BizLIVE -

Besides targeted ETFs like these, a few broad market ETFs are in place to go live soon as well. VinaCapital is expected to launch its first ETF underlying on the VN100 Index.

Vietnam Stock Market Welcomes Huge Number of ETFs
The Vietnam market is welcoming quite a number of ETFs to join the party. SSIAM is currently completing the procedure to launch an ETF called the SSIAM VNFIN LEAD, which targets the largest stocks of the financial sector. 
Following the success of the VFMVN30 ETF, VFM is also preparing to commence two new ETFs on: (i) the Vietnam Diamond Index, which includes stocks that are not available to foreign investors due to FOL restrictions; and (ii) VNFIN Select Index, which also targets the financial sector with larger coverage than the VNFIN LEAD Index. 
Besides targeted ETFs like these, a few broad market ETFs are in place to go live soon as well. VinaCapital is expected to launch its first ETF underlying on the VN100 Index, which is comprised of 100 large cap and mid cap stocks listed on the HOSE. 
Bao Viet Fund Management is launching its first ETF on the VNSI Index (Vietnam Sustainability Index), whose components are companies chosen from the VN100 Index that taken into account their long-term economic, social and environmental responsibility. Some other players such as SSIAM, Mirae Asset (Vietnam) Fund Management and Techcombank Securities are also considering to launch new ETFs on the VN30 Index next year. All of the upcoming ETFs are domestic in nature, thus the market within the country will be much more crowded than before.
SSI is expecting a flux to play out amongst fund flows in the market following these newcomers. At the moment, competition among fund managers is limited as each ETF has its own market to focus on. Hence, competitive pressure is expected to rise in the future. Having a large base of South Korean customers, Mirae Assets can attract fund flows from South Korea and compete with other funds with the same source of capital. SSIAM VNFIN LEAD and the VFM Diamond ETF both target different niche markets. 
All ETFs targeting broad market indexes like the VN30 Index and VN100 Index will face more struggles to rival each other in the attempt to raise funds. However, we are still positive about the new wave of ETFs coming in, and the amped up sentiment it will ultimately bring to the market.
For a foreign investor, ETFs ease their way to invest into the Vietnam stock market by providing large portfolios of stocks that represent the Vietnam stock market, as investors look to position themselves to gain exposure to the bright macro outlook for the country over the next 3 years. 
The quandary for foreign investors to establish positions in high-quality stocks that have full foreign ownership limits has spurred ETFs to become a more popular method in which to gain exposure to the Vietnamese market. So far, ETF performance and execution has been a bit of a mixed bag. 
On one hand, most ETFs underperformed the VN-Index in the past, as the VN-Index’s weighting methodology is calculated based on full market capitalization and not adjusted by free-float and actual liquidity of constituent stocks. On the other hand, ETFs are more realistic in terms of investibility. 
Examining ETFs on a cross-comparison basis, we notice that local ETFs appear to perform much better than overseas ETFs, thanks to their full composition of stocks, little affected by any FOL issues. The VFMVN30 ETF has been the best performer, with a total return of 55% since 2015, whereas the SSIAM VNX50 ETF gained 41%, the FTSE Vietnam Swap UCITS ETF gained 24%. Meanwhile, the VanEck Vectors Vietnam ETF lost -7% during the same period. Against such performance, the VNIndex benchmark increased by 77% during this period.
Some indexes such as the VN30 Index and the MSCI Vietnam Index are also the underlying index for future contracts. This offers investors an effective tool to hedge their investments on ETFs with the same underlyings. 
The fact that the VN30 Index futures have been actively trading since 2017 on the HSX is also contributing to the appeal of VN30 Index ETFs. Following this, the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX) also launched two Vietnam equity index futures earlier this month including the SGX MSCI Vietnam Index Futures (Bloomberg ticker: SVIA) and the SGX MSCI Vietnam NTR (USD) Index Futures (Bloomberg ticker: SVTA).
Currently, foreign investors are holding roughly 20% of total market capitalization, and their trade flows account for approximately 14% of all market volume. Hence, a continuous wave of buys or sells from foreigners might influence a large population of retail investors and market sentiment. 
Thanks to the timeliness and transparency in the information flow of ETFs, they are viewed as an indicator of foreign fund flows, and closely watched by domestic investors. In the global market, passive investment has been rising very fast in recent years, and the total assets of passive index funds have surpassed actively managed funds. In Vietnam, however, the size of ETFs are dwarfed by active funds. ETFs eked out a comparatively modest position of just over $1 billion USD of ETFs compared to $37 billion USD worth of foreign holdings in listed single stocks.

DIEP NGUYEN