In a first, Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) has launched a new product, the Exchange Traded Fund (ETF). With this product, PSX has joined the list of stock exchanges around the world offering ETFs which are investment products combining the returns offered by the stock market with the diversity offered by a mutual fund. PSX has launched two ETFs, namely the UBL Pakistan Enterprise ETF offered by UBL Funds and NIT Pakistan Gateway ETF offered by NIT.
Given the current circumstances and in the interest of safety, a first of its kind virtual launch was organized by PSX for the landmark launch of the ETFs. This virtual launch is a step taken to make sure that the message of availability of ETFs in the Pakistani Capital Market goes across to all investors and market participants while ensuring their safety in the wake of the current threat of the potential spread of the Covid-19 virus.
In his address at the virtual launch, Chairman Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), Aamir Khan said, “The introduction of ETFs is a big leap for asset management industry and stock market in Pakistan as this product offers significant growth potential due to its transparent nature, low costs and embedded ability to track the index by following a passive investment strategy. I am confident that the launch of UBL Pakistan Enterprise ETF and NIT Pakistan Gateway ETF will fill the void for a low cost exchange traded product and would be instrumental in enhancing the market depth and liquidity”. He further urged upon the SROs and industry players to focus on three key areas going forward namely: 1) Innovation and New Product Development, 2) Proactive Use of Technology for Expanding Market Outreach and 3) Governance and Prudence.
Managing Director, PSX, Farrukh Khan said, “It is an exciting development and a new chapter has been added after a very long time to the narrative of the Pakistani stock market in the form of ETFs. The reason that it all took time was the challenge in finding optimal solutions acceptable to all stakeholders and which were also in the best interest of investors. Now that the ETFs have been introduced, we are hopeful that it will make the market more attractive to all investors, especially retail investors”.
He further stated, “Globally ETFs are an integral part of product offerings in the capital markets. It is a product with significant presence in over 47 countries. Internationally, there were over 8,000 ETFs with aggregate Assets under Management of about US$6.5 trillion by the end of 2019. These are estimated to grow to around US$7.6 trillion by the end of 2020. Looking at the growth trends of ETFs globally, I am confident that there is great potential for ETFs in the Pakistan market as they are an ideal, cost effective instrument for investors who wish to take advantage of the attractive valuations in the Pakistan market”.
Khan congratulated all the market participants, stakeholders, asset management companies and TREC holders for bringing ETFs to the investors. He also thanked the SECP for its support and guidance for the successful design and launch of ETFs in Pakistan. He hoped that this product would prove to be an attractive avenue of investment, especially for the small investors, given the current economic situation prevailing at home and around the world.
Yasir Qadri, CEO of UBL Funds stated, “It is humbling that this launch is another first for UBL Funds, jointly the best rated asset manager of Pakistan with a tradition of launching new products. With valuations where they are, UBL Pakistan Enterprise Exchange Traded Fund may be a suitable product for investors who wish to enter the market without having to worry about stock picking. The fund invests in a basket of blue chip stocks which are largely not sensitive to oil prices. Appreciation is due for SECP who were extremely forthcoming and supporting. The PSX’s product team anchored the launch effectively. JS Global has played a pivotal role by offering to provide market making services”.
Managing Director, NIT, Adnan Afridi said, “It is a proud moment for NIT to have launched the first ETF in the Country. NIT being the oldest Asset Management Company in the country, has always taken the lead in terms of launching new funds and has played a key role in the development of the capital markets of the country”. He further stated, “NIT’s Pakistan Gateway ETF will provide an attractive investment avenue for both large and small investors. Given the current downturn in the market, the NIT Gateway ETF presents a value opportunity for investors to take a diversified exposure to the Pakistan market”.
A major but less visible role played in introducing the Exchange Traded Funds in the market is the role of the Market Maker which provides liquidity for the investment product. JS Global is the Market Maker behind the first ETFs launched at Pakistan Stock Exchange. Its CEO Kamran Nasir said, “It gives me great pleasure to announce that JS Global (JSGCL) is playing a leading role in the launch of Pakistan’s first ever Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) by UBL Funds and National Investment Trust (NIT).