Invest Exotically With Multi-Asset Income Funds

by Aaron Levitt | August 28, 2013 1:27 pm

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of index funds[1] here at InvestorPlace. After all, these simple, low-cost funds are a great way to build long-term wealth. However, with the average bond index fund yielding … well, next to nothing, investors looking for income from their investments have plowed head-first into an exotic mix of asset classes.

Master limited partnerships[2], real estate investment trusts, convertible bonds, emerging-market debt … all have become portfolio staples. Yet, securities like REITs along with hybrid bonds all come with their own unique challenges and advantages, which makes managing such a complex income plan daunting for your average investor.

Don’t worry. Wall Street has you covered. And believe it or not, this time, the Street’s concoction is actually a really good deal for investors.

Several Asset Classes, One Ticker

First Trust’s new International Multi-Asset Diversified Income Index Fund (YDIV[3]) is the latest in series of offerings from fund sponsors promising high yields from a diverse array of sources.

Balanced funds[4] — which have been an investment staple since the 1920s — blend both stocks and bonds, and have received a new facelift as fund issuers add weightings to every high-yielding security under the sun.

At their core, these new multi-asset income funds strive to provide high income relative to traditional metrics — i.e. the S&P 500 or Treasury bonds — as well as long-term capital appreciation and diversification with lower volatility. And by investing in these funds, much of the guesswork is taken out of allocating capital towards these “alternative” sectors. That’s a huge help come rebalancing time or in various market situations where one asset class might perform better than another.

Then there’s the yield to consider.

These new ETFs can serve as a one-stop shop for diversified income exposure and address a portfolio’s need for higher and stable income. Even with taper talk still on the table, interest rates aren’t suddenly going to skyrocket overnight. By blending various “alternative” high-yielding asset classes, the ETFs can produce a distribution yield in the 5%-6% range. Or in the case of the Arrow Dow Jones Global Yield ETF (GYLD[5]), around 7.3%.

Perhaps more importantly, finding dividends and income outside the world of regular stocks and treasury bonds can be a slippery slope for regular retail investors. Do you understand how a bank’s Tier-1 capital ratio could affect the CoCo on its convertible bonds? What about the potential tax headaches from holding individual MLPs like Magellan Midstream (MMP[6]) due to their K-1 statements? Not necessarily a problem for investors in the ETFs, which eliminate some of the complexities of holding a few of these asset classes individually.

Putting It All Together

So far, investors have been pretty receptive to the concept.

The original fund in the space — the Guggenheim Multi-Asset Income (CVY[7]) — has garnered more than $1 billion in assets since launch, and several others have reached critical mass of $100 million in AUM. With the launches as of today, there are two distinct styles of multi-asset funds.

In the case of the new YDIV and its U.S.-focused sister — the First Trust Multi-Asset Dividend Income Index (MDIV[8]) — the funds will actually own the individual securities based on their underlying indices. That means holding shares in the various REITs and stocks as well as owning the actual bonds in the index.

The second type takes a “fund of funds” approach to multi-asset income. Both the SPDR SSgA Income Allocation ETF (INKM[9]) and the iShares Morningstar Multi-Asset Income (IYLD[10]) will invest in other ETFs issued by respective sponsors. IYLD follows a Morningstar-branded index, while INKM will be actively managed.

However, each one sticks to its own investment style, collection of assets and risk profiles. It’s important to look under the hood of each to determine which fits best in your portfolio. Personally, I’m more inclined to go with iShares’ IYLD[11], as the fund is the cheapest option around — with total expenses at 0.6%, or $60 per $10,000 invested per year. As a “fund of funds,” IYLD also has the broadest swath of total holdings — currently more than 2,670. Not to mention the ETF’s Treasury/market-beating 6% yield.

Whatever the choice, these new multi-asset income funds can make adding a swath of the exotic[12] quite easy to do.

As of this writing, Aaron Levitt planned on executing a long position in IYLD within the next 72 hours.

  1. index funds:
  2. Master limited partnerships:
  3. YDIV:
  4. Balanced funds:
  5. GYLD:
  6. MMP:
  7. CVY:
  8. MDIV:
  9. INKM:
  10. IYLD:
  11. iShares’ IYLD:
  12. swath of the exotic:

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