Investment Product and Service Launches

ProShares launches first U.S. Bitcoin-linked ETF; Pacific Life introduces defined outcome funds with variable annuities; and Nationwide, Capital Group introduce new TDF.

ProShares Launches First U.S. Bitcoin-Linked ETF

ProShares, a provider of exchange-traded funds (ETFs), has launched the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (NYSE: BITO), the first Bitcoin-linked ETF in the United States.

BITO offers investors an opportunity to gain exposure to Bitcoin returns through a brokerage account. BITO can be bought and sold like a stock and eliminates the need for an account at a cryptocurrency exchange and for a crypto wallet.

“We believe a multitude of investors have been eagerly awaiting the launch of a Bitcoin-linked ETF after years of efforts to launch one,” says ProShares CEO Michael Sapir. “BITO will open up exposure to Bitcoin to a large segment of investors who have a brokerage account and are comfortable buying stocks and ETFs, but do not desire to go through the hassle and learning curve of establishing another account with a cryptocurrency provider and creating a Bitcoin wallet or are concerned that these providers may be unregulated and subject to security risks.”

BITO will invest primarily in Bitcoin futures contracts and does not directly invest in Bitcoin.

Pacific Life Introduces Defined Outcome Funds With Variable Annuities

Recognizing that investors are looking for both growth and protection, Pacific Life recently launched the Invesco V.I. Defined Outcome Funds, available with certain Pacific Life variable annuities. These funds are designed to give investors the benefits of a registered index-linked annuity (RILA) but with more flexibility, control and transparency.

The Invesco V.I. Defined Outcome Funds offer growth potential linked to a market index, up to a cap, as well as downside protection through a buffer that protects against the first 10% of loss over a one-year outcome period. These features are available to clients without the need for an optional benefit for an additional cost.

By offering the funds through a variable annuity, clients have the flexibility to combine this strategy with other investment options to create a custom portfolio that meets their specific needs. Clients also have the flexibility to move in and out of the Invesco V.I. Defined Outcome Funds should those needs change over time.

The Invesco V.I. Defined Outcome Funds also provide added transparency through a tool available on the Invesco website that gives financial professionals and their clients the ability to view the cap, buffer and time remaining in the outcome period for each fund.

Nationwide, Capital Group Introduce New TDF

Financial services and insurance provider Nationwide has partnered with Capital Group to introduce a target-date fund (TDF) that incorporates a fixed indexed annuity with a guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefit.

The TDF series, called the NCIT American Funds Lifetime Income Builder Target Date Series, incorporates the Lifetime Income Builder solution from Annexus Retirement Solutions.

The firms say the TDF series will be available as an investment option in defined contribution (DC) plans and is designed to help participants optimize growth potential, and, when the time comes, generate guaranteed income that will last a lifetime. The series is designed to deliver a total income of 6% at a participant’s projected retirement start date.

The TDF series is a turnkey solution and offers plan participants a growth-focused TDF investing experience, including risk-mitigating protection and income guarantees designed to maximize and deliver lifetime income. For plan sponsors, it provides a qualified default investment alternative (QDIA)-compliant structure and a combination of liquidity and portability.

“Built-in income guarantees prevent the possibility that participants will outlive their money,” says Dave Paulsen, chief distribution officer for Annexus Retirement Solutions. “A lock-in feature applies protection guarantees to remove sequence of returns risk. But the real game-changer is its ability to provide a daily valuation of the fixed indexed annuity. Our innovation embeds Lifetime Income Builder within a target-date fund, enabling participants to purchase a fund with a fixed index annuity on a daily basis. This allows participants to maintain complete control over their savings by providing full liquidity of assets for the life of the product.” 

The TDF series is structured as a collective investment trust (CIT). It’s is set to launch this fall.