Vanguard, the company behind the world’s biggest emerging markets ETF, “VWO,” is broadening the scope of its Total World Stock Index Fund (NYSEArca:VT - News) by adopting a different FTSE benchmark that adds small-cap companies and deepens the security’s penetration to global equity markets.
VT will now replicate the FTSE Global All Cap Index, a float-adjusted market-capitalization-weighted benchmark that tracks the performance of large-, mid- and small-cap stocks globally, capturing some 98 percent of the world’s investable universe.
The ETF, which has about $963 million in assets, previously tracked the FTSE All-World Index, which provided exposure to about 97 percent of the world’s investable equities universe. The index switch shouldn’t result in any capital gains distributions, Vanguard said in a press release.
The index change means even broader exposure to a fund that already holds some 2,900-plus names around the globe. By comparison, VT’s closest competitor, the $1.95 billion iShares MSCI ACWI Index Fund (NYSEArca:ACWI - News), is a more optimized strategy and includes fewer than 1,100 securities.
VT, which has a total of $1.4 billion including assets wrapped in different open-end mutual funds, should also remain the cheaper of the two, costing ETF investors 0.25 percent in fees despite the index change—ACWI costs 0.34 percent. VT’s fees were slashed as recently as February from 0.30 percent to reflect greater efficiencies and economies of scale.
“The fund now offers even broader exposure to the world’s equity markets in a single, low-cost vehicle,” Vanguard’s Chief Investment Officer Gus Sauter said in the press release.
The Valley Forge, Pa.-based company offers a total of four ETFs that serve up “total market” exposure to both equities and fixed income.
Other than VT, Vanguard also offers the Total Stock Market Index Fund (NYSEArca:VTI - News) and the Total International Stock Index Fund (NYSEArca:VXUS - News), each essentially a subset of VT, one focused on the U.S. and the other on international equities.
Apple Inc., Exxon Mobil, IBM Corp. and Microsoft Corp. top VT’s holdings list, with the U.S. representing just over 40 percent of the portfolio’s country allocation.
Like all Vanguard ETFs, VT is a separate class of the same mutual fund. The other classes of VT are actual mutual funds and include so-called Investor Shares (VYWSX) and Institutional Shares (VTWIX). The mutual funds cost 0.45 percent and 0.23 percent, respectively, the company said.
While those fees remain the same, Vanguard said it is now eliminating a 0.25 percent purchase fee that’s paid directly to the fund to cover stock purchasing costs, effective immediately.
“Given the level of fund assets and transaction activity, new share purchases can be offset with shareholder redemptions,” the company said in a press release. “This reduces net purchasing activity and results in lower transaction costs, thereby eliminating the need for the purchase fee.”
Vanguard is the U.S.’ third-largest ETF provider, with $165 billion in assets under management, according to data compiled by IndexUniverse.
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