Cathie Wood’s Ark funds are creating about as much frustration in the UK as they are hype. From disruptive innovation to autonomous technology, the narratives behind these exchange traded funds (ETFs) can be as exciting as some of their stellar returns. And yet UK investors generally find them impossible to access. That’s because they don’t come in the European UCITS format and have not met other criteria for non-UCITS ETFs to be sold to the likes of UK investors.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. As AJ Bell head of passive portfolios Matt Brennan notes, the barriers to investors buying non-UCITS ETFs are there to protect them from “unnecessary charges, risks and taxes”. The UCITS rules force funds to meet certain requirements around disclosure and diversification, while the currency and tax implications of going down the non-UCITS route can be painful.
More heartening, however, is the fact that alternatives exist. Plenty of thematic ETFs focus on similar trends to the Ark funds, even if the underlying exposures aren’t exactly the same.