New rules to allow the listing of fixed income ETFs on the ASX were approved by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) just before Christmas and came into effect in January.
The move is a welcome change for ETF providers such as BlackRock and Vanguard, which offer a range of fixed income products globally but have been prevented from listing them in Australia. “We think we’ll see strong demand from the retail segment – which includes self-managed superannuation funds – and also from institutions,” says Mark Oliver, Australian head of iShares, BlackRock’s ETF operation. “Institutions can access broad fixed interest markets quite easily,” he says, “but with the ETFs, they can gain access to a diversified portfolio in a single trade. Also [ETFs] offer excellent liquidity, which often the underlying bonds cannot. “During the credit crisis of 2008, for example, the US bond ETFs traded through the volatility, while it was difficult for people at the same time to price the underlying bond.”