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Starting A New ETF? Consider the Pros & Cons of Previously Used Symbols

When Guinness/Atkinson converted their two dividend builder mutual funds to ETFs, they picked two symbols for their new SmartETFs: ADIV and DIVS.

ADIV had not been previously used, but DIVS had been used by the defunct-since-2012 Russell Small Cap High Dividend Yield ETF. [1]

Previously used symbols may be easy to pronounce, familiar, or may evoke the investing approach used by the new ETF. While a memorable symbol may confer a marketing advantage, it does not provide a guarantee of sucess.

For example, ETFs that bit the dust last year include CHEP (value), KNOW (insider), TAWK (communications sector), and SEA (shipping sector).

In addition, when a previously used symbol is ‘resurrected’, some third-party ETF research/data providers (such as FactSet) may get confused, and may not - at least initially - accurately report info on a new ETF that uses a ‘resurrected’ symbol.


When you pick a symbol for your new ETF, see if you can come up with a symbol that has not been used before. [2]

Click on the links below, for example, and compare the results for ADIV vs DIVS.

[1] As of this writing, currently identifies the DIVS symbol as the Russell Small Cap High Dividend Yield ETF. FactSet/ does not currently recognize DIVS at all.

[2] chronologically lists ETF closures, going all the way back to 2008.


  • edited May 2021
    FWIW, as of today, 05-19-21, neither nor properly recognizes DIVS.

    However, ETFRC does recognize DIVS.

    DIVS' homepage - on the sponsor's website - is here:

    Finally, Morningstar recognizes DIVS, but sort of (you have to look at it, see link below) includes the performance of the predecessor mutual fund [GAINX] in the performance history for DIVS:

    More importantly - perhaps - given the ETF's "mixed" (i.e., mutual fund + ETF) history, Morningstar did not produce a 'Star' rating for the prior performance.
  • edited June 2021
    Just checked again, and the good news is that and now both recognize the DIVS symbol as the ETF that converted from the GAINX mutual fund.

    However, some of the commentary and peer-comparisons still refer to a prior small cap fund.
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