Quite amazing

Then we get tracker funds. Or, worse, the manufactured funds like ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds) and REITS (Real Estate Investment Trusts), which wrap equities and bonds inside a second vehicle which is itself quoted and charges a fee for the supposed insight that the managers supply (but rarely do) and we have an outcome that is opaque, potentially illiquid and very often downright exploitative. It is the place where the rentier goes when all else has failed.

So, without an ETF (or unit trust, or investment trust, both usually more expensive than ETFs) how is the retail investor to gain diversification? Without Reits how to gain exposure to commercial property at all?

16 thoughts on “Quite amazing”

  1. Investment Trusts are generally a lot cheaper than an OIEC or Unit Trust and outperform both them and ETFs. ETFs enable Americans to have a cross between an IT and a UT without the better performance of an IT.

  2. They’re not supposed to; in Murphy’s world we’re supposed to lend any spare money to the government, where it will be “invested” according to the great insights that politicians supply.

  3. We used to have PEPs (remember them?) invested with Alliance Trust of Dundee. A good operation it was – paper-based in those days, the Trust well diversified, and the Trust and PEPs run for tuppence a week or thereabouts.

    Then, alas, they modernised. A coup replaced the Dundonians by Londoners, the paper forms were computerised away, costs shot up, and the whole caboodle went to hell in a handcart.

    Happily they were not an arm of government so we could move our affections to competitors. That would not be true of Spudworld.

  4. I wonder if anyone has had the temerity to point out that every statement here is wrong. A REIT, for example, is just a property company that might run physical properties or hold shares in other property companies or some combination of the 2. It would take a long time to correct all his errors. Maybe he ought to do some research before parading his ignorance

  5. Diogenes, as we all know, whenever Professor Potato’s errors are pointed out to him you are labelled a troll and the comments never make it as far as being published.

  6. …and the ETF is replicating (in most cases) an index, giving a vast amount of transparency and also liquidity and requiring no insight to be provided or charged for.

  7. Who is paying managers for their “insight” in these situations where the fund is not actively managed? As opposed to doing a lot of donkey work rebalancing portfolios, which would cost in time and transaction costs if you tried to replicate it yourself?

  8. Tracker funds are those that replicate indices. The Vanguard US index ETF provides an index tracker for something like nine basis points a year (0.09% a year) in management fees, which is amazingly cheap given the work involved in replication, buying and selling to match the assets to the flows). Captain Potato once again demonstrates his utter lack of understanding, knowledge and ability.

  9. Diogenes

    On the topic of REITs, what makes it slightly worse is that the primary reason why REITs have become so popular is their tax advantaged status – which a self proclaimed tax “expert” might be expected to at least have some clue about. REITs are able to avoid corporate income tax as long as a fixed percentage of their net income is paid directly to investors – thus avoiding double taxation.

    Once again – Captain Potato knows nothing, not even tax.

  10. 10-4, Ken. My largest investment is VFIAX. Been there many years.

    I noticed decades ago that everyone compared everything investing to the S&P 500 index. Gamecock figured out, “Well duh, just get S&P 500 index fund!”

  11. The Pedant-General


    ” the paper forms were computerised away, costs shot up, and the whole caboodle went to hell in a handcart.”

    I have some passing acquaintance with the Alliance Trust. Costs shooting up was very likely direct result of massive increase in compliance costs and regulatory overhead, rather than being a particularly specific issue.

  12. @ Pedant-General
    Direct compliance costs are well over 10% of asset managers’ income but in addition around 20% of top management time is spent on managing compliance and most processes take longer and thereby absorb more staff time (and hence base salaries) as a result. Small “one-man-band” branches have been abolished as every branch office needs a compliance professional to supervise the single guy working there.
    But dearieme does have a point – much early computerisation slowed down processes and increased costs.

  13. john77; the Yanks do have access to 1940 Act closed end funds, which are equivalent to investment trusts, but with a slightly shorter history. One difference in the domestic tax and regulatory treatments is that bond funds make a lot more sense for ’40 Act CEFs than they do for s.842 ITs.

  14. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Tracker funds are an absolutely brilliant way for the unsophisticated investor to get portfolio diversification without becoming a financial analyst. If you’d bought a DJIA index fund ten years or so ago you’d be quietly hugging yourself with glee at your prescience.

  15. Bloke in North Dorset

    I really don’t understand this:

    “ Add to this my distaste for opacity and an absence of accounability. Then we get tracker funds.”

    Does he understand the point of tracker funds? The whole personal finance industry thinks they’re great for small retail investors, low cost and diverse. The evidence is that in the long run they out perform most active funds.

    And he doesn’t like the,because they’re opaque? I know we say it often but is there any subject he actually understands?

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