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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- iShares recently created a buzz with a combined product launch and marketing push surrounding its suite of 10 so-called core ETFs. Some of the 10 are new, slightly different variations on existing funds and some are long standing and successful products.
The new funds in the core suite:
iShares Core MSCI Total International Stock ETF(IXUS)iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF(IEMG)iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF(IEFA)iShares Core Short-Term U.S. Bond ETF(ISTB)
Existing funds being implemented in the core strategy:
iShares Core S&P Total U.S. Stock Market ETF(ITOT)--new symbol, the old symbol was ISI
iShares Core S&P 500 ETF(IVV)iShares Core S&P Mid-Cap ETF(IJH)iShares Core S&P Small-Cap ETF(IJR)iShares Core Total U.S. Bond Market ETF(AGG)iShares Core Long-Term U.S. Bond ETF(ILTB)-- new symbol, the old symbol was GLJ
The new funds may create some confusion because iShares already has funds targeting those segments. Most investors will be familiar with the
iShares MSCI Emerging Market Index Fund (EEM) which is going to be very similar to the new fund with symbol IEMG.
EEM will be more expensive for now with a 0.67% expense ratio compared to just 0.18% for the new IEMG. The other big difference between the two is that EEM has 832 holdings versus a far more comprehensive 1589 for IEMG.
The logical question is why not simply reduce the fee on EEM and increase the number of holdings. I posed this question to the company and was told that some institutional clients have mandates that may lead them to one fund or the other.
Candidly I don't know what to make of that but as other web sites have noted, there are likely many investors sitting on enormous capital gains in EEM and switching to the cheaper fund would not make tax sense for those investors so iShares has an almost captive audience in the more expensive EEM. Any new money looking for a broad based emerging market fund from iShares should logically go to the cheaper IEMG.
The other large push here is investor education on possible ways to use these funds to build a core portfolio while at the same time using some other funds outside the core suite to "customize" the exposures accessed by investors.
Many ETF providers offer investor education on how to use their products. While this is good promotionally for the funds, most of the education material is also useful as more people will be inclined to be their own portfolio managers.