September 26, 2019 / 7:25 AM / 25 days ago

Goldman launches European ETF business to cash in on passive boom

LONDON (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs Asset Management (GS.N) launched a European Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) business and its debut product on Thursday as it bids for a slice of the fast-growing market for listed passive investment strategies.

FILE PHOTO: The ticker symbol and logo for Goldman Sachs is displayed on a screen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., December 18, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

A decade of easy money from central banks has made it hard for active asset managers to outperform index benchmarks, driving investors to put more money into cheaper index-tracking products.

Institutional asset owners such as pension schemes are also increasingly looking to trim the number of asset managers they use in order to secure cheaper fees, incentivising larger managers to serve as a one-stop shop.

“Our global clients are demanding more choice in their portfolios and we are excited to complement our existing fund range with ETFs,” said Nick Phillips, head of the international retail client business at GSAM.

The decision to launch ETFs in Europe - designed to be complementary to GSAM’s active fund range and used as part of broader, diversified portfolios - follows similar steps in the United States.

In a market where scale is often key to profits, Goldman has some ground to make up with sector leaders BlackRock (BLK.N) and Vanguard, both of which already manage trillions of dollars in ETFs and other index-tracking strategies.

Assets under management in the European ETF industry stood at 757 billion euros (£670.52 billion) at the end of August, Refinitiv data showed, down from 772.8 billion euros at the end of July, with BlackRock’s iShares the best-selling brand.

GSAM said its first ETF is the Goldman Sachs ActiveBeta U.S. Large Cap Equity UCITS ETF, a European version of the bank’s $6.5 billion flagship U.S. product. A listing of the fund in London will be followed by listings across Europe.

While ETF providers have consistently lowered fees on basic ETFs, such as those which track the FTSE 100 .FTSE, they are able to charge more for products which are tweaked to follow a different set of rules, for example by targeting companies which pay a high dividend.

Goldman said it planned to launch a range of ETFs providing access to a number of markets, asset classes and investment styles over the next six months.

The move follows a similar entry to the European ETF market by Britain’s biggest asset manager, Legal & General Investment Management, part of insurer Legal & General (LGEN.L).

Reporting by Sinead Cruise; editing by Simon Jessop and Jason Neely

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