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Vanguard’s CIO Gus Sauter: Agency Execution is our Preference

  Courtesy of  Gregory Bresiger.. Excerpts from Part 3 of a series of interviews with Vanguard Chief Investment Officer Gus Sauter

How does Vanguard Funds,’ famous for Fred Mertz like trading economy, go about finding the lowest possible costs? The process is detailed in Part Three of Traders Magazine’s Q&A with Vanguard chief investment officer Gus Sauter.

Traders Magazine: Why have you and your company launched this campaign to change what you perceive as an overpriced market structure?
Gus Sauter: I think transaction costs are surprisingly high.

Traders Magazine: You said in an interview that “a large part of indexing is actually being a trader.”  Does mean that, as with most traders, you’re using algos and using agency traders like ITG or Instinet. How does it work out for Vanguard?
Gus Sauter: We do most of our trading through agency brokerage. We will use brokers’ algos as well if we think that is appropriate for trading. We monitor the transaction costs on a broker by broker basis.

Traders Magazine: Even index fund managers need the same trading skills as though who are actively managing funds?
Gus Sauter: Yes, it really is important that our portfolio managers understand how to trade, how to execute, how to find the right strategies and venues. Should it be an algo or something they are using a dark pool.

Traders Magazine: Higher than most investors think?
Gus Sauter: Yes, a lot of people don’t realize how much money you could spend on transactions if you’re not careful. In other words, we trade hundreds of billions of dollars a year. If you lose , just a half a percent, you’re losing a billion dollars.

Traders Magazine: The implication of what you’re saying is the industry, especially in good times, is incredibly sloppy. Is it because it is other people’s money?
Gus Sauter: Yea, hard for me to tell you. Historically, people have never had respect for the magnitude of transaction costs. They really felt they provided so much alpha in their actively managed funds that they really didn’t have to worry about transaction costs.

Traders Magazine: Not over the past decade…
Gus Sauter: Yes, in a lower return environment people really recognize how much costs are.  And they are devoting more time to how they trade.


Full article: http://www.tradersmagazine.com/news/vanguard-sauter-brokers-capital-110393-1.html?zkPrintable=true


Industry Sounds Off On Paying ETF Market Makers

Courtesy of James Armstrong

If issuers of exchange-traded funds could pay to attract market makers to their products, would there be more liquidity in ETFs? Or would paying market-makers create a dangerous precedent and harm long-term investors? Or, is Tim Quast, MD of trading analytics firm “Modern Networks IR” correct when suggesting to the SEC in his comment letter “..paying market makers could constitute a racketeering felony and would increase speculative, short-term trading rather than focusing the markets on capital formation..”?

Both Nasdaq and NYSE Arca have proposed programs allowing ETF issuers to pay fees to the exchanges for market-maker support. The proposals are similar to a program already implemented on the BATS exchange, which has a handful of ETF listings. These proposals, according to comment letters to the Securities and Exchange Commission, are drawing strong reactions from key industry figures.

The Investment Company Institute has come out in favor of the measures, arguing they could result in narrower spreads and more liquid markets. In a letter to the SEC, ICI’s general counsel, Ari Burstein, said the organization has long advocated changes to increase the efficiency of markets. “As ETF sponsors, ICI members have a strong interest in ensuring that the securities markets are highly competitive, transparent and efficient,” Burstein said. “Liquid markets are critical for ETFs, particularly smaller and less frequently traded ETFs.”

Vanguard, the mutual fund giant which also offers a number of ETFs, said it neither supports nor opposes the Nasdaq proposal and certainly does not support the NYSE Arca proposal, at least as it is currently structured.

In a letter concerning Nasdaq’s ETF initiative, Vanguard’s chief investment officer, Gus Sauter, said payments to market makers have the potential to distort the markets and create conflicts of interest. Though Nasdaq proposed several safeguards to prevent that from happening, Sauter suggested a longer review and comment period would be a good idea.

BlackRock, the nation’s largest ETF issuer is opposed to the idea of paying market-makers.

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