Franklin Templeton extends Canadian ETF family with Emerging Markets, Global Dividends

As my latest Financial Post blog this morning explains, mutual fund giant Franklin Templeton Investments Canada has expanded its ETF lineup with a pair of new “Smart Beta” ETFs and an actively managed balanced ETF. Click on the highlighted text for full story: Franklin Templeton boosts Canadian ETF offerings with Emerging Markets play.

As I note in the piece, Franklin Templeton has long had an Emerging Markets mutual fund, famously managed until last year by globetrotting fund manager Mark Mobius, who retires on January 31st after a 30-year career with the company. Franklin Templeton once had a closed end version of the fund but it was closed down in September of 2001, a company spokesman said.

The new Franklin LibertyQT Emerging Markets Index ETF (CAD) bears the memorable ticker symbol FLEM on the TSX, allowing Franklin Templeton to play catch-up to long-established Emerging Markets ETFs from rivals BlackRock Canada (iShares) and Vanguard Canada. You can find more about the new ETF family here.

FLEM is a four-factor “Smart Beta” ETF: the single biggest “factor” at 50% is a quality screen, along with 30% value, 10% momentum and 10% low volatility. Its largest single geographic weighting is South Korea at 15.4%, followed by 13.9% in China, 13% in India, 12.8% in Taiwan and 10.8% in Russia, according to Franklin Templeton vice president of ETF business development Amed Farooq.

The expected Management Expense Ratio (MER) for FLEM is 0.55%. The two other ETFs are The Franklin LibertyQT Global Dividend index ETF (FLGD/TSX, MER 0.45%) and an actively managed balanced ETF, Franklin Liberty Core Balanced ETF (FLBA/TSX), with an MER of 0.45%.

Time to “rebalance” from US equities to Emerging Markets?

Both the two new smart-beta ETFs provide a rebalancing opportunity for investors who feel US stocks have run up sufficiently to start taking profits. Earlier this month, famed investor Jeremy Grantham warned of one last market “meltup” for US stocks before another correction, and said his firm was rebalancing into Emerging Markets. You can find the full January 3rd article here: Bracing yourself for a possible near-term melt-up.

You can also find his comments made in a recent interview with Consuelo Mack’s WealthTrack show here.

I asked about this at the ceremonial opening of the TSX Monday morning, which focused on the ETF launches. Financial advisor John De Goey said he was doing just such a rebalancing for his clients and in an interview, Franklin Templeton senior vice president Dennis Tew said he knew of at least one advisor with a large book of business who likewise has been rebalancing from US income funds to Emerging Markets equities.

Balanced ETF managed by Franklin Bissett

The smart beta ETFs are managed out of San Mateo, California but for investors who feel this kind of rebalancing is difficult, there is also the option of the new actively managed ETF, Franklin Liberty Core Balanced ETF (FLBA/TSX), with an MER of 0.45%. It is co-managed by Calgary-based Franklin Bissett Investment Management, which already was managing two Franklin Liberty ETFs in Canadian equities and corporate bonds.

If nothing else, the very fact that the company behind  the world’s most famous mutual fund — Sir John Templeton’s Templeton Growth Fund is legendary for its so-called “mountain chart” — has made such a commitment to exchange-traded funds, makes it clear that —  far from fighting the emerging ETF juggernaut — the mutual fund industry has fully embraced them.

Most of the big Canadian banks now have both no-load index mutual funds and  ETFs (CIBC so far an exception) and all the big independent mutual fund companies are there or expected to enter shortly. It was reported last week that Fidelity Investments Canada is close to launching a Canadian ETF business: see this G&M storyheadlined Fidelity one step closer to launching Canadian ETF business.


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