‘ETF’ Ticker Now Available

A closed-end fund is giving up the ticker ‘ETF’ after more than two decades.

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Reviewed by: Cinthia Murphy
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Edited by: Cinthia Murphy

Ready, set, go exchange-traded fund issuers: The ticker “ETF” is now available.

The Aberdeen Emerging Markets Smaller Company Opportunities Fund, the closed-end fund (CEF) that has been listed on the NYSE under the ticker “ETF” since 1992, is now letting go of its moniker.

The fund, which originally was an emerging market telecommunication fund, picked its clever ticker long before the first-ever exchange-traded fund, the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY | A-99), was born. There was no such vehicle as an exchange-traded fund when this fund chose to go by “ETF.”

‘ABE’ Replacing ETF
But this week, the board of directors for the fund said that beginning July 31, “ETF” will be listed under “ABE” for the sake of clarity. The ticker “ETF” will essentially be delisted.

“The change of the ticker symbol, which is intended to avoid potential confusion with exchange-traded funds, will not affect how the fund is managed, the value of your shares or how the fund's share are traded,” Aberdeen said in a press release.

For ETF investors, this is good news. Confusion has been averted, at least from here on out. For ETF issuers, this could be a very ripe opportunity.

The ticker “ETF” goes back to being the property of the Intercontinetal Exchange (NYSE) and will be up for grabs. A NYSE representative told us that once a ticker is delisted, it goes into a two-year “reservation” period with the exchange, and it stays unused during that time unless the exchange itself decides to release it for use.

In theory, anyone interested in listing a product under that ticker need only apply, the representative said. The decision is ultimately the NYSE's, and there there is no cost to requesting and using the ticker.

Unfortunate Coincidence

Aberdeen couldn’t have known this would ever be an issue, because this fund came to market about six months before SPY. Aberdeen was not even the asset manager when this ticker symbol was selected—it took over management of the fund in 2009.

Why it decided to change the ticker now is unclear. The company was not immediately available to comment.

‘ETF’ And ETFs Are Not The Same

CEFs and ETFs are very different product structures, even though both are listed and trade on stock exchanges.

CEFs are typically far less transparent than ETFs. Their holdings can’t be seen any time of any day, but only at quarterly or annual disclosures that fund managers provide. CEFs are also typically far more expensive than passive ETFs.

Consider that Aberdeen’s “ETF” costs 1.6 percent a year, or $166 per $10,000 invested. A comparable small-cap emerging market ETF, such as the WisdomTree Emerging Markets SmallCap Dividend ETF (DGS | C-55), costs 0.63 percent, or $63 per $10,000 invested.

Cinthia Murphy is head of digital experience, advocating for the user in all that etf.com does. She previously served as managing editor and writer for etf.com, specializing in ETF content and multimedia. Cinthia’s experience includes time at Dow Jones and former BridgeNews, covering commodity futures markets in Chicago and Brazil equities in Sao Paulo. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.