handshaking and exchanging contract documents

A pair of financial behemoths — RBC Global Asset Management Inc. (RBC GAM) and BlackRock Asset Management Canada Ltd. (BlackRock Canada) — are joining forces to create a new unified ETF family, RBC iShares, featuring 150 ETFs with a combined $60 billion in assets under management.

The Toronto-based firms announced a strategic alliance on Tuesday that will bring together 106 index-based ETFs managed by BlackRock Canada with 44 ETFs managed by RBC GAM, including index, smart beta, and actively managed products.

The newly-branded RBC iShares ETFs will be offered through full-service advisors, discount brokerages and robo-advisors. The firms say they will provide unified distribution support and service and that they plan to “jointly develop new and innovative strategies to further expand and refine the solution set.”

RBC GAM also announced that it’s making changes to a number of RBC index ETFs and mutual funds in the wake of the newly announced alliance with BlackRock. Specifically, RBC GAM will be merging several ETFs with corresponding iShares ETFs, eliminating one ETF, changing a fund manager and subadvisor to BlackRock and revising several ETFs objectives to enable them to invest in iShares ETFs.

The changes are being made to both streamline the RBC iShares lineup and to capture economies of scale, generating slightly lower management fees in some products, RBC GAM states in a news release.

“We are pleased to leverage the RBC iShares alliance for the benefit of investors, applying the expertise of the world’s largest ETF and index manager to RBC Global Asset Management’s line-up of index ETFs and index mutual funds,” said Doug Coulter, president of RBC GAM, in a statement.

Despite the marrying of the two ETF families, the firms remain separate legal entities, with separate fund management and portfolio advisory responsibilities. The funds’ ticker symbols don’t change either.

“This alliance is a win for Canadian investors and reflects our unwavering focus on the interests of clients,” said Damon Williams, CEO of RBC GAM, in a statement. “Canadian investors deserve a level of choice, quality and cost competitiveness that is second to none — and that’s what RBC iShares delivers. This exciting step forward in the ETF space complements our continued focus on expanding our industry-leading Canadian mutual fund business.”

“Our aspiration is to champion a new standard for the Canadian ETF market by providing the best solutions and service and help grow the industry through innovative tools and technology for existing and new managers,” added Martin Small, head of the U.S. & Canada iShares division at BlackRock.