The company could have closed STH and launched WMCR. However, the firm instead opted to change STH's underlying index, name, and ticker symbol, thereby completely altering the fund's focus. There was no need to halt STH's trading or liquidate fund's assets. One day investors were holding STH and on the next, WMCR appeared in its place.
While investors do not have to worry about remembering closure dates or having their money being tied up in this scenario, this unique type of fund closure can also cause troubles. For instance, in the event that an unprepared STH investor was also holding a fund such as the First Trust Dow Jones Select MicroCap Index Fund (FDM), the investor could get caught with overexposure to this volatile part of the market when STH turned into WMCR.
The recent spell of fund closures hitting the ETF industry has brought to light the importance of avoiding unpopular, illiquid funds which stand the greatest risk for shuttering. However, in the event that you are caught holding a product that gets slated for execution, it's possible to avoid headaches by paying close attention to how the fund's closure progresses.Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.