Crane Data is finalizing plans for its third annual ultra-short bond fund event, Bond Fund Symposium, which takes place next month (March 25-26) at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel. Crane's Bond Fund Symposium offers a concentrated and affordable educational experience, as well as an excellent and informal networking venue, for bond fund and fixed-income professionals. Registrations are still being accepted ($750) and sponsorship opportunities are still available. (We're also willing to "comp" tickets for large Crane Data or sponsor clients, so let us know if you're interested.) We review the latest agenda and details below, and we also give an update on our big show, Money Fund Symposium, which will be held in Boston, June 24-26.

The Bond Fund Symposium's Day One (3/25) morning agenda includes: State of the Bond Fund Marketplace, with Peter Crane of Crane Data and Shelly Antoniewicz of the Investment Company Institute; a Keynote Discussion: Ultra-Shorts vs. SMAs: Round II with Rich Mejzak of BlackRock and Jerome Schneider of PIMCO; Bond Market Strategists: Rates, Risks, Spreads, with Mark Cabana of Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Michael Cloherty of RBC Capital Markets; and, U.S. Bond Fund Ratings & LGIP Market Update, with Greg Fayvilevich of Fitch Ratings and Guyna Johnson of Standard & Poor's Global Ratings.

The Day One afternoon agenda includes: Senior Portfolio Manager Perspectives, with Joseph D'Angelo of PGIM and Dave Martucci of J.P. Morgan A.M.; Major Issues in Fixed-Income Investing with Alex Roever from J.P. Morgan Securities as moderator, Peter Yi of Northern Trust Asset Mgmt, Jeff Weaver of Wells Fargo Funds and Todd Schomberg of Invesco; and, ETF Roundtable & Near‐Cash ETF Trends featuring James McNerny of J.P. Morgan A.M., William Goldthwait of State Street Global Advisors and Tim Urbanowicz of Invesco. A discussion of ESG bond funds and index funds will close Monday's session, followed by a reception sponsored by Wells Fargo Securities. (Feel free to stop by!)

Day Two's agenda includes: Regulatory Update: Liquidity with Stephen Cohen of Dechert LLP and Jamie Gershkow of Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young; Money Fund Update & Conservative USBFs with Peter Crane and Kerry Pope of Fidelity Investments; Government & Intermediate Bond Fund Discussion with Sue Hill of Federated Investors and Sean Simko of SEI Investments; and, a Municipal Bond Market Overview with Kristian Lind of Neuberger Berman and J.R. Rieger of The Rieger Report.

Portfolio managers, analysts, investors, issuers, service providers, and anyone interested in expanding their knowledge of bond funds and fixed-income investing will benefit from our comprehensive program. A block of rooms has been reserved at the Loews Philadelphia. We'd like to thank our 2019 sponsors and exhibitors -- Wells Fargo Securities, Fitch Ratings, Fidelity Investments, Investortools, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, Wells Fargo Asset Management, S&P Global Ratings, DTCC, INTL FCStone, Invesco, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Northern Trust and Dechert LLP -- for their support. E-mail us for more details.

Also, mark your calendars for our big show, Crane's Money Fund Symposium, which will be held June 24-26, 2019, at the Renaissance Boston. The preliminary agenda is available and we're taking registrations at: www.moneyfundsymposium.com. We've also set the dates and location for our next European Money Fund Symposium, which is scheduled for Sept. 23-24, 2019, in Dublin, Ireland. Let us know if you'd like more details on any of our events, and we hope to see you in Philly, Boston or Dublin in 2019!

In other news, PlanAdviser magazine features the article, "SEC Money Market Rule Changes Still Playing Out," which briefly reviews developments in the stable value fund market and which echoes the press release, "Fi360 Acquires Stable Value Data Collection from Blue Prairie Group." It says, "The SEC made fundamental changes to the rules governing money market funds back in 2014; according to John Faustino at Fi360, the rule changes have created a big opportunity for advisers with stable value fund expertise."

The PlanAdviser piece explains, "Faustino said the agreement with Blue Prairie Group to acquire its stable value fund quantitative research program and databases brings a new capability to the adviser-support marketplace -- one that has been demanded by advisers for some time. According to Faustino, other firms such as Morningstar have offered more limited capabilities in the stable value fund review/monitoring area, but he argues that combining the analytical skills of Fi360 with the Blue Prairie Group dataset is a significant step forward, both in terms of ease of use and in terms of the breadth and quality of potential stable value market analysis."

It tells us, "According to Faustino, the effects of money market fund-focused regulatory changes made back in 2014 -- with compliance deadlines in 2016 -- are still being felt by defined contribution (DC) retirement plans today. Under the rule changes driven by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), retirement plans did not necessarily have to entirely divest from retail or institutional money market funds, but many plan sponsors and advisers have decided this is the best course of action.... Faustino said [the money funds vs. stable value] debate is continuing to play out among DC plan sponsors, representing a fantastic opportunity for advisers with stable value expertise to be of service."

PlanAdviser also comments, "To underscore the action ongoing in this part of the DC plan marketplace, Faustino cited an ERISApedia.org study from January 2019, '401(k) Portfolio Study of Investment Categories,' in which there are presented some 'very interesting numbers' in terms of money market funds still active in DC plans. Notably, exhibit 5.5 on page 17 shows more than 13,000 plans hold a taxable money market fund and 3,653 hold a prime money market fund."

Fi360's press release says, "The acquired data is derived from the nation's leading stable value funds from over 35 fund managers and represents more than $450 billion in assets. Fi360 will maintain the collection, management and analysis of the data, making the reports available to advisors, broker-dealers and institutions through its Stable Value Navigator product. The data and associated analysis provides a comprehensive overview of stable value as an asset class and facilitates proper due diligence among financial professionals."

It adds, "Fi360's Stable Value Navigator provides advisors with data and insight on stable value funds along with the ability to compare products. The tool was added to Fi360's overall suite of offerings following the firm's June 2018 acquisition of the Center for Fiduciary Management (CFFM), which maintained a long-standing partnership with Blue Prairie Group to provide the most relevant and detailed research and analytics for users. As a result of this transaction, the research and data included within Stable Value Navigator will now be managed entirely by Fi360."

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