Seeking Alpha
View as an RSS Feed

Jonathan Liss  

View SA Editor Jonathan Liss' Comments BY TICKER:
Latest  |  Highest rated
  • Update: Schwab Offers 6 WisdomTree ETFs To Online Traders With $0 Commissions [View article]
    Were the terms of what Schwab is getting from WisdomTree disclosed? I don't believe they make such things public.

    Having raised this point with other issuers (not WisdomTree) who have their ETFs available commission-free on multiple discount brokerage platforms, my sense is that the issuers pay the discount brokers next to nothing - or nothing - to be included commission-free.

    What then is in it for the deep-discount brokers like Schwab then and why would they agree to waive the $10 commission (or whatever it is) every time buys or sells on of these funds?

    A couple of things from what I understand: 1) The ability to gather additional assets - or avoid bleeding assets to competitors that are offering large numbers of ETFs commission-free. Commission-free ETFs are a big draw these days - but most investors don't hold ETFs alone. They still buy and sell stocks, bonds, options, CEFs and more offering plenty of commissions to the discount brokers. Additionally, investors keep large amounts of cash in their brokerage accounts - which these days often serve the dual function of also being checking accounts, paying bills online, etc. And the discount brokers pay next to nothing on the cash parked in accounts so this is another source of income that comes from simply getting people in the door.

    2) Securities lending - this is a biggie. The more shares being custodianed on your platform, the more money a broker stands to make by lending them out to short sellers. Securities Lending is a standard line item on all publicly traded discount broker 10-ks (see here for TD Ameritrade as 1 example:

    This explains why we're seeing larger and larger numbers of ETFs becoming available commission-free across multiple discount brokerage platforms. It's a win-win-win: The ETF issuers get to grow assets as a faster pace, the brokers have done the math and figured out that even giving up the $7-$10 commission to trade these shares, it's still well worth their while for the reasons I've outlined above, and most importantly (to us investors at least), the little guy saves a small fortune in trading and rebalancing fees.
    Sep 19, 2014. 09:12 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Introducing Seeking Alpha's New ETF Hub [View article]
    Thanks for the suggestion. You can currently sort within the results tabs to view by AUM. Full screen for AUM probably in updated version of ETF Hub.
    Jul 11, 2014. 04:59 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Introducing Seeking Alpha's New ETF Hub [View article]
    Thanks for the suggestions - CEFs are definitely on a list somewhere too - obviously they're a much smaller market place than ETFs but we hope to get to them at some point too.
    Jul 9, 2014. 07:16 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Introducing Seeking Alpha's New ETF Hub [View article]
    Brad, Thanks so much for your comments - they are much appreciated.

    As a regular ETF investor, I totally agree. in particular offers an incredible amount of free ETF data. From that pure 'quantitative' perspective their screener is clearly the best. We knew we could never one-up sites like on that count.

    What we decided to focus on here is something I haven't seen elsewhere: A screener that combines quantitative data, qualitative 'deep dive' analysis and full portfolio integration including real-time alerts that allow you to never miss key news or analysis on one of your holdings.

    While I appreciate good quant analysis as much as the next guy, the issues with purely quantitative screeners have been pointed out already, here for example in daniel Kim's 'Do Stock Screens Really Work' (

    Data-only screeners are a great starting point. But the investing endgame involves a whole lot of qualitative analysis and ongoing due diligence. We feel our new ETF Hub brings investors much closer to being successful long-term ETF investors than any other site that at least i've seen to date.
    Jul 9, 2014. 07:14 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Introducing Seeking Alpha's New ETF Hub [View article]
    Right now, there's a link at the bottom of the homepage, on the right rail under 'ETF Tools' on the ETF content section, and at the end of relevant content. We're thinking of adding it to some other places (i.e. ETF ticker pages) and hopefully in not too long, it'll be on the Nav on the HP.

    All the best,
    Jul 8, 2014. 10:32 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Introducing Seeking Alpha's New ETF Hub [View article]
    Yep, we're considering that. However due to limited header space on the HP/site-wide, it's not as simple as just adding one every time we roll out a new product we're excited about.
    Jul 8, 2014. 10:30 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Introducing Seeking Alpha's New ETF Hub [View article]

    I had linked to the ETF Hub a couple of times in the piece but here's that link again:

    Jul 8, 2014. 08:30 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A New Frontier For This ETF [View article]
    Looking at the long haul, I actually love this change to FM's underlying index. Though it's tough to argue with the fund's results since launching, I held out on buying it initially because of the intense single country (top 3 countries accounted for 58% of holdings) and sector (Financials were 57%) concentration risk. Under the new index, the top 3 countries are only 49% while financials are down to 48% of the total portfolio. These are both very welcome changes in my opinion as they mean the fund is more representative of Frontier Markets - and less correlated to Emerging Markets.

    Disclosure: Long FM (for roughly the last 8 months).
    May 22, 2014. 07:25 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • It's Time To Buy This 3x Leveraged Gold Mining ETF [View article]
    This article should have mentioned the risks of compounding associated with leveraged ETPs held for more than 1 day. the more than 3x leverage clearly demonstrated in longer term returns here vs. gold is excellent proof of this.
    May 22, 2014. 02:50 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Dividends Matter: A Review Of Recent Research [View article]
    Excellent point. Year-end 2008 was a prime example of this. As many long-time MF holders sold into the freefall to Dow 7,000, disciplined buy and holders got crushed by capital gains taxes though they didn't sell a single share. That was when I made the shift to ETFs for good in all taxable accounts.
    Mar 4, 2014. 12:48 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Dividends Matter: A Review Of Recent Research [View article]
    Great read - thanks Geoff!
    Mar 4, 2014. 08:50 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Crisis In Ukraine: What It Means For U.S. Stocks [View article]
    Great article Eric!

    I wouldn't be surprised if we turn around in 15 or 20 years to 'discover' that Putin has retaken half the territory ceded since the break-up of the USSR. #whosaysthecoldwarended
    Mar 3, 2014. 03:21 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • ETFs Are Not What You Think They Are [View article]
    For the sake of the average investor, there should be different names for standard index ETFs and products that involve large doses of financial engineering. This would be a simple, straightforward way to differentiate between easy to use standard index funds and products that carry much larger amounts of risk. After 2008, the financial services industry pretty much owes this to retail investors. But I understand why they haven't done this: Obfuscation and mislabelling are a better way to get more people to use products they really shouldn't be touching.
    Jan 27, 2014. 03:21 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Replicating Yale's Endowment Portfolio With Accessible Instruments [View article]
    What an excellent article - very well done. Thanks!
    Jan 27, 2014. 03:16 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Gary Gordon Positions For 2014: Sticking With ETFs Capable Of Handling Deflationary Scares [View article]

    I understand your sentiment but as an RIA, people like Gary Gordon build client accounts one at a time, based on their individual needs. How then can he report on results in a broad and sweeping fashion? Every portfolio is different and every set of financial needs is different too.

    Jan 3, 2014. 06:30 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment