UBS preferred research index, which is what your ETF tracks?

Heap: Sure. That's right. So that is an index that the UBS Investment Bank has created and we are managing against. That index, instead of simply holding stocks in accordance with market capitalization, uses a series of filters to identify what we hope and expect will be a better performing subgroup of the overall index.

Now those filters are in part quality based, so very simply the buy recommendations that come out number one rated investment bank research type, traditionally that research has only been available to institutions, so this makes that research available to retail SMSF (self-managed superannuation fund) investors and in a series of quantitative filters as well.

So rather than simply holding in accordance with market capitalization, we use what's called a modified market capitalization. So that allows us to hold some smaller stocks that we think will be significant outperformance in a higher percentage and it means we're not obligated to simply hold the banks and the resource companies in large part.

St Anne: So what sort of companies are in that index?

Heap: It is still all stocks from ASX 200, so it's by definition large Australian well-known brand name stocks. We will always hold at least one bank. We will likely always hold stocks from the resources sector and then we'll hold industrial stocks as well. But instead of simply holding 50 per cent of our overall index in the top 10 stocks, which is roughly their percentage of market capitalization, we're able to hold a broader group of those stocks. So it will be traditional brand names and every day you can go to the UBS website and see exactly what stocks were in the index.

St Anne: Ben, you mentioned that index is more customized and uses filters. Does this mean your ETF is a bit more active than some of the other passive ETFs out there?

Heap: Yeah, I think that’s a good question. We, obviously, also have actively managed funds, which are based on the fundamental research from our teams all around the world and this ETF is not designed to replace those actively managed funds at all. That is a solution that meets a lot of our investors' needs.

For some investors a pure passive solution at a very low cost is what meets their need. For institutional investors to look at something in between and that is a cost-effective solution, which is based on an index so it provides broad exposure to the Australian equities market, but with a better return than you would otherwise be able to earn from simply investing in the index itself.

St Anne: How is that research shaped with your ETF product team, are there any processes in place?

Heap: Yeah, absolutely and there's very clear Chinese roles around these types of things in practice, the investment bank has constructed an index and that index is made available every day through our website and on that index, you can see exactly what stocks make up the index. We are in managing to that index.

So investors have absolute transparency, which is one of the strong advantages of ETFs. They know they are, through this ETF, holding the underlying stocks. It’s what's called a physical replication ETF, which is a very important principle and they’re able to take advantage of that expertise and invest in those preferred stocks in a way that we think is very cost-effective versus the alternatives in the market.

St Anne: Ben, a lot of our investors love their dividends. Does your ETF give investors these dividends?

Heap: Absolutely. So this ETF will pay semi-annual dividend based on the dividends that come from the underlying companies and therefore, the sort of dividend return will be very similar to the overall market return in terms of income. However, Christine, this is a space we certainly see appetite from investors and one of the things we are looking at going forward is developing a dividend or income skewed version of our ETF as well and that's something we'd like to offer to investors in the near future.

Video Archive...

The problem with China
07/10/2015  China’s stock market crash will spur an internal debate in the country about the need for more market-based reforms, says author and former banker Satyajit Das.
Best ideas in credit
06/10/2015  Morningstar’s John Likos discusses what types of securities are included in the Moat-Focused Credit Best Ideas list.
Pitfalls of investing for retirement
30/09/2015  Bad behaviour before and in retirement can take a major hit to your savings. We outline the pitfalls to avoid if you want to maximise your pension pot.
Outlook for rates and the dollar
28/09/2015  Nikko Asset Management currency strategist Roger Bridges gives his view on China's recent move with the yuan, as well as the outlook for interest rates and the Australian dollar.
The new mediocre and growth
25/09/2015  Housing affordability challenges and shorter government terms will be the norm under the "new mediocre" of growth, says author Satyajit Das.
A look at global valuations
22/09/2015  Magellan’s Hamish Douglass talks about where he is finding value across the globe and why his fund has reduced its exposure to emerging markets
Global economic worries stall Fed
18/09/2015  Although overseas concerns halted Fed action this month, a hike is still in the cards this year--but it shouldn't derail the economy, say Morningstar's Bob Johnson.
M&A outlook for energy and resources
16/09/2015  Further acquisitions are expected following Woodside’s bid for Oil Search as the sectors face weak commodity prices, says Morningstar’s Mark Taylor.
Seeking value in turbulent markets
09/09/2015  Quality stocks will continue to focus on their growth strategies despite the market swings.
4 retiree to-dos in a turbulent market
02/09/2015  Despite the market swings, retirees can control stuff like checking cash reserves and spending levels.
Where to shop for quality stocks
31/08/2015  Morningstar's Peter Warnes gives his take on the recently concluded earnings season and gives investors some advice for coping with the recent volatility.
What now for China-exposed ETFs?
27/08/2015  Morningstar’s Alex Prineas discusses the growth of the ETF market and what the China market turmoil means for the A-Share ETFs.
Market overreacting to China news
26/08/2015  The depth of the market sell-off isn’t justified by the data out of China, says Morningstar’s Francisco Torralba
What to make of the market mayhem
25/08/2015  As the market focuses on China and the Fed, investors should keep an eye on the long term.
QBE emerges from rough patch
19/08/2015  As the fiscal 2015 earnings season rolls on, Morningstar's Peter Warnes gives investors his view on results from QBE, ANZ and Newcrest, while also sharing his thoughts on the Asciano takeover.
Telstra makes a statement
14/08/2015  Morningstar's Peter Warnes gives investors his take on the full-year results from the likes of Cochlear, CSL, the Commonwealth Bank and Telstra.
Introducing Morningstar's new fund screener
13/08/2015  Quality fund managers across a range of asset classes can now be easily selected using Morningstar's new fund screener.
What are the priorities for retail shareholders?
11/08/2015  The Australian Shareholders’ Association will be keeping a close watch on the current reporting season to ensure companies are balancing growth with regular dividend payments.
Introducing Morningstar's new stock screener
04/08/2015  Morningstar's new stock screener allows exclusive access to our analyst ratings, including recommendation, economic moat, stewardship and fair value uncertainty ratings.
An insight into the Chinese market fall
31/07/2015  The Chinese market has been on a rollercoaster ride over the past year, particularly in recent weeks.