Low-cost exchange-traded funds have been gaining popularity in the ETF world, but one new product is taking that trend to the next level.
Rather than offering low or no fees, the Salt Low truBeta US Market ETF brands itself as a low-volatility fund that can do investors one better: it plans to actually pay them to put money in it.
Right now, the ETF charges investors 29 basis points per year to invest. But it has lofty goals, according to SEC filings: if approved, it’ll charge zero fees for the first $100 invested, and then will pay investors 5 basis points for every $10,000 they put in.
Offered by analytics and investment company Salt Financial, the Low truBeta US Market ETF takes a risk-off approach to investing, Salt’s website says. Its top holdings included Conagra Brands, CVS Health and Quest Diagnostics as of Friday.
And while ETF experts aren’t all on board with the low-fee fad, few can deny the influence these funds have had in terms of raising interest and awareness.
“What’s interesting is SALT has an existing ETF product. It trades under the ticker SLT,” Todd Rosenbluth, head of ETF and mutual fund research at CFRA, told CNBC’s “ETF Edge.” “It has $14 million despite launching 10 months ago. J.P. Morgan [has] gathered billions and billions of dollars with their own products that are low-cost.”
Tom Lydon, editor and proprietor of ETFTrends.com, called Salt’s move “brilliant.”
“Is it a marketing ploy? Maybe, but it’s probably a great one because all the money is going into low-cost ETFs,” he said in the same “ETF Edge” interview. “Getting through the gatekeeper is key.”
“If … they hit that $100 million mark very quickly because they’re financing this, good for them, because now they’re going to be available on platforms that you normally can’t get available on — Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch — unless you have $100 million,” Lydon said.
Lydon, who is also president of Global Trends Investments, added that he thought Salt’s strategy for this fund was a genuinely good one, ploy or not.
“When you look under the hood, it’s actually a great strategy. When you look at other low-volatility smart beta strategies, it really is good, and that will help get it attention,” he said. “I think you’re going to see more people try this, because if you can finance a launch that’s going to get you to $100 million, you’ve got a better chance of getting to $1 billion. The biggest challenge is getting to that first $100 million.”
Shares of the Low truBeta US Market ETF began trading on March 13 and are up roughly 1 percent since.