Vanguard Introduces Tax-Exempt Bond Index Fund

Valley Forge, Pa.-based Vanguard announced the launch of its first municipal bond fund, the Vanguard Tax-Exempt Index Fund.

The fund aims to provide investors with diversified exposure to the national municipal bond market. It will represent bonds with maturities across the yield curve and an effective duration from five to eight years.

“Vanguard is a pioneer in index investing and a leader in municipal bond fund management,” says Vanguard CEO Bill McNabb. “Our new fund enables us to leverage our experience and expertise in both of these areas. Not only did we offer the first index mutual fund to individual investors, but we were also the first to offer investors a choice among municipal bond funds of differing maturities. We are pleased to now provide a low-cost tax-exempt option for investors who prefer an index approach.”

The fund’s target benchmark is the S&P National AMT-Free Municipal Bond Index.

The fund will offer three share classes, including an ETF option.

The ETF share class has a 0.12% expense ratio, no fund minimums and no purchase fees.

Investor-class shares have a 0.20% expense ratio, a 0.25%

purchase fee and a $3,000 fund minimum.

Admiral class shares have a 0.12% expense ratio, a 0.25% purchase fee and a $10,000 fund minimum.

Vanguard claims that other municipal bond funds in Lipper’s general and insured municipal debt funds category have an average expense ratio of 0.95% and comparable ETFs have an average expense ratio of 0.28%.

Sammons Retirement Launches Guarantee Annuity
West Des Moines, Iowa-based Sammons Retirement Solutions has launched the LiveWell Guarantee Annuity issued by Midland National Life Insurance Company.

The addition to Sammons’s LiveWell Retirement Series provides independent financial and insurance professionals with a tax-deferred option to help clients seeking a guaranteed rate of return.

Sammons developed the new annuity because of the challenges investors face in generating growth and income in a low-interest-rate environment, believing that investors are seeking a guaranteed rate of return.

Other annuities in the LiveWell series issued by Midland include the LiveWell Fixed Index Annuity and the LiveWell Variable Annuity. The LiveWell annuity products are available at more than 232 broker-dealers.

Janus Introduces Adaptive Global Allocation Fund
Denver-based Janus Capital Group has announced the launch of the Janus Adaptive Global Allocation Fund, which dynamically allocates assets across a portfolio of global equity and fixed-income investments.

The new fund is designed to adapt allocations actively in times of extreme market movements, with a goal of mitigating investors’ risk of significant losses during a major downturn while helping them participate in the growth of capital markets.

The new fund will be managed by Ashwin Alankar, global head of asset allocation and risk management, and Enrique Chang, CIO of equities and asset allocation.

The company has also launched the Janus Adaptive Multi-Asset Strategy, tailored for institutional investors. Unlike the fund, this strategy invests beyond equities and fixed income to include inflation-hedging assets such as commodities and global inflation-linked bonds.

Jackson National offers Longevity-Risk Benefits
Lansing, Mich.-based Jackson National Life Insurance Company announced the launch of LifePay, the company’s first lifetime benefit option within the Jackson AscenderPlus Select fixed-index annuity.

The new option, available for an additional charge, offers contract holders the ability to start or stop payments as needed and to manage longevity risk and increase growth potential.

The product will replace the current Jackson AscenderPlus Select contract.

LifePay’s features include guaranteed annual income payments, the flexibility for contract holders to add or cancel LifePay as needed, a 5% annual roll-up, options for annual step-ups, and single or joint options.

Riskalyze Technology Added to LPL Program
Boston-based LPL Financial will include Riskalyze’s technology in its recently launched Vendor Affinity Program.

Auburn, Calif.-based Riskalyze invented the “Risk Number,” which is used to align clients’ risk preferences with their portfolios’ risk. The Riskalyze software is designed to allow advisors to find the “true north” for their clients using a quantitative approach and to design portfolios accordingly.

LPL Financial’s Vendor Affinity Program is a new initiative that offers RIAs a centralized repository of vendors who have been reviewed by LPL. Those vendors have agreed to provide their products and services at a discounted price.

Neuberger Berman Offers High Income Bond Fund
New York-based Neuberger Berman has introduced the Neuberger Berman Municipal High Income Fund. The firm designed the fund to take advantage of municipal bond tax exemptions at a time when it believes tax rates are going to rise.

Neuberger Berman also believes that the trend of low interest rates will persist, thus it is offering investors a strategy that may complement holdings in investment-grade municipals and taxable high yield.