Monday 25th July 2016
NEWS TICKER: JULY 22nd 2016: Apple Inc is planning to open its first Apple Store in Taiwan, a move that comes after the U.S. technology giant raised $1.38 billion in a bond offering last month on the island that is home to many companies in its supply chain -- Taiwan stocks fell in the Asian session today after hitting a more than one-year high in the previous session, tracking losses in overseas markets. The main TAIEX index was down 0.4% at 9,019.87, after closing 0.5% higher in the previous session. Taiwan's export orders from China, in data issued earlier this week, showed slippage in June, hurt by weaker demand for displays, though not by as much as expected. Even so, the Taiwan dollar softened TAD0.019 to TAD32.079 per US dollar - Phillip Capital Group, an Asian financial services provider with $30bn 3 in assets under custody and management, has appointed BNP Paribas Securities Services to service its Singapore-based funds. BNP Paribas Securities Services is a global custodian with USD 9 trillion in assets under custody. Phillip Capital Management (S) Pte Ltd (PCM) has migrated its largest SGD money market fund to BNP Securities Services Singapore. This will help the company enhance operational efficiency and fulfil its regulatory requirements. For example, the company will be able to manage, track and report on its funds in a consistent and timely fashion. The long-term benefits will enable a standardised and scalable approach to custody services being extended into other locations for PCM. Phillip Capital Management (HK) Ltd is also working with BNP Paribas Securities Services to launch a fund in Hong Kong -- Following the event strewn Republican Convention this week, next week it is the turn of the Democrats. The Democratic National Convention is set to take place in Philadelphia from July 25th to 28th. The event is scheduled to be held at the Wells Fargo Center -- China's CSI 300 index and the Shanghai Composite both slipped about 0.5% in the Asian session today, with losses of around 1% for the week. Japan's Nikkei 225 closed down 1.1%, dragged down by the yen's 1% rally on Thursday – a trend that has been apparent all year. The index is still up 0.8% in a week in which it touched an eight-week high thanks to an initially weaker yen and expectations of fiscal and monetary stimulus, though in an interview with BBC radio this week, the Bank of Japan said that it did not believe in ‘helicopter money’ and that its current strategy was adequate to lift the economy out of its funk. The central bank’s next policy decision is expected on July 29th

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Mark Wiedman, global head of BlackRock’s iShares brand. Mark Wiedman, global head of BlackRock’s iShares brand. Photograph kindly supplied by iShares, November 2011.

20-20: Turning BlackRock's ETF fortunes

Thursday, 15 December 2011
20-20: Turning BlackRock's ETF fortunes Mark Wiedman’s appointment as global head of BlackRock’s iShares brand is a concerted effort to sharpen the focus of the consortium of exchange-traded funds launched by BGI in May 2000 that combines index fund-style diversification with the liquidity of stock trading. To date, iShares accounts for roughly half of the estimated $1.1trn in US-based ETF assets. While AUM continues to grow at a steady clip, competitors have gradually whittled away at the company’s domestic market share (currently around 43%). Can Wiedman buck the trend? David Simons reports. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/media/k2/items/cache/bd3eebf32e04c907d6d9fc42f4213df5_XL.jpg

Mark Wiedman’s appointment as global head of BlackRock’s iShares brand is a concerted effort to sharpen the focus of the consortium of exchange-traded funds launched by BGI in May 2000 that combines index fund-style diversification with the liquidity of stock trading. To date, iShares accounts for roughly half of the estimated $1.1trn in US-based ETF assets. While AUM continues to grow at a steady clip, competitors have gradually whittled away at the company’s domestic market share (currently around 43%). Can Wiedman buck the trend? David Simons reports.

During a recent earnings conference call, Laurence Fink, BlackRock’s chairman and chief executive, likened the recent run-up in ETF product innovation to the pre-crisis market for mortgage-backed instruments. BlackRock, said Fink, “needs to be very assertive as a firm” in order to prevent “a lack of disclosure on these products”.

To help address issues such as transparency—while also enhancing its ETF product line—BlackRock in September 2011 announced it had tapped Mark Wiedman, managing director in charge of corporate strategy, to serve as the new global head of  iShares, the ETF provider acquired by BlackRock as part of the 2009 buyout of Barclays Global Investors (BGI). Wiedman succeeds Mike Latham, who will continue as iShares chairman. Having served as an adviser to global financial institutions on balance-sheet issues at the height of the crisis, as well as heading up corporate strategy for BlackRock, Wiedman got a “crash course” in understanding clients’ problems and mobilising BlackRock’s capabilities in order to solve them. “I worked closely with iShares throughout the BGI integration and on iShares strategy work, so I stepped into the role with some familiarity with the businesses and the terrific leadership team,” says Wiedman.



ETFs appear to be still in their infancy, and have benefited from factors that include greater use of fixed-income and commodity-based products, increased uptake among fee-based advisers, as well as new product launches within the major exchanges. These conditions will likely pave the way for larger ETF fund allocations over the near term. Wiedman claims: “ETFs are one of the top two or three socially productive financial innovations of the past 40 years, with a value proposition that speaks to a galaxy of clients, from sovereign wealth funds to retail investors. ETFs deliver efficient exposure to global markets using the most democratic, transparent, and liquid vehicle yet devised.”

From the perspective of iShares, key growth drivers over the near term include fixed-income ETFs (which currently represent only a fractional amount of total outstanding bonds within the US), as well as equity income. Meanwhile, the potential for across-the-board ETF uptake exists in nearly every market around the world, says Wiedman.

Unifying US and foreign ETF platforms was a priority for BlackRock following the acquisition of iShares, and the ability to offer both US and European product lines to investors around the globe has been one of iShares’ greatest strengths to date.  “Some 15% of the assets in domestic ETFs are currently held outside the US and in Europe in 2011, we’ve seen over 15% organic growth, in part driven by buyers from Asia. As we look forward, our UCITS-compliant European product line could possibly become the de facto global standard,” says Wiedman.

The rise in ETF fund flows has coincided with a marked increase in product complexity, and, in some instances, has sparked concerns over opacity. For its part, the SEC continues to take a dim view of derivatives-based ETF products, compelling many providers to back away from such offerings.  

Wiedman notes: “We would call products that trade on an exchange ‘exchange-traded products’ or ‘ETPs’ while reserving the label ‘ETF’ for a sub-category that meets certain agreed standards of simplicity and transparency, including backing by underlying securities, rather than derivatives. We understand that regulators around the world will have different views. However, we believe that a standardised classification system could help regulators develop appropriate rules in each jurisdiction.”

The proliferation of so-called “cheap beta” ETF products—or, in some instances, ETFs that are totally commission-free—has had a dramatic impact on the business as a whole. Rather than attempt to compete on price, however, iShares has instead turned its attention toward product development, including active ETFs, which mimic the performance of hedge funds at a fraction of the cost. In August 2011, the company sought the SEC’s permission to launch a set of actively-managed equity ETFs, each based on proprietary BlackRock benchmarks.

“If there is a one thing I learned from my past experience at BlackRock, it’s that iShares will succeed by doing what we do best—not by playing on others’ terms,” offers Wiedman. “We are the sole global player competing against regional players in every market. No one can match our global presence, scale, or brand. Capitalising on that unique position is where our future lies.”

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