- Endowus has just made two Amundi low-cost passive index funds available for investments using your CPF OA. They are the Amundi Prime USA Fund and the Amundi Index MSCI World Fund and they are exclusive on the Endowus Fund Smart platform.
- They are the lowest-cost funds on the CPF Investment Scheme, with total expense ratios of 0.05% and 0.10% respectively, and cheaper than ETFs available locally in Singapore on SGX and most UCITS ETFs.
- They are managed by Amundi, the largest European fund manager and leading passive index provider with over $2 trillion in assets under management.
- You can buy a single Amundi passive index fund, create a portfolio with these two funds, or use any of them together with other funds to customise your ideal portfolio on the Endowus Fund Smart platform.
- Watch our webinar replay to learn more about these new funds, why CPF investors should consider them, and why passive investing works. Read about our latest recommended portfolio change, which includes the addition of the Amundi funds to the Flagship Portfolios. To start investing your CPF with Endowus, click here.
Endowus efforts finally bring Amundi index funds into CPFIS
Endowus has worked strategically with Amundi to bring the new series of the lowest-cost passive index funds to the Central Provident Fund Investment Scheme (CPFIS) for some time. We are excited to now introduce the two inaugural low-cost passive index funds available for your CPF Ordinary Account (OA) exclusively through Endowus Fund Smart — the Amundi Index MSCI World Fund and the Amundi Prime USA Fund.
When we began Endowus five years ago with the specific aim to digitise the CPF investing experience, we struggled to find good products and solutions in the Singapore market for our investors to build truly globally diversified and low cost strategies. It was even tougher with the CPFIS given the limited fund availability and the lack of any good exchange-traded funds (ETFs) locally. So we launched CPF services at the end of 2019 with the help from our local partner, Lion Global, wrapping two Vanguard index funds and introducing it as the cheapest equities fund in CPF history at the time at a total expense ratio (TER) of 0.34%. (TER is as opposed to the fund management fee, which is only a part of the total cost of the fund.)
Since then, we have launched a whole series of passive index funds from our partners Amundi and BlackRock iShares, with costs ranging from 0.05% to 0.20% TER. All eight passive index funds on the Endowus platform (as of March 2023) from these two partners are below 0.20% TER. This is cheaper than all but two ETFs on the Singapore Exchange (SGX) and most UCITS ETFs — the Amundi Prime USA Fund with 0.05% TER is the cheapest among unit trusts, index funds, and ETFs registered in Singapore to date.
We are so excited that after five years, we have finally now made available for CPF investing, exclusively on the Endowus Fund Smart platform, the two lowest cost of these passive index funds, the Amundi Index MSCI World Fund and the Amundi Prime USA Fund. We plan to bring more low-cost index funds with Amundi into CPFIS in the near future.
As the first digital advisor for CPF investing through CPFIS for your CPF OA money, Endowus has strived to provide the three key pillars of investment success over the long term for individuals — advice, access and cost. As a trusted advisor, Endowus offers professional advice aligned to the client’s best interest as a fiduciary, better access to best-in-class funds and solutions such as ready-made, optimised portfolios, and at the lowest cost possible with 100% Cashback on trailer fees as well as no sales, transaction, or custody fees.
What sets Endowus apart is the fact that we act as a fiduciary, always doing what is in the best interest of our clients, without any conflict, and are paid by nobody else other than our clients. We have already returned millions of dollars in cashback of these conflicted fees back to our clients, resulting in tens of millions in savings for investors. Endowus is the right partner to get you to your important financial goals such as retirement adequacy, especially for your CPF.
Watch the replay of our launch webinar here.
Best-in-class passive investing from Amundi
Passive investing refers to the strategy of buying funds that mirror the holdings of market benchmark indices such as the S&P 500 and the MSCI World Index, and holding the funds for a long time. The objective is to match the performance of the indices, rather than to outguess and beat the market, by replicating broad market exposure.
The key benefits of investing in the Amundi passive index funds include:
- Most affordable way to access index funds: The Amundi Index MSCI World Fund and the Amundi Prime USA Fund are the lowest-cost passive index funds available in Singapore and on the CPFIS. They are also cheaper than the SGX-listed exchange-traded funds (ETFs), with no bid-ask spreads and currency mismatch.
- Efficiency: These passively managed funds track well-known, highly diversified, and widely-used equity indices. They offer an efficient and easy way to invest in the US market in the case of the Prime USA Fund, and the developed markets in the case of the Index MSCI World Fund.
- Localisation: The funds are denominated in the Singapore dollar (SGD), which makes them convenient and most suitable for Singapore investors. They are registered with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) locally and are available for investing with CPF OA money.
Here are the key details of the Amundi passive index funds available for CPF investing:
Why invest your CPF in passive index funds
Your CPF savings should be worked harder for your retirement needs and to beat inflation. For most Singaporeans, CPF monies will be a key source of income in their golden years. Many homebuyers also use their CPF OA savings to pay for their property downpayment and mortgage. Given that a significant portion of your wealth sits in CPF, consider investing globally through CPFIS-approved funds — such as those available through Endowus. Diversified funds with broad-market exposure can be suitable for those planning for retirement over the long term.
Investing your CPF OA monies can help to grow your retirement assets, especially if you have a longer time horizon before retirement. The majority of those who invested their CPF have made profits greater than the 2.5% per annum (p.a.) OA interest rate. You should review your investment horizon and personal finances if you’re considering investing your CPF.
As the chart below illustrates, by taking on some risk, $100,000 could be invested and grow to more than $153,000 (Amundi Prime USA Fund) or about $142,000 (Amundi Index MSCI World Fund), from January 2019 to February 2023. That’s compared to the amount building up to around $110,000 if it had remained in CPF OA and grown at the guaranteed rate of 2.5% p.a.
Read more about CPF OA investments with Endowus in this article. Here are five things to note before investing your CPF.
Is passive investing better than active?
A recent study by Morningstar showed that out of the 244 active global funds, only two had managed to outperform the global index over a five-year period as of the end of April 2022. Outperforming the market by actively picking stocks, while not impossible, is a challenging task. To do it consistently is even harder.
This illustration makes a compelling argument for passive investments to be a part of an investor’s portfolio, particularly when there is a long-term objective in mind. Because passive funds track market returns instead of relying on security selection to outperform, they tend to have much lower management fees. This makes investing in passive funds a cost-effective and efficient way of investing for the long term.
Learn more about passive investing, and why it’s often confused with ETF trading.
Why does cost matter?
While we cannot control where the markets are, cost is something an investor can and should control. Fees directly impact your investment returns, and this impact compounds over time — exponentially lowering the effective return of an investment over the investment horizon.
The table and chart below illustrate this impact of fees, by comparing the growth of $100,000 from January 2014 to February 2023 with three vehicles: the MSCI World Index (which is not investable) and two passive index funds tracking the index but with different total expense ratios. The total expense ratio is also known as the fund-level fee, which is paid to the fund managers.
We compare the Amundi Index MSCI World Fund with another actual passive fund that charges a higher fee — we’ll refer to it as “ABC” World Index Fund for the purposes of this illustration. For the Amundi fund, the Amundi IS MSCI World AU-C share class was used in this illustration because of its longer track record — note that this share class has a slightly higher total expense ratio (0.3%) than the share class available on the Endowus platform (0.1%).
Growth of $100,000
Since January 2014, an investor who had invested in the “ABC” MSCI World Index Fund would have made about $12,300 less than an investor who had invested in the Amundi MSCI World Index Fund. The difference started out small but grew exponentially, thanks to the power of compounding.
Why should investors consider the Amundi passive index funds?
The Amundi passive funds differentiate themselves in these key areas: They are efficient, provide access to the global markets, and are the most affordable way to invest your CPF monies in index funds. They are also denominated in Singapore dollars (SGD), which makes them convenient and most suitable for Singapore investors.
1. Efficient market access to global markets
Amundi’s scale as a large, experienced, and highly regarded manager with substantial assets under management (AUM) allows them to accurately replicate the global indices that the funds are tracking. The Amundi Index MSCI World Fund tracks the MSCI World Index, which covers 23 developed markets. The Amundi Prime USA Fund tracks the Solactive US Large & Mid Cap Index, which spans the largest 530 companies in the US and closely tracks the performance of both the S&P 500 Index and the MSCI USA Index.
Amundi can provide access to global markets with a very low tracking error due to its scale and experience, benefiting the end investors. In a passive fund, the tracking error measures the difference between the returns of an investment in the fund and the benchmark it is tracking. A lower tracking error indicates that the investment is better at replicating the performance of the index.
2. Lowest-cost index funds for CPF investing
The Amundi Prime USA Fund and Index MSCI World Fund are the lowest-cost funds on the CPFIS, with a total expense ratio (TER), or fund-level fee, of 0.05% and 0.10% respectively.
This makes them cheaper than all ETFs available locally in Singapore on SGX, and more UCITS ETFs. There are only two Singapore-listed ETFs that have a TER of below 0.2% — the Amundi Prime USA Fund is more affordable than both of them.
Amundi’s portfolio team uses sophisticated methods to improve efficiency and thus lower costs at scale — these include the negotiation of extremely low transaction costs through relationships with over 70 market makers and liquidity providers.
Furthermore, there are no bid-ask spreads, which help to keep costs low for investors. The bid-ask spread is the price gap between buyers and sellers that an individual has to pay when buying and selling. It’s a measure of liquidity; the more liquid a security is, the smaller the spread. Due to their mutual fund (or unit trust) structure, the Amundi passive funds do not have wide bid-ask spreads on a portfolio level, unlike many ETFs. An ETF that is less liquid and not high in demand can have a bid-ask spread that exceeds even the actual cost of the fund’s management fee.
For these reasons, the Amundi passive funds are currently the lowest-cost index funds available in Singapore to retail investors.
3. SGD-denominated to minimise currency conversion friction
The Amundi Index MSCI World Fund and Amundi Prime USA Fund are offered in SGD for convenience and accessibility. This contrasts with most similar passive ETFs, which are generally denominated in foreign currencies and are not even available for CPF OA investments. Singapore-based investors can minimise the friction from currency conversion by investing in the Amundi passive funds.
Endowus is improving passive investment options for Singapore investors
The big mission that is core to Endowus is to continuously improve the access and cost of products for retail investors in Singapore. The latest introduction of the two Amundi passive funds for CPF investing is an important step on this journey as we continue to expand and lower the cost of passive investment options for Singapore-based investors.
For investments with cash and Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS) savings, we had earlier launched four Amundi passive index funds on our Fund Smart platform in 2022. Of these, three are equity funds — the Amundi Index MSCI World Fund, the Amundi Prime USA Fund, and the Amundi Index MSCI Emerging Markets Fund — and one is a fixed-income fund, the Amundi Index Global Aggregate 500m Fund.
This means the Prime USA Fund and the Index MSCI World Fund are now ready for you to invest with cash, SRS, and CPF. The other two Amundi passive index funds are available for cash or SRS investments.
Amundi passive index funds available on Fund Smart
How the Amundi passive funds stack up in Singapore
Presently, the primary way for most investors in Singapore to access passive index investing is to either trade the SGX-listed ETFs or purchase the passive index mutual funds that are recognised or authorised by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). But there are limited choices, and these investments can run up high costs after taking into account the bid-ask spread.
The high bid-ask spread has historically been a challenge for SGX-listed ETFs because of the limited amount of daily trading volume. Essentially, buyers of these ETFs have to pay a higher price than the actual value of the underlying securities in order to purchase the units they want, and this adds to the total cost of owning the securities.
In contrast, the Amundi passive index funds are not subject to the bid-ask spreads demanded by market makers, due to their mutual fund structure.
Bid-ask spreads are constantly fluctuating, and can widen during times of low liquidity, especially when markets fall. Also, the “price” of an ETF can diverge from the “value” of the fund and its underlying portfolio holdings (represented by the net asset value or NAV), and often trades at a premium or a discount to the true value of the fund. In times of market volatility and especially in a downturn, the ETF can trade at wide discounts. At that point, it would be under-representing the underlying value of the fund’s portfolio value.
What about foreign-listed ETFs?
At this point some of you may be asking: What about investing in foreign-listed ETFs that are more liquid and have smaller bid-ask spreads?
Foreign-listed ETFs are not recognised nor authorised by MAS. Therefore, they are investable only with cash. In contrast, for a number of Singapore-listed funds, investors can use not just cash but also their CPF and SRS monies. The Amundi Prime USA Fund and the Amundi Index MSCI World Fund are now ready for you to invest with cash, SRS, and CPF.
As for the other two Amundi passive index funds available on Endowus Fund Smart — the Amundi Index MSCI Emerging Markets Fund and the Amundi Index Global Aggregate 500m Fund — you may invest in them using cash and SRS.
The table below compares the Amundi passive funds against the foreign-listed ETFs that are popular with Singapore investors.
While these foreign-listed ETFs may have smaller bid-ask spreads, the total cost of the Amundi funds still look competitive as compared to these global peers.
Importantly, the largest and most liquid ETFs are often priced in hard currencies, such as the US dollar (USD), which may not be the natural base currency for many investors. For example, a Singapore-based investor would need to first convert their principal into the foreign currency, from SGD to USD, and this will incur a currency conversion fee to invest. And when the investor redeems the investment, they will have to convert it back from USD to SGD. These two-way currency conversion fees behind foreign-listed ETFs add another layer of fees and hassle.
In contrast, the Amundi passive index funds available on the Endowus platform are denominated in SGD. This makes them convenient and most suitable for Singapore investors.
How the Amundi passive funds stack up against comparable foreign-listed ETFs
Product highlight: Amundi USA Prime Fund
The Amundi Prime USA Fund tracks the performance of Solactive GBS United States Large & Mid Cap Index. The index covers the performance of the large and mid cap segment of the United States equity market and represents about the largest 85% of the free-float market capitalisation. The resulting index is one with around 530 constituents and that closely tracks the performance of both the S&P 500 Index and the MSCI USA Index. The fund has an expense ratio of just 0.05%.
Since January 2007, the correlation of returns between the Solactive GBS United States Large & Mid Cap Index and the other 2 indices has been at 0.999, which indicates an almost perfect positive correlation between the returns. This means that the returns of all 3 indices move together by almost the exact same percentage and direction.
Similarly, the performance of the fund has also tracked both indices closely as well. Since the inception of the oldest share class of the Amundi PRIME USA ETF in 2019, the returns of the index fund have had a correlation of around 0.98 to all three indices.
Correlation between Amundi Prime USA Fund and main US indices
High correlation with major US equity market indices
How to invest in Amundi passive index funds on Fund Smart
Index funds offer access to thousands of securities and many single-country markets that are otherwise not easily available. That is why such funds often form the backbone of many portfolios.
With Fund Smart, you can easily customise your ideal investment portfolio in minutes. You can buy a single Amundi passive index fund, create a portfolio with just the two Amundi funds for CPF investments, or mix the Amundi funds with other funds curated by the Endowus Investment Office.
Here are a few simple steps to do it seamlessly on the Fund Smart platform:
Step 1: Log into your Endowus account, and select “Add Goal” from the sidebar.
Step 2: Click on “Select your own funds”, followed by “Create goal”.
Step 3: After naming the goal, select the goal type, your funding source, and your risk tolerance.
To invest with CPF OA, you will need to link your CPF Investment Account to your Endowus account. You can select only one funding source for each goal; some funds are only available to invest with a particular funding source.
Step 4: Select the Amundi passive index fund(s) you want to invest in, and key in your desired allocation for each fund to make up this portfolio. Input your investment amount.
Step 5: Confirm this option. You are ready to go with detailed portfolio analytics.
Want more information on how to invest with Fund Smart? Check out the FAQs. For a quick overview of all the funds available on Fund Smart or to browse through other passive index funds, refer to our investment funds list.
More to come from Endowus
The launch of the Amundi passive index funds for CPF investments have brought retail investors in Singapore better options for passive investing. The funds offer efficient exposure to key global financial markets, and are the lowest-cost funds on the CPF Investment Scheme. They are now exclusively available on the Endowus Fund Smart platform, and are ready for you to invest with CPF OA monies. Customising your DIY portfolios via Fund Smart is also easy to do.
Endowus continues to work on exciting initiatives that will meaningfully improve the access and cost of investment options across all sources of funding — be it, cash, SRS, or CPF. We are looking to bring an even wider selection of best-in-class passive and active funds into Singapore. We are also working hard to broaden the choice of high-quality, curated funds from global leading fund managers to be made available and included into the CPF Investment Scheme and SRS.
Stay updated on our new investment solutions and the latest market developments via our articles and webinars, and subscribe to our weekly Endowus Insights newsletter. The Endowus Investment Office also curates the latest content on Fund Smart through the monthly Fund Digest articles.
Thank you for your support and trust in the Endowus team, and we look forward to continuing to serve you better so you can live easier today and better tomorrow.
To get started with Endowus, click here.
- Flagship CPF Portfolios made better with lowest-cost Amundi passive index funds
- Flagship Cash/SRS Portfolios made better with BlackRock iShares, Amundi funds
Passive investing 101
What is a passive index fund?
A passive index fund provides exposure to a certain market by tracking an index that represents the underlying market.
For example, investors can get exposure to the broad global equities market by investing in an index fund that tracks the MSCI World Index. As such, the fund’s performance and risk are expected to follow those of the tracked index very closely.
In contrast to passive investing, active investing involves the short-term trading of securities based on extensive research and analysis by a portfolio manager to try to beat the market.
In a passive index fund, there is no active investment decision involved. The fund manager just needs to make sure that the underlying investments follow the composition of the index that the fund tracks. The composition of the index is often defined by the external index provider in order to represent and measure the performance of a certain investable market. If a stock is added to or excluded from the index, the passive fund would follow suit.
One of the largest contributors to the difference in performance between a passive fund and that of the underlying index is the level of fees charged. Fees pull down the relative performance of the fund. The higher the fee, the larger the drag on performance. Successful passive fund managers have kept fees and other frictional costs much lower than other comparable index funds, or even active funds that benchmark against the same indices.
As such, passive index funds can be an attractive option to investors as they provide a low-cost and efficient way of gaining access to many different markets. Investors, however, need to be aware of certain inefficiencies — including fees, tracking error, broad exposures, and low active management — when making such investments.
Active managers suffer from underperformance, survivorship, consistency
Furthermore, research from Dimensional Fund Advisors clearly shows that not only do active investors on average struggle to outperform, there is also a survivorship bias. A lot of funds do not even survive and are closed down, which therefore underrepresents the number of funds that have underperformed, as they are removed from the numbers. Between 2002 and 2021, less than half of the total number of funds in the universe survived and only 18% outperformed.
The other problem active managers suffer from is consistency in performance. Over time, the number of funds that outperform in any given year is low, but that list is different each year. A manager may outperform one year and underperform the next. Of the top 25% of fund performers, only 21% of funds remained in that top quartile after five years.
Combine the difficulty of outperforming a benchmark, especially after all fees and costs are removed, and the survivorship bias that exists in the data, and finally the lack of consistency in the outperformers, and you’ll get a more holistic picture of how difficult it can be for active managers to consistently beat the benchmark. This further strengthens the argument for low-cost, passive index investing in broad global markets.
Passive index unit trusts vs passive index ETFs
A fund is essentially a vehicle that pools investor money to invest in a basket of underlying assets. A fund can be open-end or closed-end; an open-end fund’s shares can be continuously issued to investors, and it accepts a constant flow of fresh capital.
Both unit trusts (also known as mutual funds) and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are open-end funds, and they can track an index passively. But there are some important differences to note.
Put simply, the only difference between unit trusts and ETFs is their listing status. As its name suggests, ETFs are open-end mutual funds that are listed on a stock exchange. Unit trusts are open-end mutual funds that are not listed. Both ETFs and unit trusts can be either passive or actively managed.
While the fund’s listing status may not seem like a big deal, it actually has a significant impact on liquidity and pricing, which may bring about significant differences between unit trusts and ETFs.
ETFs listed on a stock exchange trade like stocks, which means that investors who trade these instruments are subject to volatility in the bid and ask price. If an ETF has low liquidity — reflected in low trading volume or a small market cap — the bid-ask spread can actually be quite large, even exceeding the expense ratio (fees) of the ETF itself. In such cases, investing in such an ETF can be extremely costly. Investors need to assess the total cost of trading when investing in ETFs.
Unit trusts do not face the same issue because they are not priced based on bid-ask spreads — they trade once a day, and at a specific net asset value (NAV), rather than at intraday market prices. This NAV takes into account the trading costs associated with the index fund on that specific day (“swing pricing”). This makes it less complicated to invest in unit trusts, as the investor does not have to consider bid-ask spread costs.
Unit trusts vs ETFs: key differences
How does Amundi replicate market indices?
The Prime USA Fund and the Index MSCI World Fund are now ready for you to invest with cash, SRS, and CPF.
These two funds were part of four Amundi passive index funds that we had earlier launched for cash and SRS investments on our Fund Smart platform. The other equity passive index fund that was introduced for cash and SRS investing is the Amundi Index MSCI Emerging Markets Fund. The launch also included a fixed-income passive index fund, the Amundi Index Global Aggregate 500m Fund.
There are a few ways that a passive fund can match its holdings with those of the benchmark index. For equity funds, Amundi typically uses full physical replication to track the performance of the index. In the full physical replication method, the passive fund manager buys and holds all the securities in the index at the same weight or proportion as in the index.
Another method is known as sampling replication, which differs slightly from full physical replication, and is used for most fixed-income funds. Sampling replication is used when it is simply not possible to own all the securities in the index, as in the case of bond indices. In this approach, the respective bond index is broken down into sections each representing key risk factors such as duration, currency, country, rating and sector. The passive fund manager then picks bonds included in the index that mimic the risk profile of each section. The aggregate result is a portfolio that represents the index’s overall risk profile and duration. For example, the Bloomberg Global Aggregate (500 Million) Index has over 19,000 bond holdings, but the Amundi Index Global Agg 500m only has slightly over 6,000 bonds with a modified duration similar to that of the index.
Explore the Endowus Fin.Lit Academy to learn more about CPF, SRS, retirement, the basics of investing, wealth building, and personal finance.
Investment involves risk. Past performance is not necessarily a guide to future performance or returns. The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up, and you may not get the full amount you invested. Rates of exchange may cause the value of investments to go up or down. Individual stock performance does not represent the return of a fund.
Any forward-looking statements, prediction, projection or forecast on the economy, stock market, bond market or economic trends of the markets contained in this material are subject to market influences and contingent upon matters outside the control of Endowus Singapore Pte. Ltd. (“Endowus”) and therefore may not be realised in the future. Further, any opinion or estimate is made on a general basis and subject to change without notice. In presenting the information above, none of Endowus, its affiliates, directors, employees, representatives or agents have given any consideration to, nor have made any investigation of the objective, financial situation or particular need of any user, reader, any specific person or group of persons. Therefore, no representation is made as to the completeness and adequacy of the information to make an informed decision. You should carefully consider (i) whether any investment views and products/ services are appropriate in view of your investment experience, objectives, financial resources and relevant circumstances. You may also wish to seek financial advice through a financial advisor or the Endowus platform and independent legal, accounting, regulatory or tax advice, as appropriate.
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