Mutual fund company Hartford Funds has entered the exchange-traded fund world with its acquisition of Lattice Strategies and its four existing strategic-beta ETFs.
Radnor, Pa.-based Hartford Funds announced on Wednesday that it signed a definitive agreement to buy Lattice for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition, which is expected to close in the third quarter, brings to the fold an investment management firm with a distinctive investment approach and sets the stage for Hartford Funds’ possible further expansion into the ETF space.
Based in San Francisco, Lattice has roughly $215 million in institutional and retail assets under management. That includes $82 million in its four ETFs that launched last year: the Lattice Emerging Markets Strategy ETF (ROAM); Lattice Developed Markets (ex-US) Strategy ETF (RODM); Lattice US Equity Strategy ETF (ROUS) and Lattice Global Small Cap Strategy ETF (ROGS).
All four funds are based on indexes that were created by Lattice, and are predicated on what Lattice calls a risk-first approach to investment management where risk is the driving force—and not a consequence—of portfolio construction.
According to press release that cites ETFGI.com, the Lattice ETF family made the list of the top five fastest-growing new ETF issuers in 2015.
Hartford Funds, which has an existing lineup of 49 actively managed mutual funds with nearly $74 billion under management, sees Lattice as a complementary fit that meets the needs of financial advisors and their clients.
“As we looked at our existing lineup and talked with advisors and the firms they work at, it’s clear that as advisors continue to want to build balanced portfolios the mix of high-active mutual funds and lower cost strategic-beta ETFs could play nicely together,” says Greg Frost, chief financial officer at Hartford Funds. “We’ve heard from our partners that it would be great if Hartford could bring this to the table.”
Frost notes that the acquisition also makes business sense because it enables the company dip its toes into the inexorable tide of ETF expansion in the marketplace.
“It’s clear that ETFs play a role in building balanced portfolios, and I don’t think that trend is going away,” he says. “I also firmly believe there’s always a place for active management, and I don’t think investors will be able to meet their goals purely in a passive portfolio. Our firm fits nicely in that bubble, and I think the acquisition of Lattice will enable us to play in a little bit different space and be more relevant to our clients with what we can bring to bear.”
He adds that Hartford Funds has filed for an exemptive order with the Securities and Exchange Commission as a first step to possibly creating its own actively managed ETFs.