ETFs Work Best… (4/09)

ETFs Work Best With Absolute Return Strategies

By Murray Coleman, 4/20/09

David Kreinces is a portfolio manager with ETF Portfolio Management. Before founding the Newbury Park, Calif.-based firm in 2007, he was a portfolio manager in Merrill Lynch’s global private client group, specializing in absolute return strategies using exchange-traded funds.

Kreinces is one of a growing number of independent portfolio advisers offering all-ETF portfolios that implement hedging strategies.To find out more about his unique quantitative-based methodology,’s Managing Editor Murray Coleman recently caught up with him at ETF Portfolio Management’s southern California headquarters. How do you implement ETFs in absolute return strategies?

Kreinces: Our strategies are built around quantitative, rules-based models. And they don’t use leverage at all. That’s an important point. By not using leverage, we feel like our ability to limit volatility and control portfolio risk is greatly enhanced. But this has been an unusual period. In the past 18 months, we’ve had record activity in terms of shifting positions. During this time, it has been rare for us to hold funds for more than a few weeks at a time. But this isn’t designed as a short-term trading strategy. What’s your fee structure for your various strategies?

Kreinces: Our core passive portfolios have no advisory fees. We offer three of these. One follows the basic recommendations for an all-ETF portfolio created by David Swensen, the manager of Yale University’s endowment program. It basically follows the strategy described in his book, “Unconventional Success.”

The second passive core portfolio is designed for novice investors and takes a more basic approach to diversification. A third passive portfolio takes a more diversified approach by not discriminating as much against emerging markets and commodities. Again, all three are passively managed buy-and-hold strategies using ETFs where our clients don’t pay advisory fees.

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