Industry Voice: Emerging market debt - an opportunity requiring specialist skills

Industry Voice: Emerging market debt - an opportunity requiring specialist skills

Many emerging market economies have strengthened, putting them on firmer footing for future growth. We believe valuations remain attractive but this asset class needs careful handling: investors should look for a quality-focused approach with risk mitigation central to the process.

Given improving fundamentals, now could be a good time to increase allocations to EM. And with certain currencies undervalued, the case of- EM debt strategies denominated in local currencies appears even stronger.

Why emerging market bonds?

Stronger economies

Over the last year and a half, many emerging market economies have become structurally stronger; countries such as Brazil and Russia have made significant progress.

Rising growth

The International Monetary Fund recently raised GDP growth forecasts for the emerging world. Growth-friendly monetary policy is a key supporting factor: lower interest rates lift consumer spending which in turn boosts domestically-driven economic growth.

Diminishing concerns

President Trump's trade-related policy rhetoric created concern among investors as emerging markets often rely heavily on exports. However, many of Trump's policies have been either watered down or dropped.

Attractive pricing

We believe that the above strengths are not priced into most emerging market securities. Furthermore, we see significant upside in some local currencies before fair value is reached.


How to get fundamental about EM investing?

While traditional EM market-cap bond funds aim to diversify risk by offering broad market exposure, in reality, market-cap investors can often be overly exposed to the most indebted countries. It is therefore important for investors to consider the fundamentals of emerging nations when choosing their EM allocation.

A focus on quality

Building a portfolio according to strength - rather than size - can help to focus the portfolio on quality bond issuers while reducing the reliance on trading. This latter point is especially important given that it is now much harder to buy and sell bonds - market liquidity is impaired in the new investment paradigm.

Strong risk controls

Investors should beware that a number of risk factors still exist for the asset class. These might include an unexpectedly aggressive increase in US interest rates or a sudden return of trade protectionism to the political agenda. In addition there are political risks within emerging markets themselves.

As emerging markets are a collection of very diverse economies, it follows that the impact of various risk scenarios will vary significantly from country to country. Our approach puts risk mitigation at the centre when assessing each emerging market.

The fundamental approach to fixed income:

  • Greater diversification including access to China and India
  • Less concentrated risk when compared to traditional market cap indices
  • Lending is based on a borrower's ability to repay rather than their capacity to borrow


For illustrative purposes only. Allocations are subject to change

Why access the fundamental approach via an ETF?

The number of investors using fixed income exchange traded funds (ETFs) continues to rise. As challenges in the bond markets continue to prevail and with traditional bond dealer inventories reduced, investors have increasingly been turning to the ETF vehicle as a way to potentially mitigate liquidity risks. This is because the ETF structure is able to provide fixed income investors with an additional layer of liquidity via the secondary market. Compared to traditional unlisted funds, this secondary market can provide investors with intraday liquidity and real time price In an environment where there may be liquidity concerns in the underlying bonds, this secondary market structure can help address these concerns as it introduces the bond inventories held by those market participants, who support ETF trading.

For more information, visit 



This communication has been provided by ETF Securities (UK) Limited ("ETFS UK") which is authorised and regulated by the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority (the "FCA").

This communication is only targeted at qualified or professional investors.

The information contained in this communication is for your general information only and is neither an offer for sale nor a solicitation of an offer to buy securities. This communication should not be used as the basis for any investment decision. Historical performance is not an indication of future performance and any investments may go down in value.

This document is not, and under no circumstances is to be construed as, an advertisement or any other step in furtherance of a public offering of shares or securities in the United States or any province or territory thereof. Neither this document nor any copy hereof should be taken, transmitted or distributed (directly or indirectly) into the United States.

This communication may contain independent market commentary prepared by ETFS UK based on publicly available information. Although ETFS UK endeavours to ensure the accuracy of the content in this communication, ETFS UK does not warrant or guarantee its accuracy or correctness. Any third party data providers used to source the information in this communication make no warranties or representation of any kind relating to such data. Where ETFS UK has expressed its own opinions related to product or market activity, these views may change. Neither ETFS UK, nor any affiliate, nor any of their respective officers, directors, partners, or employees accepts any liability whatsoever for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of this publication or its contents.

ETFS UK is required by the FCA to clarify that it is not acting for you in any way in relation to the investment or investment activity to which this communication relates. In particular, ETFS UK will not provide any investment services to you and or advise you on the merits of, or make any recommendation to you in relation to, the terms of any transaction. No representative of ETFS UK is authorised to behave in any way which would lead you to believe otherwise. ETFS UK is not, therefore, responsible for providing you with the protections afforded to its clients and you should seek your own independent legal, investment and tax or other advice as you see fit.

More on Industry Voice

Schroders is in 'advanced talks' with Greencoat Capital regarding an acquisition

Schroders confirms talks with Greencoat Capital

Follows media speculation

clock 16 December 2021 • 1 min read
Industry Voice: The top three priorities for sustainable investing in 2022

Industry Voice: The top three priorities for sustainable investing in 2022

Jenn-Hui Tan, Head of Stewardship & Sustainable Investing, Fidelity International
clock 15 December 2021 • 5 min read
Industry Voice: Flights and visa: a brief look into international travel

Industry Voice: Flights and visa: a brief look into international travel

Holiday bookings and visa purchases are rising once more. But what are the long-term expectations for international travel?

Arthur Young
clock 30 November 2021 • 3 min read