First Trust Exchange Traded Fund IV

09/08/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/08/2021 15:20

Amendment to Post-Effective Amendment (SEC Filing - 485BPOS)

As filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on September 8, 2021

1933 Act Registration No. 333-174332
1940 Act Registration No. 811-22559

United States

Securities and Exchange Commission

Washington, D.C. 20549

Form N-1A

Registration Statement Under the Securities Act of 1933 [ ]
Pre-Effective Amendment No. __ [ ]
Post-Effective Amendment No. 182 [X]
and/or
Registration Statement Under the Investment Company Act of 1940 [ ]
Amendment No. 184 [X]

First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund IV

(Exact name of registrant as specified in charter)

120 East Liberty Drive, Suite 400

Wheaton, Illinois 60187

(Address of Principal Executive Offices) (Zip Code)

Registrant's Telephone Number, including Area Code: (800) 621-1675

W. Scott Jardine, Esq., Secretary

First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund IV

First Trust Advisors L.P.

120 East Liberty Drive, Suite 400

Wheaton, Illinois 60187

(Name and Address of Agent for Service)

Copy to:

Eric F. Fess, Esq.

Chapman and Cutler LLP

111 West Monroe Street

Chicago, Illinois 60603

It is proposed that this filing will become effective (check appropriate box):

[ ] immediately upon filing pursuant to paragraph (b)

[X] on September 17, 2021 pursuant to paragraph (b)

[ ] 60 days after filing pursuant to paragraph (a)(1)

[ ] on (date) pursuant to paragraph (a)(1)

[ ] 75 days after filing pursuant to paragraph (a)(2)

[ ] on (date) pursuant to paragraph (a)(2) of Rule 485.

If appropriate, check the following box:

[ ] this post-effective amendment designates a new effective date for a previously filed post-effective amendment.

Contents of Post-Effective Amendment No. 182

This Registration Statement comprises the following papers and contents:

The Facing Sheet

Part A - Prospectus for First Trust Limited Duration Investment Grade Corporate ETF

Part B - Statement of Additional Information for First Trust Limited Duration Investment Grade Corporate ETF

Part C - Other Information

Signatures

Index to Exhibits

Exhibits

First Trust
Exchange-Traded Fund IV
PRELIMINARY PROSPECTUS DATED SEPTEMBER 8, 2021
SUBJECT TO COMPLETION
Prospectus
First Trust Limited Duration Investment Grade Corporate ETF
Ticker Symbol:
FSIG
Exchange:
NYSE Arca, Inc.
First Trust Limited Duration Investment Grade Corporate ETF (the 'Fund') intends to list and principally trade its shares on NYSE Arca, Inc. ('NYSE Arca' or the 'Exchange'). Market prices may differ to some degree from the net asset value of the shares. Unlike mutual funds, the Fund issues and redeems shares at net asset value, only in large specified blocks of shares called 'Creation Units.'
The Fund is a series of First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund IV (the 'Trust') and an actively managed exchange-traded fund organized as a separate series of a registered management investment company.
Except when aggregated in Creation Units, the shares are not redeemable securities of the Fund.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has not approved or disapproved of these securities or passed upon the adequacy or accuracy of this prospectus. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.
NOT FDIC INSURED MAY LOSE VALUE NO BANK GUARANTEE
The Information in this prospectus is not complete and may be changed. We may not sell these securities until the registration statement filed with the Securities and
Exchange Commission is effective. This prospectus is not an offer to sell these securities and it is not soliciting an offer to buy these securities in any state where the offer
or sale is not permitted.
_______, 2021
Table of Contents
Summary Information
3
Additional Information on the Fund's Investment Objectives and Strategies
11
Fund Investments
13
Risks of Investing in the Fund
15
Fund Organization
24
Management of the Fund
25
How to Buy and Sell Shares
26
Dividends, Distributions and Taxes
27
Federal Tax Matters
28
Distribution Plan
30
Net Asset Value
30
Fund Service Providers
31
Premium/Discount Information
31
Financial Highlights
31
Other Information
32
Summary Information
Investment Objectives
The First Trust Limited Duration Investment Grade Corporate ETF's (the 'Fund') primary investment objective is to deliver current income.
Fees and Expenses of the Fund
The following table describes the fees and expenses you may pay if you buy, hold and sell shares of the Fund. Investors may pay other fees, such as brokerage commissions and other fees to financial intermediaries, which are not reflected in the table and example below.
Shareholder Fees
(fees paid directly from your investment)
Maximum Sales Charge (Load) Imposed on Purchases (as a percentage of offering price)
None
Annual Fund Operating Expenses
(expenses that you pay each year as a percentage of the value of your investment)
Management Fees
0.55%
Distribution and Service (12b-1) Fees
0.00%
Other Expenses(1)
0.00%
Total Annual Fund Operating Expenses
0.55%
Fee Waiver(2)
0.10%
Total Annual Fund Operating Expenses After Fee Waiver
0.45%
(1)
'Other Expenses' is an estimate based on the expenses the Fund expects to incur for the current fiscal year.
(2)
Pursuant to a contractual agreement, First Trust Advisors L.P., the Fund's investment advisor, has agreed to waive management fees of 0.10% of average daily net assets until [September 30, 2023]. The waiver agreement may be terminated by action of the Trust's Board of Trustees at any time upon 60 days' written notice by the Trust, on behalf of the Fund, or by the Fund's investment advisor only after [September 30, 2023].
Example
The example below is intended to help you compare the cost of investing in the Fund with the cost of investing in other funds. This example does not take into account customary brokerage commissions that you pay when purchasing or selling shares of the Fund in the secondary market.
The example assumes that you invest $10,000 in the Fund for the time periods indicated and then hold or sell all of your shares at the end of those periods. The example also assumes that your investment has a 5% return each year and that the Fund's operating expenses remain at current levels. Although your actual costs may be higher or lower, based on these assumptions your costs would be:
1 Year
3 Years
$46
$156
Portfolio Turnover
The Fund pays transaction costs, such as commissions, when it buys and sells securities (or 'turns over' its portfolio). A higher portfolio turnover rate may indicate higher transaction costs and may result in higher taxes when Fund shares are held in a taxable account. These costs, which are not reflected in annual fund operating expenses or in the example, affect the Fund's performance. The Fund has no operational history and therefore no historical turnover rate.
Principal Investment Strategies
Under normal market conditions, the Fund seeks to achieve its objectives by investing at least 80% of its net assets (plus any borrowings for investment purposes) in investment grade corporate debt securities. Corporate debt securities are debt obligations issued by businesses to finance their operations. Notes, bonds, debentures and commercial paper are the most common types of corporate debt securities, with the primary differences being their maturities and secured or unsecured status. Commercial paper has the shortest term and is usually unsecured.
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At least 80% of the Fund's net assets will be invested in debt securities that are, at the time of purchase, investment grade (i.e., rated Baa3/BBB- or above) by at least one nationally recognized statistical rating organization ('NRSRO') rating such securities, or if unrated, debt securities determined by the Fund's investment advisor to be of comparable quality. In the case of a split rating between one or more of the NRSROs, the Fund will consider the highest rating. For an unrated security to be considered investment grade, the Fund's investment advisor will consider, at the time of purchase, whether such security is of comparable quality based on fundamental credit analysis of the unrated security and comparable securities that are rated by an NRSRO.
The investment philosophy of the Fund's investment advisor is based on the belief that deep fundamental credit analysis performed by a highly experienced credit team, within a risk managed framework, will generate higher absolute and risk-adjusted returns within investment grade debt strategies. This investment philosophy is expressed by the Fund's investment advisor through an investment process that combines rigorous bottom-up fundamental credit analysis and disciplined portfolio construction. Risk management is a critical component of the entire process and is embedded in both the fundamental credit analysis and portfolio construction.
The fundamental credit analysis of the Fund's investment advisor involves the evaluation of the macro-economy, industry trends, consistency of cash flows, valuation and management quality, among other considerations. The investment process favors companies that produce relatively stable cash flows through an economic cycle, companies that have valuations supportive of the debt balances and companies that have management teams with a sound track record. The key considerations of portfolio construction include yield curve management (focusing on duration, convexity and curve risk), relative value, portfolio diversification, issuer liquidity and continuous monitoring.
Under normal market conditions, the Fund seeks to construct a portfolio that has a weighted average duration of +/- one year of the Bloomberg U.S. Corporate 1-5 Year Index. Duration is a mathematical calculation of the average life of a debt security (or portfolio of debt securities) that serves as a measure of its price risk. In general, each year of duration represents an expected 1% change in the value of a security for every 1% immediate change in interest rates. For example, the price of a debt security with a three-year duration would be expected to drop by approximately 3% in response to a 1% increase in interest rates. Therefore, prices of debt securities with shorter durations tend to be less sensitive to interest rate changes than debt securities with longer durations. As the value of a debt security changes over time, so will its duration. The Fund's investment advisor will calculate the duration of the portfolio by modeling the cash flows of all the individual holdings, including the impact of prepayment variability and coupon adjustments where applicable, to determine the duration of each holding and then aggregating based on the size of the position. In performing this duration calculation, the Fund's investment advisor will utilize third-party models.
Although the Fund intends to invest primarily in investment grade securities, the Fund may invest up to 20% of its net assets (plus any borrowings for investment purposes) in (i) other debt securities, including bank loans and other floating rate debt securities and (ii) securities of any credit quality, including securities that are below investment grade, which are also known as high yield securities, or commonly referred to as 'junk' bonds, or unrated securities that have not been judged by the Fund's investment advisor to be of comparable quality to rated investment grade securities.
The Fund is classified as 'non-diversified' under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the '1940 Act'). The Fund's investments will be concentrated in the financials sector, and therefore, may be concentrated in one or more industries within the financials sector.
Principal Risks
You could lose money by investing in the Fund. An investment in the Fund is not a deposit of a bank and is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other governmental agency. There can be no assurance that the Fund's investment objectives will be achieved. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.
AUTHORIZED PARTICIPANT CONCENTRATION RISK. Only an authorized participant may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund. A limited number of institutions act as authorized participants for the Fund. To the extent that these institutions exit the business or are unable to proceed with creation and/or redemption orders and no other authorized participant steps forward to create or redeem, the Fund's shares may trade at a premium or discount to the Fund's net asset value and possibly face delisting.
BANK LOANS RISK. Investments in bank loans are subject to the same risks as investments in other types of debt securities, including credit risk, interest rate risk, liquidity risk and valuation risk that may be heightened because of the limited public
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information available regarding bank loans and because loan borrowers may be leveraged and tend to be more adversely affected by changes in market or economic conditions. If the Fund holds a bank loan through another financial institution or relies on a financial institution to administer the loan, its receipt of principal and interest on the loan may be subject to the credit risk of that financial institution. It is possible that any collateral securing a loan may be insufficient or unavailable to the Fund, and that the Fund's rights to collateral may be limited by bankruptcy or insolvency laws. Additionally, there is no central clearinghouse for loan trades and the loan market has not established enforceable settlement standards or remedies for failure to settle. As such, the secondary market for bank loans may be subject to irregular trading activity, wide bid/ask spreads and extended trade settlement periods (in some cases longer than 7 days) which may cause the Fund to be unable to realize the full value of its investment. In addition, bank loans are generally not registered with the Securities Exchange Commission under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and may not be considered 'securities,' and the Fund may not be entitled to rely on the anti-fraud protections of the federal securities laws.
CALL RISK. Some debt securities may be redeemed, or 'called,' at the option of the issuer before their stated maturity date. In general, an issuer will call its debt securities if they can be refinanced by issuing new debt securities which bear a lower interest rate. The Fund is subject to the possibility that during periods of falling interest rates an issuer will call its high yielding debt securities. The Fund would then be forced to invest the proceeds at lower interest rates, likely resulting in a decline in the Fund's income.
CASH TRANSACTIONS RISK. The Fund will effect some or all of its creations and redemptions for cash rather than in-kind. As a result, an investment in the Fund may be less tax-efficient than an investment in an ETF that effects all of its creations and redemptions in-kind. Because the Fund may effect redemptions for cash, it may be required to sell portfolio securities in order to obtain the cash needed to distribute redemption proceeds. A sale of portfolio securities may result in capital gains or losses and may also result in higher brokerage costs.
COVENANT-LITE LOANS RISK. There may be instances in which the Fund invests in covenant-lite loans. Covenant-lite loans contain fewer maintenance covenants, or no maintenance covenants at all, than traditional loans and may not include terms that allow the lender to monitor the financial performance of the borrower and declare a default if certain criteria are breached. This may hinder the Fund's ability to reprice credit risk associated with the borrower and reduce the Fund's ability to restructure a problematic loan and mitigate potential loss. As a result, the Fund's exposure to losses on such investments is increased, especially during a downturn in the credit cycle.
CREDIT RISK. An issuer or other obligated party of a debt security may be unable or unwilling to make dividend, interest and/or principal payments when due. In addition, the value of a debt security may decline because of concerns about the issuer's ability or unwillingness to make such payments.
CYBER SECURITY RISK. The Fund is susceptible to operational risks through breaches in cyber security. A breach in cyber security refers to both intentional and unintentional events that may cause the Fund to lose proprietary information, suffer data corruption or lose operational capacity. Such events could cause the Fund to incur regulatory penalties, reputational damage, additional compliance costs associated with corrective measures and/or financial loss. Cyber security breaches may involve unauthorized access to the Fund's digital information systems through 'hacking' or malicious software coding but may also result from outside attacks such as denial-of-service attacks through efforts to make network services unavailable to intended users. In addition, cyber security breaches of the issuers of securities in which the Fund invests or the Fund's third-party service providers, such as its administrator, transfer agent, custodian, or sub-advisor, as applicable, can also subject the Fund to many of the same risks associated with direct cyber security breaches. Although the Fund has established risk management systems designed to reduce the risks associated with cyber security, there is no guarantee that such efforts will succeed, especially because the Fund does not directly control the cyber security systems of issuers or third-party service providers.
DEBT SECURITIES RISK. Investments in debt securities subject the holder to the credit risk of the issuer. Credit risk refers to the possibility that the issuer or other obligor of a security will not be able or willing to make payments of interest and principal when due. Generally, the value of debt securities will change inversely with changes in interest rates. To the extent that interest rates rise, certain underlying obligations may be paid off substantially slower than originally anticipated and the value of those securities may fall sharply. During periods of falling interest rates, the income received by the Fund may decline. If the principal on a debt security is prepaid before expected, the prepayments of principal may have to be reinvested in obligations paying interest at lower rates. Debt securities generally do not trade on a securities exchange making them generally less liquid and more difficult to value than common stock.
5
EXTENSION RISK. Extension risk is the risk that, when interest rates rise, certain obligations will be paid off by the issuer (or other obligated party) more slowly than anticipated, causing the value of these debt securities to fall. Rising interest rates tend to extend the duration of debt securities, making their market value more sensitive to changes in interest rates. The value of longer-term debt securities generally changes more in response to changes in interest rates than shorter-term debt securities. As a result, in a period of rising interest rates, securities may exhibit additional volatility and may lose value.
FINANCIAL COMPANIES RISK. Financial companies, such as retail and commercial banks, insurance companies and financial services companies, are especially subject to the adverse effects of economic recession, currency exchange rates, extensive government regulation, decreases in the availability of capital, volatile interest rates, portfolio concentrations in geographic markets, industries or products (such as commercial and residential real estate loans), competition from new entrants and blurred distinctions in their fields of business.
FLOATING RATE DEBT INSTRUMENTS RISK. Investments in floating rate debt instruments are subject to the same risks as investments in other types of debt securities, including credit risk, interest rate risk, liquidity risk and valuation risk. Floating rate debt instruments include debt securities issued by corporate and governmental entities, as well as bank loans. Floating rate debt instruments are structured so that the security's coupon rate fluctuates based upon the level of a reference rate. Most commonly, the coupon rate of a floating rate debt instrument is set at the level of a widely followed interest rate, plus a fixed spread. As a result, the coupon on floating rate debt instrument will generally decline in a falling interest rate environment, causing the Fund to experience a reduction in the income it receives from the instrument. A floating rate debt instrument's coupon rate resets periodically according to its terms. Consequently, in a rising interest rate environment, floating rate debt instruments with coupon rates that reset infrequently may lag behind the changes in market interest rates. Floating rate debt instruments may also contain terms that impose a maximum coupon rate the issuer will pay, regardless of the level of the reference rate. To the extent the Fund invests in floating rate loans, such instruments may be subject to legal or contractual restrictions on resale, may trade infrequently, and their value may be impaired when the Fund needs to liquidate such securities. It is possible that the collateral securing a floating rate loan may be insufficient or unavailable to the Fund, and that the Fund's rights to collateral may be limited by bankruptcy or insolvency laws. Additionally, floating rate loans may not be considered 'securities' under federal securities laws, and purchasers, such as the Fund, therefore may not be entitled to rely on the anti-fraud protections of the federal securities laws.
HIGH YIELD SECURITIES RISK. High yield securities, or 'junk' bonds, are subject to greater market fluctuations, are less liquid and provide a greater risk of loss than investment grade securities, and therefore, are considered to be highly speculative. In general, high yield securities may have a greater risk of default than other types of securities and could cause income and principal losses for the Fund.
INCOME RISK. The Fund's income may decline when interest rates fall or if there are defaults in its portfolio. This decline can occur because the Fund may subsequently invest in lower-yielding securities as debt securities in its portfolio mature, are near maturity or are called, or the Fund otherwise needs to purchase additional debt securities.
INDEX OR MODEL CONSTITUENT RISK. The Fund may be a constituent of one or more indices or ETF models. As a result, the Fund may be included in one or more index-tracking exchange-traded funds or mutual funds. Being a component security of such a vehicle could greatly affect the trading activity involving the Fund's shares, the size of the Fund and the market volatility of the Fund. Inclusion in an index could increase demand for the Fund and removal from an index could result in outsized selling activity in a relatively short period of time. As a result, the Fund's net asset value could be negatively impacted and the Fund's market price may be below the Fund's net asset value during certain periods. In addition, index rebalances may potentially result in increased trading activity in the Fund's shares.
INFLATION RISK. Inflation risk is the risk that the value of assets or income from investments will be less in the future as inflation decreases the value of money. As inflation increases, the present value of the Fund's assets and distributions may decline.
INTEREST RATE RISK. Interest rate risk is the risk that the value of the debt securities in the Fund's portfolio will decline because of rising market interest rates. Interest rate risk is generally lower for shorter term debt securities and higher for longer-term debt securities. The Fund may be subject to a greater risk of rising interest rates than would normally be the case due to the current period of historically low rates and the effect of potential government fiscal policy initiatives and resulting market reaction to those initiatives. Duration is a reasonably accurate measure of a debt security's price sensitivity to changes in interest rates and a common measure of interest rate risk. Duration measures a debt security's expected life on a present value basis, taking into account the debt security's yield, interest payments and final maturity. In general, duration represents the expected percentage change in the value of a security for an immediate 1% change in interest rates. For example, the
6
price of a debt security with a three-year duration would be expected to drop by approximately 3% in response to a 1% increase in interest rates. Therefore, prices of debt securities with shorter durations tend to be less sensitive to interest rate changes than debt securities with longer durations. As the value of a debt security changes over time, so will its duration.
LIBOR RISK. The United Kingdom's Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates LIBOR, will cease making LIBOR available as a reference rate over a phase-out period that will begin immediately after December 31, 2021. The unavailability or replacement of LIBOR may affect the value, liquidity or return on certain Fund investments and may result in costs incurred in connection with closing out positions and entering into new trades. Any potential effects of the transition away from LIBOR on the Fund or on certain instruments in which the Fund invests can be difficult to ascertain, and they may vary depending on a variety of factors. Any such effects of the transition away from LIBOR, as well as other unforeseen effects, could result in losses to the Fund.
LIQUIDITY RISK. The Fund may hold certain investments that may be subject to restrictions on resale, trade over-the-counter or in limited volume, or lack an active trading market. Accordingly, the Fund may not be able to sell or close out of such investments at favorable times or prices (or at all), or at the prices approximating those at which the Fund currently values them. Illiquid securities may trade at a discount from comparable, more liquid investments and may be subject to wide fluctuations in market value.
MANAGEMENT RISK. The Fund is subject to management risk because it is an actively managed portfolio. In managing the Fund's investment portfolio, the portfolio managers will apply investment techniques and risk analyses that may not produce the desired result. There can be no guarantee that the Fund will meet its investment objectives.
MARKET MAKER RISK. The Fund faces numerous market trading risks, including the potential lack of an active market for Fund shares due to a limited number of market markers. Decisions by market makers or authorized participants to reduce their role or step away from these activities in times of market stress could inhibit the effectiveness of the arbitrage process in maintaining the relationship between the underlying values of the Fund's portfolio securities and the Fund's market price. The Fund may rely on a small number of third-party market makers to provide a market for the purchase and sale of shares. Any trading halt or other problem relating to the trading activity of these market makers could result in a dramatic change in the spread between the Fund's net asset value and the price at which the Fund's shares are trading on the Exchange, which could result in a decrease in value of the Fund's shares. This reduced effectiveness could result in Fund shares trading at a discount to net asset value and also in greater than normal intraday bid-ask spreads for Fund shares.
MARKET RISK. Market risk is the risk that a particular security, or shares of the Fund in general, may fall in value. Securities are subject to market fluctuations caused by such factors as economic, political, regulatory or market developments, changes in interest rates and perceived trends in securities prices. Shares of the Fund could decline in value or underperform other investments. In addition, local, regional or global events such as war, acts of terrorism, spread of infectious diseases or other public health issues, recessions, or other events could have a significant negative impact on the Fund and its investments. For example, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) global pandemic and the aggressive responses taken by many governments, including closing borders, restricting international and domestic travel, and the imposition of prolonged quarantines or similar restrictions, had negative impacts, and in many cases severe impacts, on markets worldwide. While the development of vaccines has slowed the spread of the virus and allowed for the resumption of reasonably normal business activity in the United States, many countries continue to impose lockdown measures in an attempt to slow the spread. Additionally, there is no guarantee that vaccines will be effective against emerging variants of the disease. As this global pandemic illustrated, such events may affect certain geographic regions, countries, sectors and industries more significantly than others. These events also adversely affect the prices and liquidity of the Fund's portfolio securities or other instruments and could result in disruptions in the trading markets. Any of such circumstances could have a materially negative impact on the value of the Fund's shares and result in increased market volatility. During any such events, the Fund's shares may trade at increased premiums or discounts to their net asset value.
NEW FUND RISK. As of the date of this prospectus, the Fund has no operating history and currently has fewer assets than larger funds. Like other new funds, large inflows and outflows may impact the Fund's market exposure for limited periods of time. This impact may be positive or negative, depending on the direction of market movement during the period affected.
NON-DIVERSIFICATION RISK. The Fund is classified as 'non-diversified' under the 1940 Act. As a result, the Fund is only limited as to the percentage of its assets which may be invested in the securities of any one issuer by the diversification requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended. The Fund may invest a relatively high percentage
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of its assets in a limited number of issuers. As a result, the Fund may be more susceptible to a single adverse economic or regulatory occurrence affecting one or more of these issuers, experience increased volatility and be highly invested in certain issuers.
OPERATIONAL RISK. The Fund is subject to risks arising from various operational factors, including, but not limited to, human error, processing and communication errors, errors of the Fund's service providers, counterparties or other third-parties, failed or inadequate processes and technology or systems failures. Although the Fund and the Fund's investment advisor seek to reduce these operational risks through controls and procedures, there is no way to completely protect against such risks.
PREMIUM/DISCOUNT RISK. The market price of the Fund's shares will generally fluctuate in accordance with changes in the Fund's net asset value as well as the relative supply of and demand for shares on the Exchange. The Fund's investment advisor cannot predict whether shares will trade below, at or above their net asset value because the shares trade on the Exchange at market prices and not at net asset value. Price differences may be due, in large part, to the fact that supply and demand forces at work in the secondary trading market for shares will be closely related, but not identical, to the same forces influencing the prices of the holdings of the Fund trading individually or in the aggregate at any point in time. However, given that shares can only be purchased and redeemed in Creation Units, and only to and from broker-dealers and large institutional investors that have entered into participation agreements (unlike shares of closed-end funds, which frequently trade at appreciable discounts from, and sometimes at premiums to, their net asset value), the Fund's investment advisor believes that large discounts or premiums to the net asset value of shares should not be sustained. During stressed market conditions, the market for the Fund's shares may become less liquid in response to deteriorating liquidity in the market for the Fund's underlying portfolio holdings, which could in turn lead to differences between the market price of the Fund's shares and their net asset value.
PREPAYMENT RISK. Prepayment risk is the risk that the issuer of a debt security will repay principal prior to the scheduled maturity date. Debt securities allowing prepayment may offer less potential for gains during a period of declining interest rates, as the Fund may be required to reinvest the proceeds of any prepayment at lower interest rates. These factors may cause the value of an investment in the Fund to change.
SENIOR LOAN RISK. Senior loans represent debt obligations of sub-investment grade corporate borrowers, similar to high yield bonds; however, senior loans are different from traditional high yield bonds in that senior loans are typically senior to other obligations of the borrower and generally secured by a lien on all or some portion of the assets of the borrower. The senior loan market has seen a significant increase in loans with weaker lender protections including, but not limited to, limited financial maintenance covenants or, in some cases, no financial maintenance covenants (i.e., 'covenant-lite loans') that would typically be included in a traditional loan agreement and general weakening of other restrictive covenants applicable to the borrower such as limitations on incurrence of additional debt, restrictions on payments of junior debt or restrictions on dividends and distributions. Weaker lender protections such as the absence of financial maintenance covenants in a loan agreement and the inclusion of 'borrower-favorable' terms may impact recovery values and/or trading levels of senior loans in the future. The absence of financial maintenance covenants in a loan agreement generally means that the lender may not be able to declare a default if financial performance deteriorates. This may hinder the Fund's ability to reprice credit risk associated with a particular borrower and reduce the Fund's ability to restructure a problematic loan and mitigate potential loss. As a result, the Fund's exposure to losses on investments in senior loans may be increased, especially during a downturn in the credit cycle or changes in market or economic conditions.
Senior loans are also subject to the same risks as investments in other types of debt securities, including credit risk, interest rate risk, liquidity risk and valuation risk that may be heightened because of the limited public information available regarding senior loans. If the Fund holds a senior loan through another financial institution or relies on a financial institution to administer the loan, its receipt of principal and interest on the loan may be subject to the credit risk of that financial institution. Although senior loans are generally secured by specific collateral, there can be no assurance that liquidation of such collateral would satisfy the borrower's obligation in the event of non-payment of scheduled interest or principal or that such collateral could be readily liquidated.
No active trading market may exist for certain senior loans, which may impair the ability of the Fund to realize full value in the event of the need to sell its position in a senior loan and which may make it difficult to accurately value senior loans. Lastly, senior loans may not be considered 'securities,' and the Fund may not be entitled to rely on the anti-fraud protections of the federal securities laws.
SIGNIFICANT EXPOSURE RISK. To the extent that the Fund invests a large percentage of its assets in a single asset class or the securities of issuers within the same country, state, region, industry or sector, an adverse economic, business or political
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development may affect the value of the Fund's investments more than if the Fund were more broadly diversified. A significant exposure makes the Fund more susceptible to any single occurrence and may subject the Fund to greater market risk than a fund that is more broadly diversified.
TRADING ISSUES RISK. Trading in Fund shares on the Exchange may be halted due to market conditions or for reasons that, in the view of the Exchange, make trading in shares inadvisable. In addition, trading in Fund shares on the Exchange is subject to trading halts caused by extraordinary market volatility pursuant to the Exchange's 'circuit breaker' rules. There can be no assurance that the requirements of the Exchange necessary to maintain the listing of the Fund will continue to be met or will remain unchanged. The Fund may have difficulty maintaining its listing on the Exchange in the event the Fund's assets are small, the Fund does not have enough shareholders, or if the Fund is unable to proceed with creation and/or redemption orders.
VALUATION RISK. Unlike publicly traded securities that trade on national securities exchanges, there is no central place or exchange for trading most debt securities. Debt securities generally trade on an 'over-the-counter' market. Due to the lack of centralized information and trading, and variations in lot sizes of certain debt securities, the valuation of debt securities may carry more uncertainty and risk than that of publicly traded securities. Debt securities are commonly valued by third-party pricing services that utilize a range of market-based inputs and assumptions, including readily available market quotations obtained from broker-dealers making markets in such securities, cash flows and transactions for comparable instruments. However, because the available information is less reliable and more subjective, elements of judgment may play a greater role in valuation of debt securities than for other types of securities. There is no assurance that the Fund will be able to sell a portfolio security at the price established by the pricing service, which could result in a loss to the Fund.
VOLATILITY RISK. Volatility is the characteristic of a security, an index or a market to fluctuate significantly in price within a short time period. The Fund may invest in securities or financial instruments that exhibit more volatility than the market as a whole. Such exposures could cause the Fund's net asset value to experience significant increases or declines in value over short periods of time.
Performance
The Fund does not have a performance history. Once available, the Fund's performance information, and information that gives some indication of the risks of an investment in the Fund by comparing the Fund's performance with a broad measure of market performance, will be available on the Fund's website at www.ftportfolios.com. The Fund's past performance (before and after taxes) is not necessarily an indication of how the Fund will perform in the future.
Management
Investment Advisor
First Trust Advisors L.P. ('First Trust' or the 'Advisor')
Portfolio Managers
The following persons serve as portfolio managers of the Fund.
William Housey, CFA, Managing Director of Fixed Income and Senior Portfolio Manager of First Trust
Todd Larson, CFA, Senior Vice President and Portfolio Manager of First Trust
Eric R. Maisel, CFA, Senior Vice President and Portfolio Manager of First Trust
Jeffrey Scott, CFA, Senior Vice President, Deputy Credit Officer and Portfolio Manager of First Trust
Nathan Simons, CFA, Portfolio Manager of First Trust
The portfolio managers are primarily and jointly responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each portfolio manager has served as a part of the portfolio management team of the Fund since September, 2021.
Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares
The Fund issues and redeems shares on a continuous basis, at net asset value, only in large blocks of shares called 'Creation Units.' Individual shares of the Fund may only be purchased and sold on the secondary market through a broker-dealer. Since shares of the Fund trade on securities exchanges in the secondary market at their market price rather than their net asset value, the Fund's shares may trade at a price greater than (premium) or less than (discount) the Fund's net asset value. An investor may incur costs attributable to the difference between the highest price a buyer is willing to pay to purchase shares of the Fund (bid) and the lowest price a seller is willing to accept for shares of the Fund (ask) when buying or selling shares in
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the secondary market (the 'bid-ask spread'). Recent information, including the Fund's net asset value, market price, premiums and discounts, and bid-ask spreads, is available online at https://www.ftportfolios.com/Retail/etf/home.aspx.
Tax Information
The Fund's distributions are taxable and will generally be taxed as ordinary income or capital gains. Distributions on shares held in a tax-deferred account, while not immediately taxable, will be subject to tax when the shares are no longer held in a tax-deferred account.
Payments to Broker-Dealers and Other Financial Intermediaries
If you purchase shares of the Fund through a broker-dealer or other financial intermediary (such as a bank), First Trust and First Trust Portfolios L.P., the Fund's distributor, may pay the intermediary for the sale of Fund shares and related services. These payments may create a conflict of interest by influencing the broker-dealer or other intermediary and your salesperson to recommend the Fund over another investment. Ask your salesperson or visit your financial intermediary's website for more information.
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Additional Information on the Fund's Investment Objectives and Strategies
The Fund is a series of First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund IV and is regulated as an 'investment company' under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the '1940 Act'). The Fund is actively managed and does not seek to track the performance of an index. The Fund's primary investment objective is to deliver current income. The Fund's investment objective is fundamental and may not be changed without approval by the holders of a majority of the outstanding voting securities of the Fund. Unless an investment policy is identified as being fundamental, all investment policies included in this prospectus and the Fund's Statement of Additional Information ('SAI') are non-fundamental and may be changed by the Board of Trustees of the Trust (the 'Board') without shareholder approval. If there is a material change to the Fund's principal investment strategies, you should consider whether the Fund remains an appropriate investment for you. There is no guarantee that the Fund will achieve its investment objectives.
The Fund has adopted a non-fundamental investment policy pursuant to Rule 35d-1 under the 1940 Act (the 'Name Policy'), whereby the Fund, under normal market conditions, invests at least 80% of its net assets (plus any borrowings for investment purposes) in investment grade corporate debt securities. The Name Policy may be changed by the Board without shareholder approval upon 60 days' prior written notice.
Additional Information on the Fund's Strategy
Under normal market conditions, the Fund seeks to achieve its objectives by investing at least 80% of its net assets (plus any borrowings for investment purposes) in investment grade corporate debt securities. Corporate debt securities are debt obligations issued by businesses to finance their operations. Notes, bonds, debentures and commercial paper are the most common types of corporate debt securities, with the primary differences being their maturities and secured or unsecured status. Commercial paper has the shortest term and is usually unsecured.
At least 80% of the Fund's net assets will be invested in debt securities that are, at the time of purchase, investment grade (i.e., rated Baa3/BBB- or above) by at least one nationally recognized statistical rating organization ('NRSRO') rating such securities, or if unrated, debt securities determined by the Advisor to be of comparable quality. In the case of a split rating between one or more of the NRSROs, the Fund will consider the highest rating. For an unrated security to be considered investment grade, the Advisor will consider, at the time of purchase, whether such security is of comparable quality based on fundamental credit analysis of the unrated security and comparable securities that are rated by an NRSRO.
The Advisor's investment philosophy is based on the belief that deep fundamental credit analysis performed by a highly experienced credit team, within a risk managed framework, will generate higher absolute and risk-adjusted returns within investment grade debt strategies. This investment philosophy is expressed by the Advisor through an investment process that combines rigorous bottom-up fundamental credit analysis and disciplined portfolio construction. Risk management is a critical component of the entire process and is embedded in both the fundamental credit analysis and portfolio construction.
The Advisor's key considerations of fundamental credit analysis involve:
Evaluation of Industry Trends: The Advisor tends to favor industries that are either stable or growing. Moreover, the Advisor intends to invest in issuers or borrowers that it believes have strong positions within a given industry.
Management Quality: The investment process favors companies that have management teams with a sound track record of managing businesses with and a willingness to reduce leverage. The Advisor believes strong management teams are typically able to navigate more challenging business conditions or economic environments in a nimble fashion. Additionally, the industry analyst will often speak with management teams to fully understand management's strategy, the risks inherent in the business and management's intentions with respect to the capital structure.
Valuation: The investment process evaluates the enterprise value through time. Importantly, the enterprise value is assessed not only in a benign credit environment when valuations are highest, but assuming a recessionary environment when valuations are typically at their lowest. The investment process favors companies that have strong valuations so that a positive outcome may be achieved even in a situation when cash flows deteriorate.
Consistency of Cash Flows: The investment process favors companies that produce relatively stable cash flows through an economic cycle. The Advisor's Investment Team believes highly cyclical companies or capital-intensive industries face a high hurdle. A company's cash flow is stressed to determine how resilient the company would be in a downside case.
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The Advisor's key considerations of portfolio construction include:
Yield Curve Management: The investment team continuously monitors market conditions and evaluates macro factors that are the primary drivers of interest rates. These include economic growth and stage of the business cycle; the pace, timing, and magnitude of policy decisions; risk appetite and flow of funds, relative yield levels globally and curve shape, trend signals and catalysts for change. The information gathered in this framework informs the outlook for appropriate duration and curve positioning for the strategy.
Relative Value: Each approved investment opportunity is evaluated relative to other opportunities available in the market. This relative value assessment helps ensure the portfolio is positioned in the credits that offer the best return relative to risk. The relative value assessment is an ongoing process, as market prices and the Advisor's credit outlooks change over time. While analysts are focused on individual industries, the portfolio managers of the Fund aggregate this information and make decisions across the entire portfolio, so as to continually seek to own the best relative value opportunities in the market.
Diversification: Portfolio diversification is a key component of the portfolio construction process and an important factor in risk management. The investment process seeks to have a properly diversified portfolio across individual issuers and industries. The Advisor's Investment Team believes concentrated issuer or industry positions typically lead to outsized risk and, therefore, the investment team seeks to construct well diversified portfolios. This is a key risk control for any portfolio managed by the Advisor's Investment Team. The portfolio managers seek to ensure the Fund is properly diversified across industries and issuers.
Liquidity: The potential liquidity of each investment opportunity is analyzed prior to purchase. Through fundamental credit analysis, the Advisor's Investment Team can position the Fund's portfolio in investment grade debt securities that the Advisor believes provide the most attractive opportunities in the market.
Within the investment grade debt markets, there can be significant differences in the level of secondary market liquidity between individual bonds. The Advisor will assess the liquidity of an issue prior to purchase to ensure the appropriate liquidity is maintained in the Fund.
Under normal market conditions, the Fund seeks to construct a portfolio that has a weighted average duration of +/- one year of the Bloomberg U.S. Corporate 1-5 Year Index. Duration is a mathematical calculation of the average life of a debt security (or portfolio of debt securities) that serves as a measure of its price risk. In general, each year of duration represents an expected 1% change in the value of a security for every 1% immediate change in interest rates. For example, the price of a debt security with a three-year duration would be expected to drop by approximately 3% in response to a 1% increase in interest rates. Therefore, prices of debt securities with shorter durations tend to be less sensitive to interest rate changes than debt securities with longer durations. As the value of a debt security changes over time, so will its duration. The Fund's investment advisor will calculate the duration of the portfolio by modeling the cash flows of all the individual holdings, including the impact of prepayment variability and coupon adjustments where applicable, to determine the duration of each holding and then aggregating based on the size of the position. In performing this duration calculation, the Fund's investment advisor will utilize third-party models.
Although the Fund intends to invest primarily in investment grade securities, the Fund may invest up to 20% of its net assets (plus any borrowings for investment purposes) in (i) other debt securities, including bank loans and (ii) securities of any credit quality, including securities that are below investment grade, which are also known as high yield securities, or commonly referred to as 'junk' bonds, or unrated securities that have not been judged by the Fund's investment advisor to be of comparable quality to rated investment grade securities.
In addition, although the Fund intends to invest primarily in investment grade corporate debt securities, for temporary defensive purposes, the Fund may depart from its principal investment strategy and invest part or all of its assets in cash and cash equivalents.
The Fund is classified as 'non-diversified' under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the '1940 Act'). The Fund's investments will be concentrated in the financials sector, and therefore, may be concentrated in one or more industries within the financials sector.
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Fund Investments
Principal Investments
Bank Loans
The Fund invests in bank loans, including senior secured bank loans, unsecured and/or subordinated bank loans, loan participations and unfunded contracts. The Fund may invest in such loans by purchasing assignments on all or a portion of loans or loan participations from third parties. These loans are made by or issued to corporations primarily to finance acquisitions, refinance existing debt, support organic growth, or pay out dividends, and are typically originated by large banks and then syndicated out to institutional investors as well as to other banks. Bank loans typically bear interest at a floating rate although some loans pay a fixed rate. Due to their subordination in the borrower's capital structure, unsecured and/or subordinated loans involve a higher degree of overall risk than senior bank loans of the same borrower. Unfunded contracts are commitments by lenders (such as the Fund) to loan an amount in the future or that is due to be contractually funded in the future.
Senior floating rate loans are typically rated below-investment grade. Senior floating rate loans hold a first lien priority and typically pay interest at rates which are determined periodically on the basis of a floating base lending rate, primarily the LIBOR, plus a premium. Senior floating rate loans are typically made to U.S. and, to a limited extent, non-U.S. corporations, partnerships and other business entities which operate in various industries and geographical regions. Borrowers may obtain these loans to, among other reasons, refinance existing debt and for acquisitions, dividends, leveraged buyouts, and general corporate purposes.
The senior loan market has seen a significant increase in loans with few or none of the financial maintenance covenants (i.e., 'covenant-lite loans') that have traditionally protected lenders including more aggressive terms that favor borrowers with respect to restrictions regarding additional debt, payment terms, income requirements and asset dispositions. A substantial amount of the senior loans held by the Fund are expected to be covenant-lite loans, meaning the Fund may be unable to declare an event of default if financial performance deteriorates, renegotiate the terms of the loan based upon the elevated risk levels or take other actions to help mitigate losses.
Corporate Debt Securities
The Fund may invest in corporate debt securities issued by U.S. and non-U.S. companies of all kinds, including those with small, mid and large capitalizations. Corporate debt securities are fixed income securities issued by businesses to finance their operations. Notes, bonds, debentures and commercial paper are the most common types of corporate debt securities, with the primary differences being their maturities and secured or unsecured status. Commercial paper has the shortest term and is usually unsecured. Corporate debt may be rated investment grade or below investment grade and may carry fixed or floating rates of interest.
Debt Securities
Debt securities include obligations typically issued by corporations to borrow money from investors, such as corporate bonds, debentures and notes. These securities may be either secured or unsecured. Holders of debt securities, as creditors, have a prior legal claim over common and preferred shareholders as to both income and assets of the issuer for the principal and interest due them and may have a prior claim over other creditors if liens or mortgages are involved. Interest on debt securities is typically paid semi-annually and is fully taxable to the holder of the securities. The investment return of debt securities reflects interest on the security and changes in the market value of the security. The market value of a fixed rate debt security generally may be expected to rise and fall inversely with changes in interest rates and also may be affected by the credit rating of the issuer, the issuer's performance and perceptions of the issuer in the marketplace. Debt securities issued by corporations usually have a higher yield than government or agency bonds due to the presence of credit risk.
High Yield Debt
The Fund may invest in debt instruments (e.g., bonds, loans and convertible bonds) that are rated below investment grade, or unrated securities deemed by the Advisor to be of comparable quality. Debt securities rated below investment grade are commonly referred to as 'high yield' or 'junk' debt. For purposes of determining whether a security is below investment grade, the highest available rating will be considered. High yield debt may be issued by companies without long track records of sales and earnings, or by issuers that have questionable credit strength. High yield debt and comparable unrated debt securities: (a) will likely have some quality and protective characteristics that, in the judgment of the rating agency evaluating the
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instrument, are out weighed by large uncertainties or major risk exposures to adverse conditions; and (b) are predominantly speculative with respect to the issuer's capacity to pay dividends or interest and repay principal in accordance with the terms of the obligation.
Non-Principal Investments
Collateralized Loan Obligations
A CLO is a financing company (generally called a 'Special Purpose Vehicle' or 'SPV') created to reapportion the risk and return characteristics of a pool of assets. CLOs use funds received from the issuance of debt and equity to acquire a diverse portfolio of loans that are actively managed by the CLO manager. The debt issued by CLOs is divided into separate tranches, each of which has a different risk/return profile based on its priority of claim on the cash flows produced by the underlying loan pool. The most senior and highest rated tranche has the lowest yield but is the most loss remote as it has the highest claim on cash-flow distributions. Mezzanine tranches have higher yields but are more at risk of loss. The lowest tranche is the equity tranche, which does not have a coupon and represents a claim on all excess cash flows once the obligations for each debt tranche have been met. The equity tranche is also the most risky. While the Funds will not invest in the equity tranche, they may invest in the mezzanine tranches. The Funds invest in CLOs consisting primarily of first lien secured loans and not repackaged CLO obligations from other high risk pools. The underlying loans purchased by CLOs are generally performing at the time of purchase but may become non-performing, distressed or defaulted. CLOs with underlying assets of non-performing, distressed or defaulted loans are not contemplated to comprise a significant portion of a Fund's investments in CLOs.
Derivative Instruments
The Fund may hold listed derivatives, including futures, options and swaps on commodities, currencies and financial instruments, or a basket or index of any of the foregoing. Additionally, the Fund may hold derivatives traded over-the-counter ('OTC'), including forwards, swaps, options and swaps on commodities, currencies and financial instruments, or a basket or index of any of the foregoing. The use of these derivative transactions may allow the Fund to obtain net long or short exposures to selected interest rates or durations. The Fund may also utilize derivatives to enhance return, to hedge some of the risks of its investments in securities, as a substitute for a position in the underlying asset, to reduce transaction costs, to maintain full market exposure (which means to adjust the characteristics of its investments to more closely approximate those of the markets in which it invests), to manage cash flows, to limit exposure to losses due to changes to non-U.S. currency exchange rates or to preserve capital.
Municipal Securities
Municipal Securities are debt securities that pay interest that is exempt from regular federal income taxes. Municipal Securities are generally issued by or on behalf of states, territories or possessions of the United States and the District of Columbia and their political subdivisions, agencies, authorities and other instrumentalities. The types of Municipal Securities in which the Fund may invest include municipal lease obligations (and certificates of participation in such obligations), municipal general obligation bonds, municipal revenue bonds, municipal notes, municipal cash equivalents, private activity bonds (including without limitation industrial development bonds), and pre-refunded and escrowed to maturity bonds. In addition, Municipal Securities include securities issued by tender option bond ('TOB') trusts and custodial receipt trusts, each of which are investment vehicles the underlying assets of which are municipal bonds.
U.S. Government Securities
The Fund may invest in U.S. government securities. U.S. government securities include U.S. Treasury obligations and securities issued or guaranteed by various agencies of the U.S. government, or by various instrumentalities which have been established or sponsored by the U.S. government. U.S. Treasury obligations are backed by the 'full faith and credit' of the U.S. government. Securities issued or guaranteed by federal agencies and U.S. government sponsored instrumentalities may or may not be backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.
The Fund may also invest in callable agency securities, which give the issuer (the U.S. government agency) the right to redeem the security prior to maturity. The Fund may also invest in U.S. government inflation-indexed securities.
At times, the Fund may allocate its investments into direct obligations of the U.S. government (such as Treasury bonds, bills and notes) and in securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, its agencies or instrumentalities, including government-sponsored entities.
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Cash Equivalents and Short-Term Investments
The Fund may invest in short-term debt securities, money market funds and other cash equivalents, or it may hold cash. The percentage of the Fund invested in such holdings varies and depends on several factors, including market conditions. For temporary defensive purposes and during periods of high cash inflows or outflows, the Fund may depart from its principal investment strategies and invest part or all of its assets in these securities, or it may hold cash. During such periods, the Fund may not be able to achieve its investment objectives. The Fund may adopt a defensive strategy when the portfolio managers believe securities in which the Fund normally invests have elevated risks due to political or economic factors and in other extraordinary circumstances. For more information on eligible short-term investments, see the Fund's SAI.
Illiquid Investments
The Fund may invest up to 15% of its net assets in securities and other instruments that are, at the time of investment, illiquid (determined using the Securities and Exchange Commission's standard applicable to investment companies, i.e., any investment that the Fund reasonably expects cannot be sold or disposed of in current market conditions in seven calendar days or less without the sale or disposition significantly changing the market value of the investment). For this purpose, illiquid investments may include, but are not limited to certain restricted securities (securities the disposition of which is restricted under the federal securities laws), certain investments that may only be resold pursuant to Rule 144A under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the 'Securities Act'), that are deemed to be illiquid, and certain repurchase agreements.
Disclosure of Portfolio Holdings
The Fund's portfolio holdings are available on the Fund's website at www.ftportfolios.com. A description of the policies and procedures with respect to the disclosure of the Fund's portfolio securities is included in the Fund's SAI, which is also available on the Fund's website.
Risks of Investing in the Fund
Risk is inherent in all investing. Investing in the Fund involves risk, including the risk that you may lose all or part of your investment. There can be no assurance that the Fund will meet its stated objectives. Before you invest, you should consider the following disclosure pertaining to the Principal Risks set forth above as well as additional Non-Principal Risks set forth below in this prospectus. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.
Principal Risks
AUTHORIZED PARTICIPANT CONCENTRATION RISK. Only an authorized participant may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund. A limited number of institutions act as authorized participants for the Fund. However, participants are not obligated to make a market in the Fund's shares or submit purchase and redemption orders for creation units. To the extent that these institutions exit the business, reduce their role or are unable to proceed with creation and/or redemption orders and no other authorized participant steps forward to create or redeem, the Fund's shares may trade at a premium or discount to the Fund's net asset value and possibly face delisting.
BANK LOANS RISK. The Fund may invest in secured and unsecured participations in bank loans and assignments of such loans. In making investments in such loans, which are made by banks or other financial intermediaries to borrowers, the Fund will depend primarily upon the creditworthiness of the borrower for payment of principal and interest which will expose the Fund to the credit risk of the underlying borrower. Participations by the Fund in a lender's portion of a bank loan typically will result in the Fund having a contractual relationship only with such lender, not with the borrower. The Fund may have the right to receive payments of principal, interest and any fees to which it is entitled only from the lender selling a loan participation and only upon receipt by such lender of such payments from the borrower, which exposes the Fund to the credit risk of the lender. In connection with purchasing participations, the Fund generally will have no right to enforce compliance by the borrower with the terms of the loan agreement, nor any rights with respect to any funds acquired by other lenders through set-off against the borrower, and the Fund may not directly benefit from any collateral supporting the loan in which it has purchased the participation. There is also the risk that the value of any collateral securing a loan may decline and that the collateral may be insufficient to cover the amount owed on the loan. The secondary market for bank loans may not be highly liquid, and the Fund may have difficulty selling bank loans (other than at a discount) and it may experience settlement delays with respect to bank loan trades (in some cases longer than 7 days.) Further, loans held by the Fund may not be considered securities and, therefore, purchasers, such as the Fund, may not be entitled to rely on the anti-fraud protections of the federal securities laws and would be forced to rely upon the contractual persons in the loan agreement and states law to enforce its rights to repayment. Many of the loans in which the Fund may invest or obtain exposure to may be 'covenant-lite' loans. The amount
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of public information available with respect to bank loans may be less extensive than available for registered or exchange-traded securities. Covenant-lite loans may contain fewer or no maintenance covenants compared to other loans and may not include terms which allow the lender to monitor the performance of the borrower and declare a default if certain criteria are breached. The Fund may experience relatively greater realized or unrealized losses or delays in enforcing its rights on its holdings of covenant-lite loans than its holdings of loans with the usual covenants.
CALL RISK. Some debt securities may be redeemed at the option of the issuer, or 'called,' before their stated maturity date. In general, an issuer will call its debt securities if they can be refinanced by issuing new debt securities which bear a lower interest rate. The Fund is subject to the possibility that during periods of falling interest rates an issuer will call its high yielding debt securities. The Fund would then be forced to invest the unanticipated proceeds at lower interest rates, likely resulting in a decline in the Fund's income. Such redemptions and subsequent reinvestments would also increase the Fund's portfolio turnover. If a called debt security was purchased by the Fund at a premium, the value of the premium may be lost in the event of a redemption.
CASH TRANSACTIONS RISK. The Fund will effect some or all of its creations and redemptions for cash rather than in-kind. As a result, an investment in the Fund may be less tax-efficient than an investment in an ETF that effects its creations and redemptions only in-kind. ETFs are able to make in-kind redemptions and avoid being taxed on gains on the distributed portfolio securities at the fund level. The Fund may be required to sell portfolio securities in order to obtain the cash needed to distribute redemption proceeds. Any recognized gain on these sales by the Fund will generally cause the Fund to recognize a gain it might not otherwise have recognized, or to recognize such gain sooner than would otherwise be required if it were to distribute portfolio securities only in-kind. The Fund intends to distribute these gains to shareholders to avoid being taxed on this gain at the fund level and otherwise comply with the special tax rules that apply to it. This strategy may cause shareholders to be subject to tax on gains they would not otherwise be subject to, or at an earlier date than if they had made an investment in a different ETF. Moreover, cash transactions may have to be carried out over several days if the securities market is relatively illiquid and may involve considerable brokerage fees and taxes. These brokerage fees and taxes, which will be higher than if the Fund sold and redeemed its shares entirely in-kind, will be passed on to those purchasing and redeeming Creation Units in the form of creation and redemption transaction fees. In addition, these factors may result in wider spreads between the bid and the offered prices of the Fund's shares than for ETFs that distribute portfolio securities in-kind.
COVENANT-LITE LOANS RISK. The Fund may invest in covenant-lite loans. The loan agreement, which sets forth the terms of a loan and the obligations of the borrower and lender, contains certain covenants that mandate or prohibit certain borrower actions, including financial covenants that dictate certain minimum and maximum financial performance levels. Covenants that require the borrower to maintain certain financial metrics during the life of the loan (such as maintaining certain levels of cash flow and limiting leverage) are known as 'maintenance covenants.' These covenants are included to permit the lender to monitor the performance of the borrower and declare an event of default if breached, allowing the lender to renegotiate the terms of the loan based upon the elevated risk levels or take other actions to help mitigate losses. Covenant-lite loans contain fewer or no maintenance covenants making an investment in these types of loans inherently riskier than an investment in loans containing provisions allowing the lender reprice credit risk associated with the borrower or restructure a problematic loan. Since 2013, the number of covenant-lite loans issued has increased significantly. The Fund's elevated exposure to such loans during a downturn in the credit cycle could cause the Fund to experience outsized losses.
CREDIT RISK. An issuer or other obligated party of a debt security may be unable or unwilling to make dividend, interest and/or principal payments when due. In addition, the value of a debt security may decline because of concerns about the issuer's ability or unwillingness to make such payments. Debt securities are subject to varying degrees of credit risk which are often reflected in credit ratings. The credit rating of a debt security may be lowered if the issuer or other obligated party suffers adverse changes to its financial condition. These adverse changes may lead to greater volatility in the price of the debt security and affect the security's liquidity. High yield and comparable unrated debt securities, while generally offering higher yields than investment grade debt with similar maturities, involve greater risks, including the possibility of dividend or interest deferral, default or bankruptcy, and are regarded as predominantly speculative with respect to the issuer's capacity to pay dividends or interest and repay principal. To the extent that the Fund holds debt securities that are secured or guaranteed by financial institutions, changes in credit quality of such financial institutions could cause values of the debt security to deviate.
CYBER SECURITY RISK. The Fund is susceptible to operational risks through breaches in cyber security. A breach in cyber security refers to both intentional and unintentional events that may cause the Fund to lose proprietary information, suffer data corruption or lose operational capacity. Such events could cause the Fund to incur regulatory penalties, reputational damage, additional compliance costs associated with corrective measures and/or financial loss. These risks typically are not covered by insurance. In general, cyber incidents can result from deliberate attacks or unintentional events. Cyber incidents
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include, but are not limited to, gaining unauthorized access to digital systems (e.g., through 'hacking' or malicious software coding) for purposes of misappropriating assets or sensitive information, corrupting data or causing operational disruption. Cyber attacks may also be carried out in a manner that does not require gaining unauthorized access, such as causing denial-of-service attacks on websites (i.e., efforts to make network services unavailable to intended users). Cyber security failures by or breaches of the systems of the Advisor, distributor and other service providers (including, but not limited to, sub-advisors, index providers, fund accountants, custodians, transfer agents and administrators), market makers, authorized participants or the issuers of securities in which the Fund invests, have the ability to cause disruptions and impact business operations, potentially resulting in: financial losses; interference with the Fund's ability to calculate its net asset value; disclosure of confidential trading information; impediments to trading; submission of erroneous trades or erroneous creation or redemption orders; the inability of the Fund or its service providers to transact business; violations of applicable privacy and other laws; regulatory fines penalties, reputational damage, reimbursement or other compensation costs; or additional compliance costs. Substantial costs may be incurred by the Fund in order to resolve or prevent cyber incidents in the future. While the Fund has established business continuity plans in the event of, and risk management systems to prevent, such cyber attacks, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems, including the possibility that certain risks have not been identified and that prevention and remediation efforts will not be successful. Furthermore, the Fund cannot control the cyber security plans and systems put in place by service providers to the Fund, issuers in which the Fund invests, market makers or authorized participants. However, there is no guarantee that such efforts will succeed, and the Fund and its shareholders could be negatively impacted as a result.
DEBT SECURITIES RISK. Investments in debt securities subject the holder to the credit risk of the issuer. Credit risk refers to the possibility that the issuer or other obligor of a security will not be able or willing to make payments of interest and principal when due. Generally, the value of debt securities will change inversely with changes in interest rates. To the extent that interest rates rise, certain underlying obligations may be paid off substantially slower than originally anticipated and the value of those securities may fall sharply. During periods of falling interest rates, the income received by the Fund may decline. If the principal on a debt security is prepaid before expected, the prepayments of principal may have to be reinvested in obligations paying interest at lower rates. Debt securities generally do not trade on a centralized securities exchange making them generally less liquid and more difficult to value than common stock. The values of debt securities may also increase or decrease as a result of market fluctuations, actual or perceived inability or unwillingness of issuers, guarantors or liquidity providers to make scheduled principal or interest payments or illiquidity in debt securities markets generally.
EXTENSION RISK. Extension risk is the risk that, when interest rates rise, certain obligations will be paid off by the issuer (or other obligated party) more slowly than anticipated, causing the value of these debt securities to fall. Rising interest rates tend to extend the duration of debt securities, making them more sensitive to changes in interest rates. The value of longer-term debt securities generally changes more in response to changes in interest rates than shorter-term debt securities. As a result, in a period of rising interest rates, securities may exhibit additional volatility and may lose value. Extension risk is particularly prevalent for a callable debt security where an increase in interest rates could result in the issuer of that security choosing not to redeem the debt security as anticipated on the security's call date. Such a decision by the issuer could have the effect of lengthening the debt security's expected maturity, making it more vulnerable to interest rate risk and reducing its market value.
FINANCIAL COMPANIES RISK. Financial companies are subject to extensive governmental regulation and intervention, which may adversely affect the scope of their activities, the prices they can charge, the amount and types of capital they must maintain and, potentially, their size. Governmental regulation may change frequently and may have significant adverse consequences for financial companies, including effects not intended by such regulation. The impact of more stringent capital requirements, or recent or future regulation in various countries, on any individual financial company or on financial companies as a whole cannot be predicted. Certain risks may impact the value of investments in financial companies more severely than those of investments in other issuers, including the risks associated with companies that operate with substantial financial leverage. Financial companies may also be adversely affected by volatility in interest rates, loan losses and other customer defaults, decreases in the availability of money or asset valuations, credit rating downgrades and adverse conditions in other related markets. Insurance companies in particular may be subject to severe price competition and/or rate regulation, which may have an adverse impact on their profitability. Financial companies are also a target for cyber attacks and may experience technology malfunctions and disruptions as a result.
FLOATING RATE DEBT INSTRUMENTS RISK. Investments in floating rate debt instruments are subject to the same risks as investments in other types of debt securities, including credit risk, interest rate risk, liquidity risk and valuation risk. Floating rate debt instruments include debt securities issued by corporate and governmental entities, as well as bank loans. Floating rate debt instruments are structured so that the security's coupon rate fluctuates based upon the level of a reference rate.
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Most commonly, the coupon rate of a floating rate debt instrument is set at the level of a widely followed interest rate, plus a fixed spread. As a result, the coupon on floating rate debt instrument will generally decline in a falling interest rate environment, causing the Fund to experience a reduction in the income it receives from the instrument. A floating rate debt instrument's coupon rate resets periodically according to its terms. Consequently, in a rising interest rate environment, floating rate debt instruments with coupon rates that reset infrequently may lag behind the changes in market interest rates. Floating rate debt instruments may also contain terms that impose a maximum coupon rate the issuer will pay, regardless of the level of the reference rate. The Fund may invest in floating rate loans considered to be high yield, or 'junk,' instruments and considered speculative because of the credit risk of their issuers. Such issuers are more likely than investment grade issuers to default on their payments of interest and principal owed to the Fund. An economic downturn would also generally lead to a higher non-payment rate, and a floating rate debt instrument may lose significant market value before a default occurs. To the extent the Fund invests in floating rate loans, such instruments may be subject to legal or contractual restrictions on resale, may trade infrequently, and their value may be impaired when the Fund needs to liquidate such securities. It is possible that the collateral securing a floating rate loan may be insufficient or unavailable to Fund, and that the Fund's rights to collateral may be limited by bankruptcy or insolvency laws. Additionally, there is no central clearinghouse for loan trades and the loan market has not established enforceable settlement standards or remedies for failure to settle. As such, the secondary market for floating rate loans may be subject to irregular trading activity, wide bid/ask spreads and extended trade settlement periods which may cause the Fund to be unable to realize the full value of its investment. Lastly, floating rate loans may not be considered 'securities,' and purchasers, such as the Fund, therefore may not be entitled to rely on the anti-fraud protections of the federal securities laws.
HIGH YIELD SECURITIES RISK. The Fund's investment in high yield securities, or 'junk' bonds, may entail increased credit risks and the risk that the value of the Fund's assets will decline, and may decline precipitously, with increases in interest rates. In recent years there have been wide fluctuations in interest rates and therefore in the value of debt securities generally. High yield securities are, under most circumstances, subject to greater market fluctuations and risk of loss of income and principal than are investments in lower-yielding, higher-rated debt securities. As interest rates rise, the value of high yield securities may decline precipitously. Increased rates may also indicate a slowdown in the economy which may adversely affect the credit of issuers of high yield securities resulting in a higher incidence of defaults among such issuers. A slowdown in the economy, or a development adversely affecting an issuer's creditworthiness, may result in the issuer being unable to maintain earnings or sell assets at the rate and at the prices, respectively, that are required to produce sufficient cash flow to meet its interest and principal requirements. The Fund's portfolio managers cannot predict future economic policies or their consequences or, therefore, the course or extent of any similar market fluctuations in the future. In addition, high yield securities are generally less liquid than investment grade securities.
INCOME RISK. The Fund's income may decline when interest rates fall. This decline can occur because the Fund may subsequently invest in lower-yielding securities as debt securities in its portfolio mature, are near maturity or are called, or the Fund otherwise needs to purchase additional debt securities. In addition, the Fund's income could decline when the Fund experiences defaults on the debt securities it holds.
INDEX OR MODEL CONSTITUENT RISK. The Fund may be a constituent of one or more indices or ETF models. As a result, the Fund may be included in one or more index-tracking ETFs or mutual funds. Being a component security of such a vehicle could greatly affect the trading activity involving the Fund, the size of the Fund and the market volatility of the Fund's shares. Inclusion in an index could increase demand for the Fund and removal from an index could result in outsized selling activity in a relatively short period of time. As a result, the Fund's net asset value could be negatively impacted and the Fund's market price may be below the Fund's net asset value during certain periods. In addition, index rebalances may potentially result in increased trading activity. To the extent buying or selling activity increases, the Fund can be exposed to increased brokerage costs and adverse tax consequences and the market price of the Fund can be negatively affected.
INFLATION RISK. Inflation risk is the risk that the value of assets or income from investments will be less in the future as inflation decreases the value of money. As inflation increases, the present value of the Fund's assets and distributions may decline. This risk is more prevalent with respect to debt securities held by the Fund. Inflation creates uncertainty over the future real value (after inflation) of an investment. Inflation rates may change frequently and drastically as a result of various factors, including unexpected shifts in the domestic or global economy, and the Fund's investments may not keep pace with inflation, which may result in losses to Fund investors.
INTEREST RATE RISK. The value of debt securities held by the Fund will fluctuate in value with changes in interest rates. In general, debt securities will increase in value when interest rates fall and decrease in value when interest rates rise. The Fund may be subject to a greater risk of rising interest rates than would normally be the case due to the current period of historically
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low rates and the effect of potential government fiscal policy initiatives and resulting market reaction to those initiatives. Interest rate risk is generally lower for shorter term investments and higher for longer term investments. Duration is a common measure of interest rate risk. Duration measures a debt security's expected life on a present value basis, taking into account the debt security's yield, interest payments and final maturity. Duration is a reasonably accurate measure of a debt security's price sensitivity to changes in interest rates. The longer the duration of a debt security, the greater the debt security's price sensitivity is to changes in interest rates. Rising interest rates also may lengthen the duration of debt securities with call features, since exercise of the call becomes less likely as interest rates rise, which in turn will make the securities more sensitive to changes in interest rates and result in even steeper price declines in the event of further interest rate increases. An increase in interest rates could also cause principal payments on a debt security to be repaid at a slower rate than expected. This risk is particularly prevalent for a callable debt security where an increase in interest rates could cause the issuer of that security to not redeem the security as anticipated on the call date, effectively lengthening the security's expected maturity, in turn making that security more vulnerable to interest rate risk and reducing its market value. When interest rates fall, the Fund may be required to reinvest the proceeds from the sale, redemption or early prepayment of a debt security at a lower interest rate.
LIBOR RISK. The United Kingdom's Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates LIBOR, announced on March 5, 2021 that all non-USD LIBOR reference rates and the 1-week and 2-month USD LIBOR reference rates will cease to be provided or no longer be representative immediately after December 31, 2021 and the remaining USD LIBOR settings will cease to be provided or no longer be representative immediately after June 30, 2023. The unavailability or replacement of LIBOR may affect the value, liquidity or return on certain Fund investments and may result in costs incurred in connection with closing out positions and entering into new trades. Any potential effects of the transition away from LIBOR on the Fund or on certain instruments in which the Fund invests can be difficult to ascertain, and they may vary depending on a variety of factors. For example, certain of the Fund's investments may involve individual contracts that have no existing fallback provision or language that contemplates the discontinuation of LIBOR, and those investments could experience increased volatility or reduced liquidity as a result of the transition process. The transition may also result in a reduction in the value of certain instruments held by the Fund, a reduction in the effectiveness of related transactions, such as hedges, or a reduction in the value of any payments due to the Fund that are linked to LIBOR. Any such effects of the transition away from LIBOR, as well as other unforeseen effects, could result in losses to the Fund.
LIQUIDITY RISK. The Fund may have investments that it may not be able to dispose of or close out readily at a favorable time or price (or at all), or at a price approximating the Fund's valuation of the investment. For example, certain investments may be subject to restrictions on resale, may trade over-the-counter or in limited volume, or may not have an active trading market. Illiquid securities may trade at a discount from comparable, more liquid investments and may be subject to wide fluctuations in market value. It may be difficult for the Fund to value illiquid securities accurately. The market for certain investments may become illiquid under adverse market or economic conditions independent of any specific adverse changes in the conditions of a particular issuer. If the Fund needed to sell a large block of illiquid securities to meet shareholder redemption request or to raise cash, these sales could further reduce the securities' prices and adversely affect performance of the Fund. Disposal of illiquid securities may entail registration expenses and other transaction costs that are higher than those for liquid securities.
MANAGEMENT RISK. The Fund is subject to management risk because it is an actively managed portfolio. In managing the Fund's investment portfolio, the portfolio managers will apply investment techniques and risk analyses that may not produce the desired result. There can be no guarantee that the Fund will meet its investment objective(s), meet relevant benchmarks or perform as well as other funds with similar objectives.
MARKET MAKER RISK. The Fund faces numerous market trading risks, including the potential lack of an active market for Fund shares due to a limited number of market markers. Decisions by market makers or authorized participants to reduce their role or step away from these activities in times of market stress could inhibit the effectiveness of the arbitrage process in maintaining the relationship between the underlying values of the Fund's portfolio securities and the Fund's market price. The Fund may rely on a small number of third-party market makers to provide a market for the purchase and sale of shares. Any trading halt or other problem relating to the trading activity of these market makers could result in a dramatic change in the spread between the Fund's net asset value and the price at which the Fund's shares are trading on the Exchange, which could result in a decrease in value of the Fund's shares. This reduced effectiveness could result in Fund shares trading at a discount to net asset value and also in greater than normal intraday bid-ask spreads for Fund shares.
MARKET RISK. Market risk is the risk that a particular security, or shares of the Fund in general, may fall in value. Securities are subject to market fluctuations caused by such factors as economic, political, regulatory or market developments, changes in interest rates and perceived trends in securities prices. Shares of the Fund could decline in value or underperform other
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investments due to short-term market movements or any longer periods during more prolonged market downturns. In addition, local, regional or global events such as war, acts of terrorism, spread of infectious diseases or other public health issues, recessions, or other events could have a significant negative impact on the Fund and its investments. For example, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) global pandemic and the aggressive responses taken by many governments, including closing borders, restricting international and domestic travel, and the imposition of prolonged quarantines or similar restrictions, had negative impacts, and in many cases severe impacts, on markets worldwide. While the development of vaccines has slowed the spread of the virus and allowed for the resumption of reasonably normal business activity in the United States, many countries continue to impose lockdown measures in an attempt to slow the spread. Additionally, there is no guarantee that vaccines will be effective against emerging variants of the disease. As this global pandemic illustrated, such events may affect certain geographic regions, countries, sectors and industries more significantly than others. These events also adversely affect the prices and liquidity of the Fund's portfolio securities or other instruments and could result in disruptions in the trading markets. Any of such circumstances could have a materially negative impact on the value of the Fund's shares and result in increased market volatility. During any such events, the Fund's shares may trade at increased premiums or discounts to their net asset value.
NEW FUND RISK. As of the date of this prospectus, the Fund has no operating history and currently has fewer assets than larger funds. Like other new funds, large inflows and outflows may impact the Fund's market exposure for limited periods of time. This impact may be positive or negative, depending on the direction of market movement during the period affected.
NON-DIVERSIFICATION RISK. As a 'non-diversified' fund, the Fund may hold a smaller number of portfolio securities than many other funds and may be more sensitive to any single economic, business, political or regulatory occurrence than a diversified fund. To the extent the Fund invests in a relatively small number of issuers due to the high percentage of the Fund's assets invested in that security, a decline in the market value of a particular security held by the Fund may affect its value more than if it invested in a larger number of issuers. The value of the Fund's shares may be more volatile than the values of shares of more diversified funds.
OPERATIONAL RISK. The Fund is subject to risks arising from various operational factors, including, but not limited to, human error, processing and communication errors, errors of the Fund's service providers, counterparties or other third-parties, failed or inadequate processes and technology or systems failures. Although the Fund and the Fund's investment advisor seek to reduce these operational risks through controls and procedures, there is no way to completely protect against such risks.
PREMIUM/DISCOUNT RISK. The market price of the Fund's shares will generally fluctuate in accordance with changes in the Fund's net asset value as well as the relative supply of and demand for shares on the Exchange. First Trust cannot predict whether shares will trade below, at or above their net asset value because the shares trade on the Exchange at market prices and not at net asset value. Price differences may be due, in large part, to the fact that supply and demand forces at work in the secondary trading market for shares will be closely related, but not identical, to the same forces influencing the prices of the holdings of the Fund trading individually or in the aggregate at any point in time. However, given that shares can only be purchased and redeemed in Creation Units, and only to and from broker-dealers and large institutional investors that have entered into participation agreements (unlike shares of closed-end funds, which frequently trade at appreciable discounts from, and sometimes at premiums to, their net asset value), First Trust believes that large discounts or premiums to the net asset value of shares should not be sustained absent disruptions to the creation and redemption mechanism, extreme market volatility or potential lack of authorized participants. During stressed market conditions, the market for the Fund's shares may become less liquid in response to deteriorating liquidity in the market for the Fund's underlying portfolio holdings, which could in turn lead to differences between the market price of the Fund's shares and their net asset value.
PREPAYMENT RISK. Prepayment risk is the risk that the issuer of a debt security will repay principal (in part or in whole) prior to the scheduled maturity date. Debt securities allowing prepayment may offer less potential for gains during a period of declining interest rates, as the Fund may be required to reinvest the proceeds of any prepayment at lower interest rates, reducing its income. If the Fund purchased the debt securities at a premium, prepayments on the securities could cause the Fund to lose a portion of its principal investment. These factors may cause the value of an investment in the Fund to change. The impact of prepayments on the price of a debt security may be difficult to predict and may increase the security's volatility.
SENIOR LOAN RISK. Senior loans represent debt obligations of sub-investment grade corporate borrowers, similar to high yield bonds; however, senior loans are different from traditional high yield bonds in that senior loans are typically senior to other obligations of the borrower and generally secured by the assets of the borrower. The senior loan market has seen a significant increase in loans with limited financial maintenance covenants or, in some cases, no financial maintenance covenants (i.e., 'covenant-lite loans') that would typically be included in a traditional loan credit agreement and general weakening of other restrictive covenants applicable to the borrower such as limitations on incurrence of additional debt, restrictions on
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payments of junior debt or restrictions on dividends and distributions, all of which may impact recovery values and/or trading levels of senior loans in the future. The absence of financial maintenance covenants in a loan agreement generally means that the lender may be unable to declare a default if financial performance deteriorates. This may hinder the Fund's ability to reprice credit risk associated with the borrower and reduce the Fund's ability to restructure a problematic loan and mitigate potential loss. As a result, the Fund's exposure to losses on investments in senior loans may be increased, especially during a downturn in the credit cycle or changes in market or economic conditions.
Senior loans are also subject to the same risks as investments in other types of debt securities, including credit risk, interest rate risk, liquidity risk and valuation risk that may be heightened because of the limited public information available regarding senior loans and because loan borrowers may be more highly leveraged and tend to be more adversely affected by changes in market or economic conditions. If the Fund holds a senior loan through another financial institution or relies on a financial institution to administer the loan, its receipt of principal and interest on the loan may be subject to the credit risk of that financial institution. Although senior loans are generally secured by specific collateral, there can be no assurance that liquidation of such collateral would satisfy the borrower's obligation in the event of non-payment of scheduled interest or principal or that such collateral could be readily liquidated. To the extent that a senior loan is collateralized by equity interests in the borrower or its subsidiaries, such equity interest may lose all of its value in the event of the bankruptcy of the borrower. Uncollateralized senior loans involve a greater risk of loss. Senior loans made in connection with highly leveraged transactions are subject to greater risks than other senior loans. For example, the risks of default or bankruptcy of the borrower or the risks that other creditors of the borrower may seek to nullify or subordinate the Fund's claims on any collateral securing the loan are greater in highly leveraged transactions.
Additionally, there is no central clearinghouse for loan trades and the loan market has not established enforceable settlement standards or remedies for failure to settle. As such, the secondary market for senior loans may be subject to irregular trading activity, wide bid/ask spreads and extended trade settlement periods, which may cause the Fund to be unable to realize the full value of its investment. Lastly, senior loans may not be considered 'securities,' and the Fund may not be entitled to rely on the anti-fraud protections of the federal securities laws and could be forced to rely on the contractual provisions in the loan agreement and state law to enforce its right to repayment.
SIGNIFICANT EXPOSURE RISK. To the extent that the Fund invests a large percentage of its assets in a single asset class or the securities of issuers within the same country, state, region, industry or sector, an adverse economic, business or political development that affected a particular asset class, region or industry may affect the value of the Fund's investments more than if the Fund were more broadly diversified. A significant exposure makes the Fund more susceptible to any single occurrence and may subject the Fund to greater volatility and market risk than a fund that is more broadly diversified.
TRADING ISSUES RISK. Trading in Fund shares on the Exchange may be halted due to market conditions or for reasons that, in the view of the Exchange, make trading in shares inadvisable. In addition, trading in Fund shares on the Exchange is subject to trading halts caused by extraordinary market volatility pursuant to the Exchange's 'circuit breaker' rules. There can be no assurance that the requirements of the Exchange necessary to maintain the listing of the Fund will continue to be met or will remain unchanged. The Fund may have difficulty maintaining its listing on the Exchange in the event the Fund's assets are small, the Fund does not have enough shareholders, or if the Fund is unable to proceed with creation and/or redemption orders.
VALUATION RISK. Unlike publicly traded securities that trade on national securities exchanges, there is no central place or exchange for trading most debt securities. Debt securities generally trade on an 'over-the-counter' market. Due to the lack of centralized information and trading, and variations in lot sizes of certain debt securities, the valuation of debt securities may carry more uncertainty and risk than that of publicly traded securities. Debt securities are commonly valued by third-party pricing services that utilize a range of market-based inputs and assumptions, including readily available market quotations obtained from broker-dealers making markets in such securities, cash flows and transactions for comparable instruments. However, because the available information is less reliable and more subjective, elements of judgment may play a greater role in valuation of debt securities than for other types of securities. There is no assurance that the Fund will be able to sell a portfolio security at the price established by the pricing service, which could result in a loss to the Fund.
VOLATILITY RISK. Volatility is the characteristic of a security, an index or a market to fluctuate significantly in price within a short time period. The Fund may invest in securities or financial instruments that exhibit more volatility than the market as a whole. Such exposures could cause the Fund's net asset value to experience significant increases or declines in value over short periods of time. Volatility can be caused by many factors, including changes in the economy or financial markets or for reasons specific to a particular issuer.
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Non-Principal Risks
BORROWING AND LEVERAGE RISK. If the Fund borrows money, it must pay interest and other fees, which may reduce the Fund's returns. Any such borrowings are intended to be temporary. However, under certain market conditions, including periods of low demand or decreased liquidity, such borrowings might be outstanding for longer periods of time. As prescribed by the 1940 Act, the Fund will be required to maintain specified asset coverage of at least 300% with respect to any bank borrowing immediately following such borrowing and at all times thereafter. The Fund may be required to dispose of assets on unfavorable terms if market fluctuations or other factors reduce the Fund's asset coverage to less than the prescribed amount.
CLO RISK. CLOs bear many of the same risks as other forms of asset-backed securities, including credit risk, interest rate risk, liquidity risk and valuation risk. As they are backed by pools of loans, CLOs also bear similar risks to investing in loans directly. CLOs issue classes or 'tranches' that vary in risk, expected maturity, priority or payment and yield. CLOs may experience substantial losses attributable to loan defaults. Losses caused by defaults on underlying loans are typically borne first by the holders of subordinate tranches. Investment in CLOs may decrease in market value when the CLO experiences loan defaults or credit impairment, the disappearance of one or more subordinate tranches, or market anticipation of defaults and investor aversion to CLO securities as a class. The complex structure of a CLO may not be fully understood at the time of investment and produce disputes with the issuer or unexpected investment results.
COUNTERPARTY RISK. The Fund is subject to counterparty risk. If the Fund enters into an investment or transaction that depends on the performance of another party, the Fund becomes subject to the credit risk of that counterparty. The Fund's ability to profit from these types of investments and transactions depends on the willingness and ability of the Fund's counterparty to perform its obligations. If a counterparty fails to meet its contractual obligations, the Fund may be unable to terminate or realize any gain on the investment or transaction, resulting in a loss to the Fund. The Fund may experience significant delays in obtaining any recovery in an insolvency, bankruptcy, or other reorganization proceeding involving a counterparty (including recovery of any collateral posted by it) and may obtain only a limited recovery or may obtain no recovery in such circumstances. If the Fund holds collateral posted by its counterparty, it may be delayed or prevented from realizing on the collateral in the event of a bankruptcy or insolvency proceeding relating to the counterparty. Under applicable law or contractual provisions, including if the Fund enters into an investment or transaction with a financial institution and such financial institution (or an affiliate of the financial institution) experiences financial difficulties, then the Fund may in certain situations be prevented or delayed from exercising its rights to terminate the investment or transaction, or to realize on any collateral and may result in the suspension of payment and delivery obligations of the parties under such investment or transactions or in another institution being substituted for that financial institution without the consent of the Fund. Further, the Fund may be subject to 'bail-in' risk under applicable law whereby, if required by the financial institution's authority, the financial institution's liabilities could be written down, eliminated or converted into equity or an alternative instrument of ownership. A bail-in of a financial institution may result in a reduction in value of some or all of securities and, if the Fund holds such securities or has entered into a transaction with such a financial security when a bail-in occurs, the Fund may also be similarly impacted.
CREDIT RATING AGENCY RISK. Credit ratings are determined by credit rating agencies such as Standard & Poor's, Inc., Moody's Investors Services, Inc. and Fitch Inc., and are only the opinions of such entities. Ratings assigned by a rating agency are not absolute standards of credit quality and do not evaluate market risk or the liquidity of securities. Any shortcomings or inefficiencies in credit rating agencies' processes for determining credit ratings may adversely affect the credit ratings of securities held by the Fund and, as a result, may adversely affect those securities' perceived or actual credit risk.
DEPENDENCE ON KEY PERSONNEL RISK. The Advisor is dependent upon the experience and expertise of the Fund's portfolio managers in providing advisory services with respect to the Fund's investments. If the Advisor were to lose the services of any of these portfolio managers, its ability to service the Fund could be adversely affected. There can be no assurance that a suitable replacement could be found for any of the portfolio managers in the event of their death, resignation, retirement or inability to act on behalf of the Advisor.
DERIVATIVES RISK. The use of derivative instruments involves risks different from, or possibly greater than, the risks associated with investing directly in securities and other traditional investments. These risks include: (i) the risk that the counterparty to a derivative transaction may not fulfill its contractual obligations; (ii) risk of mispricing or improper valuation; and (iii) the risk that changes in the value of the derivative may not correlate perfectly with the underlying asset. Derivative prices are highly volatile and may fluctuate substantially during a short period of time. Such prices are influenced by numerous factors that affect the markets, including, but not limited to: changing supply and demand relationships; government programs and policies; national and international political and economic events, changes in interest rates, inflation and deflation and changes in supply and demand relationships. Trading derivative instruments involves risks different from, or possibly greater than,
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the risks associated with investing directly in securities. Derivative contracts ordinarily have leverage inherent in their terms. The low margin deposits normally required in trading derivatives, including futures contracts, permit a high degree of leverage. Accordingly, a relatively small price movement may result in an immediate and substantial loss. The use of leverage may also cause a Fund to liquidate portfolio positions when it would not be advantageous to do so in order to satisfy its obligations or to meet collateral segregation requirements. The use of leveraged derivatives can magnify potential for gain or loss and, therefore, amplify the effects of market volatility on share price.
FAILURE TO QUALIFY AS A REGULATED INVESTMENT COMPANY RISK. If, in any year, the Fund fails to qualify as a regulated investment company under the applicable tax laws, the Fund would be taxed as an ordinary corporation. In such circumstances, the Fund could be required to recognize unrealized gains, pay substantial taxes and interest and make substantial distributions before requalifying as a regulated investment company that is accorded special tax treatment. If the Fund fails to qualify as a regulated investment company, distributions to the Fund's shareholders generally would be eligible (i) for treatment as qualified dividend income in the case of individual shareholders and (ii) for the dividends received deduction in the case of corporate shareholders. See 'Federal Tax Matters.'
FUTURES CONTRACTS RISK. The Fund may invest in futures contracts. Futures contracts are typically exchange-traded contracts that call for the future delivery of an asset by one party to another at a certain price and date, or cash settlement of the terms of the contract. The risk of a position in a futures contract may be very large compared to the relatively low level of margin the Fund is required to deposit. In many cases, a relatively small price movement in a futures contract may result in immediate and substantial loss or gain to the investor relative to the size of a required margin deposit. The ability to establish and close out positions in futures contracts is be subject to the development and maintenance of a liquid secondary market. There is no assurance that a liquid secondary market on an exchange will exist for any particular futures contract at any particular time. If the Fund uses futures contracts for hedging purposes, there is a risk of imperfect correlation between movements in the prices of the derivatives and movements in the securities or index underlying the derivatives or movements in the prices of the Fund's investments that are the subject of such hedge. The prices of futures contracts, for a number of reasons, may not correlate perfectly with movements in the securities or index underlying them. For example, participants in the futures markets are subject to margin deposit requirements less onerous than margin requirements in the securities markets in general. As a result, futures markets may attract more speculators than the securities markets. Increased participation by speculators in those markets may cause temporary price distortions. Due to the possibility of price distortion, even a correct forecast of general market trends by the Fund's portfolio managers still may not result in a successful derivatives activity over a very short time period. The CFTC and the various exchanges have established limits referred to as 'speculative position limits' on the maximum net long or net short positions that any person and certain affiliated entities may hold or control in a particular futures contract. It is possible that, as a result of such limits, the Fund will be precluded from taking positions in certain futures contracts it might have otherwise taken to the disadvantage of shareholders.
ISSUER SPECIFIC CHANGES RISK. The value of an individual security or particular type of security can be more volatile than the market as a whole and can perform differently from the value of the market as a whole.
LEGISLATION/LITIGATION RISK. From time to time, various legislative initiatives are proposed in the United States and abroad which may have a negative impact on certain companies represented owned by the Fund. In addition, litigation regarding any of the issuers of the securities owned by the Fund, or industries represented by these issuers, may negatively impact the value of the securities. Such legislation or litigation may cause the Fund to lose value or may result in higher portfolio turnover if the Sub-Advisor determines to sell such a holding.
LEVERAGE RISK. Leverage may result in losses that exceed the amount originally invested and may accelerate the rates of losses. Leverage tends to magnify, sometimes significantly, the effect of any increase or decrease in a Fund's exposure to an asset or class of assets and may cause the value of a Fund's portfolio and a Fund's shares to be volatile and sensitive to market swings. Certain instruments have the potential for unlimited loss, regardless of the size of the initial investment.
MUNICIPAL SECURITIES RISK. The values of municipal securities may be adversely affected by local political and economic conditions and developments. Adverse conditions in an industry significant to a local economy could have a correspondingly adverse effect on the financial condition of local issuers. Other factors that could affect municipal securities include a change in the local, state, or national economy, demographic factors, ecological or environmental concerns, statutory limitations on the issuer's ability to increase taxes, and other developments generally affecting the revenue of issuers (for example, legislation or court decisions reducing state aid to local governments or mandating additional services). This risk would be heightened to the extent that a Fund invests a substantial portion of its assets in bonds issued pursuant to similar projects (such as those relating to the education, health care, housing, transportation, or utilities industries), in industrial development bonds, or in particular types of municipal securities (such as general obligation bonds, private activity bonds or moral obligation bonds)
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that are particularly exposed to specific types of adverse economic, business or political events. Changes in a municipality's financial health may also make it difficult for the municipality to make interest and principal payments when due. The values of municipal securities that depend on a specific revenue source to fund their payment obligations may fluctuate as a result of actual or anticipated changes in the cash flows generated by the revenue source or changes in the priority of the municipal securities to receive the cash flows generated by the revenue source. Under some circumstances, municipal securities might not pay interest unless the state legislature or municipality authorizes money for that purpose. Municipal securities may be more susceptible to downgrades or defaults during recessions or similar periods of economic stress. In addition, since some municipal obligations may be secured or guaranteed by banks and other institutions, the risk to a Fund could increase if the banking or financial sector suffers an economic downturn and/or if the credit ratings of the institutions issuing the guarantee are downgraded or at risk of being downgraded by a national rating organization. Such a downward revision or risk of being downgraded may have an adverse effect on the market prices of the bonds and thus the value of the Fund's investments. In addition to being downgraded, an insolvent municipality may file for bankruptcy. The reorganization of a municipality's debts may significantly affect the rights of creditors and the value of the securities issued by the municipality and the value of a Fund's investments. In addition, income from municipal securities held by a Fund could be declared taxable because of, among other things, unfavorable changes in tax laws, adverse interpretations by the Internal Revenue Service or state tax authorities, or noncompliant conduct of an issuer or other obligated party. Loss of tax-exempt status may cause interest received and distributed to shareholders by a Fund to be taxable and may result in a significant decline in the values of such municipal securities. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the risks of the municipal securities market have been magnified. The costs associated with combating the pandemic and the negative impact on tax revenues has adversely affected the financial condition of many states and political subdivisions. These risks may also adversely affect several sectors of the municipal bond market, such as airports, toll roads, hospitals and colleges, among many others. The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on state and political subdivisions' ability to make payments on debt obligations is impossible to predict, but could negatively impact the value of bonds, the ability of state and political subdivisions to make payments when due and the performance of the Fund.
OPTIONS RISK. The use of options involves investment strategies and risks different from those associated with ordinary portfolio securities transactions and depends on the ability of the Fund's portfolio manager to forecast market movements correctly. The prices of options are influenced by, among other things, actual and anticipated changes in the value of the underlying instrument, or in interest or currency exchange rates, including the anticipated volatility, which in turn are affected by fiscal and monetary policies and by national and international political and economic events. As a seller (writer) of a put option, the seller will tend to lose money if the value of the reference index or security falls below the strike price. As the seller (writer) of a call option, the seller will tend to lose money if the value of the reference index or security rises above the strike price. As the buyer of a put or call option, the buyer risks losing the entire premium invested in the option if the buyer does not exercise the option. The effective use of options also depends on the Fund's ability to terminate option positions at times deemed desirable to do so. There is no assurance that the Fund will be able to effect closing transactions at any particular time or at an acceptable price. In addition, there may at times be an imperfect correlation between the movement in values of options and their underlying securities and there may at times not be a liquid secondary market for certain options. Options may also involve the use of leverage, which could result in greater price volatility than other markets.
U.S. GOVERNMENT SECURITIES RISK. The Fund may invest in U.S. government securities. U.S. government securities are subject to interest rate risk but generally do not involve the credit risks associated with investments in other types of debt securities. As a result, the yields available from U.S. government securities are generally lower than the yields available from other debt securities. U.S. government securities are guaranteed only as to the timely payment of interest and the payment of principal when held to maturity.While securities issued or guaranteed by U.S. federal government agencies (such as Ginnie Mae) are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, securities issued by government sponsored entities (such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) are solely the obligation of the issuer and generally do not carry any guarantee from the U.S. government. No assurance can be given that the U.S. government will provide financial support to its government sponsored entities or any other agency if not obligated by law to do so.
Fund Organization
The Fund is a series of the Trust, an investment company registered under the 1940 Act. The Fund is treated as a separate fund with its own investment objectives and policies. The Trust is organized as a Massachusetts business trust. The Board is responsible for the overall management and direction of the Trust. The Board elects the Trust's officers and approves all significant agreements, including those with the Advisor, custodian and fund administrative and accounting agent.
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Management of the Fund
First Trust Advisors L.P., 120 East Liberty Drive, Wheaton, Illinois 60187, is the investment advisor to the Fund. In this capacity, First Trust is responsible for the investment of the Fund's assets, managing the Fund's business affairs and providing certain clerical, bookkeeping and other administrative services.
First Trust is a limited partnership with one limited partner, Grace Partners of DuPage L.P., and one general partner, The Charger Corporation. Grace Partners of DuPage L.P. is a limited partnership with one general partner, The Charger Corporation, and a number of limited partners. The Charger Corporation is an Illinois corporation controlled by James A. Bowen, the Chief Executive Officer of First Trust. First Trust discharges its responsibilities subject to the policies of the Board.
First Trust serves as advisor or sub-advisor for 8 mutual fund portfolios, 10 exchange-traded funds consisting of ___ series and __ closed-end funds. It is also the portfolio supervisor of certain unit investment trusts sponsored by First Trust Portfolios L.P. ('FTP'), an affiliate of First Trust, 120 East Liberty Drive, Wheaton, Illinois 60187. FTP specializes in the underwriting, trading and distribution of unit investment trusts and other securities. FTP is the principal underwriter of the shares of the Fund.
Bill Housey, Todd Larson, Eric R. Maisel, Jeff Scott and Nathan Simons are the Fund's portfolio managers and share responsibilities for the day-to-day management of the Fund's investment portfolio.
William Housey, CFA, Managing Director of Fixed Income, Senior Portfolio Manager. Mr. Housey joined First Trust Advisors L.P. in June 2010 as the Senior Portfolio Manager for the Leveraged Finance Investment Team and has 25 years of investment experience. Mr. Housey is a Managing Director of Fixed Income and is also a member of the First Trust Strategic Model Investment Committee and the Fixed Income Sub-Committee. Prior to joining First Trust, Mr. Housey was at Morgan Stanley Investment Management and its wholly owned subsidiary, Van Kampen Funds, Inc. for 11 years where he last served as Executive Director and Co-Portfolio Manager. Mr. Housey has extensive experience in the portfolio management of both leveraged and unleveraged credit products, including senior loans, high-yield bonds, credit derivatives and corporate restructurings. Mr. Housey received a B.S. in Finance from Eastern Illinois University and an M.B.A. in Finance as well as Management and Strategy from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Business. He also holds the FINRA Series 7, Series 52 and Series 63 licenses. Mr. Housey also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. He is a member of the CFA Institute and the CFA Society of Chicago. Mr. Housey also serves on the Village of Glen Ellyn, IL Police Pension Board.
Todd Larson, CFA, joined First Trust in 2007 as Portfolio Manager for the Investment Grade Fixed Income Team and has 29 years of investment experience. Prior to joining First Trust, Mr. Larson was Vice President and Portfolio Manager for ABN AMRO Asset Management. Mr. Larson also served on ABN AMRO's Macro- economic Committee and Global Credit Committee. His previous positions also include Portfolio Manager at Van Kampen American Capital and Portfolio Manager at Horizon Cash Management. Mr. Larson has extensive experience in the portfolio management of core-style investment grade mandates and enhanced cash strategies. Mr. Larson received a B.A. in Business Administration from North Park College. He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation and is a member of the CFA Institute and the CFA Society of Chicago.
Eric R. Maisel, CFA, is a Portfolio Manager and Senior Vice President of First Trust and has 27 years of investment experience. Mr. Maisel joined First Trust in 2008. His previous positions include Senior Portfolio Manager for the Ascendant Structured Credit Opportunity Fund, Managing Director and Senior Portfolio Manager for the Black River Global Credit Fund, Vice President and Senior Trader for the Cargill Financial Markets Group, and Senior Corporate Bond Trader for American General Corporation. Mr. Maisel earned his B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh, and his M.Sc. from the University of Oxford. He is a member of the CFA Institute and the CFA Society of Chicago
Jeffrey Scott, CFA, Senior Vice President, Deputy Credit Officer, Portfolio Manager. Mr. Scott is Deputy Credit Officer for the Leveraged Finance Investment Team at First Trust Advisors L.P. He has 31 years of experience in the investment management industry and has extensive experience in credit analysis, product development, and product management. Prior to joining First Trust, Mr. Scott served as an Assistant Portfolio Manager and as a Senior Credit Analyst for Morgan Stanley/Van Kampen from October 2008 to June 2010. As Assistant Portfolio Manager, Mr. Scott served on a team that managed over $4.0 billion of Senior Loan assets in three separate funds: Van Kampen Senior Loan Fund; Van Kampen Senior Income Trust; and Van Kampen Dynamic Credit Opportunities Fund. His responsibilities included assisting with portfolio construction, buy and sell decision making, and monitoring fund liquidity and leverage. Mr. Scott earned a B.S. in Finance and Economics
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from Elmhurst College and an M.B.A. with specialization in Analytical Finance and Econometrics and Statistics from the University of Chicago. He also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation and is a member of the CFA Institute and the CFA Society of Chicago.
Nathan Simons, CFA, joined First Trust Advisors in 2020 as a Credit Analyst for the Investment Grade Fixed Income Team. He has 11 year of investment experience. Prior to joining First Trust, Mr. Simons was a Credit Analyst/Portfolio Analyst at Great West Financial covering both investment grade and high yield issuers for stable value and other short duration strategies. His prior positions include Research Analyst in both public and private debt at Navy Mutual Aid association. Mr. Simons received his B.S. in Mathematics and Economics from Hillsdale College. He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.
For additional information concerning First Trust, including a description of the services provided to the Fund, see the Fund's SAI. Additional information about the portfolio managers' compensation, other accounts managed by the portfolio managers and the portfolio managers' ownership of shares in the Fund is provided in the SAI.
Management Fee
Pursuant to an investment management agreement between First Trust and the Trust, on behalf of the Fund (the 'Investment Management Agreement'), First Trust manages the investment of the Fund's assets. First Trust is paid an annual management fee equal to 0.55% of the Fund's average daily net assets and is responsible for the Fund's expenses, including the cost of transfer agency, custody, fund administration, legal, audit and other services, but excluding fee payments under the Investment Management Agreement, interest, taxes, acquired fund fees and expenses, if any, brokerage commissions and other expenses connected with the execution of portfolio transactions, distribution and service fees payable pursuant to a Rule 12b-1 plan, if any, and extraordinary expenses.
Pursuant to a contractual agreement, First Trust has agreed to waive management fees of 0.10% of average daily net assets until [September 30, 2023]. The waiver agreement may be terminated by action of the Board at any time upon 60 days' written notice by the Trust, on behalf of the Fund, or by First Trust only after [September 30, 2023]. First Trust has committed to the fee waiver to respond to the current low interest rate environment and expects that the fee waiver will be appropriate until long-term yields increase. First Trust has committed to the fee waivers to respond to the current low interest rate environment and expects that the fee waivers will be appropriate until long term yields increase. First Trust anticipates that if the trailing average 30-day yield of the current 1-year U.S. Treasury Bond exceeds 3.50% before [September 30, 2023], the fee waiver may not be continued past [September 30, 2023].
A discussion regarding the Board's approval of the Investment Management Agreement will be available in the Fund's Semi-Annual Report to Shareholders for the period ended April 30, 2022.
How to Buy and Sell Shares
Most investors buy and sell shares of the Fund in secondary market transactions through brokers. Shares of the Fund are listed for trading on the secondary market on one or more national securities exchanges. Shares can be bought and sold throughout the trading day like other publicly traded shares. There is no minimum investment when buying shares on the Exchange. Although shares are generally purchased and sold in 'round lots' of 100 shares, brokerage firms typically permit investors to purchase or sell shares in smaller 'odd lots,' at no per-share price differential. When buying or selling shares through a broker, investors should expect to pay brokerage commissions, investors may receive less than the net asset value of the shares because shares are bought and sold at market prices rather than at net asset value, and investors may pay some or all of the bid-ask spread for each transaction (purchase or sale) of Fund shares. Share prices are reported in dollars and cents per share.
Under normal circumstances, the Fund will pay out redemption proceeds to a redeeming authorized participant within two days after the authorized participant's redemption request is received, in accordance with the process set forth in the Fund's SAI and in the agreement between the authorized participant and the Fund's distributor. However, the Fund reserves the right, including under stressed market conditions, to take up to seven days after the receipt of a redemption request to pay an authorized participant, all as permitted by the 1940 Act. If the Fund has foreign investments in a country where a local market holiday, or series of consecutive holidays, or the extended delivery cycles for transferring foreign investments to redeeming authorized participants prevents the Fund from delivering such foreign investments to an authorized participant in response to a redemption request, the Fund may take up to 15 days after the receipt of the redemption request to deliver such investments to the authorized participant.
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For purposes of the 1940 Act, the Fund is treated as a registered investment company, and, absent an available exemption or exemptive relief, the acquisition of shares by other registered investment companies and companies relying on Section 3(c)(1) or 3(c)(7) of the 1940 Act is subject to the restrictions of Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act. The Trust, on behalf of the Fund, has received an exemptive order from the Securities and Exchange Commission that permits certain registered investment companies to invest in the Fund beyond the limits set forth in Section 12(d)(1), subject to certain terms and conditions, including that any such investment companies enter into an agreement with the Fund regarding the terms of any investment.
Book Entry
Shares are held in book-entry form, which means that no share certificates are issued. The Depository Trust Company ('DTC') or its nominee is the record owner of all outstanding shares of the Fund and is recognized as the owner of all shares for all purposes.
Investors owning shares are beneficial owners as shown on the records of DTC or its participants. DTC serves as the securities depository for all shares. Participants in DTC include securities brokers and dealers, banks, trust companies, clearing corporations and other institutions that directly or indirectly maintain a custodial relationship with DTC. As a beneficial owner of shares, you are not entitled to receive physical delivery of share certificates or to have shares registered in your name, and you are not considered a registered owner of shares. Therefore, to exercise any right as an owner of shares, you must rely upon the procedures of DTC and its participants. These procedures are the same as those that apply to any other stocks that you hold in book-entry or 'street name' form.
Share Trading Prices
The trading price of shares of the Fund on the secondary market is based on market price and may differ from the Fund's daily net asset value and can be affected by market forces of supply and demand, economic conditions and other factors.
Frequent Purchases and Redemptions of the Fund's Shares
The Fund imposes no restrictions on the frequency of purchases and redemptions ('market timing'). In determining not to approve a written, established policy, the Board evaluated the risks of market timing activities by the Fund's shareholders. The Board considered that the Fund's shares can only be purchased and redeemed directly from the Fund in Creation Units by broker-dealers and large institutional investors that have entered into participation agreements (i.e., authorized participants ('APs')) and that the vast majority of trading in the Fund's shares occurs on the secondary market. Because the secondary market trades do not involve the Fund directly, it is unlikely those trades would cause many of the harmful effects of market timing, including dilution, disruption of portfolio management, increases in the Fund's trading costs and the realization of capital gains. With respect to trades directly with the Fund, to the extent effected in-kind (i.e., for securities), those trades do not cause any of the harmful effects that may result from frequent cash trades. To the extent that the Fund may effect the purchase or redemption of Creation Units in exchange wholly or partially for cash, the Board noted that such trades could result in dilution to the Fund and increased transaction costs, which could negatively impact the Fund's ability to achieve its investment objectives. However, the Board noted that direct trading by APs is critical to ensuring that the shares trade at or close to net asset value. In addition, the Fund imposes fixed and variable transaction fees on purchases and redemptions of Creation Units to cover the custodial and other costs incurred by the Fund in effecting trades. Finally, the Advisor monitors purchase and redemption orders from APs for patterns of abusive trading and the Fund reserves the right to not accept orders from APs that the Advisor has determined may be disruptive to the management of the Fund, or otherwise not in the Fund's best interests.
Dividends, Distributions and Taxes
Dividends from net investment income, if any, are declared and paid monthly by the Fund. The Fund distributes its net realized capital gains, if any, to shareholders at least annually.
Distributions in cash may be reinvested automatically in additional whole shares only if the broker through whom you purchased shares makes such option available. Such shares will generally be reinvested by the broker based upon the market price of those shares and investors may be subject to customary brokerage commissions charged by the broker.
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Federal Tax Matters
This section summarizes some of the main U.S. federal income tax consequences of owning shares of the Fund. This section is current as of the date of this prospectus. Tax laws and interpretations change frequently, and these summaries do not describe all of the tax consequences to all taxpayers. For example, these summaries generally do not describe your situation if you are a corporation, a non-U.S. person, a broker-dealer, or other investor with special circumstances. In addition, this section does not describe your state, local or non-U.S. tax consequences.
This federal income tax summary is based in part on the advice of counsel to the Fund. The Internal Revenue Service could disagree with any conclusions set forth in this section. In addition, counsel to the Fund may not have been asked to review, and may not have reached a conclusion with respect to, the federal income tax treatment of the assets to be included in the Fund. The following disclosure may not be sufficient for you to use for the purpose of avoiding penalties under federal tax law.
As with any investment, you should seek advice based on your individual circumstances from your own tax advisor.
Fund Status
The Fund intends to qualify as a 'regulated investment company' under the federal tax laws. If the Fund qualifies as a regulated investment company and distributes its income as required by the tax law, the Fund generally will not pay federal income taxes.
Distributions
The Fund's distributions are generally taxable. After the end of each year, you will receive a tax statement that separates the distributions of the Fund into two categories, ordinary income distributions and capital gain dividends. Ordinary income distributions are generally taxed at your ordinary tax rate, however, certain ordinary income distributions received from the Fund may be taxed at the capital gains tax rates. Generally, you will treat all capital gain dividends as long-term capital gains regardless of how long you have owned your shares. To determine your actual tax liability for your capital gain dividends, you must calculate your total net capital gain or loss for the tax year after considering all of your other taxable transactions, as described below. In addition, the Fund may make distributions that represent a return of capital for tax purposes and thus will generally not be taxable to you; however, such distributions may reduce your tax basis in your shares, which could result in you having to pay higher taxes in the future when shares are sold, even if you sell the shares at a loss from your original investment. A 'return of capital' is a return, in whole or in part, of the funds that you previously invested in the Fund. A return of capital distribution should not be considered part of a Fund's dividend yield or total return of an investment in Fund shares. The tax status of your distributions from the Fund is not affected by whether you reinvest your distributions in additional shares or receive them in cash. The income from the Fund that you must take into account for federal income tax purposes is not reduced by amounts used to pay a deferred sales fee, if any. The tax laws may require you to treat distributions made to you in January as if you had received them on December 31 of the previous year.
Income from the Fund may also be subject to a 3.8% 'Medicare tax.' This tax generally applies to your net investment income if your adjusted gross income exceeds certain threshold amounts, which are $250,000 in the case of married couples filing joint returns and $200,000 in the case of single individuals.
Dividends Received Deduction
A corporation that owns shares generally will not be entitled to the dividends received deduction with respect to many dividends received from the Fund because the dividends received deduction is generally not available for distributions from regulated investment companies. However, certain ordinary income dividends on shares that are attributable to qualifying dividends received by the Fund from certain corporations may be reported by the Fund as being eligible for the dividends received deduction.
Capital Gains and Losses and Certain Ordinary Income Dividends
If you are an individual, the maximum marginal stated federal tax rate for net capital gain is generally 20% (15% or 0% for taxpayers with taxable income below certain thresholds). Some capital gains, including some portion of your capital gain dividends may be taxed at a higher maximum stated tax rate. Capital gains may also be subject to the Medicare tax described above.
Net capital gain equals net long-term capital gain minus net short-term capital loss for the taxable year. Capital gain or loss is long-term if the holding period for the asset is more than one year and is short-term if the holding period for the asset is one
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year or less. You must exclude the date you purchase your shares to determine your holding period. However, if you receive a capital gain dividend from the Fund and sell your share at a loss after holding it for six months or less, the loss will be recharacterized as long-term capital loss to the extent of the capital gain dividend received. The tax rates for capital gains realized from assets held for one year or less are generally the same as for ordinary income. The Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, treats certain capital gains as ordinary income in special situations.
An election may be available to you to defer recognition of the gain attributable to a capital gain dividend if you make certain qualifying investments within a limited time. You should talk to your tax advisor about the availability of this deferral election and its requirements.
Ordinary income dividends received by an individual shareholder from a regulated investment company such as the Fund are generally taxed at the same rates that apply to net capital gain (as discussed above), provided certain holding period requirements are satisfied and provided the dividends are attributable to qualifying dividends received by the Fund itself. The Fund will provide notice to its shareholders of the amount of any distribution which may be taken into account as a dividend which is eligible for the capital gains tax rates.
Sale of Shares
If you sell or redeem your shares, you will generally recognize a taxable gain or loss. To determine the amount of this gain or loss, you must subtract your tax basis in your shares from the amount you receive in the transaction. Your tax basis in your shares is generally equal to the cost of your shares, generally including sales charges. In some cases, however, you may have to adjust your tax basis after you purchase your shares. An election may be available to you to defer recognition of capital gain if you make certain qualifying investments within a limited time. You should talk to your tax advisor about the availability of this deferral election and its requirements.
Taxes on Purchase and Redemption of Creation Units
If you exchange securities for Creation Units you will generally recognize a gain or a loss. The gain or loss will be equal to the difference between the market value of the Creation Units at the time and your aggregate basis in the securities surrendered and the cash component paid. If you exchange Creation Units for securities, you will generally recognize a gain or loss equal to the difference between your basis in the Creation Units and the aggregate market value of the securities received and the cash redemption amount. The Internal Revenue Service, however, may assert that a loss realized upon an exchange of securities for Creation Units or Creation Units for securities cannot be deducted currently under the rules governing 'wash sales,' or on the basis that there has been no significant change in economic position.
Treatment of Fund Expenses
Expenses incurred and deducted by the Fund will generally not be treated as income taxable to you.
Non-U.S. Tax Credit
Because the Fund may invest in non-U.S. securities, the tax statement that you receive may include an item showing non-U.S. taxes the Fund paid to other countries. In this case, dividends taxed to you will include your share of the taxes the Fund paid to other countries. You may be able to deduct or receive a tax credit for your share of these taxes.
Non-U.S. Investors
If you are a non-U.S. investor (i.e., an investor other than a U.S. citizen or resident or a U.S. corporation, partnership, estate or trust), you should be aware that, generally, subject to applicable tax treaties, distributions from the Fund will be characterized as dividends for federal income tax purposes (other than dividends which the Fund properly reports as capital gain dividends) and will be subject to U.S. federal income taxes, including withholding taxes, subject to certain exceptions described below. However, distributions received by a non-U.S. investor from the Fund that are properly reported by the Fund as capital gain dividends may not be subject to U.S. federal income taxes, including withholding taxes, provided that the Fund makes certain elections and certain other conditions are met. Distributions from the Fund that are properly reported by the Fund as an interest-related dividend attributable to certain interest income received by the Fund or as a short-term capital gain dividend attributable to certain net short-term capital gain income received by the Fund may not be subject to U.S. federal income taxes, including withholding taxes when received by certain non-U.S. investors, provided that the Fund makes certain elections and certain other conditions are met.
Distributions may be subject to a U.S. withholding tax of 30% in the case of distributions to (i) certain non-U.S. financial institutions that have not entered into an agreement with the U.S. Treasury to collect and disclose certain information and
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are not resident in a jurisdiction that has entered into such an agreement with the U.S. Treasury and (ii) certain other non-U.S. entities that do not provide certain certifications and information about the entity's U.S. owners. This withholding tax is also currently scheduled to apply to the gross proceeds from the disposition of securities that produce U.S. source interest or dividends. However, proposed regulations may eliminate the requirement to withhold on payments of gross proceeds from dispositions.
Investments in Certain Non-U.S. Corporations
If the Fund holds an equity interest in any passive foreign investment companies, which are generally certain non-U.S. corporations that receive at least 75% of their annual gross income from passive sources (such as interest, dividends, certain rents and royalties or capital gains) or that hold at least 50% of their assets in investments producing such passive income, the Fund could be subject to U.S. federal income tax and additional interest charges on gains and certain distributions with respect to those equity interests, even if all the income or gain is timely distributed to its shareholders. The Fund will not be able to pass through to its shareholders any credit or deduction for such taxes. The Fund may be able to make an election that could ameliorate these adverse tax consequences. In this case, the Fund would recognize as ordinary income any increase in the value of such passive foreign investment company shares, and as ordinary loss any decrease in such value to the extent it did not exceed prior increases included in income. Under this election, the Fund might be required to recognize in a year income in excess of its distributions from passive foreign investment companies and its proceeds from dispositions of passive foreign investment company stock during that year, and such income would nevertheless be subject to the distribution requirement and would be taken into account for purposes of the 4% excise tax. Dividends paid by passive foreign investment companies are not treated as qualified dividend income.
Distribution Plan
FTP serves as the distributor of Creation Units for the Fund on an agency basis. FTP does not maintain a secondary market in shares.
The Board has adopted a Distribution and Service Plan pursuant to Rule 12b-1 under the 1940 Act. In accordance with the Rule 12b-1 plan, the Fund is authorized to pay an amount up to 0.25% of its average daily net assets each year to reimburse FTP for amounts expended to finance activities primarily intended to result in the sale of Creation Units or the provision of investor services. FTP may also use this amount to compensate securities dealers or other persons that are APs for providing distribution assistance, including broker-dealer and shareholder support and educational and promotional services.
The Fund does not currently pay 12b-1 fees, and pursuant to a contractual arrangement, the Fund will not pay 12b-1 fees any time before ________, 20__. However, in the event 12b-1 fees are charged in the future, because these fees are paid out of the Fund's assets, over time these fees will increase the cost of your investment and may cost you more than certain other types of sales charges.
Net Asset Value
The Fund's net asset value is determined as of the close of trading (normally 4:00 p.m., Eastern Time) on each day the New York Stock Exchange is open for business. Net asset value is calculated for the Fund by taking the market price of the Fund's total assets, including interest or dividends accrued but not yet collected, less all liabilities, and dividing such amount by the total number of shares outstanding. The result, rounded to the nearest cent, is the net asset value per share. All valuations are subject to review by the Board or its delegate.
The Fund's investments are valued daily in accordance with valuation procedures adopted by the Board, and in accordance with provisions of the 1940 Act. Certain securities in which the Fund may invest are not listed on any securities exchange or board of trade. Such securities are typically bought and sold by institutional investors in individually negotiated private transactions that function in many respects like an over the counter secondary market, although typically no formal market makers exist. Certain securities, particularly debt securities, have few or no trades, or trade infrequently, and information regarding a specific security may not be widely available or may be incomplete. Accordingly, determinations of the fair value of debt securities may be based on infrequent and dated information. Because there is less reliable, objective data available, elements of judgment may play a greater role in valuation of debt securities than for other types of securities. Typically, debt securities are valued using information provided by a third-party pricing service. The third-party pricing service primarily uses broker quotes to value the securities.
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The Fund's investments are valued daily at market value or, in the absence of market value with respect to any portfolio securities, at fair value, in accordance with valuation procedures adopted by the Board and in accordance with the 1940 Act. Portfolio securities listed on any exchange other than Nasdaq and the London Stock Exchange Alternative Investment Market ('AIM') are valued at the last sale price on the business day as of which such value is being determined. Securities listed on Nasdaq or the AIM are valued at the official closing price on the business day as of which such value is being determined. If there has been no sale on such day, or no official closing price in the case of securities traded on Nasdaq or the AIM, the securities are fair valued at the mean of the most recent bid and ask prices on such day. Portfolio securities traded on more than one securities exchange are valued at the last sale price or official closing price, as applicable, on the business day as of which such value is being determined at the close of the exchange representing the principal market for such securities. Portfolio securities traded in the over-the-counter market, but excluding securities trading on Nasdaq or the AIM, are fair valued at the mean of the most recent bid and asked price, if available, and otherwise at the closing bid price. Short-term investments that mature in less than 60 days when purchased are fair valued at cost adjusted for amortization of premiums and accretion of discount, provided the Advisor's Pricing Committee has determined that the use of amortized cost is an appropriate reflection of fair value given market and issuer-specific conditions existing at the time of determination. Net asset value may change on days when investors may not sell or redeem Fund shares.
Certain securities may not be able to be priced by pre-established pricing methods. Such securities may be valued by the Board or its delegate, the Advisor's Pricing Committee, at fair value. The use of fair value pricing by the Fund is governed by valuation procedures adopted by the Board and in accordance with the provisions of the 1940 Act. These securities generally include, but are not limited to, certain restricted securities (securities which may not be publicly sold without registration under the Securities Act) for which a pricing service is unable to provide a market price; securities whose trading has been formally suspended; a security whose market or fair value price is not available from a pre-established pricing source; a security with respect to which an event has occurred that is likely to materially affect the value of the security after the market has closed but before the calculation of the Fund's net asset value or make it difficult or impossible to obtain a reliable market quotation; and a security whose price, as provided by the pricing service, does not reflect the security's fair value. As a general principle, the current fair value of a security would appear to be the amount which the owner might reasonably expect to receive for the security upon its current sale. When fair value prices are used, generally they will differ from the current market valuations. See the Fund's SAI for details.
Because foreign securities exchanges may be open on different days than the days during which an investor may purchase or sell shares of the Fund, the value of the Fund's securities may change on days when investors are not able to purchase or sell shares of the Fund. The value of securities denominated in foreign currencies is converted into U.S. dollars at the exchange rates in effect at the time of valuation.
Fund Service Providers
The Bank of New York Mellon, 240 Greenwich Street, New York, New York 10286, acts as the administrator, custodian and fund accounting and transfer agent for the Fund. Chapman and Cutler LLP, 111 West Monroe Street, Chicago, Illinois 60603, serves as legal counsel to the Fund.
Premium/Discount Information
Information showing the number of days the market price of the Fund's shares was greater (at a premium) and less (at a discount) than the Fund's net asset value for the most recently completed year, and the most recently completed calendar quarters since that year (or life of the Fund, if shorter), is available at https://www.ftportfolios.com/Retail/etf/home.aspx.
Financial Highlights
The Fund is new and has no performance history as of the date of this prospectus. Financial information therefore is not available.
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Other Information
Continuous Offering
The Fund will issue, on a continuous offering basis, its shares in one or more groups of a fixed number of Fund shares (each such group of such specified number of individual Fund shares, a 'Creation Unit Aggregation'). The method by which Creation Unit Aggregations of Fund shares are created and traded may raise certain issues under applicable securities laws. Because new Creation Unit Aggregations of shares are issued and sold by the Fund on an ongoing basis, a 'distribution,' as such term is used in the Securities Act, may occur at any point. Broker-dealers and other persons are cautioned that some activities on their part may, depending on the circumstances, result in their being deemed participants in a distribution in a manner which could render them statutory underwriters and subject them to the prospectus delivery requirement and liability provisions of the Securities Act.
For example, a broker-dealer firm or its client may be deemed a statutory underwriter if it takes Creation Unit Aggregations after placing an order with FTP, breaks them down into constituent shares and sells such shares directly to customers, or if it chooses to couple the creation of a supply of new shares with an active selling effort involving solicitation of secondary market demand for shares. A determination of whether one is an underwriter for purposes of the Securities Act must take into account all the facts and circumstances pertaining to the activities of the broker-dealer or its client in the particular case, and the examples mentioned above should not be considered a complete description of all the activities that could lead to a characterization as an underwriter.
Broker-dealer firms should also note that dealers who are not 'underwriters' but are effecting transactions in shares, whether or not participating in the distribution of shares, are generally required to deliver a prospectus. This is because the prospectus delivery exemption in Section 4(a)(3) of the Securities Act is not available in respect of such transactions as a result of Section 24(d) of the 1940 Act. As a result, broker-dealer firms should note that dealers who are not underwriters but are participating in a distribution (as contrasted with ordinary secondary market transactions) and thus dealing with the shares that are part of an overallotment within the meaning of Section 4(a)(3)(C) of the Securities Act would be unable to take advantage of the prospectus delivery exemption provided by Section 4(a)(3) of the Securities Act. Firms that incur a prospectus delivery obligation with respect to shares are reminded that, under the Securities Act Rule 153, a prospectus delivery obligation under Section 5(b)(2) of the Securities Act owed to a broker-dealer in connection with a sale on the Exchange is satisfied by the fact that the prospectus is available from the Exchange upon request. The prospectus delivery mechanism provided in Rule 153 is available with respect to transactions on a national securities exchange, a trading facility or an alternative trading system.
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First Trust
Exchange-Traded Fund IV
First Trust Limited Duration Investment Grade Corporate ETF
For More Information
For more detailed information on the Fund, several additional sources of information are available to you. The SAI, incorporated by reference into this prospectus, contains detailed information on the Fund's policies and operation. Additional information about the Fund's investments is available in the annual and semi-annual reports to shareholders. In the Fund's annual report, you will find a discussion of the market conditions and investment strategies that significantly impacted the Fund's performance during the last fiscal year. The Fund's most recent SAI, annual and semi-annual reports and certain other information are available free of charge by calling the Fund at (800) 621-1675, on the Fund's website at www.ftportfolios.com or through your financial advisor. Shareholders may call the toll-free number above with any inquiries.
You may obtain this and other information regarding the Fund, including the SAI and the Codes of Ethics adopted by First Trust, FTP and the Trust, directly from the Securities and Exchange Commission (the 'SEC'). Information on the SEC's website is free of charge. Visit the SEC's online EDGAR database at www.sec.gov. You may also request information regarding the Fund by sending a request (along with a duplication fee) to the SEC by sending an electronic request to [email protected]
First Trust Advisors L.P.
120 East Liberty Drive, Suite 400
Wheaton, Illinois 60187
(800) 621-1675
www.ftportfolios.com
SEC File #: 333-174332
811-22559
STATEMENT OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Investment Company Act File No. 811-22559
First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund IV
Preliminary Statement of Additional Information
Dated September 8, 2021
Subject to Completion
FUND NAME
TICKER SYMBOL
EXCHANGE
First Trust Limited Duration Investment Grade Corporate ETF
FSIG
NYSE Arca
DATED ______, 2021
This Statement of Additional Information ('SAI') is not a prospectus. It should be read in conjunction with the prospectus dated _______, 2021, as it may be revised from time to time (the 'Prospectus'), for First Trust Limited Duration Investment Grade Corporate ETF (the 'Fund'), a series of the First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund IV (the 'Trust'). Capitalized terms used herein that are not defined have the same meaning as in the Prospectus, unless otherwise noted. A copy of the Prospectus may be obtained without charge by writing to the Trust's distributor, First Trust Portfolios L.P., 120 East Liberty Drive, Suite 400, Wheaton, Illinois 60187, or by calling toll free at (800) 621-1675.
The information in this Statement of Additional Information is not complete and may be changed. We may not sell these securities until the registration statement filed
with the Securities and Exchange Commission is effective. This Statement of Additional Information is not an offer to sell these securities and it is not soliciting an offer to
buy these securities in any state where the offer of sale is not permitted.
Table of Contents
General Description of the Trust and the Fund
1
Exchange Listing and Trading
3
Investment Objectives and Policies
3
Investment Strategies
4
Investment Risks
12
Management of the Fund
17
Brokerage Allocations
25
Administrator, Fund Accounting Agent, Custodian, Transfer Agent, Distributor and Exchange
25
Additional Payments to Financial Intermediaries
27
Additional Information
28
Proxy Voting Policies and Procedures
29
Creation and Redemption of Creation Units
30
Federal Tax Matters
33
Determination of Net Asset Value
37
Dividends and Distributions
38
Miscellaneous Information
39
Exhibit A-Credit Rating Definitions
A-1
Exhibit B-Proxy Voting Guidelines
B-1
i
General Description of the Trust and the Fund
The Trust was organized as a Massachusetts business trust on September 15, 2010 and is authorized to issue an unlimited number of shares in one or more series. The Trust is an open-end management investment company, registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the '1940 Act'). The Trust currently offers shares in ____ series. This SAI relates to the Fund, which is a diversified series.
The Fund, as a series of the Trust, represents a beneficial interest in a separate portfolio of securities and other assets, with its own objectives and policies.
The Board of Trustees of the Trust (the 'Board,''Board of Trustees' or 'Trustees') has the right to establish additional series in the future, to determine the preferences, voting powers, rights and privileges thereof and to modify such preferences, voting powers, rights and privileges without shareholder approval. Shares of any series may also be divided into one or more classes at the discretion of the Trustees.
The Trust or any series or class thereof may be terminated at any time by the Board of Trustees upon written notice to the shareholders.
Each share has one vote with respect to matters upon which a shareholder vote is required, consistent with the requirements of the 1940 Act and the rules promulgated thereunder. Shares of all series of the Trust vote together as a single class except as otherwise required by the 1940 Act, or if the matter being voted on affects only a particular series, and, if a matter affects a particular series differently from other series, the share of that series will vote separately on such matter. The Trust's Declaration of Trust (the 'Declaration') requires a shareholder vote only on those matters where the 1940 Act requires a vote of shareholders and otherwise permits the Trustees to take actions without seeking the consent of shareholders. For example, the Declaration gives the Trustee broad authority to approve reorganizations between the Fund and another entity, such as another exchange-traded fund, or the sale of all or substantially all of the Fund's assets, or the termination of the Trust or the Fund without shareholder approval if the 1940 Act would not require such approval.
The Declaration provides that by becoming a shareholder of the Fund, each shareholder shall be expressly held to have agreed to be bound by the provisions of the Declaration and to any By-laws adopted by the Trust. The Declaration provides that, except as set forth therein and authorized by the Trustees, shareholders have no rights, privileges, claims or remedies under any contract or agreement entered into by the Trust or the Fund with any service provider or other agent to or contractor with the Trust or the Fund including, without limitation, any third party beneficiary rights.
The Declaration may, except in limited circumstances, be amended by the Trustees in any respect without a shareholder vote. The Declaration provides that the Trustees may establish the number of Trustees and that vacancies on the Board of Trustees may be filled by the remaining Trustees, except when election of Trustees by the shareholders is required under the 1940 Act. Trustees are then elected by a plurality of votes cast by shareholders at a meeting at which a quorum is present. The Declaration also provides that Trustees may be removed, with or without cause, by a vote of shareholders holding at least two-thirds of the voting power of the Trust, or by a vote of two-thirds of the remaining Trustees. The provisions of the Declaration relating to the election and removal of Trustees may not be amended without the approval of two-thirds of the Trustees.
The holders of Fund shares are required to disclose information on direct or indirect ownership of Fund shares as may be required to comply with various laws applicable to the Fund or as the Trustees may determine, and ownership of Fund shares may be disclosed by the Fund if so required by law or regulation. In addition, pursuant to the Declaration, the Trustees may, in their discretion, require the Trust to redeem shares held by any shareholder for any reason under terms set by the Trustees.
The Declaration provides a detailed process for the bringing of derivative actions by shareholders in order to permit legitimate inquiries and claims while avoiding the time, expense, distraction and other harm that can be caused to the Fund or its shareholders as a result of spurious shareholder demands and derivative actions. In addition, the Declaration provides that actions that are derivative in nature may not be brought directly. Prior to bringing a derivative action, a demand must first be made on the Trustees. The Declaration details various information, certifications, undertakings and acknowledgements that must be included in the demand. Following receipt of the demand, the Trustees have a period of 90 days, which may be extended by an additional 60 days, to consider the demand. If a majority of the Trustees who are considered independent for the purposes of considering the demand determine that maintaining the suit would not be in the best interests of the Fund, the Trustees are required to reject the demand and the complaining shareholder may not proceed with the derivative action unless the shareholder is able to sustain the burden of proof to a court that the decision of the Trustees not to pursue The requested action was not a good faith exercise of their business judgment on behalf of the Fund. In making such a determination,
1
a Trustee is not considered to have a personal financial interest by virtue of being compensated for his or her services as a Trustee. If a demand is rejected, the complaining shareholder will be responsible for the costs and expenses (including attorneys' fees) incurred by the Fund in connection with the consideration of the demand under a number of circumstances. In addition, if a court determines that a derivative action was made without reasonable cause or for an improper purpose, or if a derivative or direct action is dismissed on the basis of a failure to comply with the procedural provisions relating to shareholder actions as set forth in the Declaration, or if a direct action is dismissed by a court for failure to state a claim, the shareholder bringing the action may be responsible for the Fund's costs, including attorneys' fees.
The provisions of the Declaration provide that any direct or derivative action commenced by a shareholder must be brought only in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts (Boston Division) or if any such action may not be brought in that court, then in the Business Litigation Session of Suffolk Superior Court in Massachusetts (the 'Chosen Courts'). This may make it more difficult or inconvenient for a shareholder to bring an action. Except as prohibited by applicable law, if a shareholder commences an applicable action in a court other than a Chosen Court without the consent of the Fund, then such shareholder may be obligated to reimburse the Fund and any applicable Trustee or officer of the Fund made party to such proceeding for the costs and expenses (including attorneys' fees) incurred in connection with any successful motion to dismiss, stay or transfer of the action. The Declaration also provides that any shareholder bringing an action against the Fund waives the right to trial by jury to the fullest extent permitted by law.
The Trust is not required to and does not intend to hold annual meetings of shareholders.
Under Massachusetts law applicable to Massachusetts business trusts, shareholders of such a trust may, under certain circumstances, be held personally liable as partners for its obligations. However, the Declaration contains an express disclaimer of shareholder liability for acts or obligations of the Trust and requires that notice of this disclaimer be given in each agreement, obligation or instrument entered into or executed by the Trust or the Trustees. The Declaration further provides for indemnification out of the assets and property of the Trust for all losses and expenses of any shareholder held personally liable for the obligations of the Trust. Thus, the risk of a shareholder incurring financial loss on account of shareholder liability is limited to circumstances in which both inadequate insurance existed and the Trust or the Fund itself was unable to meet its obligations.
The Declaration further provides that a Trustee acting in his or her capacity as Trustee is not personally liable to any person other than the Trust, for any act, omission, or obligation of the Trust. The Declaration requires the Trust to indemnify any persons who are or who have been Trustees, officers or employees of the Trust for any liability for actions or failure to act except to the extent prohibited by applicable federal law. In making any determination as to whether any person is entitled to the advancement of expenses in connection with a claim for which indemnification is sought, such person is entitled to a rebuttable presumption that he or she did not engage in conduct for which indemnification is not available. The Declaration provides that any Trustee who serves as chair of the Board of Trustees or of a committee of the Board of Trustees, as lead independent Trustee or as audit committee financial expert, or in any other similar capacity will not be subject to any greater standard of care or liability because of such position.
The Declaration further provides that no provision of the Declaration will restrict any shareholder rights expressly granted by the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended or the 1940 Act, or any rule, regulation or order of the Securities Exchange Commission thereunder.
The Fund is advised by First Trust Advisors L.P. (the 'Advisor' or 'First Trust').
The shares of the Fund are principally listed and traded on NYSE Arca, Inc. ('NYSE Arca' or the 'Exchange'). ETFs, such as the Fund, do not sell or redeem individual shares of the Fund. Instead, financial entities known as 'authorized participants' (which are discussed in greater detail below) that have contractual arrangements with the Fund or the Distributor to purchase and redeem Fund shares directly with the Fund in large blocks of shares known as 'Creation Units.' An authorized participant that purchases a Creation Unit of Fund shares deposits with the Fund a 'basket' of securities, cash and/or other assets identified by the Fund that day, and then receives the Creation Unit of Fund shares in return for those assets. The redemption process is the reverse of the purchase process: the authorized participant redeems a Creation Unit of Fund shares for a basket of securities, cash and/or other assets. The basket is generally representative of the Fund's portfolio, and together with a cash balancing amount, it is equal to the NAV of the Fund shares comprising the Creation Unit. Pursuant to Rule 6c-11 of the 1940 Act, the Fund may utilize baskets that are not representative of the Fund's portfolio. Such 'custom baskets' are discussed in the section entitled 'Creation and Redemption of Creation Units.'
Fund shares may be issued in advance of receipt of deposit securities subject to various conditions including a requirement to maintain on deposit with the Fund cash at least equal to 115% of the market value of the missing deposit securities. See
2
the section entitled 'Creation and Redemption of Creation Units.' In each instance of such cash creations or redemptions, transaction fees may be imposed that will be higher than the transaction fees associated with in-kind creations or redemptions. In all cases, such fees will be limited in accordance with the requirements of the SEC applicable to management investment companies offering redeemable securities.
Exchange Listing and Trading
There can be no assurance that the requirements of the Exchange necessary to maintain the listing of shares of the Fund will continue to be met. The Exchange may, but is not required to, remove the shares of the Fund from listing if (i) following the initial 12-month period beginning at the commencement of trading of the Fund, there are fewer than 50 beneficial owners of the shares of the Fund for 30 or more consecutive trading days; or (ii) such other event shall occur or condition exist that, in the opinion of the Exchange, makes further dealings on the Exchange inadvisable. The Exchange will remove the shares of the Fund from listing and trading upon termination of the Fund.
As in the case of other stocks traded on the Exchange, brokers' commissions on transactions will be based on negotiated commission rates at customary levels.
The Fund reserves the right to adjust the price levels of shares in the future to help maintain convenient trading ranges for investors. Any adjustments would be accomplished through stock splits or reverse stock splits, which would have no effect on the net assets of the Fund.
Investment Objectives and Policies
The Prospectus describes the investment objectives and certain policies of the Fund. The following supplements the information contained in the Prospectus concerning the investment objectives and policies of the Fund.
The Fund is subject to the following fundamental policies, which may not be changed without approval of the holders of a majority of the outstanding voting securities (as such term is defined in the 1940 Act) of the Fund:
(1)
The Fund may not issue senior securities, except as permitted under the 1940 Act.
(2)
The Fund may not borrow money, except as permitted under the 1940 Act.
(3)
The Fund will not underwrite the securities of other issuers except to the extent the Fund may be considered an underwriter under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the '1933 Act'), in connection with the purchase and sale of portfolio securities.
(4)
The Fund will not purchase or sell real estate or interests therein, unless acquired as a result of ownership of securities or other instruments (but this shall not prohibit the Fund from purchasing or selling securities or other instruments backed by real estate or of issuers engaged in real estate activities).
(5)
The Fund may not make loans to other persons, except through (i) the purchase of debt securities permissible under the Fund's investment policies, (ii) repurchase agreements, or (iii) the lending of portfolio securities, provided that no such loan of portfolio securities may be made by the Fund if, as a result, the aggregate of such loans would exceed 33⅓% of the value of the Fund's total assets.
(6)
The Fund may not purchase or sell physical commodities unless acquired as a result of ownership of securities or other instruments (but this shall not prevent the Fund from purchasing or selling options, futures contracts, forward contracts or other derivative instruments, or from investing in securities or other instruments backed by physical commodities).
(7)
The Fund may not invest 25% or more of the value of its total assets in securities of issuers in any one industry except that the Fund will concentrate its assets in the financials sector, and therefore, may be concentrated in one or more industries within the financials sector. This restriction does not apply to obligations issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, its agencies or instrumentalities, or securities of other investment companies.
For purposes of applying restriction (1) above, under the 1940 Act as currently in effect, the Fund is not permitted to issue senior securities, except that the Fund may borrow from any bank if immediately after such borrowing the value of the Fund's total assets is at least 300% of the principal amount of all of the Fund's borrowings (i.e., the principal amount of
3
the borrowings may not exceed 33⅓% of the Fund's total assets). In the event that such asset coverage shall at any time fall below 300%, the Fund shall, within three days thereafter (not including Sundays and holidays), reduce the amount of its borrowings to an extent that the asset coverage of such borrowing shall be at least 300%. The fundamental investment limitations set forth above limit the Fund's ability to engage in certain investment practices and purchase securities or other instruments to the extent permitted by, or consistent with, applicable law. As such, these limitations will change as the statute, rules, regulations or orders (or, if applicable, interpretations) change, and no shareholder vote will be required or sought.
Except for restriction (2) above, if a percentage restriction is adhered to at the time of investment, a later increase in percentage resulting from a change in market value of the investment or the total assets will not constitute a violation of that restriction. With respect to restriction (2), if the limitations are exceeded as a result of a change in market value then the Fund will reduce the amount of borrowings within three days thereafter to the extent necessary to comply with the limitations (not including Sundays and holidays).
Notwithstanding restriction (7) above, to the extent the Fund invests in other investment companies, it will consider, to the extent practicable, the investments of the underlying investment companies when determining compliance with the limitations set forth in restriction (7) above.
The Fund's investment objectives and the foregoing fundamental policies of the Fund may not be changed without the affirmative vote of the majority of the outstanding voting securities of the Fund. The 1940 Act defines a majority vote as the vote of the lesser of (i) 67% or more of the voting securities represented at a meeting at which more than 50% of the outstanding securities are represented; or (ii) more than 50% of the outstanding voting securities. With respect to the submission of a change in an investment policy to the holders of outstanding voting securities of the Fund, such matter shall be deemed to have been effectively acted upon with respect to the Fund if a majority of the outstanding voting securities of the Fund vote for the approval of such matter, notwithstanding that such matter has not been approved by the holders of a majority of the outstanding voting securities of any other series of the Trust affected by such matter.
In addition to the foregoing fundamental policies, the Fund is also subject to strategies and policies discussed herein which, unless otherwise noted, are non-fundamental restrictions and policies and may be changed by the Board of Trustees.
The Fund has adopted a non-fundamental investment policy pursuant to Rule 35d-1 under the 1940 Act (a 'Name Policy') whereby the Fund, under normal market conditions, will invest at least 80% of its net assets (plus any borrowings for investment purposes) in investment grade corporate debt securities. As a result, the Fund must provide shareholders with a notice meeting the requirements of Rule 35d-1(c) at least 60 days prior to any change of the Fund's Name Policy.
Investment Strategies
The following information supplements the discussion of the Fund's investment objectives, policies and strategies that appears in the Prospectus.
Under normal market conditions, the Fund seeks to achieve its objectives by investing at least 80% of its net assets (plus any borrowings for investment purposes) in investment grade corporate debt securities. The Fund will generally invest in U.S.-dollar denominated corporate debt securities.
Types of Investments
Collateralized Loan Obligations. A CLO ('collateralized loan obligation') is a financing company (generally called a Special Purpose Vehicle or 'SPV') created to reapportion the risk and return characteristics of a pool of assets. While the assets underlying CLOs are typically Senior Loans, the assets may also include (i) unsecured loans, (ii) other debt securities that are rated below investment grade, (iii) debt tranches of other CLOs and (iv) equity securities incidental to investments in Senior Loans. When investing in CLOs, the Fund will not invest in equity tranches, which are the lowest tranche. However, the Fund may invest in lower debt tranches of CLOs, which typically experience a lower recovery, greater risk of loss or deferral or non-payment of interest than more senior debt tranches of the CLO. In addition, the Fund intends to invest in CLOs consisting primarily of individual Senior Loans of borrowers and not repackaged CLO obligations from other high risk pools. The underlying Senior Loans purchased by CLOs are generally performing at the time of purchase but may become non-performing, distressed or defaulted. CLOs with underlying assets of non-performing, distressed or defaulted loans are not contemplated to comprise a significant portion of the Fund's investments in CLOs. The key feature of the CLO structure is the prioritization of the cash flows from a pool of debt securities among the several classes of the CLO. The SPV is a company founded solely for the purpose of securitizing payment claims arising out of this diversified asset pool. On this basis, marketable securities are issued by the
4
SPV which, due to the diversification of the underlying risk, generally represent a lower level of risk than the original assets. The redemption of the securities issued by the SPV typically takes place at maturity out of the cash flow generated by the collected claims.
Holders of CLOs bear risks of the underlying investments, index or reference obligation and are subject to counterparty risk.
The Fund may have the right to receive payments only from the CLOs, and generally does not have direct rights against the issuer or the entity that sold the assets to be securitized. While certain CLOs enable the investor to acquire interests in a pool of securities without the brokerage and other expenses associated with directly holding the same securities, investors in CLOs generally pay their share of the CLO's administrative and other expenses. Although it is difficult to predict whether the prices of indices and securities underlying a CLO will rise or fall, these prices and, therefore, the prices of CLOs will be influenced by the same types of political and economic events that affect issuers of securities and capital markets generally. If the issuer of a CLO uses shorter term financing to purchase longer term securities, the issuer may be forced to sell its securities at below market prices if it experiences difficulty in obtaining short-term financing, which may adversely affect the value of the CLOs owned by the Fund.
Certain CLOs may be thinly traded or have a limited trading market. CLOs are typically privately offered and sold. As a result, investments in CLOs may be characterized by the Fund as illiquid securities. In addition to the general risks associated with debt securities discussed herein, CLOs carry additional risks, including, but not limited to: (i) the possibility that distributions from collateral securities will not be adequate to make interest or other payments; (ii) the quality of the collateral may decline in value or default; (iii) the possibility that the investments in CLOs are subordinate to other classes or tranches thereof; and (iv) the complex structure of the security may not be fully understood at the time of investment and may produce disputes with the issuer or unexpected investment results.
Corporate Bonds. Corporate bonds, also known as fixed-income securities, are debt obligations issued by corporations. Corporate bonds are generally used by corporations to borrow money from investors. Corporate bonds may be either secured or unsecured. Collateral used for secured debt includes, but is not limited to, real property, machinery, equipment, accounts receivable, stocks, bonds or notes. If a corporate bond is unsecured, it is known as a debenture. Holders of corporate bonds, as creditors, have a prior legal claim over common and preferred stockholders as to both income and assets of the issuer for the principal and interest due them and may have a prior claim over other creditors if liens or mortgages are involved. Interest on corporate bonds may be fixed or floating, or the securities may be zero coupon fixed-income securities which pay no interest. Interest on corporate bonds is typically paid semi-annually and is fully taxable to the holder of the bonds. Corporate bonds contain elements of both interest rate risk and credit risk. The market value of a corporate bond generally may be expected to rise and fall inversely with changes in interest rates and may also be affected by the credit rating of the issuer, the issuer's performance and perceptions of the issuer in the marketplace. Corporate bonds usually yield more than government or agency bonds due to the presence of credit risk.
Derivatives. The Fund may invest in exchange-listed options on U.S. Treasury securities, exchange-listed options on U.S. Treasury futures contracts, exchange-listed U.S. Treasury futures contracts and other exchange-listed or over-the-counter derivative instruments to seek to enhance return, to hedge some of the risks of its investments in securities, as a substitute for a position in the underlying asset, to reduce transaction costs, to maintain full market exposure (which means to adjust the characteristics of its investments to more closely approximate those of the markets in which it invests), to manage cash flows, to limit exposure to losses due to changes to non-U.S. currency exchange rates or to preserve capital.
The Fund's investments in derivative instruments will be consistent with the Fund's investment objectives and the 1940 Act and will not be used to seek to achieve a multiple or inverse multiple of an index.
Delayed-Delivery Transactions. The Fund may from time to time purchase securities on a 'when-issued' or other delayed-delivery basis. The price of securities purchased in such transactions is fixed at the time the commitment to purchase is made, but delivery and payment for the securities take place at a later date. During the period between the purchase and settlement, the Fund does not remit payment to the issuer, no interest is accrued on debt securities and dividend income is not earned on equity securities. Delayed-delivery commitments involve a risk of loss if the value of the security to be purchased declines prior to the settlement date, which risk is in addition to the risk of a decline in value of the Fund's other assets. While securities purchased in delayed-delivery transactions may be sold prior to the settlement date, the Fund intends to purchase such securities with the purpose of actually acquiring them. At the time the Fund makes the commitment to purchase a security in a delayed-delivery transaction, it will record the transaction and reflect the value of the security in determining its net asset value.
5
The Fund will earmark or maintain in a segregated account cash, U.S. government securities, and high-grade liquid debt securities equal in value to commitments for delayed-delivery securities. Such earmarked or segregated securities will mature or, if necessary, be sold on or before the settlement date. When the time comes to pay for delayed-delivery securities, the Fund will meet its obligations from then-available cash flow, sale of the securities earmarked or held in the segregated account described above, sale of other securities, or, although it would not normally expect to do so, from the sale of the delayed-delivery securities themselves (which may have a market value greater or less than the Fund's payment obligation).
Although the Prospectus and this SAI describe certain permitted methods of segregating assets or otherwise 'covering' certain transactions, such descriptions are not all-inclusive. The Fund may segregate against or cover such transactions using other methods permitted under the 1940 Act, the rules and regulations thereunder, or orders issued by the SEC thereunder.
Fixed Income Investments and Cash Equivalents. Normally, the Fund invests substantially all of its assets to meet its investment objectives; however, for temporary or defensive purposes, the Fund may invest in fixed income investments and cash equivalents in order to provide income, liquidity and preserve capital.
Fixed income investments and cash equivalents held by the Fund may include, without limitation, the types of investments set forth below.
(1)
The Fund may invest in U.S. government securities, including bills, notes and bonds differing as to maturity and rates of interest, which are either issued or guaranteed by the U.S. Treasury or by U.S. government agencies or instrumentalities. U.S. government securities include securities that are issued or guaranteed by the United States Treasury, by various agencies of the U.S. government, or by various instrumentalities that have been established or sponsored by the U.S. government. U.S. Treasury securities are backed by the 'full faith and credit' of the United States. Securities issued or guaranteed by federal agencies and U.S. government-sponsored instrumentalities may or may not be backed by the full faith and credit of the United States. Some of the U.S. government agencies that issue or guarantee securities include the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the Farmers Home Administration, the Federal Housing Administration, the Maritime Administration, the Small Business Administration and The Tennessee Valley Authority. An instrumentality of the U.S. government is a government agency organized under federal charter with government supervision. Instrumentalities issuing or guaranteeing securities include, among others, the Federal Home Loan Banks, the Federal Land Banks, the Central Bank for Cooperatives, Federal Intermediate Credit Banks and FNMA. In the case of those U.S. government securities not backed by the full faith and credit of the United States, the investor must look principally to the agency or instrumentality issuing or guaranteeing the security for ultimate repayment, and may not be able to assert a claim against the United States itself in the event that the agency or instrumentality does not meet its commitment. The U.S. government, its agencies and instrumentalities do not guarantee the market value of their securities, and consequently, the value of such securities may fluctuate. In addition, the Fund may invest in sovereign debt obligations of non-U.S. countries. A sovereign debtor's willingness or ability to repay principal and interest in a timely manner may be affected by a number of factors, including its cash flow situation, the extent of its non-U.S. reserves, the availability of sufficient non-U.S. exchange on the date a payment is due, the relative size of the debt service burden to the economy as a whole, the sovereign debtor's policy toward principal international lenders and the political constraints to which it may be subject.
(2)
The Fund may invest in certificates of deposit issued against funds deposited in a bank or savings and loan association. Such certificates are for a definite period of time, earn a specified rate of return, and are normally negotiable. If such certificates of deposit are non-negotiable, they will be considered illiquid securities and be subject to the Fund's 15% restriction on investments in illiquid securities. Pursuant to the certificate of deposit, the issuer agrees to pay the amount deposited plus interest to the bearer of the certificate on the date specified thereon. Under current FDIC regulations, the maximum insurance payable as to any one certificate of deposit is $250,000; therefore, certificates of deposit purchased by the Fund may not be fully insured. The Fund may only invest in certificates of deposit issued by U.S. banks with at least $1 billion in assets.
(3)
The Fund may invest in bankers' acceptances, which are short-term credit instruments used to finance commercial transactions. Generally, an acceptance is a time draft drawn on a bank by an exporter or an importer to obtain a stated amount of funds to pay for specific merchandise. The draft is then 'accepted' by a bank that, in effect, unconditionally guarantees to pay the face value of the instrument on its maturity date. The acceptance may then be held by the accepting bank as an asset or it may be sold in the secondary market at the going rate of interest for a specific maturity.
6
(4)
The Fund may invest in repurchase agreements, which involve purchases of debt securities with counterparties that are deemed by the Advisor to present acceptable credit risks. In such an action, at the time the Fund purchases the security, it simultaneously agrees to resell and redeliver the security to the seller, who also simultaneously agrees to buy back the security at a fixed price and time. This assures a predetermined yield for the Fund during its holding period since the resale price is always greater than the purchase price and reflects an agreed-upon market rate. Such actions afford an opportunity for the Fund to invest temporarily available cash. The Fund may enter into repurchase agreements only with respect to obligations of the U.S. government or its agencies or instrumentalities; certificates of deposit; or bankers' acceptances in which the Fund may invest. Repurchase agreements may be considered loans to the seller, collateralized by the underlying securities. The risk to the Fund is limited to the ability of the seller to pay the agreed-upon sum on the repurchase date; in the event of default, the repurchase agreement provides that the Fund is entitled to sell the underlying collateral. If the value of the collateral declines after the agreement is entered into, however, and if the seller defaults under a repurchase agreement when the value of the underlying collateral is less than the repurchase price, the Fund could incur a loss of both principal and interest. The portfolio managers monitor the value of the collateral at the time the action is entered into and at all times during the term of the repurchase agreement. The portfolio managers do so in an effort to determine that the value of the collateral always equals or exceeds the agreed-upon repurchase price to be paid to the Fund. If the seller were to be subject to a federal bankruptcy proceeding, the ability of the Fund to liquidate the collateral could be delayed or impaired because of certain provisions of the bankruptcy laws.
(5)
The Fund may invest in bank time deposits, which are monies kept on deposit with banks or savings and loan associations for a stated period of time at a fixed rate of interest. There may be penalties for the early withdrawal of such time deposits, in which case the yields of these investments will be reduced.
(6)
The Fund may invest in commercial paper, which are short-term unsecured promissory notes, including variable rate master demand notes issued by corporations to finance their current operations. Master demand notes are direct lending arrangements between the Fund and a corporation. There is no secondary market for the notes. However, they are redeemable by the Fund at any time. The Fund's portfolio managers will consider the financial condition of the corporation (e.g., earning power, cash flow and other liquidity ratios) and will continuously monitor the corporation's ability to meet all of its financial obligations, because the Fund's liquidity might be impaired if the corporation were unable to pay principal and interest on demand.
(7)
The Fund may invest in shares of money market funds, as consistent with its investment objectives and policies. Shares of money market funds are subject to management fees and other expenses of those funds. Therefore, investments in money market funds will cause the Fund to bear proportionately the costs incurred by the money market funds' operations. At the same time, the Fund will continue to pay its own management fees and expenses with respect to all of its assets, including any portion invested in the shares of other investment companies. It is possible for the Fund to lose money by investing in money market funds.
High Yield Securities. The Fund may invest in securities that are rated below investment grade, commonly referred to as 'junk' bonds, at the time of purchase. The ratings of a rating agency represent its opinion as to the quality of securities it undertakes to rate. Ratings are not absolute standards of quality; consequently, securities with the same maturity, duration, coupon and rating may have different yields. For purposes of determining whether a security is below investment grade, the highest available rating will be considered. If a security owned by the Fund is subsequently downgraded, the Fund will not be required to dispose of such security. If a downgrade occurs, the Advisor will consider what action, including the sale of such security, is in the best interests of the Fund. The Credit Rating Definitions, as published by the three major rating agencies, are set forth in Exhibit A to this SAI.
Because the risk of default is higher for below investment grade securities than investment grade securities, the Advisor's research and credit analysis will be an especially important part of managing securities of this type. The Advisor will attempt to identify those issuers of below investment grade securities whose financial condition the Advisor believes are adequate to meet future obligations or who have improved or are expected to improve in the future. The Advisor's analysis focuses on relative values based on such factors as interest or dividend coverage, asset coverage, earnings prospects and the experience and managerial strength of the issuer.
Illiquid Investments. The Fund may invest in illiquid investments (i.e., any investment that the Fund reasonably expects cannot be sold or disposed of in current market conditions in seven calendar days or less without the sale or disposition significantly changing the market value of the investment). For purposes of this restriction, illiquid investments may include, but are not
7
limited to, certain restricted securities (securities the disposition of which is restricted under the federal securities laws), securities that may only be resold pursuant to Rule 144A under the 1933 Act, and repurchase agreements with maturities in excess of seven days, among others. However, the Fund will not acquire illiquid investments if, as a result, such securities would comprise more than 15% of the value of the Fund's net assets. The Advisor, subject to oversight by the Board of Trustees, has the ultimate authority to determine, to the extent permissible under the federal securities laws, which investments are liquid or illiquid for purposes of this 15% limitation under the Fund's liquidity risk management program, adopted pursuant to Rule 22e-4 under the 1940 Act.
Restricted securities may be sold only in privately negotiated transactions or in a public offering with respect to which a registration statement is in effect under the 1933 Act. Where registration is required, the Fund may be obligated to pay all or part of the registration expenses and a considerable period may elapse between the time of the decision to sell and the time the Fund may be permitted to sell a security under an effective registration statement. If, during such a period, adverse market conditions were to develop, the Fund might obtain a less favorable price than that which prevailed when it decided to sell. Illiquid investments will be priced at fair value as determined in good faith under procedures adopted by the Board of Trustees. If, through the appreciation of illiquid investments or the depreciation of liquid securities, the Fund should be in a position where more than 15% of the value of its net assets are invested in illiquid investments, including restricted securities which are not readily marketable, the Advisor will report such occurrence to the Board of Trustees and take such steps as are deemed advisable to protect liquidity in accordance with the Fund's liquidity risk management program.
Loans. The Fund may invest in fixed and floating rate loans ('Loans'). Loans may include senior floating rate loans ('Senior Loans') and secured and unsecured loans, second lien or more junior loans and bridge loans ('Junior Loans'). Loans are typically arranged through private negotiations between borrowers in the United States or in foreign or emerging markets which may be corporate issuers or issuers of sovereign debt obligations ('Obligors') and one or more financial institutions and other lenders ('Lenders'). The Fund may invest in Loans by purchasing assignments of all or a portion of Loans ('Assignments') or Loan participations ('Participations') from third parties.
The Fund has direct rights against the Obligor on the Loan when it purchases an Assignment. Assignments are arranged through private negotiations between potential assignees and potential assignors. With respect to Participations, typically, the Fund will have a contractual relationship only with the Lender and not with the Obligor. The agreement governing Participations may limit the rights of the Fund to vote on certain changes which may be made to the Loan agreement, such as waiving a breach of a covenant. However, the holder of a Participation will generally have the right to vote on certain fundamental issues such as changes in principal amount, payment dates and interest rate. Participations may entail certain risks relating to the creditworthiness of the parties from which the participations are obtained.
A Loan is typically originated, negotiated and structured by a U.S. or foreign commercial bank, insurance company, finance company or other financial institution (the 'Agent') for a group of Loan investors. The Agent typically administers and enforces the Loan on behalf of the other Loan investors in the syndicate. The Agent's duties may include responsibility for the collection of principal and interest payments from the Obligor and the apportionment of these payments to the credit of all Loan investors. The Agent is also typically responsible for monitoring compliance with the covenants contained in the Loan agreement based upon reports prepared by the Obligor. In addition, an institution, typically but not always the Agent, holds any collateral on behalf of the Loan investors. In the event of a default by the Obligor, it is possible, though unlikely, that the Fund could receive a portion of the borrower's collateral. If the Fund receives collateral other than cash, any proceeds received from liquidation of such collateral will be available for investment as part of the Fund's portfolio.
In the process of buying, selling and holding Senior Loans, the Fund may receive and/or pay certain fees. These fees are in addition to interest payments received and may include facility fees, commitment fees, commissions and prepayment penalty fees. When the Fund buys or sells a Loan it may pay a fee. In certain circumstances, the Fund may receive a prepayment penalty fee upon prepayment of a Loan.
There may be instances in which the Fund is required to vote upon amendments to certain of the Loans in which it invests. In these cases, the Fund will attempt to ensure that such amendments are voted consistently and solely in the best interests of the Fund.
Money Market Funds. The Fund may invest in shares of money market funds to the extent permitted by the 1940 Act.
Municipal Securities. The Fund may invest in ETFs that hold municipal securities. Municipal securities are debt securities that generally pay interest that is exempt from regular federal income taxes. Municipal securities are generally issued by or
8
on behalf of states, territories or possessions of the United States and the District of Columbia and their political subdivisions, agencies, authorities and other instrumentalities.
Senior Loans. The Fund invests in Senior Loans, which consist generally of obligations of companies and other entities (collectively, 'borrowers') incurred for the purpose of reorganizing the assets and liabilities of a borrower; acquiring another company; taking over control of a company (leveraged buyout); temporary refinancing; or financing internal growth or other general business purposes. Senior Loans are often obligations of borrowers who have incurred a significant percentage of debt compared to equity issued and thus are highly leveraged.
Senior Loans may be acquired by direct investment as a lender at the inception of the loan or by assignment of a portion of a loan previously made to a different lender or by purchase of a participation interest. If the Fund makes a direct investment in a Senior Loan as one of the lenders, it generally acquires the loan at or below par. This means the Fund receives a return at or above the full interest rate for the loan. If the Fund acquires its interest in Senior Loans in the secondary market or acquires a participation interest, the loans may be purchased or sold above, at, or below par, which can result in a yield that is below, equal to, or above the stated interest rate of the loan. At times, the Fund may be able to invest in Senior Loans only through assignments or participations.
When the Fund is a purchaser of an assignment, it succeeds to all the rights and obligations under the loan agreement of the assigning lender and becomes a lender under the loan agreement with the same rights and obligations as the assigning lender. These rights include the ability to vote along with the other lenders on such matters as enforcing the terms of the loan agreement (e.g., declaring defaults, initiating collection action, etc.). Taking such actions typically requires at least a vote of the lenders holding a majority of the investment in the loan and may require a vote by lenders holding two-thirds or more of the investment in the loan. Because the Fund usually does not hold a majority of the investment in any loan, it will not be able by itself to control decisions that require a vote by the lenders.
A participation interest represents a fractional interest in a loan held by the lender selling the Fund the participation interest. In the case of participations, the Fund will not have any direct contractual relationship with the borrower, the Fund's rights to consent to modifications of the loan are limited and it is dependent upon the participating lender to enforce the Fund's rights upon a default. The Fund will have the right to receive payments of principal, interest, and any fees to which it is entitled only from the lender selling the participation and only upon receipt by the lender of the payments from the borrower.
The Fund may be subject to the credit of both the agent and the lender from whom the Fund acquires a participation interest. These credit risks may include delay in receiving payments of principal and interest paid by the borrower to the agent or, in the case of a participation, offsets by the lender's regulator against payments received from the borrower. In the event of the borrower's bankruptcy, the borrower's obligation to repay the loan may be subject to defenses that the borrower can assert as a result of improper conduct by the agent.
Historically, the amount of public information available about a specific Senior Loan has been less extensive than if the loan were registered or exchange-traded.
Each Senior Loan will generally be secured by collateral such as accounts receivable, inventory, equipment, real estate, intangible assets such as trademarks, copyrights and patents, and securities of subsidiaries or affiliates. The value of the collateral generally will be determined by reference to financial statements of the borrower, by an independent appraisal, by obtaining the market value of such collateral, in the case of cash or securities if readily ascertainable, or by other customary valuation techniques considered appropriate by the Advisor. The value of collateral may decline after the Fund's investment, and collateral may be difficult to sell in the event of default. Consequently, the Fund may not receive all the payments to which it is entitled. By virtue of their senior position and collateral, Senior Loans typically provide lenders with the first right to cash flows or proceeds from the sale of a borrower's collateral if the borrower becomes insolvent (subject to the limitations of bankruptcy law, which may provide higher priority to certain claims such as employee salaries, employee pensions, and taxes). This means Senior Loans are generally repaid before unsecured bank loans, corporate bonds, subordinated debt, trade creditors, and preferred or common stockholders. To the extent that the Fund invests in unsecured loans, if the borrower defaults on such loan, there is no specific collateral on which the lender can foreclose. If the borrower defaults on a subordinated loan, the collateral may not be sufficient to cover both the senior and subordinated loans.
Senior Loans will usually require, in addition to scheduled payments of interest and principal, the prepayment of the Senior Loan from free cash flow, as further described below. The degree to which borrowers prepay Senior Loans, whether as a contractual requirement or at their election, may be affected by general business conditions, the financial condition of the borrower and competitive conditions among loan investors, among others. As such, prepayments cannot be predicted
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with accuracy. Recent market conditions, including falling default rates among others, have led to increased prepayment frequency and loan renegotiations. These renegotiations are often on terms more favorable to borrowers. Upon a prepayment, either in part or in full, the actual outstanding debt on which the Fund derives interest income will be reduced. However, the Fund may receive a prepayment penalty fee assessed against the prepaying borrower.
Senior Loans typically pay interest at least quarterly at rates which equal a fixed percentage spread over a base rate such as the London Interbank Offered Rate ('LIBOR'). Although a base rate such as LIBOR can change every day, loan agreements for Senior Loans typically allow the borrower the ability to choose how often the base rate for its loan will reset. A single loan may have multiple reset periods at the same time, with each reset period applicable to a designated portion of the loan. Such reset periods can range from one day to one year, with most borrowers choosing monthly or quarterly reset periods. During periods of rising interest rates, borrowers will tend to choose longer reset periods, and during periods of declining interest rates, borrowers will tend to choose shorter reset periods. The fixed spread over the base rate on a Senior Loan typically does not change.
Senior Loans generally are arranged through private negotiations between a borrower and several financial institutions represented by an agent who is usually one of the originating lenders. In larger transactions, it is common to have several agents; however, generally only one such agent has primary responsibility for ongoing administration of a Senior Loan. Agents are typically paid fees by the borrower for their services.
The agent is primarily responsible for negotiating the loan agreement which establishes the terms and conditions of the Senior Loan and the rights of the borrower and the lenders. The agent also is responsible for monitoring collateral and for exercising remedies available to the lenders such as foreclosure upon collateral.
Loan agreements may provide for the termination of the agent's agency status in the event that it fails to act as required under the relevant loan agreement, becomes insolvent, enters Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation ('FDIC') receivership or, if not FDIC insured, enters into bankruptcy. Should such an agent, lender or assignor with respect to an assignment interpositioned between the Fund and the borrower, become insolvent or enter FDIC receivership or bankruptcy, any interest in the Senior Loan of such person and any loan payment held by such person for the benefit of the Fund should not be included in such person's or entity's bankruptcy estate. If, however, any such amount were included in such person's or entity's bankruptcy estate, the Fund would incur certain costs and delays in realizing payment or could suffer a loss of principal or interest. In this event, the Fund could experience a decrease in the net asset value.
Most borrowers pay their debts from cash flow generated by their businesses. If a borrower's cash flow is insufficient to pay its debts, it may attempt to restructure its debts rather than sell collateral. Borrowers may try to restructure their debts by filing for protection under the federal bankruptcy laws or negotiating a work-out. If a borrower becomes involved in a bankruptcy proceeding, access to collateral may be limited by bankruptcy and other laws. Such action by a court could be based, for example, on a 'fraudulent conveyance' claim to the effect that the borrower did not receive fair consideration for granting the security interest in the loan collateral to the Fund. If a court decides that access to collateral is limited or void, the Fund may not recover the full amount of principal and interest that is due.
A borrower must comply with certain restrictive covenants contained in the loan agreement. In addition to requiring the scheduled payment of principal and interest, these covenants may include restrictions on the payment of dividends and other distributions to the borrower's shareholders, provisions requiring compliance with specific financial ratios, and limits on total indebtedness. The agreement may also require the prepayment of the loans from excess cash flow. A breach of a covenant that is not waived by the agent (or lenders directly) is normally an event of default, which provides the agent and lenders the right to call for repayment of the outstanding loan. The typical practice of an agent or a loan investor in relying exclusively or primarily on reports from the borrower to monitor the borrower's compliance with covenants may involve a risk of fraud by the borrower.
In the process of buying, selling and holding Senior Loans, the Fund may receive and/or pay certain fees. These fees are in addition to interest payments received and may include facility fees, commitment fees, commissions and prepayment penalty fees. When the Fund buys or sells a Senior Loan it may pay a facility fee. On an ongoing basis, the Fund may receive a commitment fee based on the undrawn portion of the underlying line of credit portion of a Senior Loan. In certain circumstances, the Fund may receive a prepayment penalty fee upon prepayment of a Senior Loan. Other fees received by the Fund may include covenant waiver fees, covenant modification fees or other consent or amendment fees.
Notwithstanding its intention in certain situations to not receive material, non-public information with respect to its management of investments in Senior Loans, the Advisor may from time to time come into possession of material, non-public
10
information about the issuers of loans that may be held in the Fund's portfolio. Possession of such information may in some instances occur despite the Advisor's efforts to avoid such possession, but in other instances the Advisor may choose to receive such information (for example, in connection with participation in a creditors' committee with respect to a financially distressed issuer). The Advisor's ability to trade in these Senior Loans for the account of the Fund could potentially be limited by its possession of such information. Such limitations on the Advisor's ability to trade could have an adverse effect on the Fund by, for example, preventing the Fund from selling a Senior Loan that is experiencing a material decline in value. In some instances, these trading restrictions could continue in effect for a substantial period of time.
An increase in demand for Senior Loans may benefit the Fund by providing increased liquidity for such loans and higher sales prices, but it may also adversely affect the rate of interest payable on such loans acquired by the Fund and the rights provided to the Fund under the terms of the applicable loan agreement, and may increase the price of loans that the Fund wishes to purchase in the secondary market. A decrease in the demand for Senior Loans may adversely affect the price of loans in the Fund's portfolio, which could cause the Fund's net asset value to decline.
The Fund may acquire interests in Senior Loans which are designed to provide temporary or 'bridge' financing to a borrower pending the sale of identified assets or the arrangement of longer-term loans or the issuance and sale of debt obligations. The Fund may also invest in Senior Loans of borrowers that have obtained bridge loans from other parties. A borrower's use of bridge loans involves a risk that the borrower may be unable to locate permanent financing to replace the bridge loan, which may impair the borrower's perceived creditworthiness. Bridge loans may have less liquidity than other Senior Loans that were issued to fund corporate purposes on a longer term basis.
Although not anticipated in the normal course, the Fund may occasionally acquire warrants and other equity securities as part of a unit combining a Senior Loan and equity securities of a borrower or its affiliates. The acquisition of such equity securities will only be incidental to the Fund's purchase of a Senior Loan. The Fund may also acquire equity and equity-like securities and instruments or credit securities (including non-dollar denominated securities or instruments) issued in exchange for a Senior Loan or issued in connection with the restructuring or reorganization of a borrower or any debt issued by a borrower, or if such acquisition, in the judgment of the Advisor may enhance the value of a Senior Loan or would otherwise be consistent with the Fund's investment policies. Such warrants, equity securities and instruments will typically have limited value and there is no assurance that such securities will ever obtain value.
U.S. Government Securities. U.S. government securities include U.S. Treasury obligations and securities issued or guaranteed by various agencies of the U.S. government, or by various instrumentalities which have been established or sponsored by the U.S. government. U.S. Treasury obligations are backed by the 'full faith and credit' of the U.S. government. Securities issued or guaranteed by federal agencies and U.S. government sponsored instrumentalities may or may not be backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.
When-Issued or Additional Information Concerning Unfunded Commitments. Unfunded commitments are contractual obligations pursuant to which the Fund agrees to invest in a loan at a future date. Typically, the Fund receives a commitment fee for entering into the unfunded commitment.
Hedging Strategies
The Fund may engage in hedging activities and, in this regard, may utilize forward contracts, currency spot transactions and futures contracts. The use of futures is not a part of a principal investment strategy of the Fund.
Hedging or derivative instruments on securities generally are used to hedge against price movements in one or more particular securities positions that the Fund owns or intends to acquire. Such instruments may also be used to 'lock-in' realized but unrecognized gains in the value of portfolio securities. Hedging instruments on stock indices, in contrast, generally are used to hedge against price movements in broad market sectors in which the Fund has invested or expects to invest. Hedging strategies, if successful, can reduce the risk of loss by wholly or partially offsetting the negative effect of unfavorable price movements in the investments being hedged. However, hedging strategies can also reduce the opportunity for gain by offsetting the positive effect of favorable price movements in the hedged investments. The use of hedging instruments is subject to applicable regulations of the SEC, the several futures exchanges upon which they are traded, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the 'CFTC') and various state regulatory authorities. In addition, the Fund's ability to use hedging instruments may be limited by tax considerations.
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General Limitations On Derivative Transactions
The Fund limits its direct investments in derivative instruments to the extent necessary for the Advisor to claim the exclusion from regulation as a 'commodity pool operator' with respect to the Fund under CFTC Rule 4.5, as such rule may be amended from time to time. Under Rule 4.5 as currently in effect, the Fund limits its trading activity in certain derivative instruments (excluding activity for 'bona fide hedging purposes,' as defined by the CFTC) such that each meets one of the following tests: (i) aggregate initial margin and premiums required to establish its futures, options on futures and swap positions do not exceed 5% of the liquidation value of the Fund's portfolio, after taking into account unrealized profits and losses on such positions; or (ii) aggregate net notional value of the Fund's futures, options on futures and swap positions does not exceed 100% of the liquidation value of the Fund's portfolio, after taking into account unrealized profits and losses on such positions.
The Advisor has filed a notice of eligibility for exclusion from the definition of the term 'commodity pool operator' with respect to the Fund with the National Futures Association, the futures industry's self-regulatory organization. If First Trust were no longer able to claim the exclusion for the Fund, First Trust would be required to register as a 'commodity pool operator,' and the Fund and First Trust would be subject to regulation under the Commodity Exchange Act (the 'CEA').
The foregoing limitations are non-fundamental policies of the Fund and may be changed without shareholder approval as regulatory agencies permit.
Portfolio Turnover
The Fund buys and sells portfolio securities in the normal course of its investment activities. The proportion of the Fund's investment portfolio that is bought and sold during a year is known as the Fund's portfolio turnover rate. A portfolio turnover rate of 100% would occur, for example, if all of the portfolio securities (other than short-term securities) were replaced once during the fiscal year. A high portfolio turnover rate could result in the payment by the Fund of increased brokerage costsexpenses and taxes.
Lending of Portfolio Securities
In order to generate additional income, as a non-principal investment strategy, First Trust is authorized to select certain First Trust Funds, including the Fund, with notice to the Board of Trustees, to lend portfolio securities representing up to 33⅓% of the value of its total assets to broker-dealers, banks or other institutional borrowers of securities. As with other extensions of credit, there may be risks of delay in recovery of the securities or even loss of rights in the collateral should the borrower of the securities fail financially. However, such First Trust Funds will only enter into loan arrangements with broker-dealers, banks or other institutions which First Trust has determined are creditworthy under guidelines approved by the Board of Trustees. The First Trust Funds will pay a portion of the income earned on the lending transaction to the placing broker and may pay administrative and custodial fees in connection with these loans. First Trust may select the First Trust Fund to participate in the securities lending program, at its discretion with notice to the Board of Trustees.
In these loan arrangements, the First Trust Funds will receive collateral in the form of cash, U.S. government securities or other high-grade debt obligations in an amount at least equal to the value of the borrowed securities, marked to market daily. This collateral must be valued daily by First Trust or the First Trust Fund's lending agent and, if the market value of the loaned securities increases, the borrower must furnish additional collateral to the lending First Trust Fund. During the time portfolio securities are on loan, the borrower pays the lending First Trust Fund any dividends or interest paid on the securities. Loans are subject to termination at any time by the lending First Trust Fund or the borrower. While a First Trust Fund does not have the right to vote securities on loan, it would terminate the loan and regain the right to vote if that were considered important with respect to the investment. When a First Trust Fund lends portfolio securities to a borrower, payments in lieu of dividends made by the borrower to the First Trust Fund will not constitute 'qualified dividends' taxable at the same rate as long-term capital gains, even if the actual dividends would have constituted qualified dividends had the First Trust Fund held the securities. Please see 'Securities Lending Risk' below for a description of the risks associated with securities lending activities.
Investment Risks
The following risk disclosure supplements the discussion of the Fund's investment risks that appears in the Prospectus.
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Overview
An investment in the Fund should be made with an understanding of the risks that an investment in the Fund's shares entails, including the risk that the financial condition of the issuers of the securities held by the Fund or the general condition of the securities market may worsen and the value of the securities and therefore the value of the Fund may decline. The Fund may not be an appropriate investment for those who are unable or unwilling to assume the risks involved generally with such an investment. The past market and earnings performance of any of the securities included in the Fund is not predictive of their future performance.
Collateral, Subordination and Litigation Risk
With respect to Loans that are secured, the Fund is subject to the risk that collateral securing the Loan will decline in value or have no value or that the Fund's lien is or will become junior in payment to other liens. A decline in value, whether as a result of bankruptcy proceedings or otherwise, could cause the Loan to be under-collateralized or unsecured. There may be no formal requirement for the Obligor to pledge additional collateral. In addition, collateral may consist of assets that may not be readily liquidated, and there is no assurance that the liquidation of such assets would satisfy an Obligor's obligation on a Loan.
If an Obligor becomes involved in bankruptcy proceedings, a court may invalidate the Loan or the Fund's security interest in loan collateral or subordinate the Fund's rights under Senior Loan or Junior Loan to the interest of the Obligor's other creditors, including unsecured creditors, or cause interest or principal previously paid to be refunded to the Obligor. If a court required interest or principal to be refunded, it could negatively affect Fund performance. Such action by a court could be based, for example, on a 'fraudulent conveyance' claim to the effect that the Obligor did not receive fair consideration for granting the security interest in the Loan collateral to the Fund. For Senior Loans made in connection with a highly leveraged transaction, consideration for granting a security interest may be deemed inadequate if the proceeds of the Loan were not received or retained by the Obligor, but were instead paid to other persons (such as shareholders of the Obligor) in an amount which left the Obligor insolvent or without sufficient working capital. There are also other events, such as the failure to perfect a security interest due to faulty documentation or faulty official filings, which could lead to the invalidation of the Fund's security interest in Loan collateral. If the Fund's security interest in Loan collateral is invalidated or the Senior Loan is subordinated to other debt of an Obligor in bankruptcy or other proceedings, the Fund would have substantially lower recovery, and perhaps no recovery on the full amount of the principal and interest due on the Loan, or the Fund could have to refund interest.
Lenders and investors in loans can be sued by other creditors and shareholders of the Obligors. Losses can be greater than the original loan amount and occur years after the principal and interest on the loan have been repaid.
Credit Rating Agency Risk
Credit ratings are determined by credit rating agencies such as Standard & Poor's, Moody's Investors Service, Inc. and Fitch Ratings, and are only the opinions of such entities. Ratings assigned by a rating agency are not absolute standards of credit quality and do not evaluate market risk or the liquidity of securities. Any shortcomings or inefficiencies in credit rating agencies' processes for determining credit ratings may adversely affect the credit ratings of securities held by the Fund and, as a result, may adversely affect those securities' perceived or actual credit risk.
Debt Securities Risk
In addition to the risks described elsewhere in the Prospectus and this SAI, debt securities are subject to certain other risks, including:
Issuer Risk. The value of debt securities may decline for a number of reasons which directly relate to the issuer, such as management performance, leverage and reduced demand for the issuer's goods and services. Changes in an issuer's credit rating or the market's perception of an issuer's creditworthiness may also affect the value of the Fund's investment in that issuer.
Interest Rate Risk. Interest rate risk is the risk that debt securities will decline in value because of changes in market interest rates. When market interest rates rise, the market value of fixed rate securities generally will fall. Currently, interest rates are at or near historical lows and, as a result, they are likely to rise over time. Market value generally falls further for fixed rate securities with longer duration. During periods of rising interest rates, the average life of certain types of securities may be extended because of slower than expected prepayments. This may lock in a below-market yield, increase the security's duration and further reduce the value of the security. Investments in debt securities with long-term maturities may experience significant price declines if long-term interest rates increase.
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Fluctuations in the value of portfolio securities will not affect interest income on existing portfolio securities but will be reflected in the Fund's net asset value. Since the magnitude of these fluctuations will generally be greater at times when the Fund's average maturity is longer, under certain market conditions the Fund may, for temporary defensive purposes, accept lower current income from short-term investments rather than investing in higher yielding long-term securities.
Liquidity Risk. Certain debt securities may be substantially less liquid than many other securities, such as common stocks traded on an exchange. Illiquid securities involve the risk that the securities will not be able to be sold at the time desired by the Fund or at prices approximating the value at which the Fund is carrying the securities on its books.
Prepayment Risk. During periods of declining interest rates, the issuer of a security may exercise its option to prepay principal earlier than scheduled, forcing the Fund to reinvest the proceeds from such prepayment in lower yielding securities, which may result in a decline in the Fund's income and distributions to common shareholders of the Fund. This is known as call or prepayment risk. Debt securities frequently have call features that allow the issuer to redeem the security prior to its stated maturity. An issuer may redeem an obligation if the issuer can refinance the debt at a lower cost due to declining interest rates or an improvement in the credit standing of the issuer. If the Fund bought a security at a premium, the premium could be lost in the event of a prepayment.
Reinvestment Risk. Reinvestment risk is the risk that income from the Fund's portfolio will decline if the Fund invests the proceeds from matured, traded or called bonds at market interest rates that are below the Fund portfolio's current earnings rate. A decline in income could affect the market price of the Fund's common shares or the overall return of the Fund.
Derivatives Risk
The use of derivatives presents risks different from, and possibly greater than, the risks associated with investing directly in traditional securities. The use of derivatives can lead to losses because of adverse movements in the price or value of the underlying asset, index or rate, which may be magnified by certain features of the derivatives. In addition, when the Fund invests in certain derivative securities, including, but not limited to, when-issued securities, forward commitments, futures contracts and interest rate swaps, the Fund is effectively leveraging its investments, which could result in exaggerated changes in the net asset value of the Fund's shares and can result in losses that exceed the amount originally invested. The success of the Advisor's derivatives strategies will depend on its ability to assess and predict the impact of market or economic developments on the underlying asset, index or rate and the derivative itself, without the benefit of observing the performance of the derivative under all possible market conditions. Liquidity risk exists when a security cannot be purchased or sold at the time desired, or cannot be purchased or sold without adversely affecting the price. Certain specific risks associated with an investment in derivatives may include: market risk, credit risk, correlation risk, liquidity risk and systemic or 'interconnection' risk, as specified below.
(1)
Market Risk.Market risk is the risk that the value of the underlying assets may go up or down. Adverse movements in the value of an underlying asset can expose the Fund to losses. Derivative instruments may include elements of leverage and, accordingly, fluctuations in the value of the derivative instrument in relation to the underlying asset may be magnified. The successful use of derivative instruments depends upon a variety of factors, particularly the portfolio managers' ability to predict movements of the securities, currencies and commodities markets, which may require different skills than predicting changes in the prices of individual securities. There can be no assurance that any particular strategy adopted will succeed. A decision to engage in a derivative transaction will reflect the portfolio managers' judgment that the derivative transaction will provide value to the Fund and its shareholders and is consistent with the Fund's objectives, investment limitations and operating policies. In making such a judgment, the portfolio managers will analyze the benefits and risks of the derivative transactions and weigh them in the context of the Fund's overall investments and investment objectives.
(2)
Credit Risk/Counterparty Risk.Credit risk is the risk that a loss may be sustained as a result of the failure of a counterparty to comply with the terms of a derivative instrument. The counterparty risk for exchange-traded derivatives is generally less than for privately negotiated or over-the-counter ('OTC') derivatives, since generally a clearing agency, which is the issuer or counterparty to each exchange-traded instrument, provides a guarantee of performance. For privately negotiated instruments, there is no similar clearing agency guarantee. In all transactions, the Fund will bear the risk that the counterparty will default, and this could result in a loss of the expected benefit of the derivative transactions and possibly other losses to the the Fund. Such counterparty risk is accentuated in the case of contracts with longer maturities where there is a greater risk that a specific
14
event may prevent or delay settlement, or where the Fund has concentrated its transactions with a single or small group of counterparties. The Fund is not restricted from dealing with any particular counterparty or from concentrating any or all of its transactions with one counterparty. The Fund will enter into transactions in derivative instruments only with counterparties that First Trust reasonably believes are capable of performing under the contract.
(3)
Correlation Risk. Correlation risk is the risk that there might be an imperfect correlation, or even no correlation, between price movements of a derivative instrument and price movements of investments being hedged. When a derivative transaction is used to completely hedge another position, changes in the market value of the combined position (the derivative instrument plus the position being hedged) result from an imperfect correlation between the price movements of the two instruments. With a perfect hedge, the value of the combined position remains unchanged with any change in the price of the underlying asset. With an imperfect hedge, the value of the derivative instrument and its hedge are not perfectly correlated. For example, if the value of a derivative instrument used in a short hedge (such as writing a call option, buying a put option or selling a futures contract) increased by less than the decline in value of the hedged investments, the hedge would not be perfectly correlated. This might occur due to factors unrelated to the value of the investments being hedged, such as speculative or other pressures on the markets in which these instruments are traded. In addition, the Fund's success in using hedging instruments is subject to the ability of the portfolio manager to correctly predict changes in relationships of such hedge instruments to the Fund's portfolio holdings, and there can be no assurance that the judgment of the portfolio manager in this respect will be accurate. An imperfect correlation may prevent the Fund from achieving the intended hedge or expose the Fund to a risk of loss.
(4)
Liquidity Risk. Liquidity risk is the risk that a derivative instrument cannot be sold, closed out or replaced quickly at or very close to its fundamental value. Generally, exchange contracts are very liquid because the exchange clearinghouse is the counterparty of every contract. OTC transactions are less liquid than exchange-traded derivatives since they often can only be closed out with the other party to the transaction. The Fund might be required by applicable regulatory requirements to maintain assets as 'cover,' maintain segregated accounts and/or make margin payments when taking positions in derivative instruments involving obligations to third parties (i.e., instruments other than purchase options). If the Fund is unable to close out its positions in such instruments, it might be required to continue to maintain such assets or accounts or make such payments until the position expires, matures or is closed out. These requirements might impair the Fund's ability to sell a security or make an investment at a time when it would otherwise be favorable to do so, or require that the Fund sell a portfolio security at a disadvantageous time. The Fund's ability to sell or close out a position in an instrument prior to expiration or maturity depends upon the existence of a liquid secondary market or, in the absence of such a market, the ability and willingness of the counterparty to enter into a transaction closing out the position. Due to liquidity risk, there is no assurance that any derivatives position can be sold or closed out at a time and price that is favorable to the Fund.
(5)
Legal Risk. Legal risk is the risk of loss caused by the unenforceability of a party's obligations under the derivative. While a party seeking price certainty agrees to surrender the potential upside in exchange for downside protection, the party taking the risk is looking for a positive payoff. Despite this voluntary assumption of risk, a counterparty that has lost money in a derivative transaction may try to avoid payment by exploiting various legal uncertainties about certain derivative products.
(6)
Volatility.  The prices of many derivative instruments are highly volatile. Price movements of such instruments may be influenced by, among other things, interest rates, changing supply and demand relationships, trade, fiscal, monetary and exchange control programs and policies of governments, and national and international political and economic events and policies. The value of such instruments also may depend upon the price of the securities or currencies underlying them.
(7)
Systemic or 'Interconnection' Risk. Systemic or 'interconnection' risk is the risk that a disruption in the financial markets will cause difficulties for all market participants. In other words, a disruption in one market will spill over into other markets, perhaps creating a chain reaction. Much of the OTC derivatives market takes place among the OTC dealers themselves, thus creating a large interconnected web of financial obligations. This interconnectedness raises the possibility that a default by one large dealer could create losses for other dealers and destabilize the entire market for OTC derivative instruments.
15
Fixed Income Securities Risk
An investment in the Fund also involves risk associated with an investment in fixed income securities including the risk that certain of the securities in the Fund may not have the benefit of covenants that would prevent the issuer from engaging in capital restructurings or borrowing transactions in connection with corporate acquisitions, leveraged buyouts or restructurings that could have the effect of reducing the ability of the issuer to meet its payment obligations and might result in increased credit risk. In addition, certain of the securities may be redeemed or prepaid by the issuer, resulting in lower interest payments received by the Fund and reduced distributions to shareholders.
Liquidity Risk
Although the Fund limits its investments in illiquid securities to no more than 15% of its net assets at the time of purchase, securities that are deemed to be liquid at the time of purchase may become illiquid or less liquid. No active trading market may exist for certain securities and certain securities may be subject to restrictions on resale or have a limited secondary market. Certain securities may be subject to irregular trading activity, wide bid/ask spreads and extended trade settlement periods. The inability to dispose of certain securities in a timely fashion or at a favorable price could result in losses to the Fund.
Whether or not the securities held by the Fund are listed on a securities exchange, the principal trading market for certain of the securities may be in the OTC market. As a result, the existence of a liquid trading market for such securities may depend on whether dealers will make a market in the securities. There can be no assurance that a market will be made for any of the securities, that any market for such securities will be maintained or that there will be sufficient liquidity of the securities in any markets made. The price at which such securities are held by the Fund will be adversely affected if trading markets for the securities are limited or absent.
Listing Standards Risk
The Fund is required to comply with listing requirements adopted by the Exchange. Non-compliance with such requirements may result in the Fund's shares being delisted by the Exchange. Any resulting liquidation of the Fund could cause the Fund to incur elevated transaction costs and could result in negative tax consequences for its shareholders.
Market Risk
Market risk is the risk that a particular security, or shares of the Fund in general, may fall in value. Securities are subject to market fluctuations caused by such factors as economic, political, regulatory or market developments, changes in interest rates and perceived trends in securities prices. Shares of the Fund could decline in value or underperform other investments due to short-term market movements or any longer periods during more prolonged market downturns. In addition, local, regional or global events such as war, acts of terrorism, spread of infectious diseases or other public health issues, recessions, or other events could have a significant negative impact on the Fund and its investments. Such events may affect certain geographic regions, countries, sectors and industries more significantly than others. Such events could adversely affect the prices and liquidity of the Fund's portfolio securities or other instruments and could result in disruptions in the trading markets. Any of such circumstances could have a materially negative impact on the value of a Fund's shares and result in increased market volatility. During any such events, the Fund's shares may trade at increased premiums or discounts to their net asset value.
Health crises caused by the outbreak of infectious diseases or other public health issues, may exacerbate other pre-existing political, social, economic, market and financial risks. The impact of any such events, could negatively affect the global economy, as well as the economies of individual countries or regions, the financial performance of individual companies, sectors and industries, and the markets in general in significant and unforeseen ways. Any such impact could adversely affect the prices and liquidity of the securities and other instruments in which the Fund invests and negatively impact the Fund's investment return. For example, an outbreak of a respiratory disease designated as COVID-19 was first detected in China in December 2019 and subsequently spread internationally. The transmission of COVID-19 and efforts to contain its spread resulted in international, national and local border closings and other significant travel restrictions and disruptions, significant disruptions to business operations, supply chains and customer activity, event cancellations and restrictions, service cancellations, reductions and other changes, significant challenges in healthcare service preparation and delivery, and quarantines, as well as general concern and uncertainty that negatively affected the economic environment. While the development of vaccines has slowed the spread of the virus and allowed for the resumption of reasonably normal business activity in the United States, many countries continue to impose lockdown measures in an attempt to slow the spread. Additionally, there is no guarantee that vaccines will be effective against emerging variants of the disease. The impact of this COVID-19 pandemic may be short term or may last for an extended period of time, and in either case could result in a substantial economic downturn or recession.
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In addition, the operations of the Fund, the Advisor and the Fund's other service providers may be significantly impacted, or even temporarily or permanently halted, as a result of government quarantine measures, voluntary and precautionary restrictions on travel or meetings and other factors related to a public health emergency, including its potential adverse impact on the health of any such entity's personnel.
Securities Lending Risk
Securities lending involves exposure to certain risks, including counterparty risk, collateral risk and operational risk. Counterparty risk is the risk that the borrower may fail to return the securities in a timely manner or at all. As a result, a First Trust Fund engaged in securities lending transactions may suffer a loss and there may be a delay in recovering the lent securities. Any delay in the return of securities on loan may restrict the ability of the Fund to meet delivery or payment obligations. Collateral risk is the risk that the collateral received may be realized at a value lower than the value of the securities lent, whether due to inaccurate pricing of the collateral, adverse market movements in the value of the collateral, intra-day increases in the value of the securities lent, a deterioration in the credit rating of the collateral issuer, or the illiquidity of the market in which the collateral is traded. Securities lending also entails operational risks, such as settlement failures or delays in the settlement of instructions. Such failures or delays may restrict the ability of the Fund to meet delivery or payment obligations. Lastly, securities lending activities may result in adverse tax consequences for the Fund and its shareholders. For instance, substitute payments for dividends received by the Fund for securities loaned out by the Fund will not be considered qualified dividend income. The Fund could lose money if its short-term investment of the collateral declines in value over the period of the loan.
Management of the Fund
Trustees and Officers
The general supervision of the duties performed for the Fund under the investment management agreement is the responsibility of the Board of Trustees. There are five Trustees of the Trust, one of whom is an 'interested person' (as the term is defined in the 1940 Act) and four of whom are Trustees who are not officers or employees of First Trust or any of its affiliates ('Independent Trustees'). The Trustees set broad policies for the Fund, choose the Trust's officers and hire the Trust's investment advisor. The officers of the Trust manage its day-to-day operations and are responsible to the Board of Trustees. The following is a list of the Trustees and executive officers of the Trust and a statement of their present positions and principal occupations during the past five years, the number of portfolios each Trustee oversees and the other directorships they have held during the past five years, if applicable. Each Trustee has been elected for an indefinite term. The officers of the Trust serve indefinite terms. Each Trustee, except for James A. Bowen, is an Independent Trustee. Mr. Bowen is deemed an 'interested person' (as that term is defined in the 1940 Act) ('Interested Trustee') of the Trust due to his position as Chief Executive Officer of First Trust, investment advisor to the Fund. The following table identifies the Trustees and Officers of the Trust. Unless otherwise indicated, the address of all persons below is c/o First Trust Advisors L.P., 120 East Liberty Drive, Suite 400, Wheaton, IL 60187.
Name and
Year of Birth
Position
and Offices
with Trust
Term of
Office and
Year First
Elected or
Appointed
Principal Occupations
During Past 5 Years
Number of
Portfolios
in the First
Trust Fund
Complex
Overseen
by Trustee
Other
Trusteeships or
Directorships
Held by
Trustee
During the
Past 5 Years
TRUSTEE WHO IS AN INTERESTED PERSON OF THE TRUST
James A. Bowen (1)
1955
Chairman of the
Board and Trustee
•Indefinite term
•Since inception
Chief Executive Officer, First Trust
Advisors L.P. and First Trust Portfolios
L.P.; Chairman of the Board of Directors,
BondWave LLC (Software Development
Company) and Stonebridge Advisors LLC
(Investment Advisor)
___ Portfolios
None
INDEPENDENT TRUSTEES
Richard E. Erickson
1951
Trustee
•Indefinite term
•Since inception
Physician; Officer, Wheaton Orthopedics;
Limited Partner, Gundersen Real Estate
Limited Partnership (June 1992 to
December 2016)
___ Portfolios
None
17
Name and
Year of Birth
Position
and Offices
with Trust
Term of
Office and
Year First
Elected or
Appointed
Principal Occupations
During Past 5 Years
Number of
Portfolios
in the First
Trust Fund
Complex
Overseen
by Trustee
Other
Trusteeships or
Directorships
Held by
Trustee
During the
Past 5 Years
INDEPENDENT TRUSTEES
Thomas R. Kadlec
1957
Trustee
•Indefinite term
•Since inception
President, ADM Investor Services, Inc.
(Futures Commission Merchant)
___ Portfolios
Director of ADM
Investor Services,
Inc., ADM Investor
Services
International,
Futures Industry
Association, and
National Futures
Association
Robert F. Keith
1956
Trustee
•Indefinite term
•Since inception
President, Hibs Enterprises (Financial and
Management Consulting)
___ Portfolios
Director of Trust
Company of
Illinois
Niel B. Nielson
1954
Trustee
•Indefinite term
•Since inception
Senior Advisor (August 2018 to present),
Managing Director and Chief Operating
Officer (January 2015 to August 2018),
Pelita Harapan Educational Foundation
(Educational Products and Services)
___ Portfolios
None
Name and
Year of Birth
Position and
Offices with Trust
Term of Office and
Length of Service
Principal Occupations
During Past 5 Years
OFFICERS OF THE TRUST
James M. Dykas
1966
President and Chief
Executive Officer
•Indefinite term
•Since January 2016
Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer
(January 2016 to present), First Trust Advisors L.P.
and First Trust Portfolios L.P.; Chief Financial Officer
(January 2016 to present), BondWave LLC
(Software Development Company) and Stonebridge
Advisors LLC (Investment Advisor)
W. Scott Jardine
1960
Secretary and Chief Legal
Officer
•Indefinite term
•Since inception
General Counsel, First Trust Advisors L.P. and First
Trust Portfolios L.P.; Secretary and General Counsel,
BondWave LLC; and Secretary, Stonebridge Advisors
LLC
Daniel J. Lindquist
1970
Vice President
•Indefinite term
•Since inception
Managing Director, First Trust Advisors L.P. and First
Trust Portfolios L.P.
Kristi A. Maher
1966
Chief Compliance Officer
and Assistant Secretary
•Indefinite term
•Since inception
Deputy General Counsel, First Trust Advisors L.P.
and First Trust Portfolios L.P.
Donald P. Swade
1972
Treasurer, Chief Financial
Officer and Chief
Accounting Officer
•Indefinite term
•Since January 2016
Senior Vice President (July 2016 to Present), Vice
President (April 2012 to July 2016), First Trust
Advisors L.P. and First Trust Portfolios L.P.
Roger F. Testin
1966
Vice President
•Indefinite term
•Since inception
Senior Vice President, First Trust Advisors L.P. and
First Trust Portfolios L.P.
Stan Ueland
1970
Vice President
•Indefinite term
•Since inception
Senior Vice President, First Trust Advisors L.P. and
First Trust Portfolios L.P.
(1)
Mr. Bowen is deemed an 'interested person' of the Trust due to his position as Chief Executive Officer of First Trust, investment advisor of the Fund.
Unitary Board Leadership Structure
Each Trustee serves as a trustee of all open-end and closed-end funds in the First Trust Fund Complex (as defined below), which is known as a 'unitary' board leadership structure. Each Trustee currently serves as a trustee of First Trust Series Fund and First Trust Variable Insurance Trust, open-end funds with eight portfolios advised by First Trust; First Trust Senior Floating Rate Income Fund II, Macquarie/First Trust Global Infrastructure/Utilities Dividend & Income Fund, First Trust Energy Income and Growth Fund, First Trust Enhanced Equity Income Fund, First Trust/Aberdeen Global Opportunity Income Fund, First Trust Mortgage Income Fund, First Trust/Aberdeen Emerging Opportunity Fund, First Trust Specialty Finance and Financial Opportunities Fund, First Trust High Income Long/Short Fund, First Trust Energy Infrastructure Fund, First Trust MLP and Energy Income Fund, First Trust Intermediate Duration Preferred & Income Fund, First Trust Dynamic Europe Equity Income Fund, First Trust New Opportunities MLP & Energy Fund, First Trust Senior Floating Rate 2022 Target Term Fund and First Trust High Yield Opportunities 2027 Term Fund, closed-end funds advised by First Trust; and First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund, First
18
Trust Exchange-Traded Fund II, First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund III, First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund IV, First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund V, First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund VI, First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund VII, First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund VIII, First Trust Exchange-Traded AlphaDEX® Fund and First Trust Exchange-Traded AlphaDEX® Fund II, exchange-traded funds with ___ portfolios advised by First Trust (each a 'First Trust Fund' and collectively, the 'First Trust Fund Complex'). None of the Trustees who are not 'interested persons' of the Trust, nor any of their immediate family members, has ever been a director, officer or employee of, or consultant to, First Trust, First Trust Portfolios L.P. or their affiliates.
The management of the Fund, including general supervision of the duties performed for the Fund under the investment management agreement between the Trust, on behalf of the Fund, and the Advisor, is the responsibility of the Board of Trustees. The Trustees set broad policies for the Fund, choose the Trust's officers and hire the Fund's investment advisor and other service providers. The officers of the Trust manage the day-to-day operations and are responsible to the Board. The Board is composed of four Independent Trustees and one Interested Trustee. The Interested Trustee, James A. Bowen, serves as the Chairman of the Board for each fund in the First Trust Fund Complex.
The same five persons serve as Trustees on the Board and on the Boards of all other First Trust Funds. The unitary board structure was adopted for the First Trust Funds because of the efficiencies it achieves with respect to the governance and oversight of the First Trust Funds. Each First Trust Fund is subject to the rules and regulations of the 1940 Act (and other applicable securities laws), which means that many of the First Trust Funds face similar issues with respect to certain of their fundamental activities, including risk management, portfolio liquidity, portfolio valuation and financial reporting. Because of the similar and often overlapping issues facing the First Trust Funds, including among the First Trust exchange-traded funds, the Board of the First Trust Funds believes that maintaining a unitary board structure promotes efficiency and consistency in the governance and oversight of all First Trust Funds and reduces the costs, administrative burdens and possible conflicts that may result from having multiple boards. In adopting a unitary board structure, the Trustees seek to provide effective governance through establishing a board the overall composition of which will, as a body, possess the appropriate skills, diversity, independence and experience to oversee the Fund's business.
Annually, the Board reviews its governance structure and the committee structures, their performance and functions, and it reviews any processes that would enhance Board governance over the Fund's business. The Board has determined that its leadership structure, including the unitary board and committee structure, is appropriate based on the characteristics of the funds it serves and the characteristics of the First Trust Fund Complex as a whole.
In order to streamline communication between the Advisor and the Independent Trustees and create certain efficiencies, the Board has a Lead Independent Trustee who is responsible for: (i) coordinating activities of the Independent Trustees; (ii) workingwith the Advisor, Fund counsel and the independent legal counsel to the Independent Trustees to determine the agenda for Board meetings; (iii) serving as the principal contact for and facilitating communication between the Independent Trustees and the Fund's service providers, particularly the Advisor; and (iv) any other duties that the Independent Trustees may delegate to the Lead Independent Trustee. The Lead Independent Trustee is selected by the Independent Trustees and serves a three-year term or until his or her successor is selected.
The Board has established five standing committees (as described below) and has delegated certain of its responsibilities to those committees. The Board and its committees meet frequently throughout the year to oversee the Fund's activities, review contractual arrangements with and performance of service providers, oversee compliance with regulatory requirements and review Fund performance. The Independent Trustees are represented by independent legal counsel at all Board and committee meetings (other than meetings of the Executive Committee and Dividend Committee). Generally, the Board acts by majority vote of all the Trustees, including a majority vote of the Independent Trustees if required by applicable law.
The four Committee Chairmen and the Lead Independent Trustee rotate every three years in serving as Chairman of the Audit Committee, the Nominating and Governance Committee, the Valuation Committee or the Dividend Committee, or as Lead Independent Trustee. The Lead Independent Trustee and immediately preceding Lead Independent Trustee also serve on the Executive Committee with the Interested Trustee.
The five standing committees of the First Trust Fund Complex are: the Executive Committee, the Nominating and Governance Committee, the Valuation Committee, the Audit Committee and the Dividend Committee. The Executive Committee, which meets between Board meetings, is authorized to exercise all powers of and to act in the place of the Board of Trustees to the extent permitted by the Trust's Declaration of Trust and By Laws. Mr. Nielson, Mr. Bowen and Dr. Erickson are members of the Executive Committee.
19
The Nominating and Governance Committee is responsible for appointing and nominating non-interested persons to the Board of Trustees. Messrs. Erickson, Kadlec, Keith and Nielson are members of the Nominating and Governance Committee. If there is no vacancy on the Board of Trustees, the Board will not actively seek recommendations from other parties, including shareholders. The Board of Trustees adopted a mandatory retirement age of 75 for Trustees, beyond which age Trustees are ineligible to serve. The Committee will not consider new trustee candidates who are 72 years of age or older or will turn 72 years old during the initial term. When a vacancy on the Board of Trustees occurs or is anticipated to occur and nominations are sought to fill such vacancy, the Nominating and Governance Committee may seek nominations from those sources it deems appropriate in its discretion, including shareholders of the Fund. To submit a recommendation for nomination as a candidate for a position on the Board of Trustees, shareholders of the Fund should mail such recommendation to W. Scott Jardine, Secretary, at the Trust's address, 120 East Liberty Drive, Suite 400, Wheaton, Illinois 60187. Such recommendation shall include the following information: (i) evidence of Fund ownership of the person or entity recommending the candidate (if a Fund shareholder); (ii) a full description of the proposed candidate's background, including education, experience, current employment and date of birth; (iii) names and addresses of at least three professional references for the candidate; (iv) information as to whether the candidate is an 'interested person' in relation to the Fund, as such term is defined in the 1940 Act, and such other information that may be considered to impair the candidate's independence; and (v) any other information that may be helpful to the Committee in evaluating the candidate. If a recommendation is received with satisfactorily completed information regarding a candidate during a time when a vacancy exists on the Board or during such other time as the Nominating and Governance Committee is accepting recommendations, the recommendation will be forwarded to the Chairman of the Nominating and Governance Committee and to counsel to the Independent Trustees.
The Valuation Committee is responsible for the oversight of the valuation procedures of the Fund (the 'Valuation Procedures'), for determining the fair value of the Fund's securities or other assets under certain circumstances as described in the Valuation Procedures and for evaluating the performance of any pricing service for the Fund. Messrs. Erickson, Kadlec, Keith and Nielson are members of the Valuation Committee.
The Audit Committee is responsible for overseeing the Fund's accounting and financial reporting process, the system of internal controls and audit process and for evaluating and appointing independent auditors (subject also to Board approval). Messrs. Erickson, Kadlec, Keith and Nielson serve on the Audit Committee.
The Dividend Committee is responsible for assisting the Board in, or assuming the authority and power of the Board with respect to, the declaration and setting of the Fund's dividends. Messrs. Erickson and Nielson serve on the Dividend Committee.
Executive Officers
The executive officers of the Trust hold the same positions with each fund in the First Trust Fund Complex (representing ___ portfolios) as they hold with the Trust, except Mr. Ueland who is an executive officer of only the ETFs advised by First Trust and Mr. Testin who is an executive officer of only the ETFs and open-end funds advised by First Trust.
Risk Oversight
As part of the general oversight of the Fund, the Board is involved in the risk oversight of the Fund. The Board has adopted and periodically reviews policies and procedures designed to address the Fund's risks. Oversight of investment and compliance risk is performed primarily at the Board level in conjunction with the Advisor's investment oversight group and the Trust's Chief Compliance Officer ('CCO'). Oversight of other risks also occurs at the committee level. The Advisor's investment oversight group reports to the Board at quarterly meetings regarding, among other things, Fund performance and the various drivers of such performance. The Board reviews reports on the Fund's and the service providers' compliance policies and procedures at each quarterly Board meeting and receives an annual report from the CCO regarding the operations of the Fund's and the service providers' compliance programs. In addition, the Independent Trustees meet privately each quarter with the CCO. The Audit Committee reviews with the Advisor the Fund's major financial risk exposures and the steps the Advisor has taken to monitor and control these exposures, including the Fund's risk assessment and risk management policies and guidelines. The Audit Committee also, as appropriate, reviews in a general manner the processes other Board committees have in place with respect to risk assessment and risk management. The Nominating and Governance Committee monitors all matters related to the corporate governance of the Trust. The Valuation Committee monitors valuation risk and compliance with the Fund's Valuation Procedures and oversees the pricing services and actions by the Advisor's Pricing Committee with respect to the valuation of portfolio securities.
Not all risks that may affect the Fund can be identified nor can controls be developed to eliminate or mitigate their occurrence or effects. It may not be practical or cost effective to eliminate or mitigate certain risks, the processes and controls
20
employed to address certain risks may be limited in their effectiveness, and some risks are simply beyond the reasonable control of the Fund or the Advisor or other service providers. For instance, as the use of Internet technology has become more prevalent, the Fund and its service providers have become more susceptible to potential operational risks through breaches in cyber security (generally, intentional and unintentional events that may cause the Fund or a service provider to lose proprietary information, suffer data corruption or lose operational capacity). There can be no guarantee that any risk management systems established by the Fund, its service providers, or issuers of the securities in which the Fund invests to reduce cyber security risks will succeed, and the Fund cannot control such systems put in place by service providers, issuers or other third parties whose operations may affect the Fund and/or its shareholders. Moreover, it is necessary to bear certain risks (such as investment-related risks) to achieve the Fund's goals. As a result of the foregoing and other factors, the Fund's ability to manage risk is subject to substantial limitations.
Board Diversification and Trustee Qualifications
As described above, the Nominating and Governance Committee of the Board oversees matters related to the selection and nomination of Trustees. The Nominating and Governance Committee seeks to establish an effective Board with an appropriate range of skills and diversity, including, as appropriate, differences in background, professional experience, education, vocation, and other individual characteristics and traits in the aggregate. Each Trustee must meet certain basic requirements, including relevant skills and experience, time availability and, if qualifying as an Independent Trustee, independence from the Advisor, underwriters or other service providers, including any affiliates of these entities.
Listed below for each current Trustee are the experiences, qualifications and attributes that led to the conclusion, as of the date of this SAI, that each current Trustee should serve as a Trustee in light of the Trust's business and structure.
Richard E. Erickson, M.D., is an orthopedic surgeon. He also has been President of Wheaton Orthopedics, a co-owner and director of a fitness center and a limited partner of two real estate companies. Dr. Erickson has served as a Trustee of each First Trust Fund since its inception and of the First Trust Funds since 1999. Dr. Erickson has also served as the Lead Independent Trustee (2008-2009 and 2017-2019) and on the Executive Committee (2008-2009 and 2017-present), Chairman of the Nominating and Governance Committee (2003-2007 and 2014-2016), Chairman of the Audit Committee (2012-2013) and Chairman of the Valuation Committee (June 2006-2007 and 2010-2011) of the First Trust Funds. He currently serves as Chairman of the Valuation Committee (since January 1, 2020) of the First Trust Funds.
Thomas R. Kadlec is President of ADM Investor Services Inc. ('ADMIS'), a futures commission merchant and wholly-owned subsidiary of the Archer Daniels Midland Company ('ADM'). Mr. Kadlec has been employed by ADMIS and its affiliates since 1990 in various accounting, financial, operations and risk management capacities. Mr. Kadlec serves on the boards of several international affiliates of ADMIS and served as a member of ADM's Integrated Risk Committee from 2008-2018, which was tasked with the duty of implementing and communicating enterprise-wide risk management. In 2014, Mr. Kadlec was elected to the board of the Futures Industry Association. In 2017, Mr. Kadlec was elected to the board of the National Futures Association. Mr. Kadlec has served as a Trustee of each First Trust Fund since its inception. Mr. Kadlec also served on the Executive Committee from the organization of the first First Trust closed-end fund in 2003 through 2005 (and 2014-2019) until he was elected as the first Lead Independent Trustee in December 2005, serving as such through 2007 (and 2014-2016). He also served as Chairman of the Valuation Committee (2008-2009 and 2017-2019), Chairman of the Audit Committee (2010-2011) and Chairman of the Nominating and Governance Committee (2012-2013). He currently serves as Chairman of the Audit Committee (since January 1, 2020) of the First Trust Funds.
Robert F. Keith is President of Hibs Enterprises, a financial and management consulting firm. Mr. Keith has been with Hibs Enterprises since 2003. Prior thereto, Mr. Keith spent 18 years with ServiceMaster and Aramark, including three years as President and COO of ServiceMaster Consumer Services, where he led the initial expansion of certain products overseas; five years as President and COO of ServiceMaster Management Services; and two years as President of Aramark ServiceMaster Management Services. Mr. Keith is a certified public accountant and also has held the positions of Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer of ServiceMaster, at which time he oversaw the financial aspects of ServiceMaster's expansion of its Management Services division into Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Mr. Keith has served as a Trustee of the First Trust Funds since June 2006. Mr. Keith has also served as the Chairman of the Audit Committee (2008-2009 and 2017-2019), Chairman of the Nominating and Governance Committee (2010-2011) and Chairman of the Valuation Committee (2014-2016) of the First Trust Funds. He served as Lead Independent Trustee and on the Executive Committee (2012-2016) and currently serves as Chairman of the Nominating and Governance Committee (since January 1, 2020) of the First Trust Funds.
Niel B. Nielson, Ph.D., has been the Senior Advisor of Pelita Harapan Educational Foundation, a global provider of educational products and services since August 2018. Prior thereto, Mr. Nielson served as the Managing Director and Chief
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Operating Officer of Pelita Harapan Educational Foundation for three years. Mr. Nielson formerly served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Dew Learning LLC from June 2012 through September 2014. Mr. Nielson formerly served as President of Covenant College (2002-2012), and as a partner and trader (of options and futures contracts for hedging options) for Ritchie Capital Markets Group (1996-1997), where he held an administrative management position at this proprietary derivatives trading company. He also held prior positions in new business development for ServiceMaster Management Services Company and in personnel and human resources for NationsBank of North Carolina, N.A. and Chicago Research and Trading Group, Ltd. ('CRT'). His international experience includes serving as a director of CRT Europe, Inc. for two years, directing out of London all aspects of business conducted by the U.K. and European subsidiary of CRT. Prior to that, Mr. Nielson was a trader and manager at CRT in Chicago. Mr. Nielson has served as a Trustee of each First Trust Fund since its inception and of the First Trust Funds since 1999. Mr. Nielson has also served as the Chairman of the Audit Committee (2003-2006 and 2014-2016), Chairman of the Valuation Committee (2007-2008), Chairman of the Nominating and Governance Committee (2008-2009 and 2017-2019) and Lead Independent Trustee and a member of the Executive Committee (2010-2011). He currently serves as Lead Independent Trustee and on the Executive Committee (since January 1, 2020) and as Chairman of the Dividend Committee (since October 19, 2020) of the First Trust Funds.
James A. Bowen is Chief Executive Officer of First Trust Advisors L.P. and First Trust Portfolios L.P. Mr. Bowen is involved in the day-to-day management of the First Trust Funds and serves on the Executive Committee. He has over 35 years of experience in the investment company business in sales, sales management and executive management. Mr. Bowen has served as a Trustee of each First Trust Fund since its inception and of the First Trust Funds since 1999.
Effective January 1, 2020, the fixed annual retainer paid to the Independent Trustees is $255,000 per year and an annual per fund fee of $2,500 for each closed-end fund and actively managed fund, $750 for each defined outcome fund and $250 for each index fund. The fixed annual retainer is allocated equally among each fund in the First Trust Fund Complex rather than being allocated pro rata based on each fund's net assets. Additionally, the Lead Independent Trustee is paid $30,000 annually, the Chairman of the Audit Committee or Valuation Committee are each paid $20,000 annually and the Chairman of the Nominating and Governance Committee is paid $10,000 annually to serve in such capacities with compensation allocated pro rata among each fund in the First Trust Fund Complex based on its net assets.
The following table sets forth the estimated compensation (including reimbursement for travel and out-of-pocket expenses) paid by the Fund and the First Trust Fund Complex to each of the Independent Trustees for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2020 and the calendar year ended December 31, 2020, respectively. The Trust has no retirement or pension plans. The officers and Trustee who are 'interested persons' as designated above serve without any compensation from the Trust. The Trust has no employees. Its officers are compensated by First Trust.
Name of Trustee
Estimated Compensation from
the Fund (1)
Total Compensation from
the First Trust Fund Complex (2)
Richard E. Erickson
$_____
$472,625
Thomas R. Kadlec
$_____
$472,625
Robert F. Keith
$_____
$462,625
Niel B. Nielson
$_____
$482,625
(1)
The estimated compensation to be paid by the Fund to the Independent Trustees for one fiscal year for services to the Fund.
(2)
The total compensation paid to the Independent Trustees for the calendar year ended December 31, 2020 for services to the 194 portfolios existing in 2020, which consisted of 8 open-end mutual funds, 16 closed-end funds and 170 exchange-traded funds.
The following table sets forth the dollar range of equity securities beneficially owned by the Trustees in the Fund and in other funds overseen by the Trustees in the First Trust Fund Complex as of December 31, 2020:
Trustee
Dollar Range of Equity
Securities in the Fund
(Number of Shares
Held)
Aggregate Dollar
Range of Equity
Securities in All
Registered Investment
Companies Overseen
by Trustee
in the First Trust Fund
Complex
Interested Trustee
James A. Bowen
None
Over $100,000
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Trustee
Dollar Range of Equity
Securities in the Fund
(Number of Shares
Held)
Aggregate Dollar
Range of Equity
Securities in All
Registered Investment
Companies Overseen
by Trustee
in the First Trust Fund
Complex
Independent Trustees
Richard E. Erickson
None
Over $100,000
Thomas R. Kadlec
None
Over $100,000
Robert F. Keith
None
Over $100,000
Niel B. Nielson
None
Over $100,000
As of ________, 2021, the Independent Trustees of the Trust and their immediate family members did not own beneficially or of record any class of securities of an investment advisor or principal underwriter of the Fund or any person directly or indirectly controlling, controlled by or under common control with an investment advisor or principal underwriter of the Fund.
As of ________, 2021, the officers and Trustees, in the aggregate, owned less than 1% of the shares of the Fund.
As of __________, 2021, First Trust Portfolios was the sole shareholder of the Fund. As sole shareholder, First Trust Portfolios has the ability to control the outcome of any item presented to shareholders for approval.
Investment Advisor. First Trust, 120 East Liberty Drive, Suite 400, Wheaton, Illinois 60187, is the investment advisor to the Fund. First Trust is a limited partnership with one limited partner, Grace Partners of DuPage L.P., and one general partner, The Charger Corporation. Grace Partners of DuPage L.P. is a limited partnership with one general partner, The Charger Corporation, and a number of limited partners. The Charger Corporation is an Illinois corporation controlled by James A. Bowen, the Chief Executive Officer of First Trust. First Trust discharges its responsibilities to the Fund subject to the policies of the Board of Trustees.
First Trust provides investment tools and portfolios for advisors and investors. First Trust is committed to theoretically sound portfolio construction and empirically verifiable investment management approaches. Its asset management philosophy and investment discipline are deeply rooted in the application of intuitive factor analysis and model implementation to enhance investment decisions.
First Trust acts as investment advisor for and manages the investment and reinvestment of the assets of the Fund. First Trust also administers the Trust's business affairs, provides office facilities and equipment and certain clerical, bookkeeping and administrative services, and permits any of its officers or employees to serve without compensation as Trustees or officers of the Trust if elected to such positions.
Pursuant to an investment management agreement between First Trust and the Trust, on behalf of the Fund (the 'Investment Management Agreement'), First Trust manages the investment of the Fund's assets and is responsible for paying all expenses of the Fund, excluding the fee payments under the Investment Management Agreement, interest, taxes, brokerage commissions, acquired fund fees and expenses, if any, and other expenses connected with the execution of portfolio transactions, distribution and service fees payable pursuant to a Rule 12b-1 plan, if any, and extraordinary expenses. The Fund has agreed to pay First Trust an annual unitary management fee equal to 0.55% of its average daily net assets.
Under the Investment Management Agreement, First Trust shall not be liable for any loss sustained by reason of the purchase, sale or retention of any security, whether or not such purchase, sale or retention shall have been based upon the investigation and research made by any other individual, firm or corporation, if such recommendation shall have been selected with due care and in good faith, except loss resulting from willful misfeasance, bad faith, or gross negligence on the part of First Trust in the performance of its obligations and duties, or by reason of its reckless disregard of its obligations and duties. The Investment Management Agreement terminates automatically upon assignment and is terminable at any time without penalty as to the Fund by the Board of Trustees, including a majority of the Independent Trustees, or by vote of the holders of a majority of the Fund's outstanding voting securities on 60 days' written notice to First Trust, or by First Trust on 60 days' written notice to the Fund.
Portfolio Managers. The portfolio managers are primarily and jointly responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. There are currently five portfolio managers, as follows:
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Name
Position with
First Trust
Length of Service
with First Trust
Principal Occupation During Past Five Years
William Housey, CFA
Senior Vice President
and Portfolio Manager
Since 2010
Managing Director of Fixed Income,
Senior Vice President and Senior Portfolio
Manager First Trust Advisors L.P. and First Trust
Portfolios L.P.
Todd Larson, CFA
Senior Vice President
and Portfolio Manager
Since 2007
Senior Vice President, Portfolio Manager, First
Trust Advisors L.P. and First Trust Portfolios L.P.
Eric Maisel, CFA
Senior Vice President
and Portfolio Manager
Since 2008
Senior Vice President and Portfolio Manager,
First Trust Advisors L.P. and First Trust
Portfolios L.P.
Jeffrey Scott, CFA
Senior Vice President,
Deputy Credit Officer
and Portfolio Manager
Since 2010
Senior Vice President, Deputy Credit Officer
and Portfolio Manager, First Trust Advisors L.P.
and First Trust Portfolios L.P.
Nathan Simons, CFA
Portfolio Manager
Since 2020
Portfolio Manager
William Housey, CFA:  Mr. Housey serves as the Managing Director of First Trust's Fixed Income Group and Senior Portfolio Manager of First Trust.
Todd Larson, CFA: As head of First Trust's Fixed Income Group, Mr. Larson is responsible for implementing fixed income investment strategies for First Trust's institutional clients.
Eric Maisel, CFA:Mr. Maisel serves as a Portfolio Manager for First Trust's Fixed Income Group.
Jeffrey Scott, CFA: Mr. Scott serves as the Deputy Credit Officer for First Trust's Leveraged Finance Investment Team.
Nathan Simons, CFA: Mr. Simons serves as a Portfolio Manager for First Trust.
Compensation.The compensation structure for each portfolio manager is based upon a fixed salary as well as a discretionary bonus determined by the management of First Trust. Salaries are determined by management and are based upon an individual's position and overall value to the firm. Bonuses are also determined by management and are based upon an individual's overall contribution to the success of the firm and the profitability of the firm. Salaries and bonuses for the portfolio managers are not based upon criteria such as performance of the Fund or the value of assets included in the Fund's portfolio.
Accounts Managed by Portfolio Managers
The portfolio managers manage the investment vehicles (other than the Fund) with the number of accounts and assets, as of _________, 2021, set forth in the table below:
Portfolio Manager
Registered
Investment Companies
Number of Accounts
($ Assets)
Other Pooled
Investment Vehicles
Number of Accounts
($ Assets)
Other Accounts
Number of Accounts
($ Assets)
William Housey, CFA
__ ($_____________)
__ ($_____________)
___
Todd Larson, CFA
__ ($_____________)
__ ($_____________)
___
Eric Maisel, CFA
__ ($_____________)
__ ($_____________)
___
Jeffrey Scott, CFA
__ ($_____________)
__ ($_____________)
___
Nathan Simons, CFA
__ ($_____________)
__ ($_____________)
___
Conflicts. None of the accounts managed by the portfolio managers pay an advisory fee that is based upon the performance of the account. In addition, First Trust believes that there are no material conflicts of interest that may arise in connection with the portfolio managers' management of the Fund's investments and the investments of the other accounts managed by the portfolio managers. However, because the investment strategy of the Fund and the investment strategies of many of the other accounts managed by the portfolio managers are based on fairly mechanical investment processes, the portfolio managers may recommend that certain clients sell and other clients buy a given security at the same time. In addition, because the investment strategies of the Fund and other accounts managed by the portfolio managers generally result in the clients investing in readily available securities, the Advisor believes that there should not be material conflicts in the allocation of investment opportunities between the Fund and other accounts managed by the portfolio managers.
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Brokerage Allocations
First Trust is responsible for decisions to buy and sell securities for the Fund and for the placement of the Fund's securities business, the negotiation of the commissions to be paid on brokered transactions, the prices for principal trades in securities, and the allocation of portfolio brokerage and principal business. It is the policy of First Trust to seek the best execution at the best security price available with respect to each transaction, and with respect to brokered transactions in light of the overall quality of brokerage and research services provided to First Trust and its clients. The best price to the Fund means the best net price without regard to the mix between purchase or sale price and commission, if any. Purchases may be made from underwriters, dealers and, on occasion, the issuers. Commissions will be paid on the Fund's futures and options transactions, if any. The purchase price of portfolio securities purchased from an underwriter or dealer may include underwriting commissions and dealer spreads. The Fund may pay markups on principal transactions. In selecting broker-dealers and in negotiating commissions, First Trust considers, among other things, the firm's reliability, the quality of its execution services on a continuing basis and its financial condition. Fund portfolio transactions may be effected with broker-dealers who have assisted investors in the purchase of shares.
Section 28(e) of the 1934 Act permits an investment advisor, under certain circumstances, to cause an account to pay a broker or dealer who supplies brokerage and research services a commission for effecting a transaction in excess of the amount of commission another broker or dealer would have charged for effecting the transaction. Brokerage and research services include (a) furnishing advice as to the value of securities, the advisability of investing, purchasing or selling securities, and the availability of securities or purchasers or sellers of securities; (b) furnishing analyses and reports concerning issuers, industries, securities, economic factors and trends, portfolio strategy and the performance of accounts; and (c) effecting securities transactions and performing functions incidental thereto (such as clearance, settlement and custody). Such brokerage and research services are often referred to as 'soft dollars.' First Trust has advised the Board of Trustees that it does not currently intend to use soft dollars.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, in selecting brokers, First Trust may in the future consider investment and market information and other research, such as economic, securities and performance measurement research, provided by such brokers, and the quality and reliability of brokerage services, including execution capability, performance and financial responsibility. Accordingly, the commissions charged by any such broker may be greater than the amount another firm might charge if First Trust determines in good faith that the amount of such commissions is reasonable in relation to the value of the research information and brokerage services provided by such broker to First Trust or the Trust. In addition, First Trust must determine that the research information received in this manner provides the Fund with benefits by supplementing the research otherwise available to the Fund. The Investment Management Agreement provides that such higher commissions will not be paid by the Fund unless the Advisor determines in good faith that the amount is reasonable in relation to the services provided. The investment advisory fees paid by the Fund to First Trust under the Investment Management Agreement would not be reduced as a result of receipt by First Trust of research services.
First Trust places portfolio transactions for other advisory accounts advised by it, and research services furnished by firms through which the Fund effects its securities transactions may be used by First Trust in servicing all of its accounts; not all of such services may be used by First Trust in connection with the Fund. First Trust believes it is not possible to measure separately the benefits from research services to each of the accounts (including the Fund) advised by it. Because the volume and nature of the trading activities of the accounts are not uniform, the amount of commissions in excess of those charged by another broker paid by each account for brokerage and research services will vary. However, First Trust believes such costs to the Fund will not be disproportionate to the benefits received by the Fund on a continuing basis. First Trust seeks to allocate portfolio transactions equitably whenever concurrent decisions are made to purchase or sell securities by the Fund and another advisory account. In some cases, this procedure could have an adverse effect on the price or the amount of securities available to the Fund. In making such allocations between the Fund and other advisory accounts, the main factors considered by First Trust are the respective investment objectives, the relative size of portfolio holding of the same or comparable securities, the availability of cash for investment and the size of investment commitments generally held.
Administrator, Fund Accounting Agent, Custodian, Transfer Agent, Distributor and Exchange
Administrator and Fund Accounting Agent. The Fund has appointed The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation ('BNYM'), located at 240 Greenwich Street, New York, New York 10286, to serve as the Fund's administrator and provide the Fund with accounting services pursuant to a fund administration and accounting agreement (the 'Administration and Accounting Agreement'). Under the Administration and Accounting Agreement, BNYM is obligated, on a continuous basis, to provide
25
such administrative services as the Board reasonably deems necessary for the proper administration of the Trust and the Fund. BNYM generally will assist in many aspects of the Trust's and the Fund's operations, including accounting, bookkeeping and record keeping services (including, without limitation, the maintenance of such books and records as are required under the 1940 Act and the rules thereunder, except as maintained by other service providers), assist in preparing reports to shareholders or investors, prepare and file tax returns, supply financial information and supporting data for reports to and filings with the SEC and various state Blue Sky authorities and supply supporting documentation for meetings of the Board.
Custodian. The Trust has appointed BNYM to serve as the Fund's custodian pursuant to a custody agreement (the 'Custody Agreement'). Pursuant to the terms of the Custody Agreement, BNYM is generally responsible for the safekeeping of the Fund's assets and performing various other administrative duties set forth in the agreement.
Transfer Agent. The Trust has appointed BNYM to serve as the Fund's transfer agent and dividend disbursing agent pursuant to a transfer agency and service agreement (the 'Transfer Agency Agreement'). Pursuant to the terms of the Transfer Agency Agreement, BNYM is responsible for performing and facilitating the purchases and redemptions of Creation Unit Aggregations, as well as performing other customary services of a transfer agent and dividend disbursing agent.
As set forth in the Administration and Accounting Agreement, Custody Agreement and Transfer Agency Agreement, the Trust, on behalf of the Fund, has agreed to indemnify and hold harmless BNYM from certain costs, expenses, damages, liabilities or claims which are sustained or incurred or which may be asserted against BNYM, provided that such costs, expenses, damages, liabilities and claims did not result from BNYM's own negligence or willful misconduct.
As compensation for the services provided by BNYM under the Administration and Accounting Agreement, Custody Agreement and Transfer Agency Agreement, the Trust, on behalf of the Fund, has agreed to pay to BNYM such compensation as may be specifically agreed upon from time to time and reimburse BNYM for out-of-pocket expenses which are a normal incident of the services provided under the agreements. Pursuant to the terms of the Investment Management Agreement, the the Fund does not directly pay BNYM for these services, as First Trust has assumed responsibility for the payment of these expenses out of the unitary management fee it receives from the Fund.
Distributor. First Trust Portfolios L.P., an affiliate of First Trust, is the distributor ('FTP' or the 'Distributor') and principal underwriter of the shares of the Fund. Its principal address is 120 East Liberty Drive, Suite 400, Wheaton, Illinois 60187. The Distributor has entered into a Distribution Agreement with the Trust pursuant to which it distributes Fund shares. Shares are continuously offered for sale by the Fund through the Distributor only in Creation Unit Aggregations, as described in the Prospectus and below under the heading 'Creations and Redemption of Creation Unit Aggregations.'
12b-1 Plan. The Trust has adopted a Plan of Distribution pursuant to Rule 12b-1 under the 1940 Act (the 'Plan') pursuant to which the Fund may reimburse the Distributor up to a maximum annual rate of 0.25% of its average daily net assets.
Under the Plan and as required by Rule 12b-1, the Trustees will receive and review after the end of each calendar quarter a written report provided by the Distributor of the amounts expended under the Plan and the purpose for which such expenditures were made. With the exception of the Distributor and its affiliates, no 'interested person' of the Trust (as that term is defined in the 1940 Act) and no Trustee of the Trust has a direct or indirect financial interest in the operation of the Plan or any related agreement.
No such fee is currently paid by the Fund under the Plan and, pursuant to a contractual agreement, the Fund will not pay 12b-1 fees any time before [_________].
Aggregations. Fund shares in less than Creation Unit Aggregations are not distributed by the Distributor. The Distributor will deliver the Prospectus and, upon request, this SAI to persons purchasing Creation Unit Aggregations and will maintain records of both orders placed with it and confirmations of acceptance furnished by it. The Distributor is a broker-dealer registered under the 1934 Act and a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ('FINRA').
The Distribution Agreement provides that it may be terminated at any time, without the payment of any penalty, on at least 60 days' written notice by the Trust to the Distributor (i) by vote of a majority of the Independent Trustees or (ii) by vote of a majority of the outstanding voting securities (as defined in the 1940 Act) of the Fund. The Distribution Agreement will terminate automatically in the event of its assignment (as defined in the 1940 Act).
The Distributor has entered into agreements with participants that utilize the facilities of the Depositary Trust Company (the 'DTC Participants'), which have international operational capabilities and place orders for Creation Unit Aggregations of
26
Fund shares. Participating Parties (which are participants in the Continuous Net Settlement System of the National Securities Clearing Corporation) shall be DTC Participants.
Exchange. The only relationship that the Exchange has with First Trust or the Distributor of the Fund in connection with the Fund is that the Exchange lists the shares of the Fund pursuant to its listing agreement with the Trust. The Exchange is not responsible for and has not participated in the determination of pricing or the timing of the issuance or sale of the shares of the Fund or in the determination or calculation of the asset value of the Fund. The Exchange has no obligation or liability in connection with the administration, marketing or trading of the Fund.
Additional Payments to Financial Intermediaries
First Trust or its affiliates may from time to time make payments, out of their own resources, to certain financial intermediaries that sell shares of First Trust mutual funds and ETFs ('First Trust Funds') to promote the sales and retention of Fund shares by those firms and their customers. The amounts of these payments vary by intermediary. The level of payments that First Trust is willing to provide to a particular intermediary may be affected by, among other factors, (i) the firm's total assets or Fund shares held in and recent net investments into First Trust Funds, (ii) the value of the assets invested in the First Trust Funds by the intermediary's customers, (iii) redemption rates, (iv) its ability to attract and retain assets, (v) the intermediary's reputation in the industry, (vi) the level and/or type of marketing assistance and educational activities provided by the intermediary, (vii) the firm's level of participation in First Trust Funds' sales and marketing programs, (viii) the firm's compensation program for its registered representatives who sell Fund shares and provide services to Fund shareholders, and (ix) the asset class of the First Trust Funds for which these payments are provided. Such payments are generally asset-based but also may include the payment of a lump sum.
First Trust may also make payments to certain intermediaries for certain administrative services and shareholder processing services, including record keeping and sub-accounting of shareholder accounts pursuant to a sub-transfer agency, omnibus account service or sub-accounting agreement. All fees payable by First Trust under this category of services may be charged back to the Fund, subject to approval by the Board.
First Trust and/or its affiliates may make payments, out of its own assets, to those firms as compensation and/or reimbursement for marketing support and/or program servicing to selected intermediaries that are registered as holders or dealers of record for accounts invested in one or more of the First Trust Funds or that make First Trust Fund shares available through certain selected Fund no-transaction fee institutional platforms and fee-based wrap programs at certain financial intermediaries. Program servicing payments typically apply to employee benefit plans, such as retirement plans, or fee-based advisory programs but may apply to retail sales and assets in certain situations. The payments are based on such factors as the type and nature of services or support furnished by the intermediary and are generally asset-based. Services for which an intermediary receives marketing support payments may include, but are not limited to, business planning assistance, advertising, educating the intermediary's personnel about First Trust Funds in connection with shareholder financial planning needs, placement on the intermediary's preferred or recommended fund list, and access to sales meetings, sales representatives and management representatives of the intermediary. In addition, intermediaries may be compensated for enabling representatives of First Trust and/or its affiliates to participate in and/or present at conferences or seminars, sales or training programs for invited registered representatives and other employees, client and investor events and other events sponsored by the intermediary. Services for which an intermediary receives program servicing payments typically include, but are not limited to, record keeping, reporting or transaction processing and shareholder communications and other account administration services, but may also include services rendered in connection with Fund/investment selection and monitoring, employee enrollment and education, plan balance rollover or separation, or other similar services. An intermediary may perform program services itself or may arrange with a third party to perform program services. These payments, if any, are in addition to the service fee and any applicable omnibus sub-accounting fees paid to these firms with respect to these services by the First Trust Funds out of Fund assets.
From time to time, First Trust and/or its affiliates, at its expense, may provide other compensation to intermediaries that sell or arrange for the sale of shares of the First Trust Funds, which may be in addition to marketing support and program servicing payments described above. For example, First Trust and/or its affiliates may: (i) compensate intermediaries for National Securities Clearing Corporation networking system services (e.g., shareholder communication, account statements, trade confirmations and tax reporting) on an asset-based or per-account basis; (ii) compensate intermediaries for providing Fund shareholder trading information; (iii) make one-time or periodic payments to reimburse selected intermediaries for items such as ticket charges (i.e., fees that an intermediary charges its representatives for effecting transactions in Fund shares) or exchange order, operational charges (e.g., fees that an intermediary charges for establishing the Fund on its trading system), and literature
27
printing and/or distribution costs; (iv) at the direction of a retirement plan's sponsor, reimburse or pay direct expenses of an employee benefit plan that would otherwise be payable by the plan; and (v) provide payments to broker-dealers to help defray their technology or infrastructure costs.
When not provided for in a marketing support or program servicing agreement, First Trust and/or its affiliates may also pay intermediaries for enabling First Trust and/or its affiliates to participate in and/or present at conferences or seminars, sales or training programs for invited registered representatives and other intermediary employees, client and investor events and other intermediary-sponsored events, and for travel expenses, including lodging incurred by registered representatives and other employees in connection with prospecting, asset retention and due diligence trips. These payments may vary depending upon the nature of the event. First Trust and/or its affiliates make payments for such events as it deems appropriate, subject to its internal guidelines and applicable law.
First Trust and/or its affiliates occasionally sponsor due diligence meetings for registered representatives during which they receive updates on various First Trust Funds and are afforded the opportunity to speak with portfolio managers. Although invitations to these meetings are not conditioned on selling a specific number of shares, those who have shown an interest in First Trust Funds are more likely to be considered. To the extent permitted by their firm's policies and procedures, all or a portion of registered representatives' expenses in attending these meetings may be covered by First Trust and/or its affiliates.
The amounts of payments referenced above made by First Trust and/or its affiliates could be significant and may create an incentive for an intermediary or its representatives to recommend or offer shares of the First Trust Funds to its customers. The intermediary may elevate the prominence or profile of the First Trust Funds within the intermediary's organization by, for example, placing the First Trust Funds on a list of preferred or recommended funds and/or granting First Trust and/or its affiliates preferential or enhanced opportunities to promote the First Trust Funds in various ways within the intermediary's organization. These payments are made pursuant to negotiated agreements with intermediaries. The payments do not change the price paid by investors for the purchase of a share or the amount the Fund will receive as proceeds from such sales. Furthermore, many of these payments are not reflected in the fees and expenses listed in the fee table section of the Fund's Prospectus because they are not paid by the Fund. The types of payments described herein are not mutually exclusive, and a single intermediary may receive some or all types of payments as described.
Other compensation may be offered to the extent not prohibited by state laws or any self-regulatory agency, such as FINRA. Investors can ask their intermediaries for information about any payments they receive from First Trust and/or its affiliates and the services it provides for those payments. Investors may wish to take intermediary payment arrangements into account when considering and evaluating any recommendations relating to Fund shares.
Additional Information
Book Entry Only System. The following information supplements and should be read in conjunction with the Prospectus.
DTC Acts as Securities Depository for Fund Shares. Shares of the Fund are represented by securities registered in the name of The Depository Trust Company ('DTC') or its nominee, Cede & Co., and deposited with, or on behalf of, DTC.
DTC, a limited-purpose trust company, was created to hold securities of its participants (the 'DTC Participants') and to facilitate the clearance and settlement of securities transactions among the DTC Participants in such securities through electronic book-entry changes in accounts of the DTC Participants, thereby eliminating the need for physical movement of securities, certificates. DTC Participants include securities brokers and dealers, banks, trust companies, clearing corporations and certain other organizations, some of whom (and/or their representatives) own DTC. More specifically, DTC is owned by a number of its DTC Participants and by the New York Stock Exchange (the 'NYSE') and FINRA. Access to the DTC system is also available to others such as banks, brokers, dealers and trust companies that clear through or maintain a custodial relationship with a DTC Participant, either directly or indirectly (the 'Indirect Participants').
Beneficial ownership of shares is limited to DTC Participants, Indirect Participants and persons holding interests through DTC Participants and Indirect Participants. Ownership of beneficial interests in shares (owners of such beneficial interests are referred to herein as 'Beneficial Owners') is shown on, and the transfer of ownership is effected only through, records maintained by DTC (with respect to DTC Participants) and on the records of DTC Participants (with respect to Indirect Participants and Beneficial Owners that are not DTC Participants). Beneficial Owners will receive from or through the DTC Participant a written confirmation relating to their purchase and sale of shares.
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Conveyance of all notices, statements and other communications to Beneficial Owners is effected as follows. Pursuant to a letter agreement between DTC and the Trust, DTC is required to make available to the Trust upon request and for a fee to be charged to the Trust a listing of the shares of the Fund held by each DTC Participant. The Trust shall inquire of each such DTC Participant as to the number of Beneficial Owners holding shares, directly or indirectly, through such DTC Participant. The Trust shall provide each such DTC Participant with copies of such notice, statement or other communication, in such form, number and at such place as such DTC Participant may reasonably request, in order that such notice, statement or communication may be transmitted by such DTC Participant, directly or indirectly, to such Beneficial Owners. In addition, the Trust shall pay to each such DTC Participants a fair and reasonable amount as reimbursement for the expenses attendant to such transmittal, all subject to applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.
Fund distributions shall be made to DTC or its nominee, as the registered holder of all Fund shares. DTC or its nominee, upon receipt of any such distributions, shall immediately credit DTC Participants' accounts with payments in amounts proportionate to their respective beneficial interests in shares of the Fund as shown on the records of DTC or its nominee. Payments by DTC Participants to Indirect Participants and Beneficial Owners of shares held through such DTC Participants will be governed by standing instructions and customary practices, as is now the case with securities held for the accounts of customers in bearer form or registered in a 'street name,' and will be the responsibility of such DTC Participants.
The Trust has no responsibility or liability for any aspect of the records relating to or notices to Beneficial Owners, or payments made on account of beneficial ownership interests in such shares, or for maintaining, supervising or reviewing any records relating to such beneficial ownership interests, or for any other aspect of the relationship between DTC and the DTC Participants or the relationship between such DTC Participants and the Indirect Participants and Beneficial Owners owning through such DTC Participants.
DTC may decide to discontinue providing its service with respect to shares at any time by giving reasonable notice to the Trust and discharging its responsibilities with respect thereto under applicable law. Under such circumstances, the Trust shall take action to find a replacement for DTC to perform its functions at a comparable cost.
Policy Regarding Investment in Other Investment Companies. The Fund will not rely on Sections 12(d)(1)(F)or 12(d)(1)(G) of the 1940 Act to invest in other investment companies.
Proxy Voting Policies and Procedures
The Trust has adopted a proxy voting policy that seeks to ensure that proxies for securities held by the Fund are voted consistently with the best interests of the Fund.
The Board has delegated to First Trust the proxy voting responsibilities for the Fund and has directed First Trust to vote proxies consistent with the Fund's best interests. First Trust has engaged the services of Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. ('ISS') to make recommendations to First Trust on the voting of proxies relating to securities held by the Fund. If First Trust manages the assets of a company or its pension plan and any of First Trust's clients hold any securities of that company, First Trust will generally vote proxies relating to such company's securities in accordance with the ISS recommendations to avoid any conflict of interest.
To the extent that the Fund invests in other registered investment companies ('acquired funds'), it may do so pursuant to an exemptive order granted by the SEC. The relief granted by that order is conditioned upon complying with a number of undertakings, some of which require the Fund to vote its shares in an acquired fund in the same proportion as other holders of the acquired fund's shares. As a result, to the extent that the Fund, or another registered investment company advised by First Trust, relies on the relief granted by the exemptive order, First Trust will vote shares of an acquired fund in the same proportion as the other holders of that acquired fund's shares.
First Trust has adopted the ISS Proxy Voting Guidelines. While these guidelines are not intended to be all-inclusive, they do provide guidance on First Trust's general voting policies. First Trust's use of the ISS Proxy Voting Guidelines is not intended to constrain First Trust's consideration of any proxy proposal, and there may be times when First Trust deviates from the ISS Proxy Voting Guidelines. First Trust retains final authority and fiduciary responsibility for proxy voting. The ISS Proxy Voting Guidelines are attached hereto as Exhibit B.
Information regarding how the Fund voted proxies (if any) relating to portfolio securities during the most recent 12-month period ended June 30 is available upon request and without charge on the Fund's website at www.ftportfolios.com, by calling (800) 621-1675 or by accessing the SEC's website at www.sec.gov.
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Portfolio Schedule. The Fund files portfolio holdings information for each month in a fiscal quarter within 60 days after the end of the relevant fiscal quarter on Form N-PORT. Portfolio holdings information for the third month of each fiscal quarter will be publicly available on the SEC's website at www.sec.gov. The Fund's complete schedule of portfolio holdings for the second and fourth quarters of each fiscal year is included in the semi-annual and annual reports to shareholders, respectively, and is filed with the SEC on Form N-CSR. A semi-annual or annual report for the Fund will become available to investors within 60 days after the period to which it relates. The Fund's Forms N-PORT and Forms N-CSR are available on the SEC's website listed above.
Policy Regarding Disclosure of Portfolio Holdings. The Trust has adopted a policy regarding the disclosure of information about the Fund's portfolio holdings. The Board of Trustees must approve all material amendments to this policy. The Fund's portfolio holdings are publicly disseminated each day the Fund is open for business through financial reporting and news services, including publicly accessible Internet websites. In addition, a basket composition file, which includes the security names and share quantities to deliver in exchange for Fund shares, together with estimates and actual cash components, is publicly disseminated each day the NYSE is open for trading via the National Securities Clearing Corporation ('NSCC'). Pursuant to Rule 6c-11 under the 1940 Act, information regarding the Fund's current portfolio holdings will be available on a daily basis at https://www.ftportfolios.com/Retail/etf/home.aspx. The Trust, First Trust, FTP and BNYM will not disseminate non-public information concerning the Trust.
Codes of Ethics. In order to mitigate the possibility that the Fund will be adversely affected by personal trading, the Trust, First Trust and the Distributor have adopted Codes of Ethics under Rule 17j-1 of the 1940 Act. These Codes of Ethics contain policies restricting securities trading in personal accounts of the officers, Trustees and others who normally come into possession of information on portfolio transactions. Personnel subject to the Codes of Ethics may invest in securities that may be purchased or held by the Fund; however, the Codes of Ethics require that each transaction in such securities be reviewed by the CCO or his or her designee. These Codes of Ethics are on public file with, and are available from, the SEC.
Creation and Redemption of Creation Units
General. ETFs, such as the Fund, generally issue and redeem their shares in primary market transactions through a creation and redemption mechanism and do not sell or redeem individual shares. Instead, financial entities known as 'Authorized Participants' have contractual arrangements with an ETF or one of the ETF's service providers to purchase and redeem ETF shares directly with the ETF in large blocks of shares known as 'Creation Units.' Prior to the start of trading on every business day, an ETF publishes through the National Securities Clearing Corporation ('NSCC') the 'basket' of securities, cash or other assets that it will accept in exchange for a Creation Unit of the ETF's shares. An Authorized Participant that wishes to effectuate a creation of an ETF's shares deposits with the ETF the 'basket' of securities, cash or other assets identified by the ETF that day, and then receives the Creation Unit of the ETF's shares in return for those assets. After purchasing a Creation Unit, the Authorized Participant may continue to hold the ETF's shares or sell them in the secondary market. The redemption process is the reverse of the purchase process: the authorized participant redeems a Creation Unit of ETF shares for a basket of securities, cash or other assets. The combination of the creation and redemption process with secondary market trading in ETF shares and underlying securities provides arbitrage opportunities that are designed to help keep the market price of ETF shares at or close to the NAV per share of the ETF.
Authorized Participants. An 'Authorized Participant' is a member or participant of a clearing agency registered with the SEC that has a written agreement with the Fund or one of its service providers that allows the Authorized Participant to place orders for the purchase or redemption of Creation Units (a 'Participant Agreement'). Orders to purchase Creation Units must be delivered through an Authorized Participant that has executed a Participant Agreement and must comply with the applicable provisions of such Participant Agreement. Investors wishing to purchase or sell shares generally do so on an exchange. Institutional investors other than Authorized Participants are responsible for making arrangements for a redemption request to be made through an Authorized Participant.
Business Day. A 'Business Day' is generally any day on which the New York Stock Exchange ('NYSE'), the Exchange and the Trust are open for business. As of the date of this SAI, the NYSE observes the following holidays: New Year's Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents' Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. The Business Day on which an order to purchase or redeem Creation Units is received in proper form is referred to as the 'Transmittal Date.'
Basket Composition. Rule 6c-11(c)(3) under of the 1940 Act requires an ETF relying on the exemptions offered by Rule 6c-11 to adopt and implement written policies and procedures governing the construction of baskets and the process
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that the ETF will use for the acceptance of baskets. In general, in connection with the construction and acceptance of baskets, the Advisor may consider various factors, including, but not limited to: (1) whether the securities, assets and other positions comprising a basket are consistent with the ETF's investment objective(s), policies and disclosure; (2) whether the securities, assets and other positions can legally and readily be acquired, transferred and held by the ETF and/or Authorized Participant(s), as applicable; (3) whether to utilize cash, either in lieu of securities or other instruments or as a cash balancing amount; and (4) in the case of an ETF that tracks an index, whether the securities, assets and other positions aid index tracking.
The Fund may utilize a pro rata basket or a custom basket in reliance on Rule 6c-11. A 'pro rata basket' is a basket that is a pro rata representation of the ETF's portfolio holdings, except for minor deviations when it is not operationally feasible to include a particular instrument within the basket, except to the extent that the Fund utilized different baskets in transactions on the same Business Day.
Rule 6c-11 defines 'custom baskets' to include two categories of baskets. First, a basket containing a non-representative selection of the ETF's portfolio holdings would constitute a custom basket. These types of custom baskets include, but are not limited to, baskets that do not reflect: (i) a pro rata representation of the Fund's portfolio holdings; (ii) a representative sampling of an ETF's portfolio holdings; or (iii) changes due to a rebalancing or reconstitution of an ETF's securities market index, if applicable. Second, if different baskets are used in transactions on the same Business Day, each basket after the initial basket would constitute a custom basket. For example, if an ETF exchanges a basket with either the same or another Authorized Participant that reflects a representative sampling that differs from the initial basket, that basket (and any such subsequent baskets) would be a custom basket. Similarly, if an ETF substitutes cash in lieu of a portion of basket assets for a single Authorized Participant, that basket would be a custom basket. The Advisor's Rule 6c-11 Committee defines any deviation from a pro rata basket to be a 'custom basket.' Rebalancing and reconstitution baskets do not constitute custom baskets. All cash baskets that are the initial basket on a Business Day also do not constitute custom baskets.
Under a variety of circumstances, an ETF and its shareholders may benefit from the flexibility afforded by custom baskets. In general terms, the use of custom baskets may reduce costs, increase efficiency and improve trading. Because utilizing custom baskets provides a way for an ETF to add, remove and re-weight portfolio securities without transacting in the market, it may help the ETF to avoid transaction costs and adverse tax consequences. Rule 6c-11 provides an ETF with flexibility to use 'custom baskets' if the ETF has adopted written policies and procedures that: (1) set forth detailed parameters for the construction and acceptance of custom baskets that are in the best interests of the ETF and its shareholders, including the process for any revisions to, or deviations from, those parameters; and (2) specify the titles or roles of employees of the ETF's investment advisor who are required to review each custom basket for compliance with those parameters.
The use of baskets that do not correspond pro rata to an ETF's portfolio holdings has historically created concern that an Authorized Participant could take advantage of its relationship with an ETF and pressure the ETF to construct a basket that favors an Authorized Participant to the detriment of the ETF's shareholders. For example, because ETFs rely on Authorized Participants to maintain the secondary market by promoting an effective arbitrage mechanism, an Authorized Participant holding less liquid or less desirable securities potentially could pressure an ETF into accepting those securities in its basket in exchange for liquid ETF shares (i.e., dumping). An Authorized Participant also could pressure the ETF into including in its basket certain desirable securities in exchange for ETF shares tendered for redemption (i.e., cherry-picking). In either case, the ETF's other investors would be disadvantaged and would be left holding shares of an ETF with a less liquid or less desirable portfolio of securities. The Advisor has adopted policies and procedures designed to mitigate these concerns but there is ultimately no guarantee that such policies and procedures will be effective.
Basket Dissemination. Basket files are published for consumption through the NSCC, a subsidiary of Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation, and can be utilized for pricing, creations, redemptions, rebalancing and custom scenarios. In most instances, pro rata baskets are calculated and supplied by the ETF's custodial bank based on ETF holdings, whereas non-pro rata, custom and forward-looking pro rata baskets are calculated by the Fund's investment advisor and disseminated by the ETF's custodial bank through the NSCC process.
Placement of Creation or Redemption Orders. All orders to purchase or redeem Creation Units are to be governed according to the applicable Participant Agreement that each Authorized Participant has executed. In general, all orders to purchase or redeem Creation Units must be received by the transfer agent in the proper form required by the Participant Agreement no later than the closing time of the regular trading session of the NYSE (ordinarily 4:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time) on each day the NYSE is open for business (the 'Closing Time') in order for the purchase or redemption of Creation Units to be effected based on the NAV of shares of the Fund as next determined on such date after receipt of the order in proper form. However, at its discretion, the Fund may require an Authorized Participant to submit orders to purchase or redeem
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Creation Units be placed earlier in the day (such as instances where an applicable market for a security comprising a creation or redemption basket closes earlier than usual).
Delivery of Redemption Proceeds. Deliveries of securities to Authorized Participants in connection with redemption orders are generally expected to be made within two Business Days. Due to the schedule of holidays in certain countries, however, the delivery of in-kind redemption proceeds for the Fund may take longer than two Business Days after the day on which the redemption request is received in proper form. Section 22(e) of the 1940 Act generally prohibits a registered open-end management investment company from postponing the date of satisfaction of redemption requests for more than seven days after the tender of a security for redemption. This prohibition can cause operational difficulties for ETFs that hold foreign investments and exchange in-kind baskets for Creation Units. For example, local market delivery cycles for transferring foreign investments to redeeming investors, together with local market holiday schedules, can sometimes require a delivery process in excess of seven days. However, Rule 6c-11 grants relief from Section 22(e) to permit an ETF to delay satisfaction of a redemption request for more than seven days if a local market holiday, or series of consecutive holidays, or the extended delivery cycles for transferring foreign investments to redeeming Authorized Participants, or the combination thereof prevents timely delivery of the foreign investment included in the ETF's basket. Under this exemption, an ETF must deliver foreign investments as soon as practicable, but in no event later than 15 days after the tender to the ETF. The exemption therefore will permit a delay only to the extent that additional time for settlement is actually required, when a local market holiday, or series of consecutive holidays, or the extended delivery cycles for transferring foreign investments to redeeming authorized participants prevents timely delivery of the foreign investment included in the ETF's basket. If a foreign investment settles in less than 15 days, Rule 6c-11 requires an ETF to deliver it pursuant to the standard settlement time of the local market where the investment trades. Rule 6c-11 defines 'foreign investment' as any security, asset or other position of the ETF issued by a foreign issuer (as defined by Rule 3b-4 under the 1934 Act), and that is traded on a trading market outside of the United States. This definition is not limited to 'foreign securities,' but also includes other investments that may not be considered securities. Although these other investments may not be securities, they may present the same challenges for timely settlement as foreign securities if they are transferred in kind.
Creation Transaction Fees. The Fund imposes fees in connection with the purchase of Creation Units. These fees may vary based upon various facts-based circumstances, including, but not limited to, the composition of the securities included in the Creation Unit or the countries in which the transactions are settled. The price for each Creation Unit will equal the daily NAV per share of the Fund times the number of shares in a Creation Unit, plus the fees described above and, if applicable, any operational processing and brokerage costs, transfer fees, stamp taxes and part or all of the spread between the expected bid and offer side of the market related to the securities comprising the creation basket.
Redemption Transaction Fees. The Fund also imposes fees in connection with the redemption of Creation Units. These fees may vary based upon various facts-based circumstances, including, but not limited to, the composition of the securities included in the Creation Unit or the countries in which the transactions are settled. The price received for each Creation Unit will equal the daily NAV per share of the Fund times the number of shares in a Creation Unit, minus the fees described above and, if applicable, any operational processing and brokerage costs, transfer fees, stamp taxes and part or all of the spread between the expected bid and offer side of the market related to the securities comprising the redemption basket. Investors who use the services of a broker or other such intermediary in addition to an Authorized Participant to effect a redemption of a Creation Unit may also be assessed an amount to cover the cost of such services. The redemption fee charged by the Fund will comply with Rule 22c-2 of the 1940 Act which limits redemption fees to no more than 2% of the value of the shares redeemed.
Suspension of Creations. The SEC has stated its position that an ETF generally may suspend the issuance of Creation Units only for a limited time and only due to extraordinary circumstances, such as when the markets on which the ETF's portfolio holdings are traded are closed for a limited period of time. The SEC has also stated that an ETF could not set transaction fees so high as to effectively suspend the issuance of Creation Units. Circumstances in which the Fund may suspend creations include, but are not limited to: (i) the order is not in proper form; (ii) the purchaser or group of related purchasers, upon obtaining the Creation Units of Fund shares ordered, would own 80% or more of the currently outstanding shares of the Fund; (iii) the required consideration is not delivered; (iv) the acceptance of the basket would have certain adverse tax consequences; (v) the acceptance of the basket would, in the opinion of the Fund, be unlawful; (vi) the acceptance of the basket would otherwise, in the discretion of the Fund, First Trust and/or any sub-advisor, have an adverse effect on the Fund or the rights of the Fund's Beneficial Owners; or (vii) there exist circumstances outside the control of the Fund that make it impossible to process purchases of Creation Units for all practical purposes. Examples of such circumstances include: acts of God or public service or utility problems such as fires, floods, extreme weather conditions and power outages resulting in telephone, telecopy and computer failures; market conditions or activities causing trading halts; systems failures involving computer or other information systems affecting the
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Fund, First Trust, the Distributor, DTC, NSCC, the transfer agent, the custodian, any sub-custodian or any other participant in the purchase process; and similar extraordinary events. The Fund reserves the absolute right to reject a creation order transmitted to it. The Transfer Agent shall notify a prospective creator of a Creation Unit and/or the Authorized Participant acting on behalf of such prospective creator of the rejection of the order of such person. The Trust, the Fund, the Transfer Agent, the custodian, any sub-custodian and the Distributor are under no duty, however, to give notification of any defects or irregularities in the delivery of baskets, nor shall any of them incur any liability for the failure to give any such notification.
Suspension of Redemptions. An ETF may suspend the redemption of Creation Units only in accordance with Section 22(e) of the 1940 Act. Section 22(e) stipulates that no registered investment company shall suspend the right of redemption, or postpone the date of payment or satisfaction upon redemption of any redeemable security in accordance with its terms for more than seven days after the tender of such security to the company or its agent designated for that purpose for redemption, except (1) for any period (A) during which the NYSE is closed other than customary week-end and holiday closings or (B) during which trading on the NYSE is restricted; (2) for any period during which an emergency exists as a result of which (A) disposal by the investment company of securities owned by it is not reasonably practicable or (B) it is not reasonably practicable for such company fairly to determine the value of its net assets; or (3) for such other periods as the SEC may by order permit for the protection of security holders of the investment company.
Exceptions to Use of Creation Units. Under Rule 6c-11 of the 1940 Act, ETFs are permitted to sell or redeem individual shares on the day of consummation of a reorganization, merger, conversion, or liquidation. In these limited circumstances, an ETF may need to issue or redeem individual shares and may need to transact without utilizing Authorized Participants.
Federal Tax Matters
This section summarizes some of the main U.S. federal income tax consequences of owning shares of the Fund. This section is current as of the date of the SAI. Tax laws and interpretations change frequently, and these summaries do not describe all of the tax consequences to all taxpayers. For example, these summaries generally do not describe your situation if you are a corporation, a non-U.S. person, a broker-dealer or other investor with special circumstances. In addition, this section does not describe your state, local or foreign tax consequences.
This federal income tax summary is based in part on the advice of counsel to the Fund. The Internal Revenue Service could disagree with any conclusions set forth in this section. In addition, our counsel was not asked to review, and has not reached a conclusion with respect to, the federal income tax treatment of the assets to be deposited in the Fund. The following disclosure may not be sufficient for prospective investors to use for the purpose of avoiding penalties under federal tax law.
As with any investment, prospective investors should seek advice based on their individual circumstances from their own tax advisor.
The Fund intends to qualify annually and to elect to be treated as a regulated investment company under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the 'Code').
To qualify for the favorable U.S. federal income tax treatment generally accorded to regulated investment companies, the Fund must, among other things, (i) derive in each taxable year at least 90% of its gross income from dividends, interest, payments with respect to securities loans and gains from the sale or other disposition of stock, securities or foreign currencies or other income derived with respect to its business of investing in such stock, securities or currencies, or net income derived from interests in certain publicly traded partnerships; (ii) diversify its holdings so that, at the end of each quarter of the taxable year, (a) at least 50% of the market value of the Fund's assets is represented by cash and cash items (including receivables), U.S. government securities, the securities of other regulated investment companies and other securities, with such other securities of any one issuer generally limited for the purposes of this calculation to an amount not greater than 5% of the value of the Fund's total assets and not greater than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of such issuer, and (b) not more than 25% of the value of its total assets is invested in the securities (other than U.S. government securities or the securities of other regulated investment companies) of any one issuer, or two or more issuers which the Fund controls which are engaged in the same, similar or related trades or businesses, or the securities of one or more of certain publicly traded partnerships; and (iii) distribute at least 90% of its investment company taxable income (which includes, among other items, dividends, interest and net short-term capital gains in excess of net long-term capital losses) and at least 90% of its net tax-exempt interest income each taxable year. There are certain exceptions for failure to qualify if the failure is for reasonable cause or is de minimis, and certain corrective action is taken and certain tax payments are made by the Fund.
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As a regulated investment company, the Fund generally will not be subject to U.S. federal income tax on its investment company taxable income (as that term is defined in the Code, but without regard to the deduction for dividends paid) and net capital gain (the excess of net long-term capital gain over net short-term capital loss), if any, that it distributes to shareholders. The Fund intends to distribute to its shareholders, at least annually, substantially all of its investment company taxable income and net capital gain. If the Fund retains any net capital gain or investment company taxable income, it will generally be subject to federal income tax at regular corporate rates on the amount retained. In addition, amounts not distributed on a timely basis in accordance with a calendar year distribution requirement are subject to a nondeductible 4% excise tax unless, generally, the Fund distributes during each calendar year an amount equal to the sum of (1) at least 98% of its ordinary income (not taking into account any capital gains or losses) for the calendar year, (2) at least 98.2% of its capital gains in excess of its capital losses (adjusted for certain ordinary losses) for the one-year period ending October 31 of the calendar year, and (3) any ordinary income and capital gains for previous years that were not distributed during those years. In order to prevent application of the excise tax, the Fund intends to make its distributions in accordance with the calendar year distribution requirement. A distribution will be treated as paid on December 31 of the current calendar year if it is declared by the Fund in October, November or December with a record date in such a month and paid by the Fund during January of the following calendar year. Such distributions will be taxable to shareholders in the calendar year in which the distributions are declared, rather than the calendar year in which the distributions are received.
Subject to certain reasonable cause and de minimis exceptions, if the Fund fails to qualify as a regulated investment company or fails to satisfy the 90% distribution requirement in any taxable year, the Fund would be taxed as an ordinary corporation on its taxable income (even if such income were distributed to its shareholders) and all distributions out of earnings and profits would be taxed to shareholders as ordinary income.
Distributions
Dividends paid out of the Fund's investment company taxable income are generally taxable to a shareholder as ordinary income to the extent of the Fund's earnings and profits, whether paid in cash or reinvested in additional shares. However, certain ordinary income distributions received from the Fund may be taxed at capital gains tax rates. In particular, ordinary income dividends received by an individual shareholder from a regulated investment company such as the Fund are generally taxed at the same rates that apply to net capital gain, provided that certain holding period requirements are satisfied and provided the dividends are attributable to qualifying dividends received by the Fund itself. The Fund will provide notice to its shareholders of the amount of any distributions that may be taken into account as a dividend which is eligible for the capital gains tax rates. The Fund cannot make any guarantees as to the amount of any distribution which will be regarded as a qualifying dividend.
Income from the Fund may also be subject to a 3.8% 'Medicare tax.' This tax generally applies to net investment income if the taxpayer's adjusted gross income exceeds certain threshold amounts, which are $250,000 in the case of married couples filing joint returns and $200,000 in the case of single individuals.
A corporation that owns shares generally will not be entitled to the dividends received deduction with respect to many dividends received from deduction with respect to many dividends received from the Fund because the dividends received deduction is generally not available for distributions from regulated investment companies. However, certain ordinary income dividends on shares that are attributable to qualifying dividends received by the Fund from certain domestic corporations may be reported by the Fund as being eligible for the dividends received deduction.
Distributions of net capital gain (the excess of net long-term capital gain over net short-term capital loss), if any, properly reported as capital gain dividends are taxable to a shareholder as long-term capital gains, regardless of how long the shareholder has held Fund shares.An election may be available to you to defer recognition of the gain attributable to a capital gain dividend if you make certain qualifying investments within a limited time. You should talk to your tax advisor about the availability of this deferral election and its requirements. Shareholders receiving distributions in the form of additional shares, rather than cash, generally will have a cost basis in each such share equal to the value of a share of the Fund on the reinvestment date. A distribution of an amount in excess of the Fund's current and accumulated earnings and profits will be treated by a shareholder as a return of capital which is applied against and reduces the shareholder's basis in his or her shares. To the extent that the amount of any such distribution exceeds the shareholder's basis in his or her shares, the excess will be treated by the shareholder as gain from a sale or exchange of the shares.
Shareholders will be notified annually as to the U.S. federal income tax status of distributions and shareholders receiving distributions in the form of additional shares will receive a report as to the value of those shares.
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Sale or Exchange of Fund Shares
Upon the sale or other disposition of shares of the Fund, which a shareholder holds as a capital asset, such shareholder may realize a capital gain or loss which will be long-term or short-term, depending upon the shareholder's holding period for the shares. Generally, a shareholder's gain or loss will be a long-term gain or loss if the shares have been held for more than one year. An election may be available to you to defer recognition of capital gain if you make certain qualifying investments within a limited time. You should talk to your tax advisor about the availability of this deferral election and its requirements.
Any loss realized on a sale or exchange will be disallowed to the extent that shares disposed of are replaced (including through reinvestment of dividends) within a period of 61 days beginning 30 days before and ending 30 days after disposition of shares or to the extent that the shareholder, during such period, acquires or enters into an option or contract to acquire, substantially identical stock or securities. In such a case, the basis of the shares acquired will be adjusted to reflect the disallowed loss. Any loss realized by a shareholder on a disposition of Fund shares held by the shareholder for six months or less will be treated as a long-term capital loss to the extent of any distributions of long-term capital gain received by the shareholder with respect to such shares.
Taxes on Purchase and Redemption of Creation Units
If a shareholder exchanges securities for Creation Units, the shareholder will generally recognize a gain or a loss. The gain or loss will be equal to the difference between the market value of the Creation Units at the time and the shareholder's aggregate basis in the securities surrendered and the Cash Component paid. If a shareholder exchanges Creation Units for securities, then the shareholder will generally recognize a gain or loss equal to the difference between the shareholder's basis in the Creation Units and the aggregate market value of the securities received and the Cash Redemption Amount. The Internal Revenue Service, however, may assert that a loss realized upon an exchange of securities for Creation Units or Creation Units for securities cannot be deducted currently under the rules governing 'wash sales,' or on the basis that there has been no significant change in economic position.
Nature of Fund Investments
Certain of the Fund's investment practices are subject to special and complex federal income tax provisions that may, among other things, (i) disallow, suspend or otherwise limit the allowance of certain losses or deductions; (ii) convert lower taxed long-term capital gain into higher taxed short-term capital gain or ordinary income; (iii) convert an ordinary loss or a deduction into a capital loss (the deductibility of which is more limited); (iv) cause the Fund to recognize income or gain without a corresponding receipt of cash; (v) adversely affect the time as to when a purchase or sale of stock or securities is deemed to occur; and (vi) adversely alter the characterization of certain complex financial transactions.
Futures Contracts and Options
The Fund's transactions in futures contracts and options will be subject to special provisions of the Code that, among other things, may affect the character of gains and losses realized by the Fund (i.e., may affect whether gains or losses are ordinary or capital, or short-term or long-term), may accelerate recognition of income to the Fund and may defer Fund losses. These rules could, therefore, affect the character, amount and timing of distributions to shareholders. These provisions also (i) will require the Fund to mark-to-market certain types of the positions in its portfolio (i.e., treat them as if they were closed out); and (ii) may cause the Fund to recognize income without receiving cash with which to make distributions in amounts necessary to satisfy the 90% distribution requirement for qualifying to be taxed as a regulated investment company and the distribution requirements for avoiding excise taxes.
Investments in Certain Foreign Corporations
If the Fund holds an equity interest in any 'passive foreign investment companies' ('PFICs'), which are generally certain foreign corporations that receive at least 75% of their annual gross income from passive sources (such as interest, dividends, certain rents and royalties or capital gains) or that hold at least 50% of their assets in investments producing such passive income, the Fund could be subject to U.S. federal income tax and additional interest charges on gains and certain distributions with respect to those equity interests, even if all the income or gain is timely distributed to its shareholders. The Fund will not be able to pass through to its shareholders any credit or deduction for such taxes. The Fund may be able to make an election that could ameliorate these adverse tax consequences. In this case, the Fund would recognize as ordinary income any increase in the value of such PFIC shares, and as ordinary loss any decrease in such value to the extent it did not exceed prior increases included in income. Under this election, the Fund might be required to recognize in a year income in excess of its distributions
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from PFICs and its proceeds from dispositions of PFIC stock during that year, and such income would nevertheless be subject to the distribution requirement and would be taken into account for purposes of the 4% excise tax (described above). Dividends paid by PFICs are not treated as qualified dividend income.
Backup Withholding
The Fund may be required to withhold U.S. federal income tax from all taxable distributions and sale proceeds payable to shareholders who fail to provide the Fund with their correct taxpayer identification number or fail to make required certifications, or who have been notified by the Internal Revenue Service that they are subject to backup withholding. Corporate shareholders and certain other shareholders specified in the Code generally are exempt from such backup withholding. This withholding is not an additional tax. Any amounts withheld may be credited against the shareholder's U.S. federal income tax liability.
Non-U.S. Shareholders
U.S. taxation of a shareholder who, as to the United States, is a nonresident alien individual, a foreign trust or estate, a foreign corporation or foreign partnership ('non-U.S. shareholder') depends on whether the income of the Fund is 'effectively connected' with a U.S. trade or business carried on by the shareholder.
In addition to the rules described in this section concerning the potential imposition of withholding on distributions to non-U.S. persons, distributions to non-U.S. persons that are 'financial institutions' may be subject to a withholding tax of 30% unless an agreement is in place between the financial institution and the U.S. Treasury to collect and disclose information about accounts, equity investments or debt interests in the financial institution held by one or more U.S. persons or the institution is resident in a jurisdiction that has entered into such an agreement with the U.S. Treasury. For these purposes, a 'financial institution' means any entity that (i) accepts deposits in the ordinary course of a banking or similar business; (ii) holds financial assets for the account of others as a substantial portion of its business; or (iii) is engaged (or holds itself out as being engaged) primarily in the business of investing, reinvesting or trading in securities, partnership interests, commodities or any interest (including a futures contract or option) in such securities, partnership interests or commodities. This withholding tax is also currently scheduled to apply to the gross proceeds from the disposition of securities that produce U.S. source interest ordividends. However, proposed regulations may eliminate the requirement to withhold on payments of gross proceeds from dispositions.
Distributions to non-financial non-U.S. entities (other than publicly traded foreign entities, entities owned by residents of U.S. possessions, foreign governments, international organizations or foreign central banks) will also be subject to a withholding tax of 30% if the entity does not certify that the entity does not have any substantial U.S. owners or provide the name, address and TIN of each substantial U.S. owner. This withholding tax is also currently scheduled to apply to the gross proceeds from the disposition of securities that produce U.S. source interest or dividends. However, proposed regulations may eliminate the requirement to withhold on payments of gross proceeds from dispositions.
Income Not Effectively Connected. If the income from the Fund is not 'effectively connected' with a U.S. trade or business carried on by the non-U.S. shareholder, distributions of investment company taxable income will generally be subject to a U.S. tax of 30% (or lower treaty rate), which tax is generally withheld from such distributions.
Distributions of capital gain dividends and any amounts retained by the Fund which are properly reported by the Fund as undistributed capital gains will not be subject to U.S. tax at the rate of 30% (or lower treaty rate) unless the non-U.S. shareholder is a nonresident alien individual and is physically present in the United States for more than 182 days during the taxable year and meets certain other requirements. However, this 30% tax on capital gains of nonresident alien individuals who are physically present in the United States for more than the 182 day period only applies in exceptional cases because any individual present in the United States for more than 182 days during the taxable year is generally treated as a resident for U.S. income tax purposes; in that case, he or she would be subject to U.S. income tax on his or her worldwide income at the graduated rates applicable to U.S. citizens, rather than the 30% U.S. tax. In the case of a non-U.S. shareholder who is a nonresident alien individual, the Fund may be required to withhold U.S. income tax from distributions of net capital gain unless the non-U.S. shareholder certifies his or her non-U.S. status under penalties of perjury or otherwise establishes an exemption. If a non-U.S. shareholder is a nonresident alien individual, any gain such shareholder realizes upon the sale or exchange of such shareholder's shares of the Fund in the United States will ordinarily be exempt from U.S. tax unless the gain is U.S. source income and such shareholder is physically present in the United States for more than 182 days during the taxable year and meets certain other requirements.
Income Effectively Connected. If the income from the Fund is 'effectively connected' with a U.S. trade or business carried on by a non-U.S. shareholder, then distributions of investment company taxable income and capital gain dividends,
36
any amounts retained by the Fund which are properly reported by the Fund as undistributed capital gains and any gains realized upon the sale or exchange of shares of the Fund will be subject to U.S. income tax at the graduated rates applicable to U.S. citizens, residents and domestic corporations. Non-U.S. corporate shareholders may also be subject to the branch profits tax imposed by the Code. The tax consequences to a non-U.S. shareholder entitled to claim the benefits of an applicable tax treaty may differ from those described herein. Non-U.S. shareholders are advised to consult their own tax advisors with respect to the particular tax consequences to them of an investment in the Fund.
Other Taxation
Fund shareholders may be subject to state, local and foreign taxes on their Fund distributions. Shareholders are advised to consult their own tax advisors with respect to the particular tax consequences to them of an investment in the Fund.
Determination of Net Asset Value
The following information supplements and should be read in conjunction with the section in the Prospectus entitled 'Net Asset Value.'
The per-share net asset value of the Fund is determined by dividing the total value of the securities and other assets, less liabilities, by the total number of shares outstanding. Under normal circumstances, daily calculation of the net asset value will utilize the last closing sale price of each security held by the Fund at the close of the market on which such security is principally listed. In determining net asset value, portfolio securities for the Fund for which accurate market quotations are readily available will be valued by the Fund accounting agent as follows:
(1)
Common stocks and other equity securities listed on any national or foreign exchange other than Nasdaq and the London Stock Exchange Alternative Investment Market ('AIM') will be valued at the last sale price on the exchange on which they are principally traded, or the official closing price for Nasdaq and AIM securities. Portfolio securities traded on more than one securities exchange are valued at the last sale price or official closing price, as applicable, on the Business Day as of which such value is being determined at the close of the exchange representing the principal market for such securities.
(2)
Shares of open-end funds are valued at fair value which is based on NAV per share.
(3)
Securities traded in the OTC market are fair valued at the mean of their most recent bid and asked price, if available, and otherwise at their closing bid price.
(4)
Exchange traded options and futures contracts are valued at the closing price in the market where such contracts are principally traded. If no closing price is available, they will be fair valued at the mean of their most recent bid and asked price, if available, and otherwise at their closing bid price. OTC options and futures contracts are fair valued at the mean of the most recent bid and asked price, if available, and otherwise at their closing bid price.
(5)
Forward foreign currency contracts are fair valued at the current day's interpolated foreign exchange rate, as calculated using the current day's spot rate, and the 30, 60, 90 and 180-day forward rates provided by a pricing service or by certain independent dealers in such contracts.
In addition, the following types of securities will be fair valued by the Fund accounting agent as follows:
(1)
Fixed-income securities, convertible securities, interest rate swaps, credit default swaps, total return swaps, currency swaps, currency-linked notes, credit-linked notes and other similar instruments will be fair valued using a pricing service.
(2)
Fixed income and other debt securities having a remaining maturity of 60 days or less when purchased are fair valued at cost adjusted for amortization of premiums and accretion of discounts (amortized cost), provided the Advisor's Pricing Committee has determined that the use of amortized cost is an appropriate reflection of fair value given market and issuer-specific conditions existing at the time of the determination. Factors that may be considered in determining the appropriateness of the use of amortized cost include, but are not limited to, the following:
(i)
the credit conditions in the relevant market and changes thereto;
37
(ii)
the liquidity conditions in the relevant market and changes thereto;
(iii)
the interest rate conditions in the relevant market and changes thereto (such as significant changes in interest rates);
(iv)
issuer-specific conditions (such as significant credit deterioration); and
(v)
any other market-based data the Advisor's Pricing Committee considers relevant. In this regard, the Advisor's Pricing Committee may use last-obtained market-based data to assist it when valuing portfolio securities using amortized cost.
(3)
Repurchase agreements will be valued as follows. Overnight repurchase agreements will be fair valued at amortized cost when it represents the best estimate of fair value. Term repurchase agreements (i.e., those whose maturity exceeds seven days) will be fair valued by the Advisor's Pricing Committee at the average of the bid quotations obtained daily from at least two recognized dealers.
If the Advisor's Pricing Committee has reason to question the accuracy or reliability of a price supplied or the use of the amortized cost methodology, the Advisor's Pricing Committee shall determine if 'it needs to fair value' such portfolio security pursuant to established valuation procedures. From time to time, the Advisor's Pricing Committee will request that the Fund accounting agent submit price challenges to a pricing service, usually in response to any updated broker prices received.
Certain securities may not be able to be priced by pre-established pricing methods. Such securities may be valued by the Board of Trustees or its delegate, the Advisor's Pricing Committee, at fair value. These securities generally include but are not limited to, restricted securities (securities that may not be publicly sold without registration under the 1933 Act) for which a pricing service is unable to provide a market price; securities whose trading has been formally suspended; a security whose market or fair value price is not available from a pre-established pricing source; a security with respect to which an event has occurred that is likely to materially affect the value of the security after the market has closed but before the calculation of Fund net asset value (as may be the case in foreign markets on which the security is primarily traded) or is likely to make it difficult or impossible to obtain a reliable market quotation; and a security whose price, as provided by the pricing service, does not reflect the security's fair value. Fair value prices represent any prices not considered market value prices and are either obtained from a pricing service or are determined by the Advisor's Pricing Committee. Market value prices represent last sale or official closing prices from a national or foreign exchange (i.e., a regulated market) and are primarily obtained from pricing services. If no market price or official close price is available from either a pricing service or no quotations are available from one or more brokers or if the Advisor's Pricing Committee has reason to question the reliability or accuracy of a price supplied or the use of amortized cost, the value of any portfolio security held by the Fund for which reliable market prices/quotations are not readily available will be determined by the Advisor's Pricing Committee in a manner that most appropriately reflects fair market value of the security on the valuation date, based on a consideration of all available information. When fair value prices are used, generally they will differ from market quotations or official closing prices on the applicable exchange.
Because foreign markets may be open on different days than the days during which a shareholder may purchase the shares of the Fund, the value of the Fund's investments may change on the days when shareholders are not able to purchase the shares of the Fund. For foreign securities, if an extraordinary market event occurs between the time the last 'current' market quotation is available for a security in the Fund's portfolio and the time the Fund's net asset value is determined and calls into doubt whether that earlier market quotation represents fair value at the time the Fund's net asset value is determined, the Fund accounting agent will immediately notify the Advisor's Pricing Committee and the Advisor's Pricing Committee shall determine the fair valuation. For foreign securities, the Advisor's Pricing Committee may seek to determine the 'fair value' of such securities by retaining a pricing service to determine the value of the securities.
Foreign securities, currencies and other assets denominated in foreign currencies are translated into U.S. dollars at the exchange rate of such currencies against the U.S. dollar as provided by a pricing service. All assets denominated in foreign currencies will be converted into U.S. dollars at the exchange rates in effect at the time of valuation.
Dividends and Distributions
The following information supplements and should be read in conjunction with the section in the Prospectus entitled 'Dividends, Distributions and Taxes.'
General Policies. Dividends from net investment income of the Fund, if any, are declared and paid monthly. Distributions of net realized securities gains, if any, generally are declared and paid once a year, but the Trust may make distributions on a
38
more frequent basis. The Trust reserves the right to declare special distributions if, in its reasonable discretion, such action is necessary or advisable to preserve the status of the Fund as a regulated investment company or to avoid imposition of income or excise taxes on undistributed income.
Dividends and other distributions of Fund shares are distributed, as described below, on a pro rata basis to Beneficial Owners of such shares. Dividend payments are made through DTC Participants and Indirect Participants to Beneficial Owners then of record with proceeds received from the Fund.
Dividend Reinvestment Service. No reinvestment service is provided by the Trust. Broker-dealers may make available the DTC book-entry Dividend Reinvestment Service for use by Beneficial Owners of the Fund for reinvestment of their dividend distributions. Beneficial Owners should contact their brokers in order to determine the availability and costs of the service and the details of participation therein. Brokers may require Beneficial Owners to adhere to specific procedures and timetables. If this service is available and used, dividend distributions of both income and realized gains will be automatically reinvested in additional whole shares of the Fund purchased in the secondary market.
Miscellaneous Information
Counsel. Chapman and Cutler LLP, 111 West Monroe Street, Chicago, Illinois 60603, is counsel to the Trust.
Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm. Deloitte & Touche LLP, 111 South Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60606, serves as the Fund's independent registered public accounting firm. The firm audits the Fund financial statements and performs other related audit services.
39
Exhibit A-Credit Rating Definitions
Standard & Poor's
A Standard & Poor's issue credit rating is a forward-looking opinion about the creditworthiness of an obligor with respect to a specific financial obligation, a specific class of financial obligations, or a specific financial program (including ratings on medium-term note programs and commercial paper programs). It takes into consideration the creditworthiness of guarantors, insurers, or other forms of credit enhancement on the obligation and takes into account the currency in which the obligation is denominated. The opinion reflects Standard & Poor's view of the obligor's capacity and willingness to meet its financial commitments as they come due, and may assess terms, such as collateral security and subordination, which could affect ultimate payment in the event of default.
LONG-TERM ISSUE CREDIT RATINGS
Issue credit ratings are based, in varying degrees, on the following considerations:
1.
Likelihood of payment: capacity and willingness of the obligor to meet its financial commitment on an obligation in accordance with the terms of the obligation;
2.
Nature of and provisions of the obligation and the promise S&P imputes;
3.
Protection afforded by, and relative position of, the obligation in the event of bankruptcy, reorganization, or other arrangement under the laws of bankruptcy and other laws affecting creditors' rights.
The issue rating definitions are an assessment of default risk, but may incorporate an assessment of relative seniority or ultimate recovery in the event of default. Junior obligations are typically rated lower than senior obligations, to reflect the lower priority in bankruptcy, as noted above. (Such differentiation may apply when an entity has both senior and subordinated obligations, secured and unsecured obligations, or operating company and holding company obligations.)
AAA
An obligation rated 'AAA' has the highest rating assigned by Standard & Poor's. The obligor's capacity to meet
its financial commitment on the obligation is extremely strong.
AA
An obligation rated 'AA' differs from the highest rated obligations only in small degree. The obligor's capacity
to meet its financial commitment on the obligation is very strong.
A
An obligation rated 'A' is somewhat more susceptible to the adverse effects of changes in circumstances and
economic conditions than obligations in higher rated categories. However, the obligor's capacity to meet its
financial commitment on the obligation is still strong.
BBB
An obligation rated 'BBB' exhibits adequate protection parameters. However, adverse economic conditions
or changing circumstances are more likely to lead to a weakened capacity of the obligor to meet its financial
commitment on the obligation.
Obligations rated 'BB,' 'B,' 'CCC,' 'CC' and 'C' are regarded as having significant speculative characteristics. 'BB' indicates the least degree of speculation and 'C' the highest. While such obligations will likely have some quality and protective characteristics, these may be outweighed by large uncertainties or major exposures to adverse conditions.
BB
An obligation rated 'BB' is less vulnerable to nonpayment than other speculative issues. However, it faces
major ongoing uncertainties or exposure to adverse business, financial, or economic conditions which could
lead to the obligor's inadequate capacity to meet its financial commitment on the obligation.
B
An obligation rated 'B' is more vulnerable to nonpayment than obligations rated 'BB,' but the obligor
currently has the capacity to meet its financial commitment on the obligation. Adverse business, financial, or
economic conditions will likely impair the obligor's capacity or willingness to meet its financial commitment on
the obligation.
CCC
An obligation rated 'CCC' is currently vulnerable to nonpayment, and is dependent upon favorable business,
financial, and economic conditions for the obligor to meet its financial commitment on the obligation. In the
event of adverse business, financial, or economic conditions, the obligor is not likely to have the capacity to
meet its financial commitment on the obligation.
CC
An obligation rated 'CC' is currently highly vulnerable to nonpayment. The 'CC' rating is used when a default
has not yet occurred but S&P expects default to be a virtual certainty regardless of the anticipated time to
default.
A-1
C
An obligation rated 'C' is currently highly vulnerable to nonpayment and the obligation is expected to have
lower relative seniority or lower ultimate recovery compared to obligations that are rated higher.
D
An obligation rated 'D' is in default or in breach of an imputed promise. For non-hybrid capital instruments,
the 'D' rating category is used when payments on an obligation are not made on the date due unless S&P
believes that such payments will be made within five business days in the absence of a stated grace period or
within the earlier of the stated grace period or 30 calendar days. The 'D' rating also will be used upon the
filing of a bankruptcy petition or the taking of similar action and where default on an obligation is a virtual
certainty, for example due to automatic stay provisions. An obligation's rating is lowered to 'D' if it is subject to
a distressed exchange offer.
Plus (+) or Minus (-): The ratings from 'AA' to 'CCC' may be modified by the addition of a plus or minus sign to show relative standing within the major rating categories.
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
A brief description of the applicable Moody's Investors Service, Inc. ('Moody's') rating symbols and their meanings (as published by Moody's) follows.
Ratings assigned on Moody's global long-term and short-term rating scales are forward-looking opinions of the relative credit risks of financial obligations issued by non-financial corporates, financial institutions, structured finance vehicles, project finance vehicles, and public sector entities. Long-term ratings are assigned to issuers or obligations with an original maturity of one year or more and reflect both on the likelihood of a default on contractually promised payments and the expected financial loss suffered in the event of default. Short-term ratings are assigned to obligations with an original maturity of thirteen months or less and reflect the likelihood of a default on contractually promised payments.
LONG-TERM OBLIGATION RATINGS
Aaa
Obligations rated Aaa are judged to be of the highest quality, subject to the lowest level of credit risk.
Aa
Obligations rated Aa are judged to be of high quality and are subject to very low credit risk.
A
Obligations rated A are judged to be upper-medium grade and are subject to low credit risk.
Baa
Obligations rated Baa are judged to be medium-grade and subject to moderate credit risk and as such may
possess certain speculative characteristics.
Ba
Obligations rated Ba are judged to be speculative and are subject to substantial credit risk.
B
Obligations rated B are considered speculative and are subject to high credit risk.
Caa
Obligations rated Caa are judged to be speculative of poor standing and are subject to very high credit risk.
Ca
Obligations rated Ca are highly speculative and are likely in, or very near, default, with some prospect of
recovery of principal and interest.
C
Obligations rated C are the lowest rated and are typically in default, with little prospect for recovery of
principal or interest.
Note: Moody's appends numerical modifiers 1, 2, and 3 to each generic rating classification from Aa through Caa. The modifier 1 indicates that the obligation ranks in the higher end of its generic rating category; the modifier 2 indicates a mid-range ranking; and the modifier 3 indicates a ranking in the lower end of that generic rating category.
Fitch Ratings
A brief description of the applicable Fitch Ratings ('Fitch') ratings symbols and meanings (as published by Fitch) follows:
Fitch's credit ratings provide an opinion on the relative ability of an entity to meet financial commitments, such as interest, preferred dividends, repayment of principal, insurance claims or counterparty obligations. Credit ratings are used by investors as indications of the likelihood of receiving the money owed to them in accordance with the terms on which they invested. The agency's credit ratings cover the global spectrum of corporate, sovereign (including supranational and sub-national), financial, bank, insurance, municipal and other public finance entities and the securities or other obligations they issue, as well as structured finance securities backed by receivables or other financial assets.
The terms 'investment grade' and 'speculative grade' have established themselves over time as shorthand to describe the categories 'AAA' to 'BBB' (investment grade) and 'BB' to 'D' (speculative grade). The terms 'investment grade' and 'speculative grade' are market conventions, and do not imply any recommendation or endorsement of a specific security for investment
A-2
purposes. 'Investment grade' categories indicate relatively low to moderate credit risk, while ratings in the 'speculative' categories either signal a higher level of credit risk or that a default has already occurred.
A designation of 'Not Rated' or 'NR' is used to denote securities not rated by Fitch where Fitch has rated some, but not all, securities comprising an issuance capital structure.
Credit ratings express risk in relative rank order, which is to say they are ordinal measures of credit risk and are not predictive of a specific frequency of default or loss.
Fitch's credit ratings do not directly address any risk other than credit risk. In particular, ratings do not deal with the risk of a market value loss on a rated security due to changes in interest rates, liquidity and other market considerations. However, in terms of payment obligation on the rated liability, market risk may be considered to the extent that it influences the ability of an issuer to pay upon a commitment. Ratings nonetheless do not reflect market risk to the extent that they influence the size or other conditionality of the obligation to pay upon a commitment (for example, in the case of index-linked bonds).
In the default components of ratings assigned to individual obligations or instruments, the agency typically rates to the likelihood of non-payment or default in accordance with the terms of that instrument's documentation. In limited cases, Fitch may include additional considerations (i.e. rate to a higher or lower standard than that implied in the obligation's documentation). In such cases, the agency will make clear the assumptions underlying the agency's opinion in the accompanying rating commentary.
INTERNATIONAL LONG-TERM RATINGS
Issuer Credit Rating Scales
Investment Grade
AAA
Highest credit quality. 'AAA' ratings denote the lowest expectation of default risk. They are assigned only in
cases of exceptionally strong capacity for payment of financial commitments. This capacity is highly unlikely
to be adversely affected by foreseeable events.
AA
Very high credit quality. 'AA' ratings denote expectations of very low default risk. They indicate very strong
capacity for payment of financial commitments. This capacity is not significantly vulnerable to foreseeable
events.
A
High credit quality. 'A' ratings denote expectations of low default risk. The capacity for payment of financial
commitments is considered strong. This capacity may, nevertheless, be more vulnerable to adverse business
or economic conditions than is the case for higher ratings.
BBB
Good credit quality. 'BBB' ratings indicate that expectations of default risk are currently low. The capacity for
payment of financial commitments is considered adequate but adverse business or economic conditions are
more likely to impair this capacity.
BB
Speculative. 'BB' ratings indicate an elevated vulnerability to default risk, particularly in the event of adverse
changes in business or economic conditions over time; however, business or financial flexibility exists which
supports the servicing of financial commitments.
B
Highly speculative. 'B' ratings indicate that material default risk is present, but a limited margin of safety
remains. Financial commitments are currently being met; however, capacity for continued payment is
vulnerable to deterioration in the business and economic environment.
CCC
Substantial credit risk. Default is a real possibility.
CC
Very high levels of credit risk. Default of some kind appears probable.
C
Exceptionally high levels of credit risk. Default is imminent or inevitable, or the issuer is in standstill.
Conditions that are indicative of a 'C' category rating for an issuer include:
•the issuer has entered into a grace or cure period following non-payment of a material financial obligation;
•the issuer has entered into a temporary negotiated waiver or standstill agreement following a payment
default on a material financial obligation; or
•Fitch otherwise believes a condition of 'RD' or 'D' to be imminent or inevitable, including through the formal
announcement of a distressed debt exchange.
A-3
RD
Restricted default. 'RD' ratings indicate an issuer that in Fitch's opinion has experienced an uncured payment
default on a bond, loan or other material financial obligation but which has not entered into bankruptcy
filings, administration, receivership, liquidation or other formal winding-up procedure, and which has not
otherwise ceased operating. This would include:
•the selective payment default on a specific class or currency of debt;
•the uncured expiry of any applicable grace period, cure period or default forbearance period following a
payment default on a bank loan, capital markets security or other material financial obligation;
•the extension of multiple waivers or forbearance periods upon a payment default on one or more material
financial obligations, either in series or in parallel; or
•execution of a distressed debt exchange on one or more material financial obligations.
D
Default. 'D' ratings indicate an issuer that in Fitch's opinion has entered into bankruptcy filings,
administration, receivership, liquidation or other formal winding-up procedure, or which has otherwise ceased
business.
Default ratings are not assigned prospectively to entities or their obligations; within this context, non-payment on an instrument that contains a deferral feature or grace period will generally not be considered a default until after the expiration of the deferral or grace period, unless a default is otherwise driven by bankruptcy or other similar circumstance, or by a distressed debt exchange.
'Imminent' default typically refers to the occasion where a payment default has been intimated by the issuer, and is all but inevitable. This may, for example, be where an issuer has missed a scheduled payment, but (as is typical) has a grace period during which it may cure the payment default. Another alternative would be where an issuer has formally announced a distressed debt exchange, but the date of the exchange still lies several days or weeks in the immediate future.
In all cases, the assignment of a default rating reflects the agency's opinion as to the most appropriate rating category consistent with the rest of its universe of ratings, and may differ from the definition of default under the terms of an issuer's financial obligations or local commercial practice.
A-4
Exhibit B-Proxy Voting Guidelines
UNITED STATES
Concise Proxy Voting Guidelines
Benchmark Policy Recommendations
Effective for Meetings on or after February 1, 2021
Published November 19, 2020
ISSGOVERNANCE.COM
© 2020 | Institutional Shareholder Services and/or its affiliates
B-1
U.S. Concise Proxy Voting Guidelines
The policies contained herein are a sampling only of selected key ISS U.S. proxy voting guidelines,
and are not intended to be exhaustive. The complete guidelines can be found at:
https://www.issgovernance.com/policy-gateway/voting-policies/
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Voting on Director Nominees in Uncontested Elections
General Recommendation: Generally vote for director nominees, except under the following circumstances (with new nominees1 considered on case-by-case basis):
Independence
Vote against2 or withhold from non-independent directors (Executive Directors and Non-Independent Non-Executive Directors per ISS' Classification of Directors) when:
Independent directors comprise 50 percent or less of the board;
The non-independent director serves on the audit, compensation, or nominating committee;
The company lacks an audit, compensation, or nominating committee so that the full board functions as that committee; or
The company lacks a formal nominating committee, even if the board attests that the independent directors fulfill the functions of such a committee.
Composition
Attendance at Board and Committee Meetings: Generally vote against or withhold from directors (except nominees who served only part of the fiscal year3) who attend less than 75 percent of the aggregate of their board and committee meetings for the period for which they served, unless an acceptable reason for absences is disclosed in the proxy or another SEC filing. Acceptable reasons for director absences are generally limited to the following:
Medical issues/illness;
Family emergencies; and
Missing only one meeting (when the total of all meetings is three or fewer).
In cases of chronic poor attendance without reasonable justification, in addition to voting against the director(s) with poor attendance, generally vote against or withhold from appropriate members of the nominating/governance committees or the full board.
If the proxy disclosure is unclear and insufficient to determine whether a director attended at least 75 percent of the aggregate of his/her board and committee meetings during his/her period of service, vote against or withhold from the director(s) in question.
1
A 'new nominee' is a director who is being presented for election by shareholders for the first time. Recommendations on new nominees who have served for less than one year are made on a case-by-case basis depending on the timing of their appointment and the problematic governance issue in question.
2
In general, companies with a plurality vote standard use 'Withhold' as the contrary vote option in director elections; companies with a majority vote standard use 'Against'. However, it will vary by company and the proxy must be checked to determine the valid contrary vote option for the particular company.
3
Nominees who served for only part of the fiscal year are generally exempted from the attendance policy.
B-2
ISSGOVERNANCE.COM
U.S. Concise Proxy Voting Guidelines
Overboarded Directors: Generally vote against or withhold from individual directors who:
Sit on more than five public company boards; or
Are CEOs of public companies who sit on the boards of more than two public companies besides their own-withhold only at their outside boards4.
Gender Diversity: For companies in the Russell 3000 or S&P 1500 indices, generally vote against or withhold from the chair of the nominating committee (or other directors on a case-by-case basis) at companies where there are no women on the company's board. An exception will be made if there was a woman on the board at the preceding annual meeting and the board makes a firm commitment to return to a gender-diverse status within a year.
Racial and/or Ethnic Diversity: For companies in the Russell 3000 or S&P 1500 indices, highlight boards with no apparent racial and/or ethnic diversity5.
For companies in the Russell 3000 or S&P 1500 indices, effective for meetings on or after Feb. 1, 2022, generally vote against or withhold from the chair of the nominating committee (or other directors on a case-by-case basis) where the board has no apparent racially or ethnically diverse members. An exception will be made if there was racial and/or ethnic diversity on the board at the preceding annual meeting and the board makes a firm commitment to appoint at least one racial and/or ethnic diverse member within a year.
Responsiveness
Vote case-by-case on individual directors, committee members, or the entire board of directors as appropriate if:
The board failed to act on a shareholder proposal that received the support of a majority of the shares cast in the previous year or failed to act on a management proposal seeking to ratify an existing charter/bylaw provision that received opposition of a majority of the shares cast in the previous year. Factors that will be considered are:
Disclosed outreach efforts by the board to shareholders in the wake of the vote;
Rationale provided in the proxy statement for the level of implementation;
The subject matter of the proposal;
The level of support for and opposition to the resolution in past meetings;
Actions taken by the board in response to the majority vote and its engagement with shareholders;
The continuation of the underlying issue as a voting item on the ballot (as either shareholder or management proposals); and
Other factors as appropriate.
The board failed to act on takeover offers where the majority of shares are tendered;
At the previous board election, any director received more than 50 percent withhold/against votes of the shares cast and the company has failed to address the issue(s) that caused the high withhold/against vote.
Vote case-by-case on Compensation Committee members (or, in exceptional cases, the full board) and the Say on Pay proposal if:
The company's previous say-on-pay received the support of less than 70 percent of votes cast. Factors that will be considered are:
The company's response, including:
Disclosure of engagement efforts with major institutional investors, including the frequency and timing of engagements and the company participants (including whether independent directors participated);
4
Although all of a CEO's subsidiary boards with publicly-traded common stock will be counted as separate boards, ISS will not recommend a withhold vote for the CEO of a parent company board or any of the controlled (>50 percent ownership) subsidiaries of that parent but may do so at subsidiaries that are less than 50 percent controlled and boards outside the parent/subsidiary relationships.
5
Aggregate diversity statistics provided by the board will only be considered if specific to racial and/or ethnic diversity.
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Disclosure of the specific concerns voiced by dissenting shareholders that led to the say-on-pay opposition;
Disclosure of specific and meaningful actions taken to address shareholders' concerns;
Other recent compensation actions taken by the company;
Whether the issues raised are recurring or isolated;
The company's ownership structure; and
Whether the support level was less than 50 percent, which would warrant the highest degree of responsiveness.
The board implements an advisory vote on executive compensation on a less frequent basis than the frequency that received the plurality of votes cast.
Accountability
Problematic Takeover Defenses/Governance Structure
Poison Pills: Vote against or withhold from all nominees (except new nominees1, who should be considered case-by-case) if:
The company has a poison pill that was not approved by shareholders6. However, vote case-by-case on nominees if the board adopts an initial pill with a term of one year or less, depending on the disclosed rationale for the adoption, and other factors as relevant (such as a commitment to put any renewal to a shareholder vote).
The board makes a material adverse modification to an existing pill, including, but not limited to, extension, renewal, or lowering the trigger, without shareholder approval; or
The pill, whether short-term7 or long-term, has a deadhand or slowhand feature.
Classified Board Structure: The board is classified, and a continuing director responsible for a problematic governance issue at the board/committee level that would warrant a withhold/against vote recommendation is not up for election. All appropriate nominees (except new) may be held accountable.
Removal of Shareholder Discretion on Classified Boards: The company has opted into, or failed to opt out of, state laws requiring a classified board structure.
Director Performance Evaluation: The board lacks mechanisms to promote accountability and oversight, coupled with sustained poor performance relative to peers. Sustained poor performance is measured by one-, three-, and five-year total shareholder returns in the bottom half of a company's four-digit GICS industry group (Russell 3000 companies only). Take into consideration the company's operational metrics and other factors as warranted. Problematic provisions include but are not limited to:
A classified board structure;
A supermajority vote requirement;
Either a plurality vote standard in uncontested director elections, or a majority vote standard in contested elections;
The inability of shareholders to call special meetings;
The inability of shareholders to act by written consent;
A multi-class capital structure; and/or
A non-shareholder-approved poison pill.
Unilateral Bylaw/Charter Amendments and Problematic Capital Structures: Generally vote against or withhold from directors individually, committee members, or the entire board (except new nominees1, who should be considered
6
Public shareholders only, approval prior to a company's becoming public is insufficient.
7
If the short-term pill with a deadhand or slowhand feature is enacted but expires before the next shareholder vote, ISS will generally still recommend withhold/against nominees at the next shareholder meeting following its adoption.
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case-by-case) if the board amends the company's bylaws or charter without shareholder approval in a manner that materially diminishes shareholders' rights or that could adversely impact shareholders, considering the following factors:
The board's rationale for adopting the bylaw/charter amendment without shareholder ratification;
Disclosure by the company of any significant engagement with shareholders regarding the amendment;
The level of impairment of shareholders' rights caused by the board's unilateral amendment to the bylaws/charter;
The board's track record with regard to unilateral board action on bylaw/charter amendments or other entrenchment provisions;
The company's ownership structure;
The company's existing governance provisions;
The timing of the board's amendment to the bylaws/charter in connection with a significant business development; and
Other factors, as deemed appropriate, that may be relevant to determine the impact of the amendment on shareholders.
Unless the adverse amendment is reversed or submitted to a binding shareholder vote, in subsequent years vote case-by-case on director nominees. Generally, vote against (except new nominees1, who should be considered case-by-case) if the directors:
Classified the board;
Adopted supermajority vote requirements to amend the bylaws or charter; or
Eliminated shareholders' ability to amend bylaws.
Problematic Capital Structure - Newly Public Companies: For newly public companies8, generally vote against or withhold from the entire board (except new nominees1, who should be considered case-by-case) if, prior to or in connection with the company's public offering, the company or its board implemented a multi-class capital structure in which the classes have unequal voting rights without subjecting the multi-class capital structure to a reasonable time-based sunset. In assessing the reasonableness of a time-based sunset provision, consideration will be given to the company's lifespan, its post-IPO ownership structure and the board's disclosed rationale for the sunset period selected. No sunset period of more than seven years from the date of the IPO will be considered to be reasonable.
Continue to vote against or withhold from incumbent directors in subsequent years, unless the problematic capital structure is reversed or removed.
Problematic Governance Structure - Newly Public Companies: For newly public companies8, generally vote against or withhold from directors individually, committee members, or the entire board (except new nominees1, who should be considered case-by-case) if, prior to or in connection with the company's public offering, the company or its board adopted the following bylaw or charter provisions that are considered to be materially adverse to shareholder rights:
Supermajority vote requirements to amend the bylaws or charter;
A classified board structure; or
Other egregious provisions.
A reasonable sunset provision will be considered a mitigating factor.
Unless the adverse provision is reversed or removed, vote case-by-case on director nominees in subsequent years.
Management Proposals to Ratify Existing Charter or Bylaw Provisions: Vote against/withhold from individual directors, members of the governance committee, or the full board, where boards ask shareholders to ratify existing charter or bylaw provisions considering the following factors:
The presence of a shareholder proposal addressing the same issue on the same ballot;
The board's rationale for seeking ratification;
Disclosure of actions to be taken by the board should the ratification proposal fail;
8
Newly-public companies generally include companies that emerge from bankruptcy, spin-offs, direct listings, and those who complete a traditional initial public offering.
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Disclosure of shareholder engagement regarding the board's ratification request;
The level of impairment to shareholders' rights caused by the existing provision;
The history of management and shareholder proposals on the provision at the company's past meetings;
Whether the current provision was adopted in response to the shareholder proposal;
The company's ownership structure; and
Previous use of ratification proposals to exclude shareholder proposals.
Restrictions on Shareholders' Rights
Restricting Binding Shareholder Proposals: Generally, vote against or withhold from the members of the governance committee if:
The company's governing documents impose undue restrictions on shareholders' ability to amend the bylaws. Such restrictions include but are not limited to: outright prohibition on the submission of binding shareholder proposals or share ownership requirements, subject matter restrictions, or time holding requirements in excess of SEC Rule 14a-8. Vote against or withhold on an ongoing basis.
Submission of management proposals to approve or ratify requirements in excess of SEC Rule 14a-8 for the submission of binding bylaw amendments will generally be viewed as an insufficient restoration of shareholders' rights. Generally continue to vote against or withhold on an ongoing basis until shareholders are provided with an unfettered ability to amend the bylaws or a proposal providing for such unfettered right is submitted for shareholder approval.
Problematic Audit-Related Practices
Generally vote against or withhold from the members of the Audit Committee if:
The non-audit fees paid to the auditor are excessive;
The company receives an adverse opinion on the company's financial statements from its auditor; or
There is persuasive evidence that the Audit Committee entered into an inappropriate indemnification agreement with its auditor that limits the ability of the company, or its shareholders, to pursue legitimate legal recourse against the audit firm.
Vote case-by-case on members of the Audit Committee and potentially the full board if:
Poor accounting practices are identified that rise to a level of serious concern, such as: fraud; misapplication of GAAP; and material weaknesses identified in Section 404 disclosures. Examine the severity, breadth, chronological sequence, and duration, as well as the company's efforts at remediation or corrective actions, in determining whether withhold/against votes are warranted.
Problematic Compensation Practices
In the absence of an Advisory Vote on Executive Compensation (Say on Pay) ballot item or in egregious situations, vote against or withhold from the members of the Compensation Committee and potentially the full board if:
There is an unmitigated misalignment between CEO pay and company performance (pay for performance);
The company maintains significant problematic pay practices; or
The board exhibits a significant level of poor communication and responsiveness to shareholders.
Generally, vote against or withhold from the Compensation Committee chair, other committee members, or potentially the full board if:
The company fails to include a Say on Pay ballot item when required under SEC provisions, or under the company's declared frequency of say on pay; or
The company fails to include a Frequency of Say on Pay ballot item when required under SEC provisions.
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Generally vote against members of the board committee responsible for approving/setting non-employee director compensation if there is a pattern (i.e. two or more years) of awarding excessive non-employee director compensation without disclosing a compelling rationale or other mitigating factors.
Problematic Pledging of Company Stock:
Vote against the members of the committee that oversees risks related to pledging, or the full board, where a significant level of pledged company stock by executives or directors raises concerns. The following factors will be considered:
The presence of an anti-pledging policy, disclosed in the proxy statement, that prohibits future pledging activity;
The magnitude of aggregate pledged shares in terms of total common shares outstanding, market value, and trading volume;
Disclosure of progress or lack thereof in reducing the magnitude of aggregate pledged shares over time;
Disclosure in the proxy statement that shares subject to stock ownership and holding requirements do not include pledged company stock; and
Any other relevant factors.
Governance Failures
Under extraordinary circumstances, vote against or withhold from directors individually, committee members, or the entire board, due to:
Material failures of governance, stewardship, risk oversight9, or fiduciary responsibilities at the company;
Failure to replace management as appropriate; or
Egregious actions related to a director's service on other boards that raise substantial doubt about his or her ability to effectively oversee management and serve the best interests of shareholders at any company.
Voting on Director Nominees in Contested Elections
Vote-No Campaigns
General Recommendation: In cases where companies are targeted in connection with public 'vote-no' campaigns, evaluate director nominees under the existing governance policies for voting on director nominees in uncontested elections. Take into consideration the arguments submitted by shareholders and other publicly available information.
Proxy Contests/Proxy Access
General Recommendation: Vote case-by-case on the election of directors in contested elections, considering the following factors:
Long-term financial performance of the company relative to its industry;
Management's track record;
Background to the contested election;
Nominee qualifications and any compensatory arrangements;
9
Examples of failure of risk oversight include but are not limited to: bribery; large or serial fines or sanctions from regulatory bodies; demonstrably poor risk oversight of environmental and social issues, including climate change; significant adverse legal judgments or settlement; or hedging of company stock.
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Strategic plan of dissident slate and quality of the critique against management;
Likelihood that the proposed goals and objectives can be achieved (both slates); and
Stock ownership positions.
In the case of candidates nominated pursuant to proxy access, vote case-by-case considering any applicable factors listed above or additional factors which may be relevant, including those that are specific to the company, to the nominee(s) and/or to the nature of the election (such as whether there are more candidates than board seats).
Other Board-Related Proposals
Board Refreshment
Board refreshment is best implemented through an ongoing program of individual director evaluations, conducted annually, to ensure the evolving needs of the board are met and to bring in fresh perspectives, skills, and diversity as needed.
Term/Tenure Limits
General Recommendation: Vote case-by-case on management proposals regarding director term/tenure limits, considering:
The rationale provided for adoption of the term/tenure limit;
The robustness of the company's board evaluation process;
Whether the limit is of sufficient length to allow for a broad range of director tenures;
Whether the limit would disadvantage independent directors compared to non-independent directors; and
Whether the board will impose the limit evenly, and not have the ability to waive it in a discriminatory manner.
Vote case-by-case on shareholder proposals asking for the company to adopt director term/tenure limits, considering:
The scope of the shareholder proposal; and
Evidence of problematic issues at the company combined with, or exacerbated by, a lack of board refreshment.
Age Limits
General Recommendation: Generally vote against management and shareholder proposals to limit the tenure of independent directors through mandatory retirement ages. Vote for proposals to remove mandatory age limits.
Independent Board Chair
General Recommendation: Generally vote for shareholder proposals requiring that the board chair position be filled by an independent director, taking into consideration the following:
The scope and rationale of the proposal;
The company's current board leadership structure;
The company's governance structure and practices;
Company performance; and
Any other relevant factors that may be applicable.
The following factors will increase the likelihood of a 'for' recommendation:
A majority non-independent board and/or the presence of non-independent directors on key board committees;
A weak or poorly-defined lead independent director role that fails to serve as an appropriate counterbalance to a combined CEO/chair role;
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The presence of an executive or non-independent chair in addition to the CEO, a recent recombination of the role of CEO and chair, and/or departure from a structure with an independent chair;
Evidence that the board has failed to oversee and address material risks facing the company;
A material governance failure, particularly if the board has failed to adequately respond to shareholder concerns or if the board has materially diminished shareholder rights; or
Evidence that the board has failed to intervene when management's interests are contrary to shareholders' interests.
Shareholder Rights & Defenses
Advance Notice Requirements for Shareholder Proposals/Nominations
General Recommendation: Vote case-by-case on advance notice proposals, giving support to those proposals which allow shareholders to submit proposals/nominations as close to the meeting date as reasonably possible and within the broadest window possible, recognizing the need to allow sufficient notice for company, regulatory, and shareholder review.
To be reasonable, the company's deadline for shareholder notice of a proposal/nominations must be no earlier than 120 days prior to the anniversary of the previous year's meeting and have a submittal window of no shorter than 30 days from the beginning of the notice period (also known as a 90-120 day window). The submittal window is the period under which shareholders must file their proposals/nominations prior to the deadline.
In general, support additional efforts by companies to ensure full disclosure in regard to a proponent's economic and voting position in the company so long as the informational requirements are reasonable and aimed at providing shareholders with the necessary information to review such proposals.
Shareholder Litigation Rights
Federal Forum Selection Provisions
Federal forum selection provisions require that U.S. federal courts be the sole forum for shareholders to litigate claims arising under federal securities law.
General Recommendation: Generally vote for federal forum selection provisions in the charter or bylaws that specify 'the district courts of the United States' as the exclusive forum for federal securities law matters, in the absence of serious concerns about corporate governance or board responsiveness to shareholders.
Vote against provisions that restrict the forum to a particular federal district court; unilateral adoption (without a shareholder vote) of such a provision will generally be considered a one-time failure under the Unilateral Bylaw/Charter Amendments policy.
Exclusive Forum Provisions for State Law Matters
Exclusive forum provisions in the charter or bylaws restrict shareholders' ability to bring derivative lawsuits against the company, for claims arising out of state corporate law, to the courts of a particular state (generally the state of incorporation).
General Recommendation: Generally vote for charter or bylaw provisions that specify courts located within the state of Delaware as the exclusive forum for corporate law matters for Delaware corporations, in the absence of serious concerns about corporate governance or board responsiveness to shareholders.
For states other than Delaware, vote case-by-case on exclusive forum provisions, taking into consideration:
The company's stated rationale for adopting such a provision;
Disclosure of past harm from duplicative shareholder lawsuits in more than one forum;
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The breadth of application of the charter or bylaw provision, including the types of lawsuits to which it would apply and the definition of key terms; and
Governance features such as shareholders' ability to repeal the provision at a later date (including the vote standard applied when shareholders attempt to amend the charter or bylaws) and their ability to hold directors accountable through annual director elections and a majority vote standard in uncontested elections.
Generally vote against provisions that specify a state other than the state of incorporation as the exclusive forum for corporate law matters, or that specify a particular local court within the state; unilateral adoption of such a provision will generally be considered a one-time failure under the Unilateral Bylaw/Charter Amendments policy.
Fee shifting
Fee-shifting provisions in the charter or bylaws require that a shareholder who sues a company unsuccessfully pay all litigation expenses of the defendant corporation and its directors and officers.
General Recommendation: Generally vote against provisions that mandate fee-shifting whenever plaintiffs are not completely successful on the merits (i.e., including cases where the plaintiffs are partially successful).
Unilateral adoption of a fee-shifting provision will generally be considered an ongoing failure under the Unilateral Bylaw/Charter Amendments policy.
Virtual Shareholder Meetings
General Recommendation: Generally vote for management proposals allowing for the convening of shareholder meetings by electronic means, so long as they do not preclude in-person meetings. Companies are encouraged to disclose the circumstances under which virtual-only 10 meetings would be held, and to allow for comparable rights and opportunities for shareholders to participate electronically as they would have during an in-person meeting.
Vote case-by-case on shareholder proposals concerning virtual-only meetings, considering:
Scope and rationale of the proposal; and
Concerns identified with the company's prior meeting practices.
Capital/Restructuring
Common Stock Authorization
General Recommendation: Vote for proposals to increase the number of authorized common shares where the primary purpose of the increase is to issue shares in connection with a transaction on the same ballot that warrants support.
Vote against proposals at companies with more than one class of common stock to increase the number of authorized shares of the class of common stock that has superior voting rights.
Vote against proposals to increase the number of authorized common shares if a vote for a reverse stock split on the same ballot is warranted despite the fact that the authorized shares would not be reduced proportionally.
Vote case-by-case on all other proposals to increase the number of shares of common stock authorized for issuance. Take into account company-specific factors that include, at a minimum, the following:
Past Board Performance:
The company's use of authorized shares during the last three years
10
'Virtual-only shareholder meeting' refers to a meeting of shareholders that is held exclusively using technology without a corresponding in-person meeting.
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The Current Request:
Disclosure in the proxy statement of the specific purposes of the proposed increase;
Disclosure in the proxy statement of specific and severe risks to shareholders of not approving the request; and
The dilutive impact of the request as determined relative to an allowable increase calculated by ISS (typically 100 percent of existing authorized shares) that reflects the company's need for shares and total shareholder returns.
ISS will apply the relevant allowable increase below to requests to increase common stock that are for general corporate purposes (or to the general corporate purposes portion of a request that also includes a specific need):
A.
Most companies: 100 percent of existing authorized shares.
B.
Companies with less than 50 percent of existing authorized shares either outstanding or reserved for issuance: 50 percent of existing authorized shares.
C.
Companies with one- and three-year total shareholder returns (TSRs) in the bottom 10 percent of the U.S. market as of the end of the calendar quarter that is closest to their most recent fiscal year end: 50 percentof existing authorized shares.
D.
Companies at which both conditions (B and C) above are both present: 25 percent of existing authorized shares.
If there is an acquisition, private placement, or similar transaction on the ballot (not including equity incentive plans) that ISS is recommending FOR, the allowable increase will be the greater of (i) twice the amount needed to support the transactions on the ballot, and (ii) the allowable increase as calculated above.
Mergers and Acquisitions
General Recommendation: Vote case-by-case on mergers and acquisitions. Review and evaluate the merits and drawbacks of the proposed transaction, balancing various and sometimes countervailing factors including:
Valuation - Is the value to be received by the target shareholders (or paid by the acquirer) reasonable? While the fairness opinion may provide an initial starting point for assessing valuation reasonableness, emphasis is placed on the offer premium, market reaction, and strategic rationale.
Market reaction - How has the market responded to the proposed deal? A negative market reaction should cause closer scrutiny of a deal.
Strategic rationale - Does the deal make sense strategically? From where is the value derived? Cost and revenue synergies should not be overly aggressive or optimistic, but reasonably achievable. Management should also have a favorable track record of successful integration of historical acquisitions.
Negotiations and process - Were the terms of the transaction negotiated at arm's-length? Was the process fair and equitable? A fair process helps to ensure the best price for shareholders. Significant negotiation 'wins' can also signify the deal makers' competency. The comprehensiveness of the sales process (e.g., full auction, partial auction, no auction) can also affect shareholder value.
Conflicts of interest - Are insiders benefiting from the transaction disproportionately and inappropriately as compared to non-insider shareholders? As the result of potential conflicts, the directors and officers of the company may be more likely to vote to approve a merger than if they did not hold these interests. Consider whether these interests may have influenced these directors and officers to support or recommend the merger. The CIC figure presented in the 'ISS Transaction Summary' section of this report is an aggregate figure that can in certain cases be a misleading indicator of the true value transfer from shareholders to insiders. Where such figure appears to be excessive, analyze the underlying assumptions to determine whether a potential conflict exists.
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Governance - Will the combined company have a better or worse governance profile than the current governance profiles of the respective parties to the transaction? If the governance profile is to change for the worse, the burden is on the company to prove that other issues (such as valuation) outweigh any deterioration in governance.
Compensation
Executive Pay Evaluation
Underlying all evaluations are five global principles that most investors expect corporations to adhere to in designing and administering executive and director compensation programs:
Maintain appropriate pay-for-performance alignment, with emphasis on long-term shareholder value: This principle encompasses overall executive pay practices, which must be designed to attract, retain, and appropriately motivate the key employees who drive shareholder value creation over the long term. It will take into consideration, among other factors, the link between pay and performance; the mix between fixed and variable pay; performance goals; and equity-based plan costs;
Avoid arrangements that risk 'pay for failure': This principle addresses the appropriateness of long or indefinite contracts, excessive severance packages, and guaranteed compensation;
Maintain an independent and effective compensation committee: This principle promotes oversight of executive pay programs by directors with appropriate skills, knowledge, experience, and a sound process for compensation decision-making (e.g., including access to independent expertise and advice when needed);
Provide shareholders with clear, comprehensive compensation disclosures: This principle underscores the importance of informative and timely disclosures that enable shareholders to evaluate executive pay practices fully and fairly;
Avoid inappropriate pay to non-executive directors: This principle recognizes the interests of shareholders in ensuring that compensation to outside directors is reasonable and does not compromise their independence and ability to make appropriate judgments in overseeing managers' pay and performance. At the market level, it may incorporate a variety of generally accepted best practices.
Advisory Votes on Executive Compensation-Management Proposals (Say-on-Pay)
General Recommendation: Vote case-by-case on ballot items related to executive pay and practices, as well as certain aspects of outside director compensation.
Vote against Advisory Votes on Executive Compensation (Say-on-Pay or 'SOP') if:
There is an unmitigated misalignment between CEO pay and company performance (pay for performance);
The company maintains significant problematic pay practices;
The board exhibits a significant level of poor communication and responsiveness to shareholders.
Vote against or withhold from the members of the Compensation Committee and potentially the full board if:
There is no SOP on the ballot, and an against vote on an SOP would otherwise be warranted due to pay-for-performance misalignment, problematic pay practices, or the lack of adequate responsiveness on compensation issues raised previously, or a combination thereof;
The board fails to respond adequately to a previous SOP proposal that received less than 70 percent support of votes cast;
The company has recently practiced or approved problematic pay practices, such as option repricing or option backdating; or
The situation is egregious.
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Primary Evaluation Factors for Executive Pay
Pay-for-Performance Evaluation
ISS annually conducts a pay-for-performance analysis to identify strong or satisfactory alignment between pay and performance over a sustained period. With respect to companies in the S&P1500, Russell 3000, or Russell 3000E Indices11, this analysis considers the following:
1.
Peer Group12 Alignment:
The degree of alignment between the company's annualized TSR rank and the CEO's annualized total pay rank within a peer group, each measured over a three-year period.
The rankings of CEO total pay and company financial performance within a peer group, each measured over a three-year period.
The multiple of the CEO's total pay relative to the peer group median in the most recent fiscal year.
2.
Absolute Alignment13- the absolute alignment between the trend in CEO pay and company TSR over the prior five fiscal years - i.e., the difference between the trend in annual pay changes and the trend in annualized TSR during the period.
If the above analysis demonstrates significant unsatisfactory long-term pay-for-performance alignment or, in the case of companies outside the Russell indices, a misalignment between pay and performance is otherwise suggested, our analysis may include any of the following qualitative factors, as relevant to an evaluation of how various pay elements may work to encourage or to undermine long-term value creation and alignment with shareholder interests:
The ratio of performance- to time-based incentive awards;
The overall ratio of performance-based compensation to fixed or discretionary pay;
The rigor of performance goals;
The complexity and risks around pay program design;
The transparency and clarity of disclosure;
The company's peer group benchmarking practices;
Financial/operational results, both absolute and relative to peers;
Special circumstances related to, for example, a new CEO in the prior FY or anomalous equity grant practices (e.g., bi-annual awards);
Realizable pay14 compared to grant pay; and
Any other factors deemed relevant.
Problematic Pay Practices
The focus is on executive compensation practices that contravene the global pay principles, including:
Problematic practices related to non-performance-based compensation elements;
Incentives that may motivate excessive risk-taking or present a windfall risk; and
Pay decisions that circumvent pay-for-performance, such as options backdating or waiving performance requirements.
11
The Russell 3000E Index includes approximately 4,000 of the largest U.S. equity securities.
12
The revised peer group is generally comprised of 14-24 companies that are selected using market cap, revenue (or assets for certain financial firms), GICS industry group, and company's selected peers' GICS industry group, with size constraints, via a process designed to select peers that are comparable to the subject company in terms of revenue/assets and industry, and also within a market-cap bucket that is reflective of the company's. For Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels companies, market cap is the only size determinant.
13
Only Russell 3000 Index companies are subject to the Absolute Alignment analysis.
14
ISS research reports include realizable pay for S&P1500 companies.
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Problematic Pay Practices related to Non-Performance-Based Compensation Elements
Pay elements that are not directly based on performance are generally evaluated case-by-case considering the context of a company's overall pay program and demonstrated pay-for-performance philosophy. Please refer to ISS' U.S. Compensation Policies FAQ document for detail on specific pay practices that have been identified as potentially problematic and may lead to negative recommendations if they are deemed to be inappropriate or unjustified relative to executive pay best practices. The list below highlights the problematic practices that carry significant weight in this overall consideration and may result in adverse vote recommendations:
Repricing or replacing of underwater stock options/SARS without prior shareholder approval (including cash buyouts and voluntary surrender of underwater options);
Extraordinary perquisites or tax gross-ups;
New or materially amended agreements that provide for:
Excessive termination or CIC severance payments (generally exceeding 3 times base salary and average/target/most recent bonus);
CIC severance payments without involuntary job loss or substantial diminution of duties ('single' or 'modified single' triggers) or in connection with a problematic Good Reason definition;
CIC excise tax gross-up entitlements (including 'modified' gross-ups);
Multi-year guaranteed awards that are not at risk due to rigorous performance conditions;
Liberal CIC definition combined with any single-trigger CIC benefits;
Insufficient executive compensation disclosure by externally-managed issuers (EMIs) such that a reasonable assessment of pay programs and practices applicable to the EMI's executives is not possible;
Any other provision or practice deemed to be egregious and present a significant risk to investors.
Options Backdating
The following factors should be examined case-by-case to allow for distinctions to be made between 'sloppy' plan administration versus deliberate action or fraud:
Reason and motive for the options backdating issue, such as inadvertent vs. deliberate grant date changes;
Duration of options backdating;
Size of restatement due to options backdating;
Corrective actions taken by the board or compensation committee, such as canceling or re-pricing backdated options, the recouping of option gains on backdated grants; and
Adoption of a grant policy that prohibits backdating and creates a fixed grant schedule or window period for equity grants in the future.
Compensation Committee Communications and Responsiveness
Consider the following factors case-by-case when evaluating ballot items related to executive pay on the board's responsiveness to investor input and engagement on compensation issues:
Failure to respond to majority-supported shareholder proposals on executive pay topics; or
Failure to adequately respond to the company's previous say-on-pay proposal that received the support of less than 70 percent of votes cast, taking into account:
Disclosure of engagement efforts with major institutional investors, including the frequency and timing of engagements and the company participants (including whether independent directors participated);
Disclosure of the specific concerns voiced by dissenting shareholders that led to the say-on-pay opposition;
Disclosure of specific and meaningful actions taken to address shareholders' concerns;
Other recent compensation actions taken by the company;
Whether the issues raised are recurring or isolated;
The company's ownership structure; and
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Whether the support level was less than 50 percent, which would warrant the highest degree of responsiveness.
Equity-Based and Other Incentive Plans
Please refer to ISS' U.S. Equity Compensation Plans FAQ document for additional details on the Equity Plan Scorecard policy.
General Recommendation: Vote case-by-case on certain equity-based compensation plans15 depending on a combination of certain plan features and equity grant practices, where positive factors may counterbalance negative factors, and vice versa, as evaluated using an 'Equity Plan Scorecard' (EPSC) approach with three pillars:
Plan Cost: The total estimated cost of the company's equity plans relative to industry/market cap peers, measured by the company's estimated Shareholder Value Transfer (SVT) in relation to peers and considering both:
SVT based on new shares requested plus shares remaining for future grants, plus outstanding unvested/unexercised grants; and
SVT based only on new shares requested plus shares remaining for future grants.
Plan Features:
Quality of disclosure around vesting upon a change in control (CIC);
Discretionary vesting authority;
Liberal share recycling on various award types;
Lack of minimum vesting period for grants made under the plan;
Dividends payable prior to award vesting.
Grant Practices:
The company's three-year burn rate relative to its industry/market cap peers;
Vesting requirements in CEO's recent equity grants (3-year look-back);
The estimated duration of the plan (based on the sum of shares remaining available and the new shares requested, divided by the average annual shares granted in the prior three years);
The proportion of the CEO's most recent equity grants/awards subject to performance conditions;
Whether the company maintains a sufficient claw-back policy;
Whether the company maintains sufficient post-exercise/vesting share-holding requirements.
Generally vote against the plan proposal if the combination of above factors indicates that the plan is not, overall, in shareholders' interests, or if any of the following egregious factors ('overriding factors') apply:
Awards may vest in connection with a liberal change-of-control definition;
The plan would permit repricing or cash buyout of underwater options without shareholder approval (either by expressly permitting it-for NYSE and Nasdaq listed companies-or by not prohibiting it when the company has a history of repricing-for non-listed companies);
The plan is a vehicle for problematic pay practices or a significant pay-for-performance disconnect under certain circumstances;
The plan is excessively dilutive to shareholders' holdings;
The plan contains an evergreen (automatic share replenishment) feature; or
Any other plan features are determined to have a significant negative impact on shareholder interests.
15
Proposals evaluated under the EPSC policy generally include those to approve or amend (1) stock option plans for employees and/or employees and directors, (2) restricted stock plans for employees and/or employees and directors, and (3) omnibus stock incentive plans for employees and/or employees and directors; amended plans will be further evaluated case-by-case.
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U.S. Concise Proxy Voting Guidelines
SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES
Global Approach
Issues covered under the policy include a wide range of topics, including consumer and product safety, environment and energy, labor standards and human rights, workplace and board diversity, and corporate political issues. While a variety of factors goes into each analysis, the overall principle guiding all vote recommendations focuses on how the proposal may enhance or protect shareholder value in either the short or long term.
General Recommendation: Generally vote case-by-case, examining primarily whether implementation of the proposal is likely to enhance or protect shareholder value. The following factors will be considered:
If the issues presented in the proposal are more appropriately or effectively dealt with through legislation or government regulation;
If the company has already responded in an appropriate and sufficient manner to the issue(s) raised in the proposal;
Whether the proposal's request is unduly burdensome (scope or timeframe) or overly prescriptive;
The company's approach compared with any industry standard practices for addressing the issue(s) raised by the proposal;
Whether there are significant controversies, fines, penalties, or litigation associated with the company's environmental or social practices;
If the proposal requests increased disclosure or greater transparency, whether reasonable and sufficient information is currently available to shareholders from the company or from other publicly available sources; and
If the proposal requests increased disclosure or greater transparency, whether implementation would reveal proprietary or confidential information that could place the company at a competitive disadvantage.
Climate Change/Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions
General Recommendation: Generally vote for resolutions requesting that a company disclose information on the financial, physical, or regulatory risks it faces related to climate change on its operations and investments or on how the company identifies, measures, and manages such risks, considering:
Whether the company already provides current, publicly-available information on the impact that climate change may have on the company as well as associated company policies and procedures to address related risks and/or opportunities;
The company's level of disclosure compared to industry peers; and
Whether there are significant controversies, fines, penalties, or litigation associated with the company's climate change-related performance.
Generally vote for proposals requesting a report on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from company operations and/or products and operations, unless:
The company already discloses current, publicly-available information on the impacts that GHG emissions may have on the company as well as associated company policies and procedures to address related risks and/or opportunities;
The company's level of disclosure is comparable to that of industry peers; and
There are no significant, controversies, fines, penalties, or litigation associated with the company's GHG emissions.
Vote case-by-case on proposals that call for the adoption of GHG reduction goals from products and operations, taking into account:
Whether the company provides disclosure of year-over-year GHG emissions performance data;
Whether company disclosure lags behind industry peers;
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The company's actual GHG emissions performance;
The company's current GHG emission policies, oversight mechanisms, and related initiatives; and
Whether the company has been the subject of recent, significant violations, fines, litigation, or controversy related to GHG emissions.
Gender, Race, or Ethnicity Pay Gap
General Recommendation: Vote case-by-case on requests for reports on a company's pay data by gender or race/ ethnicity, or a report on a company's policies and goals to reduce any gender or race/ethnicity pay gaps, taking into account:
The company's current policies and disclosure related to both its diversity and inclusion policies and practices and its compensation philosophy on fair and equitable compensation practices;
Whether the company has been the subject of recent controversy, litigation, or regulatory actions related to gender, race, or ethnicity pay gap issues;
The company's disclosure regarding gender, race, or ethnicity pay gap policies or initiatives compared to its industry peers; and
Local laws regarding categorization of race and/or ethnicity and definitions of ethnic and/or racial minorities.
Mandatory Arbitration
General Recommendation: Vote case-by-case on requests for a report on a company's use of mandatory arbitration on employment-related claims, taking into account:
The company's current policies and practices related to the use of mandatory arbitration agreements on workplace claims;
Whether the company has been the subject of recent controversy, litigation, or regulatory actions related to the use of mandatory arbitration agreements on workplace claims; and
The company's disclosure of its policies and practices related to the use of mandatory arbitration agreements compared to its peers.
Sexual Harassment
General Recommendation: Vote case-by-case on requests for a report on company actions taken to strengthen policies and oversight to prevent workplace sexual harassment, or a report on risks posed by a company's failure to prevent workplace sexual harassment, taking into account:
The company's current policies, practices, oversight mechanisms related to preventing workplace sexual harassment;
Whether the company has been the subject of recent controversy, litigation, or regulatory actions related to workplace sexual harassment issues; and
The company's disclosure regarding workplace sexual harassment policies or initiatives compared to its industry peers.
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U.S. Concise Proxy Voting Guidelines
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First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund IV

Part C - Other Information

Item 28. Exhibits

Exhibit No. Description

(a) (1) Amended and Restated Declaration of Trust is incorporated by reference to the Post-Effective Amendment No. 150 filed on Form N-1A (File No. 333-174332) for Registrant on February 28, 2018.

(2) Amended and Restated Establishment and Designation of Series is incorporated by reference to the Post-Effective Amendment No. 178 filed on Form N-1A (File No. 333-174332) for Registrant on February 26, 2021.

(b) By-Laws of the Registrant is incorporated by reference to the Registrant's Registration Statement filed on Form N-1A (File No. 333-174332) filed on May 19, 2011.
(c) Not applicable.
(d) (1) Investment Management Agreement by and between the Registrant and First Trust Advisors L.P. will be filed by amendment.
(e) (1) Distribution Agreement is incorporated by reference to the Post-Effective Amendment No. 30 filed on Form N-1A (File No. 333-174332) for Registrant on March 21, 2013.

(2) Exhibit A to Distribution Agreement will be filed by amendment.

(f) Not applicable.
(g) (1) Custody Agreement by and between the Registrant and The Bank of New York Mellon is incorporated by reference to the Post-Effective Amendment No. 30 filed on Form N-1A (File No. 333-174332) for Registrant on March 21, 2013.

(2) Schedule II to Custody Agreement by and between the Registrant and The Bank of New York Mellon will be filed by amendment.

(h) (1) Transfer Agency and Service Agreement by and between the Registrant and The Bank of New York Mellon is incorporated by reference to the Post-Effective Amendment No. 30 filed on Form N-1A (File No. 333-174332) for Registrant on March 21, 2013.

(2) Exhibit A to the Transfer Agency Agreement by and between the Registrant and The Bank of New York Mellon will be filed by amendment.

(3) Fund Administration and Accounting Agreement by and between the Registrant and The Bank of New York Mellon is incorporated by reference to the Post-Effective Amendment No. 30 filed on Form N-1A (File No. 333-174332) for Registrant on March 21, 2013.

(4) Exhibit A to Administration and Accounting Agreement by and between the Registrant and The Bank of New York Mellon will be filed by amendment.

(5) Form of Participant Agreement is incorporated by reference to the Post-Effective Amendment No. 144 filed on Form N-1A (File No. 333-174332) for Registrant on February 28, 2017.

(6) Form of Subscription Agreement is incorporated by reference to the Pre-Effective Amendment No. 2 filed on Form N-1A (File No. 333-174332) for Registrant on June 14, 2012.

(i) (1) Opinion and Consent of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP will be filed by amendment.

(2) Opinion and Consent of Chapman and Cutler LLP will be filed by amendment.

(j) Not applicable
(k) Not applicable.
(l) Not applicable.
(m) (1) 12b-1 Distribution and Service Plan is incorporated by reference to the Pre-Effective Amendment No. 2 filed on Form N-1A (File No. 333-174332) for Registrant on June 14, 2012.

(2) Exhibit A to 12b-1 Distribution and Service Plan will be filed by amendment.

(n) Not applicable.
(o) Not applicable.
(p) (1) First Trust Advisors L.P., First Trust Portfolios L.P. Code of Ethics, amended on July 1, 2013, is incorporated by reference to the Post-Effective Amendment No. 75 filed on Form N-1A (File No. 333-174332) for Registrant on July 11, 2014.

(2) First Trust Funds Code of Ethics, amended on October 30, 2013, is incorporated by reference to the Post-Effective Amendment No. 75 filed on Form N-1A (File No. 333-174332) for Registrant on July 11, 2014.

(q) Powers of Attorney for Messrs. Bowen, Erickson, Kadlec, Keith and Nielson authorizing James A. Bowen, W. Scott Jardine, James M. Dykas, Kristi A. Maher and Eric F. Fess to execute the Registration Statement is incorporated by reference to the Post-Effective Amendment No. 137 filed on Form N-1A (File No. 333-174332) for Registrant on January 21, 2016.

__________________

Item 29. Persons Controlled By or Under Common Control with Registrant

Not Applicable.

Item 30. Indemnification

Section 9.5 of the Registrant's Declaration of Trust provides as follows:

Section 9.5. Indemnification and Advancement of Expenses. Subject to the exceptions and limitations contained in this Section 9.5, every person who is, or has been, a Trustee, officer, or employee of the Trust, including persons who serve at the request of the Trust as directors, trustees, officers, employees or agents of another organization in which the Trust has an interest as a shareholder, creditor or otherwise (hereinafter referred to as a 'Covered Person'), shall be indemnified by the Trust to the fullest extent permitted by law against liability and against all expenses reasonably incurred or paid by him or in connection with any claim, action, suit or proceeding in which he becomes involved as a party or otherwise by virtue of his being or having been such a Trustee, director, officer, employee or agent and against amounts paid or incurred by him in settlement thereof.

No indemnification shall be provided hereunder to a Covered Person to the extent such indemnification is prohibited by applicable federal law.

The rights of indemnification herein provided may be insured against by policies maintained by the Trust, shall be severable, shall not affect any other rights to which any Covered Person may now or hereafter be entitled, shall continue as to a person who has ceased to be such a Covered Person and shall inure to the benefit of the heirs, executors and administrators of such a person.

Subject to applicable federal law, expenses of preparation and presentation of a defense to any claim, action, suit or proceeding subject to a claim for indemnification under this Section 9.5 shall be advanced by the Trust prior to final disposition thereof upon receipt of an undertaking by or on behalf of the recipient to repay such amount if it is ultimately determined that he is not entitled to indemnification under this Section 9.5.

To the extent that any determination is required to be made as to whether a Covered Person engaged in conduct for which indemnification is not provided as described herein, or as to whether there is reason to believe that a Covered Person ultimately will be found entitled to indemnification, the Person or Persons making the determination shall afford the Covered Person a rebuttable presumption that the Covered Person has not engaged in such conduct and that there is reason to believe that the Covered Person ultimately will be found entitled to indemnification.

As used in this Section 9.5, the words 'claim,' 'action,' 'suit' or 'proceeding' shall apply to all claims, demands, actions, suits, investigations, regulatory inquiries, proceedings or any other occurrence of a similar nature, whether actual or threatened and whether civil, criminal, administrative or other, including appeals, and the words 'liability' and 'expenses' shall include without limitation, attorneys' fees, costs, judgments, amounts paid in settlement, fines, penalties and other liabilities.

Item 31. Business and Other Connections of the Investment Adviser

First Trust Advisors L.P. ('First Trust'), investment adviser to the Registrant, serves as adviser or sub-adviser to various other open-end and closed-end management investment companies and is the portfolio supervisor of certain unit investment trusts. The principal business of certain of First Trust's principal executive officers involves various activities in connection with the family of unit investment trusts sponsored by First Trust Portfolios L.P. ('FTP'). The principal address for all these investment companies, First Trust, FTP and the persons below is 120 East Liberty Drive, Suite 400, Wheaton, Illinois 60187.

A description of any business, profession, vocation or employment of a substantial nature in which the officers of First Trust who serve as officers or trustees of the Registrant have engaged during the last two years for his or her account or in the capacity of director, officer, employee, partner or trustee appears under 'Management of the Fund' in the Statement of Additional Information. Such information for the remaining senior officers of First Trust appears below:

Name and Position with First Trust Employment During Past Two Years
Andrew S. Roggensack, President Managing Director and President, First Trust
R. Scott Hall, Managing Director Managing Director, First Trust
David G. McGarel, Chief Investment Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director Managing Director; Senior Vice President, First Trust
Kelly C. Dehler, Chief Compliance Officer Assistant General Counsel, First Trust
Brian Wesbury, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, First Trust
Item 32. Principal Underwriter

(a) FTP serves as principal underwriter of the shares of the Registrant, First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund, First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund II, First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund III, First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund V, First Trust Exchange Traded Fund VI, First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund VII, First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund VIII, First Trust Exchange-Traded AlphaDEX® Fund, First Trust Exchange-Traded AlphaDEX® Fund II, First Trust Variable Insurance Trust and First Trust Series Fund. FTP serves as principal underwriter and depositor of the following investment companies registered as unit investment trusts: the First Trust Combined Series, FT Series (formerly known as the First Trust Special Situations Trust), the First Trust Insured Corporate Trust, the First Trust of Insured Municipal Bonds and the First Trust GNMA.

(b) Positions and Offices with Underwriter

Name and Principal
Business Address*
Positions and Offices
with Underwriter
Positions and
Offices with Fund
The Charger Corporation General Partner None
Grace Partners of DuPage L.P. Limited Partner None
James A. Bowen Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Trustee and Chairman of the Board
James M. Dykas Chief Financial Officer President and Chief Executive Officer
Frank L. Fichera Managing Director None
R. Scott Hall Managing Director None
W. Scott Jardine General Counsel, Secretary and Managing Director Secretary
Daniel J. Lindquist Managing Director Vice President
David G. McGarel Chief Investment Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director None
Richard A. Olson Managing Director None
Marisa Bowen Managing Director None
Andrew S. Roggensack President and Managing Director None
Kristi A. Maher Deputy General Counsel Chief Compliance Officer and Assistant Secretary

* All addresses are
120 East Liberty Drive,
Wheaton, Illinois 60187.

(c) Not Applicable.

Item 33. Location of Accounts and Records

First Trust, 120 East Liberty Drive, Wheaton, Illinois 60187, maintains the Registrant's organizational documents, minutes of meetings, contracts of the Registrant and all advisory material of the investment adviser.

Item 34. Management Services

Not Applicable.

Item 35. Undertakings

Not Applicable.

Signatures

Pursuant to the requirements of the Securities Act of 1933 and the Investment Company Act of 1940, the Registrant certifies that it meets all of the requirements for effectiveness of this Registration Statement under rule 485(b) under the Securities Act and has duly caused this Registration Statement to be signed on its behalf by the undersigned, duly authorized in the City of Wheaton, and State of Illinois on the 8th day of September, 2021.

First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund IV
By: /s/ James M. Dykas
James M. Dykas, President and
Chief Executive Officer

Pursuant to the requirements of the Securities Act of 1933, this Registration Statement has been signed below by the following persons in the capacities and on the date indicated:

Signature Title Date
/s/ James M. Dykas President and Chief Executive
Officer
September 8, 2021
James M. Dykas
/s/ Donald P. Swade Treasurer, Chief Financial Officer
and Chief Accounting Officer
September 8, 2021
Donald P. Swade
James A. Bowen* )
Trustee )
)
Richard E. Erickson* )
Trustee )
)
Thomas R. Kadlec* )
Trustee )
) By: /s/ W. Scott Jardine
Robert F. Keith* )
Trustee )
W. Scott Jardine
Attorney-In-Fact
) September 8, 2021
Niel B. Nielson * )
Trustee )
)
* Original powers of attorneyauthorizing James A. Bowen, W. Scott Jardine, James M. Dykas, Eric F. Fess and Kristi A. Maher to execute Registrant's Registration Statement, and Amendments thereto, for each of the trustees of the Registrant on whose behalf this Registration Statement is filed, were previously executed, filed as an exhibit and are incorporated by reference herein.

Index to Exhibits