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Mar 5, 2020

Zero-cost ETF war sees BNY Mellon unleash first no-fee bond fund

A pedestrian passes in front of a Bank of New York Mellon Corp. office building in New York, U.S.

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The rush to zero costs in the competitive ETF industry is showing no signs of abating, with BNY Mellon escalating that perilous war.

The New York-based firm is launching the BNY Mellon Core Bond ETF, or BKAG, the first ever no-fee U.S. fixed-income fund, according to a statement on Thursday. Another fund tracking big American companies will also have no cost: the BNY Mellon US Large Cap Core Equity ETF, or BKLC.

A wave of cost-cutting has swept the ETF industry in the past year. But BNY Mellon’s debut marks the first big entrant into the zero-cost space with the potential to shake up established funds from BlackRock Inc., State Street Corp. and Vanguard Group, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

“We have a very unique set of capabilities and efficiencies that allow us to price very competitively,” said Stephanie Pierce, chief executive officer of ETF and Index for BNY Mellon Investment Management. “With the increasing concern about concentration risk in the industry, we believe we can give clients an institutional quality choice.”

There’s a Dark Side to Zero-Cost Investing You Can’t Ignore

Abolishing fees generates publicity, something that could make the difference between survival and liquidation in a marketplace with more than 2,000 options. More than 70% of U.S. ETF assets are in funds that charge $2 per $1,000 invested or less and 93% of new money has flowed into such products this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

(Disclaimer: Bloomberg LP runs indexes tracked by ETFs including BKAG)

To contact the reporter on this story: Claire Ballentine in New York at cballentine@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jeremy Herron at jherron8@bloomberg.net, Rita Nazareth, Rachel Evans

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.