DFA launches first time actively managed ETFs with more on horizon

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The Bottom Line:  Dimensional Fund Advisors intends to convert six actively managed sustainable equity mutual funds with $26.1 billion into corresponding ETFs in early 2021.

Dimensional Fund Advisors intends to convert six sustainable mutual funds into ETFs in early 2021

Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA) announced the launch of two Equity ETFs on November 18, 2020. The two core equity ETFs, the Dimensional US Core Equity Market ETF (DFAU) and the Dimensional International Core Equity Market ETF (DFAI), offered at 12 and 18 basis points, respectively, are now listed for trading on the NYSE Arca. To complement these two actively managed funds, Dimensional also plans to launch an Emerging Core Equity Market ETF in early December. DFA’s first ETF listings, these offerings will be expanded in early 2021 with the launch of six actively managed sustainable (refer to definitions below). ETFs that will benefit from the conversion of assets from six corresponding mutual funds. Based on data as of October 31, 2020, these funds will add $26.1 billion in assets to the current universe of 141 sustainable ETFs with $70.0 billion, including 35 actively managed sustainable ETFs with $20.0 billion in assets or 29% of assets sourced to ETFs.

The conversion of the six funds into ETFs will also result in expense ratio reductions ranging from 17% to 56% in the case of the Tax-Managed US Equity Portfolio. Approved by their boards as of February 28, 2020, the existing mutual funds and the new corresponding ETFs are listed below. Refer to Table 1.

Table 1: Existing DFA mutual funds and the new corresponding ETFs
Existing Mutual FundAUM($)Current Expense Ratio (bps)New ETFNew ETF Expense Ratio (bps)
Tax-Managed US Equity Portfolio4,312.118Dimensional US Equity ETF8
Tax-Managed US Small Cap Portfolio2,646.240Dimensional US Small Cap ETF30
Tax-Managed US Targeted Value Portfolio3,750.420Dimensional US Target Value ETF30
TA US Core Equity 2 Portfolio9,639.020Dimensional US Equity 2 ETF16
Tax-Managed International Value Portfolio2,474.745Dimensional International Value ETF30
Tax World ex US Core Equity Portfolio3,263.330Dimensional World ex US Core Equity 2 ETF25
Source: Dimensional Fund Advisors, AUM ($) Morningstar Direct

According to their prospectus, DFA, in addition to any other criteria used for assessing value, profitability, or investment characteristics, may also adjust the representation in the portfolio of an eligible company, or exclude a company, that is believed to be negatively impacted by environmental, social or governance factors (including accounting practices and shareholder rights) to a greater degree relative to other issuers.

These are not the only funds advised by DFA pursuant to sustainable investment practices dominated by an ESG Integration approach that combines ESG integration as well as exclusions. As of September 30, 2020, DFA managed 58 funds, including the six scheduled for conversion, with $286.9 billion in net assets. Representing 10% of sustainable mutual fund and ETF assets under management ($2.8 trillion), DFA ranks 4th among 184 firms offering formally designated sustainable investment products.

Note of Explanation: While definitions continue to evolve, sustainable investing refers to a range of five overarching investing approaches or strategies that encompass: values-based investing, negative screening (exclusions), thematic and impact investing and ESG integration. Shareholder/bondholder engagement and proxy voting may also be employed along with one of more of these strategies that are not mutually exclusive.
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