ETF Homework Remains Despite SEC Efforts

I was doing final prep work for the VettaFi Equity Symposium last week (close to 500 live attendees and more will catch the replay). However, the regulators made asset management news with their focus on “truth in advertising. Despite their well-intentioned efforts, it will remain paramount for investors to do their homework and look inside the portfolio.

Naming Conventions for ETFs

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted amendments to the Investment Company Act “Names Rule.” This addressed fund names that they said were “likely to mislead investors about a fund’s investments and risks.”

According to the SEC, “typically, a fund’s name is the first piece of information that investors receive about a fund, and fund names offer important signaling for investors in assessing their investment options.”

The SEC believes “the amendments to the Names Rule will enhance the rule’s protections by requiring more funds to adopt an 80 percent investment policy.” This now includes funds with names suggesting a focus on investments with certain characteristics. For example, terms such as “growth” or “value” were highlighted. In addition, certain terms that reference a thematic investment focus, such as the incorporation of one or more environmental, social, or governance factors were called out by the regulators.

The amendments will include enhanced prospectus disclosure requirements for terminology used in fund names. This includes a requirement that any terms used in the fund’s name that suggest an investment focus must be consistent with those terms’ plain English meaning or established industry use.