For all the press in recent years about India becoming a global juggernaut, you might think there are a lot of funds dedicated to the country. But you’d be wrong.
True, there are any number of emerging market funds, and BRIC funds, that offer exposure to India. And truth be told, those are probably enough for the majority of investors.
But if somebody (i.e., one of your clients) decided they wanted to dedicate a tactical portion of their portfolio strictly to India, they now have one more option added to the short list of possibilities.
Van Eck Global launched a small-cap equity ETF earlier this week. The Market Vectors India Small-Cap Index ETF tracks an index of 122 stocks with an average market cap of $456 million.
As in investment, India has “great demographic and economic factors,” says Adam Phillips, Managing Director of ETFs at Van Eck. Phillips cites an active consumer market and a growing middle class as two such factors. Indeed, India’s middle class is expected to triple in size over the next 15 years, according to Van Eck.
If recent history can be used as a guide, India’s economy certainly does seem resilient. It was averaging 7% growth through most of the decade. And even in 2009, when the global economy was in the grip of the credit crisis, it grew at 6.5%, according to the CIA Handbook.
This new fund is in addition to 15 others that follow India’s domestic economy, according to numbers from Lipper. Most of those are relatively young. Only 10 of them have been around for more than a year, and only five have been around more than three years.
Jeff Tjornehoj, research manager at Lipper, says that investors are looking at India now in much the same way they looked at emerging markets as a group 20 years ago. That is, it’s a big unknown, but a very exciting possibility.
And in addition to its domestic economy, the fact that it also serves as a major post for the global service economy is a boon to its overall economic health. In fact, Tjornehoj says it may be even in a better position than China in this regard, at least for investors who favor the consistent, slow-and-steady school. While China has a lot of manufacturing and industry from corporations around the world, the fact is that those areas, in general, experience bigger booms and busts than the service sector that has outsourced more to India.
Still, this type of fund will likely have a limited appeal. Because, again, most of your clients will probably be just as well off with a more general emerging market fund or a BRIC fund. But for those who are enamored with India’s growth prospects, and have done their homework, you should make sure you know about all the options available.