First Trust Expands Target Outcome® Lineup with Launch of BUFS, a Laddered Portfolio of Small Cap Moderate Buffer ETFs

  • BUFS provides access to a laddered portfolio of FT Vest U.S. Small Cap Moderate Buffer ETFs, diversifying risk across investment time period and market conditions
  • FT Vest U.S. Small Cap Moderate Buffer ETFs seek to provide a 15% downside buffer with upside potential to a predetermined cap over a one-year Target Outcome Period
  • BUFS joins First Trust’s growing lineup of ETF laddered funds which invest in Target Outcome Funds®

WHEATON, Ill.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–First Trust Advisors L.P. (“First Trust”) a leading exchange-traded fund (“ETF”) provider and asset manager, announced today that it has launched the FT Vest Laddered Small Cap Moderate Buffer ETF (Cboe: BUFS) (the “fund”). BUFS seeks to provide equity investors with an ongoing risk management strategy by investing substantially all of its assets in a portfolio of FT Vest U.S. Small Cap Moderate Buffer ETFs (“Underlying ETFs” or “Target Outcome® Buffer ETFs”).

BUFS uses a laddered approach to invest in the Underlying ETFs, which utilize an options strategy that seeks to provide a downside buffer against the first 15% of losses (before fees, expenses and taxes) with upside potential, up to a predetermined cap, based on the price return of the iShares® Russell 2000® ETF (“IWM”) for a Target Outcome Period of approximately one year. Unlike the Underlying ETFs, the fund itself does not pursue a target outcome strategy. The buffer is only provided by the Underlying ETFs and the fund itself does not provide any stated buffer against losses. The fund will likely not receive the full benefit of the Underlying ETF buffers and could have limited upside potential. The fund’s returns may be limited to the caps of the Underlying ETFs.

“Today’s launch of BUFS may be attractive to investors seeking a risk-diversified way to participate in some of the upside potential of the Russell 2000® Index with a level of protection against losses. BUFS offers a convenient built-in laddered approach that recalibrates a portion of the investment to the prevailing levels of IWM on a rolling basis,” said Jeff Chang, President of Vest Financial LLC, sub-advisor to the fund. “There has been a steady increase in demand for risk-diversified buffer investments since 2016, when we introduced the first laddered portfolio of buffer strategies in a registered investment company. We are pleased to make yet another risk-diversified buffer ETF available for investors,” Chang added.

The Underlying ETFs held by the fund each have a Target Outcome Period that resets annually at different rolling intervals, creating a diversified or “laddered” Target Outcome strategy. For investors seeking to mitigate risk in the context of asset allocation, the fund’s laddered approach may reduce timing risks over the long term by providing diversification of the investment time period and market level. Depending on when the fund purchases shares of an Underlying ETF, the cap and/or buffer of an Underlying ETF may be exhausted despite utilizing a laddered approach, unless the fund buys shares at the beginning of a Target Outcome Period. The relevant Underlying ETF’s cap is reset at prevailing market conditions at the onset of each new Target Outcome Period. The cap for each Underlying ETF’s subsequent outcome period will likely differ from its initial outcome period. Because the fund typically will not purchase shares of the Underlying ETFs on the first day of a Target Outcome Period, it is not likely that the stated outcomes for a Target Outcome Period will be realized or fully realized by the fund.

“Risk management remains a top concern for many investors, which helps explain the growing popularity of buffered ETFs. We believe BUFS may be an effective tool for investment professionals seeking exposure to small-cap stocks with lower volatility and some level of downside protection via its underlying ETF holdings,” said Ryan Issakainen, CFA, Senior Vice President, ETF Strategist at First Trust.

Karan Sood and Howard Rubin, of Vest, will serve as portfolio managers for the fund. The portfolio managers are jointly and primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the fund.

For more information about First Trust, please contact Ryan Issakainen at (630) 765-8689 or RIssakainen@FTAdvisors.com.

About First Trust

First Trust is a federally registered investment advisor and serves as the funds’ investment advisor. First Trust and its affiliate First Trust Portfolios L.P. (“FTP”), a FINRA registered broker-dealer, are privately held companies that provide a variety of investment services. First Trust has collective assets under management or supervision of approximately $218 billion as of April 30, 2024, through unit investment trusts, exchange-traded funds, closed-end funds, mutual funds and separate managed accounts. First Trust is the supervisor of the First Trust unit investment trusts, while FTP is the sponsor. FTP is also a distributor of mutual fund shares and exchange-traded fund creation units. First Trust and FTP are based in Wheaton, Illinois. For more information, visit www.ftportfolios.com.

About Vest:

Vest is the creator of Target Outcome Investments®, which strive to buffer losses, manage volatility, amplify gains or provide consistent income to a diverse spectrum of investors. Today, Vest’s Target Outcome Strategies® are available in mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), unit investment trusts (UITs), collective investment trusts (CITs), variable insurance trusts (VITs) and customizable managed accounts/sub-advisory services. For more information about Vest, visit www.vestfin.com or contact Linda Werner at lwerner@ vestfin.com or 703-864-5483.

You should consider the fund’s investment objectives, risks, and charges and expenses carefully before investing. Contact First Trust Portfolios L.P. at 1-800-621-1675 or visit www.ftportfolios.com to obtain a prospectus or summary prospectus which contains this and other information about the fund. The prospectus or summary prospectus should be read carefully before investing.

Risk Considerations

You could lose money by investing in a fund. An investment in a fund is not a deposit of a bank and is not insured or guaranteed. There can be no assurance that a fund’s objective(s) will be achieved. Investors buying or selling shares on the secondary market may incur customary brokerage commissions. Please refer to each fund’s prospectus and Statement of Additional Information for additional details on a fund’s risks. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.

There can be no assurance that an active trading market for fund shares will develop or be maintained.

A fund that invests in underlying ETFs that use FLEX Options to employ a “target outcome strategy” (“Underlying ETFs”), does not itself pursue a defined outcome strategy. The buffer is only provided by the Underlying ETFs and the fund itself does not provide any stated buffer against losses. There can be no guarantee that the Underlying ETFs will be successful in their strategy to buffer against losses. A fund may lose its entire investment in an Underlying ETF. To the extent a fund acquires shares of its Underlying ETFs in connection with creations and during reallocation, the fund typically will not acquire Underlying ETF shares on the first day of the target outcome period defined in the Underlying Fund’s prospectus (“Target Outcome Period”). Likewise, to the extend a fund disposes of shares of an Underlying ETF in connection with redemptions and during reallocation, any such disposition typically will not incur on the last day of a Target Outcome Period.

A new Underlying ETF cap is established at the beginning of each Target Outcome Period and is dependent on prevailing market conditions. As a result, a cap may rise or fall from one Target Outcome Period to the next and is unlikely to remain the same for consecutive Target Outcome Periods.

If the Underlying ETF’s reference security or index experiences gains during a Target Outcome Period, an Underlying ETF will not participate in those gains beyond the cap. In the event a fund purchases shares of an Underlying ETF after the first day of a Target Outcome Period and the Underlying ETF has risen in value to a level near the cap, there may be little or no ability for the fund to experience an investment gain on its shares; however, the fund will remain vulnerable to downside risk.

A fund may be subject to the risk that a counterparty will not fulfill its obligations which may result in significant financial loss to a fund.

Current market conditions risk is the risk that a particular investment, or shares of the fund in general, may fall in value due to current market conditions. As a means to fight inflation, the Federal Reserve and certain foreign central banks have raised interest rates and expect to continue to do so, and the Federal Reserve has announced that it intends to reverse previously implemented quantitative easing. Recent and potential future bank failures could result in disruption to the broader banking industry or markets generally and reduce confidence in financial institutions and the economy as a whole, which may also heighten market volatility and reduce liquidity. Ongoing armed conflicts between Russia and Ukraine in Europe and among Israel, Hamas and other militant groups in the Middle East, have caused and could continue to cause significant market disruptions and volatility within the markets in Russia, Europe, the Middle East and the United States. The hostilities and sanctions resulting from those hostilities have and could continue to have a significant impact on certain fund investments as well as fund performance and liquidity. The COVID-19 global pandemic, or any future public health crisis, and the ensuing policies enacted by governments and central banks have caused and may continue to cause significant volatility and uncertainty in global financial markets, negatively impacting global growth prospects.

A fund is susceptible to operational risks through breaches in cyber security. Such events could cause a fund to incur regulatory penalties, reputational damage, additional compliance costs associated with corrective measures and/or financial loss.

The Underlying ETFs invest in FLEX Options. Trading FLEX Options involves risks different from, or possibly greater than, the risks associated with investing directly in securities. An Underlying Fund may experience substantial downside from specific FLEX Option positions and certain FLEX Option positions may expire worthless. There can be no guarantee that a liquid secondary trading market will exist for the FLEX Options and FLEX options may be less liquid than exchange-traded options.

FLEX Options are subject to correlation risk and a FLEX Option’s value may be highly volatile, and may fluctuate substantially during a short period of time. FLEX Options will be exercisable at the strike price only on their expiration date. Prior to the expiration date, the value of the FLEX Options will be determined based upon market quotations or other recognized pricing methods. In the absence of readily available market quotations for fund holdings, a fund’s advisor may determine the fair value of the holding, which requires the advisor’s judgement and is subject to the risk of mispricing or improper valuation.

A fund may be a constituent of one or more indices or models which could greatly affect a fund’s trading activity, size and volatility.

If a fund’s Underlying ETF holds FLEX Options that reference IWM, each Underlying ETF has exposure to the equity securities markets. Equity securities may decline significantly in price over short or extended periods of time, and such declines may occur in the equity market as a whole, or they may occur in only a particular country, company, industry or sector of the market.

If a fund’s Underlying ETF holds FLEX Options that reference IWM, the fund is subject to certain of the risks of owning shares of an ETF as well as the risks of the types of instruments in which IWM invests.

The portfolio managers of an actively managed portfolio will apply investment techniques and risk analyses that may not have the desired result.

Market risk is the risk that a particular security, or shares of a fund in general may fall in value. Securities are subject to market fluctuations caused by such factors as general economic conditions, political events, regulatory or market developments, changes in interest rates and perceived trends in securities prices. Shares of a fund could decline in value or underperform other investments as a result. In addition, local, regional or global events such as war, acts of terrorism, spread of infectious disease or other public health issues, recessions, natural disasters or other events could have significant negative impact on a fund.

When a fund sells Underlying ETFs in the open market, the resulting gain or loss may have a negative impact on fund returns. In addition, a fund may effect a portion of its creations and redemptions for cash rather than in-kind, which may be less tax efficient. In addition, cash transactions may involve higher brokerage fees and taxes than in-kind transactions.

Large inflows and outflows may impact a new fund’s market exposure for limited periods of time.

A fund classified as “non-diversified” may invest a relatively high percentage of its assets in a limited number of issuers. As a result, a fund may be more susceptible to a single adverse economic or regulatory occurrence affecting one or more of these issuers, experience increased volatility and be highly concentrated in certain issuers.

A fund and a fund’s advisor may seek to reduce various operational risks through controls and procedures, but it is not possible to completely protect against such risks. The fund also relies on third parties for a range of services, including custody, and any delay or failure related to those services may affect the fund’s ability to meet its objective.

The prices of options are volatile and the effective use of options depends on a fund’s ability to terminate option positions at times deemed desirable to do so. There is no assurance that a fund will be able to effect closing transactions at any particular time or at an acceptable price.

High portfolio turnover may result in higher levels of transaction costs and may generate greater tax liabilities for shareholders.

The market price of a fund’s shares will generally fluctuate in accordance with changes in the fund’s net asset value (“NAV”) as well as the relative supply of and demand for shares on the exchange, and a fund’s investment advisor cannot predict whether shares will trade below, at or above their NAV.

A fund may have temporary larger exposures to certain Underlying ETFs and under such circumstances, a fund’s return would be more greatly influenced by the returns of the Underlying ETFs with the larger exposures.

Securities of small- and mid-capitalization companies may experience greater price volatility and be less liquid than larger, more established companies.

An Underlying ETF’s investment strategy is designed to deliver returns if shares are bought on the first day that the Underlying ETF enters into the FLEX Options and are held until the FLEX options expire at the end of the Target Outcome Period subject to the cap.

If a fund does not qualify as a RIC for any taxable year and certain relief provisions were not available, a fund’s taxable income would be subject to tax at the fund level and to a further tax at the shareholder level when such income is distributed. Further, there may be other tax implications to a fund based on the type of investments in a fund.

Trading on an exchange may be halted due to market conditions or other reasons. There can be no assurance that a fund’s requirements to maintain the exchange listing will continue to be met or be unchanged.

The fund’s investment in shares of the Underlying ETFs subjects it to the risks of owning the securities held by the Underlying ETF, as well as the same structural risks faced by an investor purchasing shares of the fund.

An underlying ETF with investments that are concentrated in a single asset class, country, region, industry, or sector may be more affected by adverse events than the market as a whole.

A fund that invests in Underlying ETFs may provide returns that are lower than the returns that an investor could achieve by investing in one or more Underlying ETFs alone and the fund bears its proportionate share of each ETF’s expenses, subjecting fund shareholders to duplicative expenses. A fund of Underlying ETFs does not itself pursue a defined outcome strategy and does not provide any buffer against Underlying ETF losses.

First Trust Advisors L.P. (FTA) is the adviser to the First Trust fund(s). FTA is an affiliate of First Trust Portfolios L.P., the distributor of the fund(s).

The information presented is not intended to constitute an investment recommendation for, or advice to, any specific person. By providing this information, First Trust is not undertaking to give advice in any fiduciary capacity within the meaning of ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code or any other regulatory framework. Financial professionals are responsible for evaluating investment risks independently and for exercising independent judgment in determining whether investments are appropriate for their clients.

The Target Outcome registered trademarks are registered trademarks of Vest Financial LLC.

The fund is not sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by iShares Russell 2000 ETF, BFA, or Russell (together with their affiliates hereinafter referred to as the “Corporations”). The Corporations have not passed on the legality or suitability of, or the accuracy or adequacy of, descriptions and disclosures relating to the fund or the FLEX Options. The Corporations make no representations or warranties, express or implied, regarding the advisability of investing in the fund or the FLEX Options or results to be obtained by the fund or the FLEX Options, shareholders or any other person or entity from use of the iShares Russell 2000 ETF. The Corporations have no liability in connection with the management, administration, marketing or trading of the fund or the FLEX Options.

Contacts

Ryan Issakainen
First Trust
(630) 765-8689
RIssakainen@FTAdvisors.com

Published on May 30, 2024

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