As with any mutual fund investment, loss of money is a risk of investing. An investment in the Fund is not a deposit in a bank and is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other governmental agency. The risks associated with an investment in the Fund can increase during times of significant market volatility. The principal risks of investing in the Fund are:
Market Risk. The market values of the Fundâ€™s investments, and therefore the value of the Fundâ€™s shares, will go up and down, sometimes rapidly or unpredictably. Market risk may affect a single issuer, industry or section of the economy, or it may affect the market as a whole. The value of the Fundâ€™s investments may go up or down due to general market conditions which are not specifically related to the particular issuer, such as real or perceived adverse economic conditions, changes in the general outlook for revenues or corporate earnings, changes in interest or currency rates, regional or global instability, natural or environmental disasters, widespread disease or other public health issues, war, acts of terrorism or adverse investor sentiment generally. During a general downturn in the financial markets, multiple asset classes may decline in value. When markets perform well, there can be no assurance that specific investments held by the Fund will rise in value.
Debt Securities Risk. The prices of debt securities held by the Fund will be affected by changes in interest rates, the creditworthiness of the issuer and other factors. An increase in prevailing interest rates typically causes the value of existing debt securities to fall and often has a greater impact on longer-duration debt securities and higher quality debt securities. Falling interest rates will cause the Fund to reinvest the proceeds of debt securities that have been repaid by the issuer at lower interest rates. Falling interest rates may also reduce the Fundâ€™s distributable income because interest payments on floating rate debt instruments held by the Fund will decline. The Fund could lose money on investments in debt securities if the issuer or borrower fails to meet its obligations to make interest payments and/or to repay principal in a timely manner. Changes in an issuerâ€™s financial strength, the marketâ€™s perception of such strength or in the credit rating of the issuer or the security may affect the value of debt securities. The Adviserâ€™s credit analysis may fail to anticipate such changes, which could result in buying a debt security at an inopportune time or failing to sell a debt security in advance of a price decline or other credit event.
High Yield Debt Securities (Junk Bond) Risk. Investments in high yield debt securities (â€œjunk bondsâ€) and other lower-rated securities will subject the Fund to substantial risk of loss. These securities are considered to be speculative with respect to the issuerâ€™s ability to pay interest and principal when due, are more susceptible to default or decline in market value and are less liquid than investment grade debt securities. Prices of high yield debt securities tend to be very volatile.
Credit Linked Notes Risk. Risks of credit linked notes include those risks associated with the underlying reference obligation including but not limited to market risk, interest rate risk, credit risk, default risk and, in some cases, foreign currency risk. An investor in a credit linked note bears counterparty risk or the risk that the issuer of the credit linked note will default or become bankrupt and not make timely payment of principal and interest of the structured security. Credit linked notes may be less liquid than other investments and therefore harder to dispose of at the desired time and price. In addition, credit linked notes may be leveraged and, as a result, small changes in the value of the underlying reference obligation may produce disproportionate losses to the Fund.
Bank Loan Risk. There are a number of risks associated with an investment in bank loans including credit risk, interest rate risk, liquidity risk and prepayment risk. Lack of an active trading market, restrictions on resale, irregular trading activity, wide bid/ask spreads and extended trade settlement periods may impair the Fundâ€™s ability to sell bank loans within its desired time frame or at an acceptable price and its ability to accurately value existing and prospective investments. Extended trade settlement periods may result in cash not being immediately available to the Fund. As a result, the Fund may have to sell other investments or engage in borrowing transactions to raise cash to meet its obligations. The risk of holding bank loans is also directly tied to the risk of insolvency or bankruptcy of the issuing banks. The value of bank loans can be affected by and sensitive to changes in government regulation and to economic downturns in the United States and abroad. These risks could cause the Fund to lose income or principal on a particular investment, which in turn could affect the Fundâ€™s returns.
Bank loans generally are floating rate loans, which are subject to interest rate risk as the interest paid on the floating rate loans adjusts periodically based on changes in widely accepted reference rates. The interest income generated by a portfolio of senior loans is often determined by a fixed credit spread over the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR).
Dividend Paying Security Risk. Securities that pay high dividends as a group can fall out of favor with the market, causing such companies to underperform companies that do not pay high dividends. Also, changes in the dividend policies of such companies and the capital resources available for such companiesâ€™ dividend payments may affect the Fund.
Changing Fixed Income Market Conditions Risk. The current low interest rate environment was created in part by the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) and certain foreign central banks keeping the federal funds and equivalent foreign rates near historical lows. Increases in the federal funds and equivalent foreign rates may expose fixed income markets to heightened volatility and reduced liquidity for certain fixed income investments, particularly those with longer maturities. In addition, decreases in fixed income dealer market-making capacity may also potentially lead to heightened volatility and reduced liquidity in the fixed income markets. As a result, the value of the Fundâ€™s investments and share price may decline. Changes in central bank policies could also result in higher than normal shareholder redemptions, which could potentially increase portfolio turnover and the Fundâ€™s transaction costs.
LIBOR Transition Risk. The Fund invests in financial instruments that utilize the London Interbank Offered Rate (â€œLIBORâ€) as the reference or benchmark rate for variable interest rate calculations. On July 27, 2017, the head of the United Kingdomâ€™s Financial Conduct Authority announced a desire to phase out the use of LIBOR by the end of 2021, and it is currently anticipated that LIBOR will cease to be published after that time, although there are initiatives underway for the discontinuation to be extended beyond 2021 for certain LIBOR rates. There remains uncertainty regarding the effect of the LIBOR transition process and therefore any impact of a transition away from LIBOR on the Fund or the instruments in which the Fund invests cannot yet be determined. There is no assurance that the composition or characteristics of any alternative reference rate will be similar to or produce the same value or economic equivalence as LIBOR or that instruments using an alternative rate will have the same volume or liquidity. Any such effects of the transition away from LIBOR and the adoption of alternative reference rates could result in losses to the Fund.
Preferred Securities Risk. Preferred securities are subject to issuer-specific and market risks applicable generally to equity securities. Preferred securities also may be subordinated to bonds or other debt instruments, subjecting them to a greater risk of non-payment, may be less liquid than many other securities, such as common stocks, and generally offer no voting rights with respect to the issuer.
Restricted Securities Risk. Limitations on the resale of restricted securities may have an adverse effect on their marketability, and may prevent the Fund from disposing of them promptly at reasonable prices. There can be no assurance that a trading market will exist at any time for any particular restricted security. Transaction costs may be higher for restricted securities and such securities may be difficult to value and may have significant volatility.
Equity Linked Notes Risk. ELNs may not perform as anticipated and could cause the Fund to realize significant losses including its entire principal investment. Other risks include those of underlying securities, as well as counterparty risk, liquidity risk and imperfect correlation between ELNs and the underlying securities.
Derivatives Risk. The value of a derivative instrument depends largely on (and is derived from) the value of an underlying security, currency, commodity, interest rate, index or other asset (each referred to as an underlying asset). In addition to risks relating to the underlying assets, the use of derivatives may include other, possibly greater, risks, including counterparty, leverage and liquidity risks. Counterparty risk is the risk that the counterparty to the derivative contract will default on its obligation to pay the Fund the amount owed or otherwise perform under the derivative contract. Derivatives create leverage risk because they do not require payment up front equal to the economic exposure created by holding a position in the derivative. As a result, an adverse change in the value of the underlying asset could result in the Fund sustaining a loss that is substantially greater than the amount invested in the derivative or the anticipated value of the underlying asset, which may make the Fundâ€™s returns more volatile and increase the risk of loss. Derivative instruments may also be less liquid than more traditional investments and the Fund may be unable to sell or close out its derivative positions at a desirable time or price. This risk may be more acute under adverse market conditions, during which the Fund may be most in need of liquidating its derivative positions. Derivatives may also be harder to value, less tax efficient and subject to changing government regulation that could impact the Fundâ€™s ability to use certain derivatives or their cost. The SEC has proposed new regulations related to the use of derivatives and related instruments by registered investment companies. These regulations may limit the Fundâ€™s ability to engage in derivatives transactions and may result in increased costs or require the Fund to modify its investment strategies. Derivatives strategies may not always be successful. For example, derivatives used for hedging or to gain or limit exposure to a particular market segment may not provide the expected benefits, particularly during adverse market conditions. These risks are greater for the Fund than mutual funds that do not use derivative instruments or that use derivative instruments to a lesser extent than the Fund to implement their investment strategies.
Short Position Risk. Because the Fundâ€™s potential loss on a short position arises from increases in the value of the asset sold short, the Fund will incur a loss on a short position, which is theoretically unlimited, if the price of the asset sold short increases from the short sale price. The counterparty to a short position or other market factors may prevent the Fund from closing out a short position at a desirable time or price and may reduce or eliminate any gain or result in a loss. In a rising market, the Fundâ€™s short positions will cause the Fund to underperform the overall market and its peers that do not engage in shorting. If the Fund holds both long and short positions, and both positions decline simultaneously, the short positions will not provide any buffer (hedge) from declines in value of the Fundâ€™s long positions. Certain types of short positions involve leverage, which may exaggerate any losses, potentially more than the actual cost of the investment, and will increase the volatility of the Fundâ€™s returns.
Foreign Securities Risk. The Fundâ€™s foreign investments may be adversely affected by political and social instability, changes in economic or taxation policies, difficulty in enforcing obligations, decreased liquidity or increased volatility. Foreign investments also involve the risk of the possible seizure, nationalization or expropriation of the issuer or foreign deposits (in which the Fund could lose its entire investments in a certain market) and the possible adoption of foreign governmental restrictions such as exchange controls. Unless the Fund has hedged its foreign securities risk, foreign securities risk also involves the risk of negative foreign currency rate fluctuations, which may cause the value of securities denominated in such foreign currency (or other instruments through which the Fund has exposure to foreign currencies) to decline in value. Currency exchange rates may fluctuate significantly over short periods of time. Currency hedging strategies, if used, are not always successful. For instance, currency forward contracts, if used by the Fund, could reduce performance if there are unanticipated changes in currency exchange rates.
Foreign Government Debt Risk. Investments in foreign government debt securities (sometimes referred to as sovereign debt securities) involve certain risks in addition to those relating to foreign securities or debt securities generally. The issuer of the debt or the governmental authorities that control the repayment of the debt may be unable or unwilling to repay principal or interest when due in accordance with the terms of such debt, and the Fund may have limited recourse in the event of a default against the defaulting government. Without the approval of debt holders, some governmental debtors have in the past been able to reschedule or restructure their debt payments or declare moratoria on payments.
Foreign Currency Tax Risk. If the U.S. Treasury Department were to exercise its authority to issue regulations that exclude from the definition of â€œqualifying incomeâ€ foreign currency gains not directly related to the Fundâ€™s business of investing in securities, the Fund may be unable to qualify as a regulated investment company for one or more years. In this event, the Fundâ€™s Board of Trustees may authorize a significant change in investment strategy or other action.
Emerging Markets Securities Risk. Emerging markets (also referred to as developing markets) are generally subject to greater market volatility, political, social and economic instability, uncertain trading markets and more governmental limitations on foreign investment than more developed markets. In addition, companies operating in emerging markets may be subject to lower trading volume and greater price fluctuations than companies in more developed markets. Companies in emerging market countries generally may be subject to less stringent regulatory, disclosure, financial reporting, accounting, auditing and recordkeeping standards than companies in more developed countries. As a result, information, including financial information, about such companies may be less available and reliable which can impede the Fundâ€™s ability to evaluate such companies. Securities law and the enforcement of systems of taxation in many emerging market countries may change quickly and unpredictably, and the ability to bring and enforce actions, or to obtain information needed to pursue or enforce such actions, may be limited. In addition, investments in emerging markets securities may be subject to additional transaction costs, delays in settlement procedures, unexpected market closures, and lack of timely information.
Exchange-Traded Funds Risk. In addition to the risks associated with the underlying assets held by the exchange-traded fund, investments in exchange-traded funds are subject to the following additional risks: (1) an exchange-traded fundâ€™s shares may trade above or below its net asset value; (2) an active trading market for the exchange-traded fundâ€™s shares may not develop or be maintained; (3) trading an exchange-traded fundâ€™s shares may be halted by the listing exchange; (4) a passively managed exchange-traded fund may not track the performance of the reference asset; and (5) a passively managed exchange-traded fund may hold troubled securities. Investment in exchange-traded funds may involve duplication of management fees and certain other expenses, as the Fund indirectly bears its proportionate share of any expenses paid by the exchange-traded funds in which it invests. Further, certain exchange-traded funds in which the Fund may invest are leveraged, which may result in economic leverage, permitting the Fund to gain exposure that is greater than would be the case in an unlevered instrument and potentially resulting in greater volatility.
Exchange-Traded Notes Risk. Exchange-traded notes are subject to credit risk, counterparty risk, and the risk that the value of the exchange-traded note may drop due to a downgrade in the issuerâ€™s credit rating. The value of an exchange-traded note may also be influenced by time to maturity, level of supply and demand for the exchange-traded note, volatility and lack of liquidity in the underlying market, changes in the applicable interest rates, and economic, legal, political, or geographic events that affect the referenced underlying market or assets. The Fund will bear its proportionate share of any fees and expenses borne by an exchange-traded note in which it invests. For certain exchange-traded notes, there may be restrictions on the Fundâ€™s right to redeem its investment, which is meant to be held until maturity.
Investment Companies Risk. Investing in other investment companies could result in the duplication of certain fees, including management and administrative fees, and may expose the Fund to the risks of owning the underlying investments that the other investment company holds.
Indexing Risk. Certain portions of the Fundâ€™s assets are managed pursuant to an indexing approach (Indexed Assets) and, therefore, the adverse performance of a particular security necessarily will not result in the elimination of the security from the Indexed Assets. Ordinarily, the Fund will not sell portfolio securities of the Indexed Assets except to reflect additions or deletions of the securities that comprise the index the Fund seeks to track with respect to the Indexed Assets (Underlying Index), or as may be necessary to raise cash to pay Fund shareholders who redeem Fund shares. As such, the Indexed Assets, and therefore the Fund, will be negatively affected by declines in the securities represented by the Underlying Index. Also, there is no guarantee that the Fund will be able to correlate the performance of the Indexed Assets with that of the Underlying Index.
Financial Services Sector Risk. The Fund may be susceptible to adverse economic or regulatory occurrences affecting the financial services sector. Financial services companies are subject to extensive government regulation and are disproportionately affected by unstable interest rates, each of which could adversely affect the profitability of such companies. Financial services companies may also have concentrated portfolios, which makes them especially vulnerable to unstable economic conditions.
Non-Correlation Risk. The return of the Fundâ€™s assets managed pursuant to an indexing approach (Indexed Assets) may not match the return of the index the Fund seeks to track with respect to the Indexed Assets (Underlying Index) for a number of reasons. For example, the Fund incurs operating expenses not applicable to the Underlying Index, and incurs costs in buying and selling securities, especially when rebalancing securities holdings to reflect changes in the Underlying Index. In addition, the performance of the Indexed Assets and the Underlying Index may vary due to asset valuation differences and differences between the Indexed Assets and the Underlying Index resulting from legal restrictions, costs or liquidity constraints.
Sampling Risk. The Fundâ€™s use of a sampling methodology with respect to assets managed pursuant to an indexing approach (Indexed Assets) may result in the Indexed Assets including a smaller number of securities than are in the index the Fund seeks to track with respect to the Indexed Assets (Underlying Index), and in the Indexed Assets including securities that are not included in the Underlying Index. As a result, an adverse development to an issuer of securities included in the Indexed Assets could result in a greater decline in the Fundâ€™s NAV than would be the case if all of the securities in the Underlying Index were included in the Indexed Assets. The Fundâ€™s use of a sampling methodology may also include the risk that the Indexed Assets may not track the return of the Underlying Index as well as they would have if the Indexed Assets included all of the securities in the Underlying Index. To the extent the assets in the Indexed Assets are smaller, these risks will be greater.
REIT Risk/Real Estate Risk. Investments in real estate related instruments may be affected by economic, legal, cultural, environmental or technological factors that affect property values, rents or occupancies of real estate related to the Fundâ€™s holdings. Shares of real estate related companies, which tend to be small- and mid-cap companies, may be more volatile and less liquid.
Mortgage- and Asset-Backed Securities Risk. Mortgage- and asset-backed securities, including collateralized debt obligations and collateralized mortgage obligations, are subject to prepayment or call risk, which is the risk that a borrowerâ€™s payments may be received earlier or later than expected due to changes in prepayment rates on underlying loans. This could result in the Fund reinvesting these early payments at lower interest rates, thereby reducing the Fundâ€™s income. Mortgage- and asset-backed securities also are subject to extension risk, which is the risk that an unexpected rise in interest rates could reduce the rate of prepayments, causing the price of the mortgage- and asset-backed securities and the Fundâ€™s share price to fall. An unexpectedly high rate of defaults on the mortgages held by a mortgage pool may adversely affect the value of mortgage-backed securities and could result in losses to the Fund. Privately-issued mortgage-backed securities and asset-backed securities may be less liquid than other types of securities and the Fund may be unable to sell these securities at the time or price it desires. During periods of market stress or high redemptions, the Fund may be forced to sell these securities at significantly reduced prices, resulting in losses. Liquid privately-issued mortgage-backed securities and asset-backed securities can become illiquid during periods of market stress. Privately-issued mortgage-related securities are not subject to the same underwriting requirements as those with government or government-sponsored entity guarantees and, therefore, mortgage loans underlying privately-issued mortgage-related securities may have less favorable collateral, credit risk, liquidity risk or other underwriting characteristics, and wider variances in interest rate, term, size, purpose and borrower characteristics. The Fund may invest in mortgage pools that include subprime mortgages, which are loans made to borrowers with weakened credit histories or with lower capacity to make timely payments on their mortgages. Liquidity risk is even greater for mortgage pools that include subprime mortgages.
Depositary Receipts. Investing in depositary receipts involves the same risks as direct investments in foreign securities. In addition, the underlying issuers of certain depositary receipts are under no obligation to distribute shareholder communications or pass through any voting rights with respect to the deposited securities to the holders of such receipts. The Fund may therefore receive less timely information or have less control than if it invested directly in the foreign issuer.
MLP Risk. The Fund invests in securities of MLPs, which are subject to the following risks:
- Limited Partner Risk. An MLP is a public limited partnership or limited liability company taxed as a partnership under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the Code). Although the characteristics of MLPs closely resemble a traditional limited partnership, a major difference is that MLPs may trade on a public exchange or in the over-the-counter market. The risks of investing in an MLP are similar to those of investing in a partnership, including more flexible governance structures, which could result in less protection for investors than investments in a corporation. Investors in an MLP normally would not be liable for the debts of the MLP beyond the amount that the investor has contributed but investors may not be shielded to the same extent that a shareholder of a corporation would be. In certain circumstances, creditors of an MLP would have the right to seek return of capital distributed to a limited partner, which right would continue after an investor sold its investment in the MLP. In addition, MLP distributions may be reduced by fees and other expenses incurred by the MLP.
- Liquidity Risk. The ability to trade on a public exchange or in the over-the-counter market provides a certain amount of liquidity not found in many limited partnership investments. However, MLP interests may be less liquid than conventional publicly traded securities and, therefore, more difficult to trade at desirable times and/or prices.
- Interest Rate Risk. MLPs generally are considered interest-rate sensitive investments. During periods of interest rate volatility, these investments may not provide attractive returns.
- General Partner Risk. The holder of the general partner or managing member interest can be liable in certain circumstances for amounts greater than the amount of the holderâ€™s investment in the general partner or managing member.
Additionally, if the Fund were to invest more than 25% of its total assets in MLPs that are taxed as partnerships this could cause the Fund to lose its status as regulated investment company under Subchapter M of the Code.
MLP Tax Risk. MLPs taxed as partnerships do not pay U.S. federal income tax at the partnership level, subject to the application of certain partnership audit rules. A change in current tax law, or a change in the underlying business mix of a given MLP, however, could result in an MLP being classified as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes, which would have the effect of reducing the amount of cash available for distribution by the MLP and, as a result, could result in a reduction of the value of the Fundâ€™s investment, and consequently your investment in the Fund and lower income. Each year, the Fund will send you an annual tax statement (Form 1099) to assist you in completing your federal, state and local tax returns. If an MLP in which the Fund invests amends its partnership tax return, the Fund will, when necessary, send you a corrected Form 1099, which could, in turn, require you to amend your federal, state or local tax returns.
U.S. Government Obligations Risk. Obligations of U.S. Government agencies and authorities receive varying levels of support and may not be backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government, which could affect the Fundâ€™s ability to recover should they default. No assurance can be given that the U.S. Government will provide financial support to its agencies and authorities if it is not obligated by law to do so.
Liquidity Risk. The Fund may be unable to sell illiquid investments at the time or price it desires and, as a result, could lose its entire investment in such investments. Liquid securities can become illiquid during periods of market stress. If a significant amount of the Fundâ€™s securities become illiquid, the Fund may not be able to timely pay redemption proceeds and may need to sell securities at significantly reduced prices.
Active Trading Risk. Active trading of portfolio securities may result in added expenses, a lower return and increased tax liability.
Management Risk. Certain portions of the Fundâ€™s assets are actively managed and depend heavily on the Adviserâ€™s judgment about markets, interest rates or the attractiveness, relative values, liquidity, or potential appreciation of particular investments made for the Fundâ€™s portfolio. The Fund could experience losses if these judgments prove to be incorrect.
Because the Fundâ€™s investment process relies heavily on its asset allocation process, market movements that are counter to the portfolio managersâ€™ expectations may have a significant adverse effect on the Fundâ€™s net asset value. Additionally, legislative, regulatory, or tax developments may adversely affect management of the Fund and, therefore, the ability of the Fund to achieve its investment objective.
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