BlackRock Tweaked Some Models. It Triggered a Wave of Buying and Selling.



In late May, an obscure BlackRock Inc. commodities fund took in more than $1 billion in new money in less than a week.

The iShares GSCI Commodity Dynamic Roll Strategy exchange-traded fund was a relatively small fund in BlackRock’s larger suite of funds. But on the week of May 26, the ETF—which trades under the ticker COMT and tracks futures contracts tied to commodities from energy to metals to agriculture—scored its biggest one-day influx of new cash on record, according to FactSet data.

The surge helped the ETF more than double its assets under management to more than $2 billion.

The answer for why so much money flowed into the fund wasn’t solely because Wall Street traders were up in arms with inflation fears that were helping to drive idle funds into commodity investments. According to BlackRock documents and people familiar with the matter, BlackRock had sent instructions to brokerages and other financial platforms to alter a series of “model portfolios” to include this fund.

Model portfolios are ready-made fund combos delivered through financial advisers and brokerages to everyday investors. Brokerages can design their own model portfolios, or rely on guidance from fund companies like BlackRock. The May surge in the BlackRock fund shows just how powerful that guidance can be.

Author(s): Dawn Lim

Publication Date: 9 July 2021

Publication Site: WSJ

Wall Street Lobbies to Bring More ESG Funds Into 401(k)s



Money managers are lobbying to scrap a Trump-era rule that makes it difficult for 401(k) plans to invest in socially focused funds.

The Labor Department ruleannounced in October, imposed restrictions on what can and can’t be offered as company 401(k) funds. One result is that plans can’t use funds with nonfinancial goals as default investments for employees.

That means 401(k) overseers and managers need to show that environmental, social and governance strategies can boost financial returns—a challenge for the nascent industry. ESG-focused funds are a growing profit center for asset managers.

Lobbyists representing managers, pensions and retirees began making calls to the Biden transition team in the weeks after the rule was announced. Some lobbyists urged the incoming administration to agree not to enforce the rule and place it under review, said people familiar with the matter.

Author(s): Dawn Lim

Publication Date: 2 March 2021

Publication Site: Wall Street Journal