485BPOS 1 etf3_485b.htm POST-EFFECTIVE AMENDMENT

As filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on February 27, 2019

 

1933 Act Registration No. 333-176976

1940 Act Registration No. 811-22245

 

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. 100 [X]
and/or
Registration Statement Under the Investment Company Act of 1940 [   ]
Amendment No. 101 [X]

First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund III

(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 III

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 March 1, 2019 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. 100

This Registration Statement comprises the following papers and contents:

The Facing Sheet

Part A - Prospectus for First Trust Emerging Markets Local Currency Bond ETF; Prospectus for First Trust Institutional Preferred Securities and Income ETF; Prospectus for First Trust Long/Short Equity ETF; Prospectus for First Trust Managed Municipal ETF; Prospectus for First Trust Preferred Securities and Income ETF; Prospectus for First Trust RiverFront Dynamic Asia Pacific ETF, First Trust RiverFront Dynamic Developed International ETF, First Trust RiverFront Dynamic Emerging Markets ETF and First Trust RiverFront Dynamic Europe ETF

Part B - Statement of Additional Information for First Trust Emerging Markets Local Currency Bond ETF; Statement of Additional Information for First Trust Institutional Preferred Securities and Income ETF; Statement of Additional Information for First Trust Long/Short Equity ETF; Statement of Additional Information for First Trust Managed Municipal ETF; Statement of Additional Information for First Trust Preferred Securities and Income ETF; Statement of Additional Information for First Trust RiverFront Dynamic Asia Pacific ETF, First Trust RiverFront Dynamic Developed International ETF, First Trust RiverFront Dynamic Emerging Markets ETF and First Trust RiverFront Dynamic Europe ETF

Part C - Other Information

Signatures

Index to Exhibits

Exhibits

 

First Trust
Exchange-Traded Fund III

Prospectus
First Trust Emerging Markets Local Currency Bond ETF
Ticker Symbol: FEMB
Exchange: Nasdaq
First Trust Emerging Markets Local Currency Bond ETF (the “Fund”) lists and principally trades its shares on The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC (“Nasdaq" 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 each consisting of 50,000 shares (each such block of shares called a “Creation Unit, and collectively, the “Creation Units”). The Fund’s Creation Units are generally issued and redeemed for cash and, in certain circumstances, in-kind for securities in which the Fund invests, and only to and from broker-dealers and large institutional investors that have entered into participation agreements.
The Fund is a series of First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund III (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
March 1, 2019


Summary Information
Investment Objective
The First Trust Emerging Markets Local Currency Bond ETF's (the "Fund") investment objective is to seek maximum total return and current income.
Fees and Expenses of the Fund
The following table describes the fees and expenses you may pay if you buy and hold shares of the Fund. Investors purchasing and selling shares may be subject to costs (including customary brokerage commissions) charged by their broker, which are not reflected in the table 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 0.85%
Distribution and Service (12b-1) Fees 0.00%
Other Expenses 0.00%
Total Annual Fund Operating Expenses 0.85%
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. 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 5 Years 10 Years
$87 $271 $471 $1,049
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. During the most recent fiscal year, the Fund’s portfolio turnover rate was 61% of the average value of its portfolio.
Principal Investment Strategies
Under normal market conditions, the Fund seeks to achieve its investment objective by investing at least 80% of its net assets (including investment borrowings) in bonds, notes and bills issued or guaranteed by entities incorporated or domiciled in emerging market countries (collectively, “Bonds”) that are denominated in the local currency of the issuer. The Fund invests in Bonds issued or guaranteed by: (i) foreign governments (which may be local foreign governments, such as municipalities and states); (ii) instrumentalities, agencies or other political subdivisions of foreign governments; (iii) central banks, sovereign entities, supranational issuers or development agencies; or (iv) entities or enterprises organized, owned, backed or sponsored by any of the entities set forth above. The Fund’s investment in Bonds may be through purchases of global depositary notes (“GDNs”), which are debt instruments created by a depositary bank that evidence ownership of a local currency-denominated debt instrument.
In implementing the Fund’s investment strategy, First Trust Global Portfolios Limited (“First Trust Global” or the “Sub-Advisor”), the Fund’s investment sub-advisor, seeks to provide current income and enhance capital, while minimizing volatility. The Sub-Advisor continually reviews fundamental economic and structural themes that impact long and medium term asset returns in emerging markets. The Sub-Advisor also considers shorter term market drivers such as valuations, liquidity
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conditions and sentiment to determine the appropriate positioning of the Fund’s investments. The Sub-Advisor will adjust the portfolio’s country allocations, duration and individual security positioning to reflect what the it believes to be the most attractive opportunities on a continuous basis.
The Sub-Advisor considers emerging market countries to be countries that are characterized by developing commercial and financial infrastructure with significant potential for economic growth and increased capital market participation by foreign investors. The Sub-Advisor considers a variety of factors when determining whether a country should be considered an emerging market, including whether it is classified by the World Bank in the lower, lower-middle or upper-middle income designation for one of the past three years. As of the date of this prospectus, the Sub-Advisor considers emerging market countries to include any country other than Canada, the United States, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. This list of emerging market countries may be expanded or exceptions may be made depending on the evolution of market and economic conditions. The Fund’s exposure to any single country generally will be limited to 20% of the Fund’s net assets, although this percentage may change from time to time in response to economic events. The percentage of Fund assets invested in a specific region, country or issuer will change from time to time.
The Fund may invest in Bonds of any credit quality, including unrated securities, high-yield (also known as “junk”) bonds, and with effective or final maturities of any length. The Fund will invest only in Bonds that, at the time of purchase, are performing, and not in default or distressed. However, the Fund may invest in Bonds which become non-performing, distressed or defaulted subsequent to purchase and the Fund may continue to hold such Bonds. Under normal market conditions, at least 80% of the Fund’s net assets that are invested in Bonds will be invested in Bonds that are issued by issuers with outstanding debt of at least $200 million, or the foreign currency equivalent thereof.
The Fund may invest in foreign currencies and derivative instruments, including exchange-listed futures contracts, exchange-listed options, exchange-listed options on futures contracts, forward currency contracts, non-deliverable forward currency contracts and exchange-listed currency options. The Fund uses foreign currencies and derivative instruments primarily to hedge interest rate risk and actively manage interest rate exposure and to hedge foreign currency risk and actively manage foreign currency exposure. The Fund may also use derivative instruments to enhance returns, as a substitute for, or to gain exposure to, a position in an underlying asset, to reduce transaction costs, to maintain full market exposure, to manage cash flows or to preserve capital. The Fund’s investments in derivative instruments will not be used to seek to achieve a multiple or inverse multiple of an index. Under normal market conditions, no more than 20% of the value of the Fund’s net assets will be invested in derivative instruments. To the extent that the Fund invests in derivative instruments as a substitute for, or to gain exposure to, a position in an underlying asset, such investments shall be (a) counted towards the 80% test set forth above and valued according to their market, and not notional, value.
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 objective will be achieved.
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.
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
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order to obtain the cash needed to distribute redemption proceeds. A sale of shares may result in capital gains or losses and may also result in higher brokerage costs.
COUNTERPARTY RISK. Fund transactions involving a counterparty are subject to the risk that the counterparty will not fulfill its obligation to the Fund. Counterparty risk may arise because of the counterparty’s financial condition (i.e., financial difficulties, bankruptcy, or insolvency), market activities and developments, or other reasons, whether foreseen or not. A counterparty’s inability to fulfill its obligation may result in significant financial loss to the Fund. The Fund may be unable to recover its investment from the counterparty or may obtain a limited recovery, and/or recovery may be delayed.
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.
CREDIT SPREAD RISK. From time to time, spreads (i.e., the difference in yield between debt securities that have different credit qualities or other differences) may increase, which may reduce the market value of some of the Fund’s debt securities. While the Fund may employ strategies to mitigate credit spread risk, these strategies may not be successful.
CURRENCY RISK. Changes in currency exchange rates affect the value of investments denominated in a foreign currency, and therefore the value of such investments in the Fund’s portfolio. The Fund’s net asset value could decline if a currency to which the Fund has exposure depreciates against the U.S. dollar or if there are delays or limits on repatriation of such currency. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. As a result, the value of an investment in the Fund may change quickly and without warning.
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 securities issuers or the Fund’s third-party service providers, such as its administrator, transfer agent, custodian, or sub-advisor, as applicable, or issuers in which the Fund invests, 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.
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, 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 the Fund to liquidate portfolio positions when it would not be advantageous to do so in order to satisfy its obligations
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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.
EMERGING MARKETS RISK. Investments in securities issued by companies operating in emerging market countries involve additional risks relating to political, economic, or regulatory conditions not associated with investments in securities and instruments issued by U.S. companies or by companies operating in other developed market countries. Investments in emerging markets securities are generally considered speculative in nature and are subject to the following heightened risks: smaller market capitalization of securities markets which may suffer periods of relative illiquidity; significant price volatility; restrictions on foreign investment; possible repatriation of investment income and capital; rapid inflation; and currency convertibility issues. Emerging market countries also often have less uniformity in accounting and reporting requirements, unsettled securities laws, unreliable securities valuation and greater risk associated with custody of securities. Furthermore, investors may be required to register the proceeds of sales and future economic or political crises could lead to price controls, forced mergers, expropriation or confiscatory taxation, seizure, nationalization or creation of government monopolies.
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.
FORWARD CONTRACTS RISK. A forward contract is an over-the-counter derivative transaction between two parties to buy or sell a specified amount of an underlying reference at a specified price (or rate) on a specified date in the future. Forward contracts are negotiated on an individual basis and are not standardized or traded on exchanges. The market for forward contracts is substantially unregulated and can experience lengthy periods of illiquidity, unusually high trading volume and other negative impacts, such as political intervention, which may result in volatility or disruptions in such markets. A relatively small price movement in a forward contract may result in substantial losses to the Fund, exceeding the amount of the margin paid. Forward contracts can increase the Fund’s risk exposure to underlying references and their attendant risks, such as credit risk, currency risk, market risk, and interest rate risk, while also exposing the Fund to counterparty risk, liquidity risk and valuation risk, among others.
FUTURES CONTRACTS RISK. 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. In the event no secondary market exists for a particular contract, it might not be possible to effect closing transactions, and the Fund will be unable to terminate the derivative. 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 may not correlate perfectly with movements in the securities or index underlying them.
GLOBAL DEPOSITARY NOTES RISK. Any distributions paid to the holders of GDNs are usually subject to a fee charged by the depositary bank. Holders of GDNs may have limited rights, and investment restrictions in certain countries may adversely impact the value of GDNs because such restrictions may limit the ability to convert the Bonds into GDNs and vice versa.
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 CONSTITUENT RISK. The Fund may be a constituent of one or more indices. 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
6

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 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.
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 objective.
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.
NON-DIVERSIFICATION RISK. The Fund is classified as “non-diversified” under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (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 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.
NON-U.S. SECURITIES RISK. Non-U.S. securities are subject to higher volatility than securities of domestic issuers due to possible adverse political, social or economic developments, restrictions on foreign investment or exchange of securities, lack of liquidity, currency exchange rates, excessive taxation, government seizure of assets, different legal or accounting standards, and less government supervision and regulation of securities exchanges in foreign countries.
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 managers to forecast market movements
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correctly. The prices of options are volatile and 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. 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.
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.
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.
SOVEREIGN DEBT SECURITIES RISK. Sovereign debt securities are issued or guaranteed by foreign governmental entities. Investments in such securities are subject to the risk that the relevant sovereign government or governmental entity may delay or refuse to pay interest or repay principal on its debt. Such delays or refusals may be due to cash flow problems, insufficient foreign currency reserves, political considerations, the size of its debt relative to the economy or the failure to put in place economic reforms required by the International Monetary Fund or other multilateral agencies. There is no legal process for collecting sovereign debt that is not repaid, nor are there bankruptcy proceedings through which all or part of the unpaid sovereign debt may be collected.
TRADING ISSUES RISK. Although the shares of the Fund are listed for trading on the Exchange, there can be no assurance that an active trading market for such shares will develop or be maintained. Trading in 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 shares on the Exchange is subject to trading halts caused by extraordinary market volatility pursuant to the Exchange’s “circuit breaker” rules. Market makers are under no obligation to make a market in the Fund’s shares, and authorized participants are not obligated to submit purchase or redemption orders for Creation Units. In the event market makers cease making a market in the Fund's shares or authorized participants stop submitting purchase or redemption orders for Creation Units, Fund shares may trade at a larger premium or discount to their net asset value. 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 or the Fund does not have enough shareholders.
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, the valuation of debt securities may carry more uncertainty and risk than that of publicly traded securities. Accordingly, determinations of the fair value of debt securities may be based on infrequent and dated information. Also, 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.
Annual Total Return
The bar chart and table below illustrate the annual calendar year returns of the Fund based on net asset value as well as the average annual Fund and Index returns. The bar chart and table provide an indication of the risks of investing in the Fund by showing changes in the Fund’s performance from year-to-year and by showing how the Fund’s average annual total returns based on net asset value compared to those of a market index. See “Total Return Information” for additional performance
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information regarding the Fund. The Fund’s performance information is accessible on the Fund’s website at www.ftportfolios.com.
First Trust Emerging Markets Local Currency Bond ETF
Calendar Year Total Returns as of 12/31
During the periods shown in the chart above:
Best Quarter Worst Quarter
8.83% March 31, 2016 -10.89% June 30, 2018
The Fund’s past performance (before and after taxes) is not necessarily an indication of how the Fund will perform in the future.
Returns before taxes do not reflect the effects of any income or capital gains taxes. All after-tax returns are calculated using the historical highest individual federal marginal income tax rates and do not reflect the impact of any state or local tax. Returns after taxes on distributions reflect the taxed return on the payment of dividends and capital gains. Returns after taxes on distributions and sale of shares assume you sold your shares at period end, and, therefore, are also adjusted for any capital gains or losses incurred. Returns for the market indices do not include expenses, which are deducted from Fund returns, or taxes.
Your own actual after-tax returns will depend on your specific tax situation and may differ from what is shown here. After-tax returns are not relevant to investors who hold Fund shares in tax-deferred accounts such as individual retirement accounts (IRAs) or employee-sponsored retirement plans.
Average Annual Total Returns for the Periods Ended December 31, 2018
  1 Year Since
Inception
Inception
Date
Return Before Taxes -7.22% -1.77% 11/4/2014
Return After Taxes On Distributions -9.29% -4.03%  
Return After Taxes on Distributions and Sale of Fund Shares -4.24% -2.30%  
Bloomberg Barclays Emerging Markets Local Currency Government - 10% Country Capped Index (reflects no deduction for fees, expenses or taxes) -4.77% -0.47%  
Management
Investment Advisor
First Trust Advisors L.P. (“First Trust” or the “Advisor”)
Investment Sub-Advisor
First Trust Global Portfolios Limited (“First Trust Global” or the “Sub-Advisor”)
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Portfolio Managers
The following persons serve as portfolio managers of the Fund.
Derek Fulton, Chief Executive Officer, First Trust Global Portfolios Limited
Leonardo Da Costa, Portfolio Manager, First Trust Global Portfolios Limited
Anthony Beevers, Portfolio Manager, First Trust Global Portfolios Limited
The portfolio managers are primarily and jointly responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each portfolio manager has managed the Fund since 2014, except for Anthony Beevers, who has served as a member of the portfolio management team since 2019.
Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares
The Fund issues and redeems shares on a continuous basis, at net asset value, only in Creation Units consisting of 50,000 shares. The Fund’s Creation Units are generally issued and redeemed for cash and, in certain circumstances, in-kind for securities in which the Fund invests and only to and from broker-dealers and large institutional investors that have entered into participation agreements. Individual shares of the Fund may only be purchased and sold on Nasdaq and other eligible securities exchanges through a broker-dealer. Shares of the Fund trade on Nasdaq at market prices rather than net asset value, which may cause the shares to trade at a price greater than net asset value (premium) or less than net asset value (discount).
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 Objective and Strategies
The Fund is a series of First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund III and is regulated as an “investment company” under the 1940 Act. The Fund is actively managed and does not seek to track the performance of an index. 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 objective.
The Fund has adopted a 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 (including investment borrowings) in bonds, notes and bills issued or guaranteed by entities incorporated or domiciled in emerging market countries that are denominated in the local currency of the issuer. The Name Policy may not be changed by the Board without shareholder approval.
Fund Investments
Principal Investments
Bonds
The Fund invests in bonds, notes and bills, issued or guaranteed by: (i) foreign governments (which may be local foreign governments); (ii) instrumentalities, agencies or other political subdivisions of foreign governments (which may be local foreign governments); (iii) central banks, sovereign entities, supranational issuers or development agencies; or (iv) entities or enterprises organized, owned, backed or sponsored by any of the entities set forth above. The Fund’s investment in in these securities may be through purchases of global depositary notes (“GDNs”), which are debt instruments created by a depositary bank that evidences ownership of a local currency-denominated debt instrument.
High Yield Bonds
Bonds that are rated below investment grade (or securities that are unrated and determined by the Advisor to be of comparable quality) are commonly referred to as “high yield” or “junk” bonds. High yield bonds typically offer higher yields than investment grade bonds with similar maturities but involve greater risks, including the possibility of default or bankruptcy, and increased market price volatility.
Derivative Instruments
The Fund may invest in foreign currencies and derivative instruments, including exchange-listed futures contracts, exchange-listed options, exchange-listed options on futures contracts, forward currency contracts, non-deliverable forward currency contracts and exchange-listed currency options. Derivatives are financial contracts whose value depends upon, or is derived from, the value of an underlying asset, reference rate or index, and may relate to, among other things, interest rates, currencies or currency exchange rates.
A forward currency contract, which involves an obligation to purchase or sell a specific currency at a future date at a price set at the time of the contract, reduces the Fund’s exposure to changes in the value of the currency it will deliver and increases its exposure to changes in the value of the currency it will receive for the duration of the contract. Certain foreign currency transactions (i.e., non-deliverable forward currency contracts) may also be settled in cash rather than the actual delivery of the relevant currency. The effect on the value of the Fund is similar to selling securities denominated in one currency and purchasing securities denominated in another currency. A contract to sell foreign currency would limit any potential gain which might be realized if the value of the hedged currency increases. The Fund may enter into these contracts to hedge against foreign exchange risk, to increase exposure to a foreign currency, or to shift exposure to foreign currency fluctuations from one currency to another. The Fund’s investments in derivative instruments will be consistent with the Fund’s investment objective and the 1940 Act and will not be used to seek to achieve a multiple or inverse multiple of an index.
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Non-Principal Investments
Cash Equivalents and Short-Term Investments
Under normal market conditions, the Fund may invest up to 20% of its net assets in short-term debt securities that are not included within the meaning of the term “Bonds,” such as money market funds and other cash equivalents, or it may hold cash. Short-term debt securities are securities from issuers having a long-term debt rating of at least A by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, a division of the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. (“S&P Ratings”), Moody’s Investors Service, Inc. (“Moody’s”), or Fitch Ratings (“Fitch”) and having a maturity of one year or less. For the avoidance of doubt, the foregoing ratings parameters do not apply to Bonds.
Short-term debt securities in which the Fund may invest include the following: (1) fixed rate and floating rate 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; (2) short-term securities issued or guaranteed by non-U.S. governments or by their agencies or instrumentalities; (3) certificates of deposit issued against funds deposited in a bank or savings and loan association; (4) bankers’ acceptances, which are short-term credit instruments used to finance commercial transactions; (5) repurchase agreements, which involve purchases of debt securities; (6) 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; (7) commercial paper, which is short-term unsecured promissory notes; and (8) other securities that are similar to the foregoing.
The percentage of the Fund invested in these types of 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 objective. 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 Securities
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 securities may include, but are not limited to, certain restricted securities (securities the disposition of which is restricted under the federal securities laws), certain securities that may only be resold pursuant to Rule 144A under the Securities Act, that are deemed to be illiquid, and certain repurchase agreements.
Investment Companies and Other Pooled Investment Vehicles
The Fund may invest in securities of other investment companies, including ETFs that invest primarily in Bonds or short-term debt securities and, except for these investments in other investment companies, the Fund will not invest directly in equity securities. ETFs trade on a securities exchange and their shares may, at times, trade at a premium or discount to their net asset value. As a stockholder in an investment company or other pooled vehicle, the Fund will bear its ratable share of that investment company’s or vehicle’s expenses, and would remain subject to payment of the Fund’s advisory and administrative fees with respect to assets so invested.
The Fund's ability to invest in other investment companies is limited by the 1940 Act and the related rules and interpretations. The Fund has adopted a policy that it will not invest in other investment companies in excess of 1940 Act limits in reliance on Sections 12(d)(1)(F) or 12(d)(1)(G) of the 1940 Act.
Loans
The Fund may invest in 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. Loans typically bear interest at a floating rate although some loans pay a fixed rate.
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Non-U.S. Corporate Bonds
The Fund may invest up to 20% of its net assets in non-U.S. corporate bonds. The Fund will invest only in corporate bonds that the Advisor and/or the Sub-Advisor deems to be sufficiently liquid.
Disclosure of Portfolio Holdings
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 available on the Fund's website at www.ftportfolios.com.
Additional 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 objective. Before you invest, you should consider the following supplemental disclosure pertaining to the Principal Risks set forth above as well as additional Non-Principal Risks set forth below in this prospectus.
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. Although participants are not obligated to make a market in the Fund’s shares or submit purchase and redemption orders for correction 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.
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. A Fund that effects redemptions for cash 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 principally 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.
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
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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 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.
CREDIT SPREAD RISK. Credit spread risk is the risk that credit spreads (i.e., the difference in yield between debt securities that have differences in credit quality or other factors) may increase, which may reduce the market values of the Fund’s debt securities. While the Fund may employ strategies to mitigate credit spread risk, these strategies may not be successful. Credit spreads often increase more for lower rated and unrated securities than for investment grade securities. In addition, when credit spreads increase, reductions in market value will generally be greater for debt securities with longer maturities.
CURRENCY RISK. The Fund may invest in securities denominated in a non-U.S. currency. Changes in currency exchange rates affect the value of investments denominated in a foreign currency, the value of dividends and interest earned from such securities and gains and losses realized on the sale of such securities. The Fund’s net asset value could decline if a currency to which the Fund has exposure depreciates against the U.S. dollar or if there are delays or limits on repatriation of such currency. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. Changes in currency exchange rates may affect the Fund's net asset value, the value of dividends and interest earned, and gains and losses realized on the sale of securities. An increase in the strength of the U.S. dollar relative to other currencies may cause the value of the Fund to decline. Certain non-U.S. currencies may be particularly volatile, and non-U.S. governments may intervene in the currency markets, causing a decline in value or liquidity in the Fund's non-U.S. holdings whose value is tied to the affected non-U.S. currency. Additionally, the prices non-U.S. securities that are traded in U.S. dollars are often indirectly influenced by current fluctuations.
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 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 security issuers, 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
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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.
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, 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 the 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.
EMERGING MARKETS RISK. Investments in securities issued by companies operating in emerging market countries involve additional risks relating to political, economic, or regulatory conditions not associated with investments in securities and instruments issued by U.S. companies or by companies operating in other developed market countries. This is due to, among other things, the potential for greater market volatility, lower trading volume, higher levels of inflation, political and economic instability, greater risk of a market shutdown and more governmental limitations on foreign investments in emerging market countries than are typically found in more developed market countries. Moreover, emerging market countries often have less uniformity in accounting and reporting requirements, unsettled securities laws, less reliable securities valuations and greater risks associated with custody of securities than developed markets. In addition, emerging market countries often have greater risk of capital controls through such measures as taxes or interest rate control than developed markets. Certain emerging market countries may also lack the infrastructure necessary to attract large amounts of foreign trade and investment. Local securities markets in emerging market countries may trade a small number of securities and may be unable to respond effectively to increases in trading volume, potentially making prompt liquidation of holdings difficult or impossible. Settlement procedures in emerging market countries are frequently less developed and reliable than those in the U.S. and other developed market countries. In addition, significant delays may occur in registering the transfer of securities. Settlement or registration problems may make it more difficult for the Fund to value its portfolio securities and could cause the Fund to miss attractive investment opportunities. Investing in emerging market countries involves a higher risk of expropriation, nationalization, confiscation of assets and property or the imposition of restrictions on foreign investments and on repatriation of capital invested by certain emerging market countries. Enforcing legal rights may be made difficult, costly and slow in emerging markets as there may be additional problems enforcing claims against non-U.S. governments.
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
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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.
FORWARD CONTRACTS RISK. A forward contract is an over-the-counter derivative transaction between two parties to buy or sell a specified amount of an underlying reference at a specified price (or rate) on a specified date in the future. Forward contracts are negotiated on an individual basis and are not standardized or traded on exchanges. The market for forward contracts is substantially unregulated and can experience lengthy periods of illiquidity, unusually high trading volume and other negative impacts, such as political intervention, which may result in volatility or disruptions in such markets. A relatively small price movement in a forward contract may result in substantial losses to the Fund, exceeding the amount of the margin paid. Forward contracts can increase the Fund’s risk exposure to underlying references and their attendant risks, such as credit risk, currency risk, market risk, and interest rate risk, while also exposing the Fund to counterparty risk, liquidity risk and valuation risk, among others.
FUTURES CONTRACTS RISK. The Fund may enter into 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 Commodity Futures Trading Commission 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.
GLOBAL DEPOSITARY NOTES RISK. An investment in GDNs, a form of depositary receipt, involves further risks due to certain features of GDNs. A GDN is a debt instrument created by a depositary bank that evidences ownership of a local currency-denominated debt security. GDNs emulate the terms (interest rate, maturity date, credit quality, etc.) of particular local bonds; however, they trade, settle, and pay interest and principal in U.S. Dollars. Any distributions paid to the holders of GDNs are usually subject to a fee charged by the depositary. Certain investment restrictions in certain countries may adversely impact the value of GDNs because such restrictions may limit the ability to convert Bonds into GDNs and vice versa. Such restrictions may cause Bonds of the underlying issuer to trade at a discount or premium to the market price of the GDN.
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.
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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 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 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. Interest rate risk may be increased by the Fund’s investment in inverse floaters because of the leveraged nature of those investments. 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.
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
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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 due to short-term market movements or any longer periods during more prolonged market downturns.
NON-DIVERSIFICATION RISK. The Fund is classified as non-diversified under the 1940 Act. 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.
NON-U.S. SECURITIES RISK. The Fund may invest in non-U.S. securities. An investment in securities of non-U.S. companies involves risks not associated with domestic issuers. Investment in non-U.S. securities may involve higher costs than investment in U.S. securities, including higher transaction and custody costs as well as the imposition of additional taxes by non-U.S. governments. Non-U.S. investments may also involve risks associated with the level of currency exchange rates, less complete financial information about the issuers, less market liquidity, more market volatility and political instability. Future political and economic developments, the possible imposition of withholding taxes on dividend income, the possible seizure or nationalization of non-U.S. holdings, the possible establishment of exchange controls or freezes on the convertibility of currency or the adoption of other governmental restrictions might adversely affect an investment in non-U.S. securities. Additionally, non-U.S. issuers may be subject to less stringent regulation, and to different accounting, auditing and recordkeeping requirements. The U.S. and non-U.S. markets often rise and fall at different times or by different amounts due to economic or other regional developments particular to a given country or region.
OPTIONS RISK. The Fund may utilize options. 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.
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.
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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.
SOVEREIGN DEBT SECURITIES RISK. The Fund may invest in sovereign debt securities. Sovereign debt securities are issued or guaranteed by foreign governmental entities. Investments in such securities are subject to the risk that the relevant sovereign government or governmental entity may delay or refuse to pay interest or repay principal on its debt. Such delays or refusals may be due to cash flow problems, insufficient foreign currency reserves, political considerations, the size of its debt relative to the economy or the failure to put in place economic reforms required by the International Monetary Fund or other multilateral agencies. A governmental entity may default on its obligations or may require renegotiation as to maturity or interest rate units of debt payments. Any restructuring of a sovereign debt obligation held by the Fund will likely have a significant adverse effect on the value of the obligation. A restricting or default of sovereign debt security may cause additional impacts on financial markets such as downgrades to credit ratings, disruptions in trading markets, reduced liquidity and increase volatility. Additionally, the Fund may be unable to pursue legal action against the sovereign issuer or to realize on collateral securing the debt. The sovereign debt of many non-U.S. governments, including their sub-divisions and instrumentalities, is rated below investment-grade.
TRADING ISSUES RISK. Although the shares of the Fund are listed for trading on the Exchange, there can be no assurance that an active trading market for such shares will develop or be maintained. Trading in 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 shares on the Exchange is subject to trading halts caused by extraordinary market volatility pursuant to the Exchange’s “circuit breaker” rules. Market makers are under no obligation to make a market in the Fund’s shares, and authorized participants are not obligated to submit purchase or redemption orders for Creation Units. In the event market makers cease making a market in the Fund’s shares or authorized participants stop submitting purchase or redemption orders for Creation Units, Fund shares may trade at a larger premium or discount to their net asset value. 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 or the Fund does not have enough shareholders.
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 which may be anywhere in the world where the buyer and seller can settle on a price. Due to the lack of centralized information and trading, the valuation of debt securities may carry more uncertainty and risk than that of publicly traded securities. Accordingly, determinations of the fair value of debt securities may be based on infrequent and dated information. Also, 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. Typically, debt securities are valued using information provided by a third-party pricing service utilizing a range of market-based inputs and assumptions, including broker quotations and transactions in comparable securities to value the securities. There is no assurance that the Fund will be able to sell a portfolio security at the price established by the pricing service.
Non-Principal Risks
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
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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 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.
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.
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. The Sub-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 Sub-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 Sub-Advisor.
FAILURE TO QUALIFY AS A REGULATED INVESTMENT COMPANY. 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 for the dividends received deduction in the case of corporate shareholders. For additional information, please see the section entitled “Federal Tax Matters.”
INTERNATIONAL CLOSED MARKET TRADING RISK. Because securities held by the Fund may trade on non-U.S. exchanges that are closed when the Fund’s primary listing exchange is open, there are likely to be deviations between the current price of an underlying security and the last quoted price for the underlying security (i.e., the Fund’s quote from the closed foreign market), resulting in premiums or discounts to the Fund’s net asset value that may be greater than those experienced by other exchange-traded funds. However, because shares can be created and redeemed in Creation Units at the Fund’s net asset value, it is not expected that large discounts or premiums to the net asset value of the Fund will be sustained over the long term (unlike shares of many closed-end funds, which frequently trade at appreciable discounts from, and sometimes at premiums to, their net asset values).
INVESTMENT COMPANIES RISK. The Fund may invest in securities of other investment companies. As a shareholder in another investment company, the Fund will bear its ratable share of that investment company’s expenses, and would remain subject to payment of the Fund’s advisory and administrative fees with respect to assets so invested. Shareholders would therefore be subject to duplicative expenses to the extent the Fund invests in other investment companies. In addition, the Fund will incur brokerage costs when purchasing and selling shares of exchange-traded investment companies.
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 securities in which the Fund invests. In addition, litigation regarding any of the
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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.
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 Advisor seek to reduce these operational risks through controls and procedures, there is no way to completely protect against such risks.
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 objective 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, Sub-Advisor, custodian and fund administrative and accounting agent.
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 overseeing the Sub-Advisor in 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 7 mutual fund portfolios, 10 exchange-traded funds consisting of 141 series and 15 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.
The Trust, on behalf of the Fund, and First Trust have retained First Trust Global Portfolios Limited, an affiliate of First Trust, to serve as investment sub-advisor pursuant to an investment sub-advisory agreement (the “Sub-Advisory Agreement”). In this capacity, First Trust Global is responsible for the selection and ongoing monitoring of the securities in the Fund’s investment portfolio. First Trust Global, located at 8 Angel Court, London, United Kingdom, EC2R 7HJ, manages portfolios for institutional clients, is authorized and regulated by the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority and is registered as an investment adviser with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The fixed income investment team at First Trust Global has over 30 years combined experience in managing developed and emerging market sovereign debt portfolios.
Derek Fulton, Leonardo Da Costa and Anthony Beevers are the Fund’s portfolio managers and are jointly and primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund’s investment portfolio.
Derek Fulton is a Director and CEO of First Trust Global Portfolios Limited. Derek has been managing global portfolios with a focus on fixed income for 20 years. Prior to joining First Trust in Europe in 2011, Derek was founder and principal of a boutique fixed income manager in Paris managing global bond funds. Derek joined Aberdeen Asset Management after leaving university and spent 12 years with the firm holding positions as Head of Asian Fixed Income in Singapore and Head of Global Fixed Income strategies in London. At First Trust Global Portfolios Limited, he is responsible for development and distribution of actively managed and smart beta strategies.
Leonardo Da Costa, CFA, is a Director and Portfolio Manager at First Trust Global Portfolios Limited where he focuses on global fixed income and is a specialist in emerging markets. Leonardo joined First Trust Global Portfolios Limited from a boutique French asset manager where he was portfolio manager on the fixed income team. Previously, he worked for Hydra Capital Management, a specialist emerging market fund manager, on the firm’s long/short and long only emerging market fixed income products. He started his career as a member of the Global Emerging Market Debt team at Aberdeen Asset Management. The team was responsible for
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  managing $2.5 billion of emerging market fixed income assets across total return, income, and closed end products. Leonardo has a B.Comm (Honors) in Investment and Financial Management from the University of Pretoria (South Africa) and is a CFA Charterholder.
Anthony Beevers is a Portfolio Manager at First Trust Global Portfolios Limited where he focuses on quantitative strategies across global fixed income and multi-asset solutions. Prior to joining First Trust Global Portfolios Limited, he was a Senior Analyst on the Portfolio Management team at FQS Capital Partners, a specialized quantitative investment firm investing in hedge funds across fixed income, FX and equity markets. Anthony graduated with first class Honors from the ICMA Centre at the Henley Business School and is a CFA Charterholder.
For additional information concerning First Trust and the Sub-Advisor, 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 oversees First Trust Global's management of the Fund's assets and pays First Trust Global for its services as Sub-Advisor. First Trust is paid an annual unitary management fee by the Fund equal to 0.85% 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.
A discussion regarding the Board’s approval of the continuation of the Investment Management Agreement and Sub-Advisory Agreement is available in the Fund’s Annual Report to Shareholders for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2018.
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 the Exchange. 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 incur customary 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 spread between the bid and the offer price in the secondary market on each leg of a round trip (purchase and sale) transaction. Share prices are reported in dollars and cents per share.
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 Sections 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
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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 Exchange 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.
Information regarding the intra-day value of the shares of the Fund, also referred to as the “indicative optimized portfolio value” (“IOPV”), is disseminated every 15 seconds throughout the Fund’s trading day by the national securities exchange on which the shares are listed or by market data vendors or other information providers. The IOPV is based on the current market value of the securities or other assets and/or cash required to be deposited in exchange for a Creation Unit and any expenses of the Fund. The IOPV does not necessarily reflect the precise composition of the current portfolio of securities or other assets held by the Fund at a particular point in time or the best possible valuation of the current portfolio. Therefore, the IOPV should not be viewed as a “real-time” update of the net asset value per share of the Fund because the IOPV may not be calculated in the same manner as the net asset value, which is computed once a day, generally at the end of the business day. The IOPV is generally determined by using current market quotations. The price of a non-U.S. security that is primarily traded on a non-U.S. exchange will be updated, using the last sale price, every 15 seconds throughout the trading day, provided that upon the closing of such non-U.S. exchange, the closing price of the security, after being converted to U.S. dollars, will be used. Furthermore, in calculating the IOPV of the Fund’s shares, exchange rates may be used throughout the day (9:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., Eastern Time) that may differ from those used to calculate the net asset value per share of the Fund and consequently may result in differences between the net asset value and the IOPV. The Fund is not involved in, or responsible for, the calculation or dissemination of the IOPV of shares of the Fund and the Fund does not make any warranty as to its accuracy.
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 objective. 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.
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
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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 was not asked to review, and has not reached a conclusion with respect to, the federal income tax treatment of the assets to be included in the Fund. This 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 continue 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. 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. 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 dividends received from the Fund because the dividends received deduction is generally not available for distributions from regulated investment companies.
Capital Gains and Losses
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 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 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.
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.
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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 invests 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. Although a significant portion of the income of the Fund may be interest or amounts treated as interest, it is unclear whether any distributions will qualify as interest-related dividends.
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 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. Dispositions of shares by such persons may be subject to such withholding after December 31, 2018. Proposed regulations would remove the requirement to withhold on dispositions.
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 March 1, 2020. 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.
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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.
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. For portfolio securities traded on an exchange that provides both an official closing price and a last sale price, the Advisor's Pricing Committee, at its discretion, shall determine to use either the last sale price or the official closing price, depending on which price reflects the appropriate market value. 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 of 1933, as amended (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 quotations or official closing prices on the applicable exchange. A variety of factors may be considered in determining the fair value of such securities. 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.
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Fund Service Providers
Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., 50 Post Office Square, Boston, Massachusetts 02110, acts as the administrator, accounting agent, custodian and transfer agent for the Fund. Chapman and Cutler LLP, 111 West Monroe Street, Chicago, Illinois 60603, serves as legal counsel to the Fund. First Trust serves as the fund reporting agent for the Fund.
Premium/Discount Information
The tables that follow present information about the differences between the Fund’s daily market price on the Exchange and its net asset value. The “Market Price” of the Fund generally is determined using the midpoint between the highest bid and lowest offer on the Exchange, as of the time the Fund’s net asset value is calculated. The Fund’s Market Price may be at, above, or below its net asset value. The net asset value of the Fund will fluctuate with changes in the market value of its portfolio holdings. The Market Price of the Fund will fluctuate in accordance with changes in its net asset value, as well as market supply and demand.
Premiums or discounts are the differences (generally expressed as a percentage) between the net asset value and Market Price of the Fund on a given day, generally at the time net asset value is calculated. A premium is the amount that the Fund is trading above the reported net asset value. A discount is the amount that the Fund is trading below the reported net asset value.
The following information shows the frequency distribution of premiums and discounts of the daily bid/ask price of the Fund against its net asset value. The information shown for the Fund is for the periods indicated. Shareholders may pay more than net asset value when they buy Fund shares and receive less than net asset value when they sell those shares because shares are bought and sold at current market price. All data presented here represents past performance, which cannot be used to predict future results. Information about the premiums and discounts at which the Fund's shares have traded is available on the Fund's website at www.ftportfolios.com.
First Trust Emerging Markets Local Currency Bond ETF (FEMB)
Bid/Ask Midpoint vs. Net Asset Value
Number of Days Bid/Ask Midpoint At/Above Net Asset Value
  0.00%0.49% 0.50%0.99% 1.00%1.99% >=2.00%
12 Months Ended 12/31/2018 86 5 0 0
Number of Days Bid/Ask Midpoint Below Net Asset Value
  0.00%0.49% 0.50%0.99% 1.00%1.99% >=2.00%
12 Months Ended 12/31/2018 142 18 0 0
Total Return Information
The table below compares the total return of the Fund to a market index. The information presented for the Fund is for the period indicated.
“Average annual total returns” represent the average annual change in the value of an investment over the period indicated. “Cumulative total returns” represent the total change in value of an investment over the period indicated. The return information shown under “Annual Total Return” in the Fund’s summary prospectus represents the average annual total returns of the Fund as of the calendar year end, while the information presented below is as of the Fund’s fiscal year end. The net asset value per share of the Fund is the value of one share of the Fund and is computed by dividing the value of all assets of the Fund (including accrued interest and dividends), less liabilities (including accrued expenses and dividends declared but unpaid), by the total number of outstanding shares. The net asset value return is based on the net asset value per share of the Fund and the market return is based on the market price per share of the Fund. The price used to calculate market return (“Market Price”) generally is determined by using the midpoint between the highest bid and the lowest offer on the Exchange on which the shares of the Fund are listed for trading, as of the time that the Fund's net asset value is calculated. Since the shares of the Fund typically do not trade in the secondary market until several days after the Fund's inception, for the period from inception to the first
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day of secondary market trading in shares of the Fund, the net asset value of the Fund is used as a proxy for the secondary market trading price to calculate market returns. Market and net asset value returns assume that all distributions have been reinvested in the Fund at Market Price and net asset value, respectively. An index is a statistical composite that tracks a specified financial market or sector. Unlike the Fund, an index does not actually hold a portfolio of securities and therefore does not incur the expenses incurred by the Fund. These expenses negatively impact the performance of the Fund. Also, market returns do not include brokerage commissions that may be payable on secondary market transactions. If brokerage commissions were included, market returns would be lower. The total returns reflect the reinvestment of dividends on securities in the index. The returns shown in the table below do not reflect the deduction of taxes that a shareholder would pay on Fund distributions or the redemption or sale of shares of the Fund. The investment return and principal value of shares of the Fund will vary with changes in market conditions. Shares of the Fund may be worth more or less than their original cost when they are redeemed or sold in the market. The Fund's past performance is no guarantee of future results.
First Trust Emerging Markets Local Currency Bond ETF (FEMB)
Total Returns as of October 31, 2018
    Average Annual   Cumulative
  1 Year Inception
(11/4/2014)
  Inception
(11/4/2014)
Fund Performance        
Net Asset Value -7.55% -2.66%   -10.19%
Market Price -8.07% -2.75%   -10.53%
Index Performance        
Bloomberg Barclays Emerging Markets Local Currency Government - 10% Country Capped Index -5.00% -1.45%   -5.65%
  
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Financial Highlights
The financial highlights table is intended to help you understand the Fund's financial performance for the periods shown. Certain information reflects financial results for a single share of the Fund. The total returns represent the rate that an investor would have earned (or lost) on an investment in the Fund (assuming reinvestment of all dividends and distributions). The information for the periods indicated has been derived from financial statements audited by Deloitte & Touche LLP, whose report, along with the Fund's financial statements, is included in the Fund's Annual Report to Shareholders dated October 31, 2018 and is incorporated by reference in the Fund's SAI, which is available upon request.
First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund III
Financial Highlights
For a share outstanding throughout each period
First Trust Emerging Markets Local Currency Bond ETF (FEMB)
  Year Ended October 31, Period Ended
10/31/2015 (a)
  2018 2017 2016
Net asset value, beginning of period $41.55 $42.32 $40.77 $50.00
Income from investment operations:        
Net investment income (loss) 1.80 2.30 1.74 1.94
Net realized and unrealized gain (loss) (4.76) (0.65) 2.09 (9.23)
Total from investment operations (2.96) 1.65 3.83 (7.29)
Distributions paid to shareholders from:        
Net investment income (0.79) (2.42) (1.56)
Return of capital (1.69) (0.72) (1.94)
Total distributions (2.48) (2.42) (2.28) (1.94)
Net asset value, end of period $36.11 $41.55 $42.32 $40.77
Total Return (b) (7.55)% 4.00% 9.66% (14.83)%
Ratios/supplemental data:        
Net assets, end of period (in 000’s) $55,976 $49,862 $14,812 $4,077
Ratios to average net assets:        
Ratio of total expenses to average net assets 0.85%(c) 0.85% 0.85% 0.85%(d)
Ratio of net investment income (loss) to average net assets 4.63%(c) 4.95% 4.70% 4.36%(d)
Portfolio turnover rate (e) 61% 16% 23% 49%
(a) Inception date is November 4, 2014, which is consistent with the commencement of investment operations and is the date the initial creation units were established.
(b) Total return is calculated assuming an initial investment made at the net asset value at the beginning of the period, reinvestment of all distributions at net asset value during the period, and redemption at net asset value on the last day of the period. The returns presented do not reflect the deduction of taxes that a shareholder would pay on Fund distributions or the redemption or sale of Fund shares. Total return is calculated for the time period presented and is not annualized for periods of less than a year.
(c) Includes excise tax.
(d) Annualized.
(e) Portfolio turnover is calculated for the time period presented and is not annualized for periods of less than a year and does not include securities received or delivered from processing creations or redemptions and in-kind transactions.
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Other Information
Continuous Offering
The Fund issues, 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 III

First Trust Emerging Markets Local Currency Bond 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 or in person at the SEC’s Public Reference Room in Washington, D.C., or call the SEC at (202) 551-8090 for information on the Public Reference Room. You may also request information regarding the Fund by sending a request (along with a duplication fee) to the SEC’s Public Reference Section, 100 F Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20549-1520 or by sending an electronic request to publicinfo@sec.gov.
First Trust Advisors L.P.
120 East Liberty Drive, Suite 400
Wheaton, Illinois 60187
(800) 621-1675
www.ftportfolios.com
SEC File #: 333-176976
811-22245

 


 

First Trust
Exchange-Traded Fund III

Prospectus
First Trust Institutional Preferred Securities and Income ETF
Ticker Symbol: FPEI
Exchange: NYSE Arca
First Trust Institutional Preferred Securities and Income ETF (the “Fund”) lists and principally trades 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 each consisting of 50,000 shares (each such block of shares called a “Creation Unit, and collectively, the “Creation Units”). The Fund’s Creation Units are generally issued and redeemed for cash, and in certain circumstances, in-kind for securities in which the Fund invests, and only to and from broker-dealers and large institutional investors that have entered into participation agreements.
The Fund is a series of First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund III (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
March 1, 2019


Summary Information
Investment Objective
The First Trust Institutional Preferred Securities and Income ETF's (the "Fund") investment objective is to seek total return and to provide current income.
Fees and Expenses of the Fund
The following table describes the fees and expenses you may pay if you buy and hold shares of the Fund. Investors purchasing and selling shares may be subject to costs (including customary brokerage commissions) charged by their broker, which are not reflected in the table 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 0.85%
Distribution and Service (12b-1) Fees 0.00%
Other Expenses 0.00%
Total Annual Fund Operating Expenses 0.85%
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. 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 5 Years 10 Years
$87 $271 $471 $1,049
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. During the most recent fiscal year, the Fund’s portfolio turnover rate was 25% of the average value of its portfolio.
Principal Investment Strategies
Under normal market conditions, the Fund invests at least 80% of its net assets (including investment borrowings) in institutional preferred securities and income-producing debt securities (“Income Securities”). Preferred securities are a type of equity security that have preference over common stock in the payment of distributions and the liquidation of a company’s assets, but are generally junior to all forms of the company’s debt, including both senior and subordinated debt. The Fund’s investments in preferred securities will primarily be in institutional preferred securities. Institutional preferred securities are targeted to institutional, rather than retail, investors, are generally traded over-the-counter and may also be known as “$1,000 par preferred securities.” They are typically issued in large, institutional lot sizes by U.S. and non-U.S. financial services companies and other companies. While all income-producing debt securities will be categorized as “Income Securities” for purposes of the 80% test above, the Income Securities in which the Fund intends to invest as part of its principal investment strategy include hybrid capital securities, contingent capital securities, U.S. and non-U.S. corporate bonds and convertible securities.
In selecting securities for the Fund, the investment strategy of the Fund’s sub-advisor is driven by comprehensive analysis of institutional preferred securities and Income Securities with a goal of investing in securities representing the best relative value in the market. The style of active management by the Fund’s sub-advisor combines a bottom-up and top-down approach
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to security selection that encompasses three significant areas of analysis: credit fundamentals; relative value; and technical aspects of the securities, which may include, but are not limited to, interest rate sensitivity, call features, maturities, trading volumes, liquidity and pricing inefficiencies. The bottom-up analysis focuses on individual security analysis, idiosyncratic risks, credit fundamentals and opportunistic trading. The top-down analysis focuses on sector and industry analysis, duration and interest rate analysis, capital structure positioning and systemic risks.
In general, the preferred securities held by the Fund are expected to be issued by companies in the financial, communications, consumer, government, utilities, energy, materials, industrial and technology sectors. However, because the issuers of institutional preferred securities are often financial companies, the Fund concentrates its investments by investing at least 25% of its total assets in the group of industries that comprise the financial sector, which includes banks, thrifts, brokerage firms, broker-dealers, investment banks, finance companies and companies involved in the insurance industry. Although the Fund may invest in individual issues of institutional preferred securities with market capitalizations as low as $50 million, the Fund generally does not invest in individual issues of institutional preferred securities if the issuer has a total market capitalization of less than $500 million. The Fund may also invest in preferred securities issued by real estate investment trusts (“REITs”).
Along with its investments in institutional preferred securities, the Fund may also invest in retail preferred securities. While institutional preferred securities are generally targeted to institutional investors and trade over-the-counter, retail preferred securities are targeted to retail investors and are exchange-traded at single-share prices of $25, $50 or $100. Both the institutional and retail preferred securities held by the Fund generally pay fixed or adjustable-rate distributions to the Fund. Certain preferred securities may be issued by trusts or other special purpose entities created by companies specifically for the purpose of issuing such securities.
Additionally, the Fund may invest in Income Securities that have certain characteristics similar to preferred securities. These securities include hybrid capital securities, contingent capital securities and other types of securities that resemble preferred securities but that do not have the traditional features described above. Hybrid capital securities possess varying combinations of features of both debt and traditional preferred securities and as such they may constitute senior debt, junior debt or preferred shares in an issuer’s capital structure. Contingent convertible securities (“CoCos”) are issued primarily by non-U.S. financial institutions that have loss absorption mechanisms benefitting the issuer built into their terms. These loss absorption mechanisms may include automatic conversion into the issuer’s common stock or an automatic write down of the security’s principal amount upon the occurrence of specific triggers. Certain CoCos may be considered to be high-yield securities (a.k.a. "junk" bonds) and, to the extent a CoCo held by the Fund undergoes a write down, the Fund may lose some or all of its original investment in the CoCo.
The Fund may also invest in floating-rate and fixed-to-floating rate securities as well. Floating-rate and fixed-to-floating rate securities may be traditional preferred or hybrid capital securities. Floating-rate securities pay a rate of income that resets periodically based on short and/or longer-term interest rate benchmarks. If the associated interest rate benchmark rises, the coupon offered by the floating-rate security may rise as well, making such securities less sensitive to rising interest rates (or yields). Similarly, a fixed-to-floating rate security may be less price-sensitive to rising interest rates (or yields), because it has a rate of payment that is fixed for a certain period (typically five, ten or thirty years when first issued), after which period a floating-rate of payment applies.
Additional Income Securities held by the Fund may include corporate bonds and convertible securities. The broad category of corporate debt securities includes debt issued by U.S. and non-U.S. companies of all kinds, including those with small-, mid-and large-capitalizations. Corporate debt may carry fixed or floating rates of interest. The Fund may invest without limitation in, preferred securities, hybrid capital securities and Income Securities rated below investment grade (BB+/Ba1 or lower) at the time of purchase, which are commonly referred to as high yield securities or “junk bonds.” The Fund may invest in Income Securities of any duration and does not target an overall duration for its portfolio of Income Securities.
The Fund may invest in U.S. and non-U.S. debt and equity securities that are traded over-the-counter or are listed on an exchange. The Fund may have exposure to certain emerging markets through its investments in non-U.S. securities. The Fund may also hold investments that are denominated in non-U.S. currencies, or in securities that provide exposure to such currencies, currency exchange rates or interest rates denominated in such currencies. The Fund may also invest U.S. dollar-denominated depositary receipts and U.S. dollar-denominated foreign securities. As of January 31, 2019, the Fund had significant investments in European issuers.
The Fund may have significant investments in securities that are offered pursuant Rule 144A under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”). Rule 144A securities are considered restricted securities because they may not be sold to
4

the general public without an effective registration statement under the Securities Act. Rule 144A is designed to facilitate efficient trading among institutional investors by permitting the sale of certain unregistered securities to qualified institutional buyers. The restriction on public sale may make it more difficult to value such securities, limit the Fund’s ability to dispose of them and lower the amount the Fund could realize upon their sale. Because they are not registered, restricted securities may be sold only in a privately negotiated transaction or pursuant to an exemption from registration. To the extent privately placed securities held by the Fund qualify under Rule 144A and an institutional market develops for those securities, the Fund likely will be able to dispose of the securities without registering them under the Securities Act. To the extent that institutional buyers become, for a time, uninterested in purchasing these securities, investing in Rule 144A securities could increase the level of the Fund’s illiquidity.
The Fund is classified as “non-diversified” under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”) and as a result may invest a relatively high percentage of its assets in a limited number of issuers. The Fund is only limited as to the percentage of its assets which may be invested in the securities of any one issuer by diversification requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.
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 objective will be achieved.
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.
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 shares may result in capital gains or losses and may also result in higher brokerage costs.
CONCENTRATION 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 may affect the value of the Fund’s investments more than if the Fund were more broadly diversified. A concentration makes the Fund more susceptible to any single occurrence and may subject the Fund to greater market risk than a fund that is not so concentrated.
CONTINGENT CONVERTIBLE SECURITIES RISK. CoCos are hybrid securities most commonly issued by banking institutions that present risks similar to debt securities and convertible securities. CoCos are distinct in that they are intended to either convert into equity or have their principal written down upon the occurrence of certain “triggers.” When an issuer’s capital ratio falls below a specified trigger level, or in a regulator’s discretion depending on the regulator’s judgment about the issuer’s solvency prospects, a CoCo may be written down, written off or converted into an equity security. Due to the contingent write-down, write-off and conversion feature, CoCos may have substantially greater risk than other securities in times of financial stress. If the trigger level is breached, the issuer's decision to write down, write off or convert a CoCo may be outside its control, and the Fund may suffer a complete loss on an investment in CoCos with no chance of recovery even if the issuer remains in existence. The value of CoCos is unpredictable and may be influenced by many factors including, without limitation: the creditworthiness of the issuer and/or fluctuations in such issuer's applicable capital ratios; supply and demand for CoCos; general market conditions and available liquidity; and economic, financial and political events that affect the issuer, its particular market or the financial markets in general.
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CONVERTIBLE SECURITIES RISK. A convertible security has characteristics of both equity and debt securities and, as a result, is exposed to risks that are typically associated with both types of securities. The value of convertible securities may rise and fall with the market value of the underlying stock or, like a debt security, vary with changes in interest rates and the credit quality of the issuer. A convertible security tends to perform more like a stock when the underlying stock price is high relative to the conversion price and more like a debt security when the underlying stock price is low relative to the conversion price.
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.
CREDIT SPREAD RISK. From time to time, spreads (i.e., the difference in yield between debt securities that have different credit qualities or other differences) may increase, which may reduce the market value of some of the Fund’s debt securities. While the Fund may employ strategies to mitigate credit spread risk, these strategies may not be successful.
CURRENCY RISK. Changes in currency exchange rates affect the value of investments denominated in a foreign currency, and therefore the value of such investments in the Fund’s portfolio. The Fund’s net asset value could decline if a currency to which the Fund has exposure depreciates against the U.S. dollar or if there are delays or limits on repatriation of such currency. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. As a result, the value of an investment in the Fund may change quickly and without warning.
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 securities issuers or the Fund’s third-party service providers, such as its administrator, transfer agent, custodian, or sub-advisor, as applicable, or issuers in which the Fund invests, 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.
DEPOSITARY RECEIPTS RISK. Depositary receipts may be less liquid than the underlying shares in their primary trading market. Any distributions paid to the holders of depositary receipts are usually subject to a fee charged by the depositary. Holders of depositary receipts may have limited voting rights, and investment restrictions in certain countries may adversely impact the value of depositary receipts because such restrictions may limit the ability to convert the equity shares into depositary receipts and vice versa. Such restrictions may cause the equity shares of the underlying issuer to trade at a discount or premium to the market price of the depositary receipts.
EMERGING MARKETS RISK. Investments in securities issued by companies operating in emerging market countries involve additional risks relating to political, economic, or regulatory conditions not associated with investments in securities and instruments issued by U.S. companies or by companies operating in other developed market countries. Investments in emerging markets securities are generally considered speculative in nature and are subject to the following heightened risks: smaller market capitalization of securities markets which may suffer periods of relative illiquidity; significant price volatility; restrictions on foreign investment; possible repatriation of investment income and capital; rapid inflation; and currency convertibility issues. Emerging market countries also often have less uniformity in accounting and reporting requirements, unsettled securities laws, unreliable securities valuation and greater risk associated with custody of securities. Furthermore, investors may be
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required to register the proceeds of sales and future economic or political crises could lead to price controls, forced mergers, expropriation or confiscatory taxation, seizure, nationalization or creation of government monopolies.
EUROPE RISK. The Fund is subject to certain risks specifically associated with investments in the securities of European issuers. Political or economic disruptions in European countries, even in countries in which the Fund is not invested, may adversely affect security values and thus the Fund’s holdings. A significant number of countries in Europe are member states in the European Union (the “EU”), and the member states no longer control their own monetary policies by directing independent interest rates for their currencies. In these member states, the authority to direct monetary policies, including money supply and official interest rates for the Euro, is exercised by the European Central Bank. The United Kingdom’s referendum on June 23, 2016 to leave the EU (known as “Brexit”) sparked depreciation in the value of the British pound, short-term declines in the stock markets and heightened risk of continued economic volatility worldwide. Although the long-term effects of Brexit are difficult to gauge and cannot be fully known, they could have wide ranging implications for the United Kingdom’s economy, including: possible inflation or recession, continued depreciation of the pound, or disruption to Britain’s trading arrangements with the rest of Europe. The United Kingdom is one of the EU’s largest economies. Its departure may negatively impact the EU and Europe as a whole by causing volatility within the EU, triggering prolonged economic downturns in certain European countries or sparking additional member states to contemplate departing the EU (thereby perpetuating political instability in the region).
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.
FIXED-TO-FLOATING RATE SECURITIES RISK. Fixed-to-floating rate securities are securities that have a fixed dividend rate for an initial term that converts to a floating dividend rate upon the expiration of the initial term. Securities with a floating or variable interest rate component can be less sensitive to interest rate changes than securities with fixed interest rates but may decline in value if their interest rates do not rise as much, or as quickly, as interest rates in general. While fixed-to-floating rate securities can be less sensitive to interest rate risk than fixed-rate securities they generally carry lower yields than similar fixed-rate securities.
FLOATING RATE SECURITIES RISK. Floating rate securities are structured so that the security’s coupon rate fluctuates based upon the level of a reference rate. As a result, the coupon on floating rate securities will generally decline in a falling interest rate environment, causing the Fund to experience a reduction in the income it receives from the security. A floating rate security’s coupon rate resets periodically according to the terms of the security. Consequently, in a rising interest rate environment, floating rate securities with coupon rates that reset infrequently may lag behind the changes in market interest rates. Floating rate securities may also contain terms that impose a maximum coupon rate the issuer will pay, regardless of the level of the reference rate which would decrease the value of the security.
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.
HYBRID CAPITAL SECURITIES RISK. Hybrid capital securities are subject to the risks of equity securities and debt securities. The claims of holders of hybrid capital securities of an issuer are generally subordinated to those of holders of traditional debt securities in bankruptcy, and thus hybrid capital securities may be more volatile and subject to greater risk than traditional debt securities, and may in certain circumstances be even more volatile than traditional equity securities. At the same time, hybrid capital securities may not fully participate in gains of their issuer and thus potential returns of such securities are generally more limited than traditional equity securities, which would participate in such gains. The terms of hybrid capital securities may vary substantially and the risks of a particular hybrid capital security will depend upon the terms of the instrument, but
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may include the credit risk of the issuer, as well as liquidity risk, since they often are customized to meet the needs of an issuer or a particular investor, and therefore the number of investors that buy such instruments in the secondary market may be small.
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 CONSTITUENT RISK. The Fund may be a constituent of one or more indices. 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 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. In 2012, regulators in the United States and the United Kingdom alleged that certain banks, including some banks serving on the panel for U.S. dollar LIBOR, engaged in manipulative acts in connection with their submissions to the British Bankers Association. Manipulation of the LIBOR rate-setting process would raise the risk to the Fund of being adversely impacted if the Fund received a payment based upon LIBOR and such manipulation of LIBOR resulted in lower resets than would have occurred had there been no manipulation. In 2017, the head of the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority announced a desire to phase out the use of LIBOR by the end of 2021. There remains uncertainty regarding the future utilization of LIBOR and the nature of any replacement rate. As such, the potential effect of a transition away from LIBOR on the Fund or the financial instruments in which the Fund invests cannot yet be determined.
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 objective.
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
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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.
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 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.
NON-U.S. SECURITIES RISK. Non-U.S. securities are subject to higher volatility than securities of domestic issuers due to possible adverse political, social or economic developments, restrictions on foreign investment or exchange of securities, lack of liquidity, currency exchange rates, excessive taxation, government seizure of assets, different legal or accounting standards, and less government supervision and regulation of securities exchanges in foreign countries.
PREFERRED SECURITIES RISK. Preferred securities combine some of the characteristics of both common stocks and bonds. Preferred securities are typically subordinated to bonds and other debt securities in a company’s capital structure in terms of priority to corporate income, subjecting them to greater credit risk than those debt securities. Generally, holders of preferred securities have no voting rights with respect to the issuing company unless preferred dividends have been in arrears for a specified number of periods, at which time the preferred security holders may obtain limited rights. In certain circumstances, an issuer of preferred securities may defer payment on the securities and, in some cases, redeem the securities prior to a specified date. Preferred securities may also be substantially less liquid than other securities, including common stock.
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.
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.
REIT RISK. REITs typically own and operate income-producing real estate, such as residential or commercial buildings, or real-estate related assets, including mortgages. As a result, investments in REITs are subject to the risks associated with investing in real estate, which may include, but are not limited to: fluctuations in the value of underlying properties; defaults by borrowers or tenants; market saturation; changes in general and local operating expenses; and other economic, political or regulatory occurrences affecting companies in the real estate sector. REITs are also subject to the risk that the real estate market may experience an economic downturn generally, which may have a material effect on the real estate in which the REITs invest and their underlying portfolio securities. REITs may have also a relatively small market capitalization which may result in their shares experiencing less market liquidity and greater price volatility than larger companies. Increases in interest rates typically lower the present value of a REIT's future earnings stream, and may make financing property purchases and improvements more costly. Because the market price of REIT stocks may change based upon investors' collective perceptions of future earnings, the value of the Fund will generally decline when investors anticipate or experience rising interest rates.
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RESTRICTED SECURITIES RISK. Restricted securities are securities that cannot be offered for public resale unless registered under the applicable securities laws or that have a contractual restriction that prohibits or limits their resale. The Fund may be unable to sell a restricted security on short notice or may be able to sell them only at a price below current value.
SMALLER COMPANIES RISK. Small and/or mid capitalization companies may be more vulnerable to adverse general market or economic developments, and their securities may be less liquid and may experience greater price volatility than larger, more established companies as a result of several factors, including limited trading volumes, fewer products or financial resources, management inexperience and less publicly available information. Accordingly, such companies are generally subject to greater market risk than larger, more established companies.
SUBORDINATED DEBT RISK. Perpetual subordinated debt is a type of hybrid instrument that has no maturity date for the return of principal and does not need to be redeemed by the issuer. These investments typically have lower credit ratings and lower priority than other obligations of an issuer during bankruptcy, presenting a greater risk for nonpayment. This risk increases as the priority of the obligation becomes lower. Payments on these securities may be subordinated to all existing and future liabilities and obligations of subsidiaries and associated companies of an issuer. Additionally, some perpetual subordinated debt does not restrict the ability of an issuer’s subsidiaries to incur further unsecured indebtedness.
TRADING ISSUES RISK. Although the shares of the Fund are listed for trading on the Exchange, there can be no assurance that an active trading market for such shares will develop or be maintained. Trading in 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 shares on the Exchange is subject to trading halts caused by extraordinary market volatility pursuant to the Exchange’s “circuit breaker” rules. Market makers are under no obligation to make a market in the Fund’s shares, and authorized participants are not obligated to submit purchase or redemption orders for Creation Units. In the event market makers cease making a market in the Fund's shares or authorized participants stop submitting purchase or redemption orders for Creation Units, Fund shares may trade at a larger premium or discount to their net asset value. 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 or the Fund does not have enough shareholders.
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, the valuation of debt securities may carry more uncertainty and risk than that of publicly traded securities. Accordingly, determinations of the fair value of debt securities may be based on infrequent and dated information. Also, 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.
Annual Total Return
The bar chart and table below illustrate the annual calendar year returns of the Fund based on net asset value as well as the average annual Fund and Index returns. The bar chart and table provide an indication of the risks of investing in the Fund by showing changes in the Fund’s performance from year-to-year and by showing how the Fund’s average annual total returns based on net asset value compared to those of a market index. See “Total Return Information” for additional performance information regarding the Fund. The Fund’s performance information is accessible on the Fund’s website at www.ftportfolios.com.
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First Trust Institutional Preferred Securities and Income ETF
Calendar Year Total Returns as of 12/31
During the periods shown in the chart above:
Best Quarter Worst Quarter
2.07% September 30, 2018 -4.22% December 31, 2018
The Fund’s past performance (before and after taxes) is not necessarily an indication of how the Fund will perform in the future.
Returns before taxes do not reflect the effects of any income or capital gains taxes. All after-tax returns are calculated using the historical highest individual federal marginal income tax rates and do not reflect the impact of any state or local tax. Returns after taxes on distributions reflect the taxed return on the payment of dividends and capital gains. Returns after taxes on distributions and sale of shares assume you sold your shares at period end, and, therefore, are also adjusted for any capital gains or losses incurred. Returns for the market indices do not include expenses, which are deducted from Fund returns, or taxes.
Your own actual after-tax returns will depend on your specific tax situation and may differ from what is shown here. After-tax returns are not relevant to investors who hold Fund shares in tax-deferred accounts such as individual retirement accounts (IRAs) or employee-sponsored retirement plans.
Average Annual Total Returns for the Periods Ended December 31, 2018
  1 Year Since
Inception
Inception
Date
Return Before Taxes -5.39% -2.54% 8/22/2017
Return After Taxes On Distributions -7.50% -4.60%  
Return After Taxes on Distributions and Sale of Fund Shares -3.15% -2.76%  
ICE BofAML US Investment Grade Institutional Capital Securities Index (reflects no deduction for fees, expenses or taxes) -4.51% -2.54%  
Management
Investment Advisor
First Trust Advisors L.P. (“First Trust” or the “Advisor”)
Investment Sub-Advisor
Stonebridge Advisors LLC (“Stonebridge” or the “Sub-Advisor”)
Portfolio Managers
The following persons serve as portfolio managers of the Fund.
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Scott T. Fleming, Chief Executive Officer and President, Stonebridge Advisors LLC
Robert Wolf, Chief Investment Officer, Senior Vice President and Senior Portfolio Manager, Stonebridge Advisors LLC
The portfolio managers are primarily and jointly responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each portfolio manager has served as part of the portfolio management team of the Fund since 2017.
Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares
The Fund issues and redeems shares on a continuous basis, at net asset value, only in Creation Units consisting of 50,000 shares. The Fund’s Creation Units are generally issued and redeemed for cash, and in certain circumstances, in-kind for securities in which the Fund invests and only to and from broker-dealers and large institutional investors that have entered into participation agreements. Individual shares of the Fund may only be purchased and sold on NYSE Arca and other eligible securities exchanges through a broker-dealer. Shares of the Fund trade on NYSE Arca at market prices rather than net asset value, which may cause the shares to trade at a price greater than net asset value (premium) or less than net asset value (discount).
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 Objective and Strategies
The Fund is a series of First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund III and is regulated as an “investment company” under the 1940 Act. The Fund is actively managed and does not seek to track the performance of an index. 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 objective.
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 (including investment borrowings) in institutional preferred securities and incoming producing debt securities. The Name Policy may be changed by the Board of Trustees without shareholder approval upon 60 days’ prior written notice.
While it is not expected that the Fund will invest in the securities of other investment companies, any such investments would be subject to limitations imposed by the 1940 Act and the related rules and interpretations. The Fund has adopted a policy that it will not invest in other investment companies in excess of 1940 Act limits in reliance on Sections 12(d)(1)(F) or 12(d)(1)(G) of the 1940 Act.
Fund Investments
Principal Investments
Preferred Securities
Preferred securities, which generally pay fixed or adjustable-rate dividends or interest to investors, have preference over common stock in the payment of dividends or interest and the liquidation of a company’s assets, which means that a company typically must pay dividends or interest on its preferred securities before paying any dividends on its common stock. Preferred securities are generally junior to all forms of the company’s debt, including both senior and subordinated debt.
While some preferred securities are issued with a final maturity date, others are perpetual in nature. In certain instances, a final maturity date may be extended and/or the final payment of principal may be deferred at the issuer’s option for a specified time without any adverse consequence to the issuer. No redemption can typically take place unless all cumulative payment obligations to preferred security investors have been met, although issuers may be able to engage in open-market repurchases without regard to any cumulative dividends or interest payable. A portion of the portfolio may include investments in non-cumulative preferred securities, whereby the issuer does not have an obligation to make up any arrearages to holders of such securities. Should an issuer default on its obligations under such a security, the amount of income earned by the Fund may be adversely affected.
Institutional preferred securities are targeted to institutional, rather than retail, investors, generally traded over-the-counter and may also be known as “$1,000 par preferred securities.” They are typically issued in large, institutional lot sizes by U.S. and non-U.S. financial services companies and other companies. In recent years, the most common coupon structure for institutional preferred securities has been the “fixed-to-floating-rate” structure. Securities with this structure carry a fixed interest rate for a specific period, usually until a first call date in 5-10 years, after which if they are not called, they convert to a floating rate that adjusts periodically at a predefined spread over a specific floating index for the remaining life of the security.
Preferred securities may be issued by trusts or other special purpose entities established by operating companies, and therefore may not be direct obligations of operating companies. At the time a trust or special purpose entity sells its preferred securities to investors, the trust or special purpose entity generally purchases debt of the operating company (with terms comparable to those of the trust or special purpose entity securities). The trust or special purpose entity, as the holder of the operating company’s debt, has priority with respect to the operating company’s earnings and profits over the operating company’s common shareholders, but is typically subordinated to other classes of the operating company’s debt. Typically, a preferred security has a rating that is below that of its corresponding operating company’s senior debt securities due to its subordinated nature.
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Hybrid Capital Securities
Hybrid capital securities have the characteristics of both preferred securities and debt securities. Hybrid capital securities may be issued by corporations, generally in the form of interest-bearing notes with preferred securities characteristics, or by an affiliated trust or partnership of the corporation, generally in the form of preferred interests in subordinated debentures or similarly structured securities. The hybrid capital securities market consists of both fixed and floating coupon rate securities that are typically issued with a final maturity date, although some are perpetual in nature. In certain instances, a final maturity date may be extended and/or the final payment of principal may be deferred at the issuer’s option for a specified time without default. No redemption can typically take place unless all cumulative payment obligations have been met, although issuers may be able to engage in open-market repurchases without regard to whether all payments have been paid. Examples of hybrid capital securities include, but are not limited to, trust preferred securities, monthly income preferred securities, quarterly income bond securities, quarterly income debt securities, quarterly income preferred securities, corporate trust securities and public income notes.
Hybrid capital securities are typically junior and fully subordinated liabilities of an issuer or the beneficiary of a guarantee that is junior and fully subordinated to the other liabilities of the guarantor. In addition, hybrid capital securities typically permit an issuer to defer the payment of income for 18 months or more without triggering an event of default. Generally, the maximum deferral period is five years. Because of their subordinated position in the capital structure of an issuer, the ability to defer payments for extended periods of time without default consequences to the issuer, and certain other features (such as restrictions on common dividend payments by the issuer or ultimate guarantor when full cumulative payments on the preferred securities have not been made), these hybrid capital securities are often treated as close substitutes for traditional preferred securities, both by issuers and investors. Hybrid capital securities have many of the key characteristics of equity because of their subordinated position in an issuer’s capital structure and because their quality and value are heavily dependent on the profitability of the issuer rather than on any legal claims to specific assets or cash flows.
Certain hybrid capital securities are issued by trusts or other special purpose entities established by operating companies, such as bank holding companies in the case of trust preferred securities, and are not direct obligations of the operating company. At the time the trust or special purpose entity sells such preferred securities to investors, it purchases debt of the operating company (with terms comparable to those of the trust or special purpose entity securities), which enables the operating company to deduct for tax purposes the interest paid on the debt held by the trust or special purpose entity. An issuer of hybrid capital securities may be permitted to defer the payment of income for a specified time, typically up to five years, without triggering an event of default. In the case of many hybrid capital securities, if the operating company fails to make its payments after this deferral period, an event of default and acceleration occurs, giving holders of the hybrid capital securities the right to take hold of the junior subordinated debt issued by the operating company to the trust. At this time, the operating company’s obligation to pay principal and interest on the underlying junior subordinated debt accelerates and becomes immediately due and payable.
Within the category of hybrid capital securities are senior debt instruments that trade in the broader preferred securities market. These debt instruments, which are sources of long-term capital for the issuers, have structural features similar to preferred securities such as maturities ranging from 30 years to perpetuity, call features, exchange listings and the inclusion of accrued interest in the trading price. Similar to other hybrid capital securities, these debt instruments usually do not offer equity capital treatment.
Contingent Convertible Securities
CoCos are a common type of hybrid capital security. CoCos (which generally provide for conversion under certain circumstances) are distinguished as a subset of convertible securities. Similar to mandatory convertible securities (and unlike traditional convertible securities), some CoCos provide for mandatory conversion under certain circumstances. The mandatory conversion might be automatically triggered, for instance, if a company fails to meet the minimum amount of capital described in the security, the company’s regulator makes a determination that the security should convert or the company receives specified levels of extraordinary public support. Since the common stock of the issuer may not pay a dividend, investors in these instruments could experience a reduced income rate, potentially to zero, and conversion would deepen the subordination of the investor, hence worsening standing in a bankruptcy. Further, some CoCos have a set stock conversion rate that would cause a reduction in value of the security if the price of the stock is below the conversion price on the conversion date. In addition, various CoCos may contain features that limit an investor’s ability to convert the security unless certain conditions are met.
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Floating Rate and Fixed-to-Floating Rate Securities
Floating-rate and fixed-to-floating rate securities may be traditional preferred or hybrid capital securities. Floating-rate securities pay a rate of income that resets periodically based on short and/or longer-term interest rate benchmarks. If the associated interest rate benchmark rises, the coupon offered by the floating-rate security may rise as well, making such securities less sensitive to rising interest rates (or yields). Similarly, a fixed-to-floating rate security may be less price sensitive to rising interest rates (or yields), because it has a rate of payment that is fixed for a certain period (typically five, ten or thirty years when first issued), after which period a floating-rate of payment applies.
Convertible Securities
Convertible securities combine the investment characteristics of both debt and equity securities. Convertible securities typically consist of debt securities or preferred securities that may be converted within a specified period of time (typically for the entire life of the security) into a certain amount of common stock or other equity security of the same or a different issuer at a predetermined price. They also include debt securities with warrants or common stock attached and derivatives combining the features of debt securities and equity securities. Convertible securities entitle the holder to receive interest paid or accrued on debt, or dividends paid or accrued on preferred securities, until the securities mature or are redeemed, converted or exchanged.
Restricted Securities
The Fund may invest in restricted securities, which are securities that may not be sold to the public without an effective registration statement under the Securities Act. The restriction on public sale may make it more difficult to value such securities, limit the Fund’s ability to dispose of them and lower the amount the Fund could realize upon their sale. Because they are not registered, restricted securities may be sold only in a privately negotiated transaction or pursuant to an exemption from registration. In recognition of the increased size and liquidity of the institutional market for unregistered securities and the importance of institutional investors in the formation of capital, the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted Rule 144A under the Securities Act. Rule 144A is designed to facilitate efficient trading among institutional investors by permitting the sale of certain unregistered securities to qualified institutional buyers. To the extent privately placed securities held by the Fund qualify under Rule 144A and an institutional market develops for those securities, the Fund likely will be able to dispose of the securities without registering them under the Securities Act. To the extent that institutional buyers become, for a time, uninterested in purchasing these securities, investing in Rule 144A securities could increase the level of the Fund’s illiquidity.
Corporate Debt Securities
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 difference being their maturities and secured or unsecured status. Commercial paper has the shortest term and is usually unsecured. Such debt instruments are typically issued by corporations, generally in the form of interest-bearing notes, or by an affiliated business trust of a corporation, generally in the form of (i) beneficial interests in subordinated debentures or similarly structured securities or (ii) more senior debt securities that pay income and trade in a manner similar to preferred securities. The broad category of corporate debt securities includes debt issued by U.S. and non-U.S. companies of all kinds, including those with small-, mid- and large-capitalizations. Corporate debt may be rated investment grade or below investment grade and may carry fixed or floating rates of interest.
High Yield Securities
Securities that are rated below investment grade (or securities that are unrated and determined by the Sub-Advisor to be of comparable quality) are commonly referred to as “high yield” or “junk” securities. High yield securities typically offer higher yields than investment grade securities with similar maturities but involve greater risks, including the possibility of default or bankruptcy, and increased market price volatility.
Non-U.S. Investments
The Fund may invest in securities issued by non-U.S. companies that are traded over-the-counter or listed on an exchange.
Real Estate Investment Trusts
The Fund may invest in preferred shares of REITs. REITs are financial vehicles that pool investors’ capital to purchase or finance real estate. REITs are generally classified as equity REITs, mortgage REITs or a combination of equity and mortgage REITs. Equity REITs invest the majority of their assets directly in real property and derive income primarily from the collection of
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rents. Equity REITs can also realize capital gains by selling properties that have appreciated in value. Mortgage REITs invest the majority of their assets in real estate mortgages and derive income from the collection of interest payments. REITs are not taxed on income distributed to shareholders provided they comply with the applicable tax requirements.
Non-Principal Investments
Baby Bonds
Baby bonds are subordinated or senior debt that are designed to trade like preferred securities. They trade in $25 par amounts, pay quarterly interest, and are typically callable five years after issuance. Unlike the other structures, the issuer generally cannot skip or defer payments on senior notes without entering into default. These bonds rank higher in the capital structure than hybrids, trust preferred securities and traditional preferred securities. The payments on baby bonds are generally cumulative, in that the issuer must make good on all missed payments before making any payout on a junior ranking security such as a hybrid capital security, trust preferred security or perpetual preferred security.
Cash Equivalents and Short-Term Investments
Normally, the Fund invests substantially all of its assets to meet its investment objective. The Fund may invest the remainder of its assets in securities with maturities of less than one year or 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 objective. 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 SAI.
Derivative Instruments
The Fund may invest in exchange-traded and over-the-counter interest rate swaps, exchange-listed options on Eurodollar futures contracts, exchange-listed options on U.S. Treasury futures contracts, exchange-listed options on exchange-traded funds, exchange-listed U.S. Treasury futures contracts and exchange-listed Eurodollar futures contracts. Derivatives are financial contracts whose value depends upon, or is derived from, the value of an underlying asset, reference rate or index, and may relate to, among other things, interest rates, currencies or currency exchange rates. The Fund’s investments in derivative instruments will be consistent with the Fund’s investment objective and the 1940 Act and will not be used to seek to achieve a multiple or inverse multiple of an index.
Illiquid Securities
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 securities may include, but are not limited to, 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 Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), that are deemed to be illiquid, and certain repurchase agreements.
Other Debt Securities
Although not a part of the Fund’s principal investment strategies, the Fund may invest in senior loans, second lien loans, loan participations, payment-in-kind securities, zero coupon bonds, bank certificates of deposit, fixed-time deposits, bankers acceptances, U.S. government securities, fixed-income securities issued by non-U.S. governments denominated in U.S. dollars or municipal bonds.
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 that 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.
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Disclosure of Portfolio Holdings
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 available on the Fund’s website at www.ftportfolios.com.
Additional 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 objective. Before you invest, you should consider the following supplemental disclosure pertaining to the Principal Risks set forth above as well as additional Non-Principal Risks set forth below in this prospectus.
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. Although participants are not obligated to make a market in the Fund’s shares or submit purchase and redemption orders for correction 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.
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. A Fund that effects redemptions for cash 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 principally 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.
CONCENTRATION 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 concentration 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 not so concentrated.
CONTINGENT CONVERTIBLE SECURITIES RISK. CoCos are hybrid securities most commonly issued by banking institutions that present risks similar to debt securities and convertible securities. CoCos are distinct in that they are intended to either convert into equity or have their principal written down upon the occurrence of certain “triggers.” When an issuer’s capital ratio falls below a specified trigger level, or in a regulator’s discretion depending on the regulator’s judgment about the issuer’s solvency prospects, a CoCo may be written down, written off or converted into an equity security. Due to the contingent write-down, write-off and conversion feature, CoCos may have substantially greater risk than other securities in times of financial stress. If the trigger level is breached, the issuer's decision to write down, write off or convert a CoCo may be outside its control, and the Fund may suffer a complete loss on an investment in CoCos with no chance of recovery even if the issuer
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remains in existence. CoCos are usually issued in the form of subordinated debt instruments to provide the appropriate regulatory capital treatment. If an issuer liquidates, dissolves or winds-up before a conversion to equity has occurred, the rights and claims of the holders of the CoCos (such as the Fund) against the issuer generally rank junior to the claims of holders of unsubordinated obligations of the issuer. In addition, if the CoCos are converted into the issuer's underlying equity securities after a conversion event (i.e., a “trigger”), each holder will be further subordinated. CoCos also may have no stated maturity and have fully discretionary coupons. This means coupon payments can be canceled at the issuer’s discretion or at the request of the relevant regulatory authority in order to help the bank absorb losses, without causing a default. In general, the value of CoCos is unpredictable and is influenced by many factors including, without limitation: the creditworthiness of the issuer and/or fluctuations in such issuer's applicable capital ratios; supply and demand for CoCos; general market conditions and available liquidity; and economic, financial and political events that affect the issuer, its particular market or the financial markets in general.
CONVERTIBLE SECURITIES RISK. Convertible securities are bonds, debentures, notes, preferred stocks or other securities that may be converted or exchanged (by the holder or by the issuer, depending on the terms of the securities) into shares of the underlying common stock (or cash or securities of equivalent value) at a stated exchange ratio. If a convertible security held by the Fund is called for redemption or conversion, the Fund could be required to tender it for redemption, convert it into the underlying equity security or sell it to a third party, which may have an adverse effect on the Fund’s ability to achieve its investment objective. The market values of convertible securities tend to decline as interest rates increase. However, a convertible security’s market value also tends to reflect the market price of the equity security of the issuing company, particularly when the price of the equity security is greater than the convertible security’s conversion price (i.e., the predetermined price or exchange ratio at which the convertible security can be converted or exchanged for the underlying equity security). Convertible securities are also exposed to the risk that an issuer will be unable to meet its obligation to make dividend or principal payments when due as a result of changing financial or market conditions. Convertible debt securities generally offer lower interest or dividend yields than non-convertible debt securities of similar credit quality because of their potential for capital appreciation. Moreover, there can be no assurance that convertible securities will provide current income prior to conversion because the issuers of the convertible securities may default on their obligations. If the convertible security has a conversion or call feature that allows the issuer to redeem the security before the conversion date, the potential for capital appreciation may be diminished. In the event that convertible securities are not optional but mandatory based upon the price of the underlying common stock, the Fund may be subject to additional exposure to loss of income in situations where it would prefer to hold debt.
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.
CREDIT SPREAD RISK. Credit spread risk is the risk that credit spreads (i.e., the difference in yield between debt securities that have differences in credit quality or other factors) may increase, which may reduce the market values of the Fund’s debt securities. While the Fund may employ strategies to mitigate credit spread risk, these strategies may not be successful. Credit spreads often increase more for lower rated and unrated securities than for investment grade securities. In addition, when credit spreads increase, reductions in market value will generally be greater for debt securities with longer maturities.
CURRENCY RISK. The Fund may invest in securities denominated in a non-U.S. currency. Changes in currency exchange rates affect the value of investments denominated in a foreign currency, the value of dividends and interest earned from such securities and gains and losses realized on the sale of such securities. The Fund’s net asset value could decline if a currency to which the Fund has exposure depreciates against the U.S. dollar or if there are delays or limits on repatriation of such currency. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. Changes in currency exchange rates may affect the Fund's net asset value, the value of dividends and interest earned, and gains and losses realized on the sale of securities. An increase in the strength of the U.S. dollar relative to other currencies may cause the value of the Fund to decline. Certain non-U.S. currencies may be particularly volatile, and non-U.S. governments may intervene in the currency markets,
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causing a decline in value or liquidity in the Fund's non-U.S. holdings whose value is tied to the affected non-U.S. currency. Additionally, the prices non-U.S. securities that are traded in U.S. dollars are often indirectly influenced by current fluctuations.
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 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 security issuers, 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.
DEPOSITARY RECEIPTS RISK. The Fund may invest in depositary receipts. Depository receipts are securities issued by a bank or trust company reflecting ownership of underlying securities issued by a foreign company. An investment in depositary receipts involves further risks due to certain unique features. Any distributions paid to the holders of depositary receipts are usually subject to a fee charged by the depositary. Holders of depositary receipts may have limited voting rights pursuant to a deposit agreement between the underlying issuer and the depositary. In certain cases, the depositary will vote the shares deposited with it as directed by the underlying issuer’s board of directors. Furthermore, investment restrictions in certain countries may adversely impact the value of depositary receipts because such restrictions may limit the ability to convert shares into depositary receipts and vice versa. Such restrictions may cause shares of the underlying issuer to trade at a discount or premium to the market price of the depositary receipt. Moreover, if depositary receipts are converted into shares, the laws in certain countries may limit the ability of a non-resident to trade the shares and to reconvert the shares to depositary receipts. Depositary receipts may be “sponsored” or “unsponsored.” Sponsored depositary receipts are established jointly by a depositary and the underlying issuer, whereas unsponsored depositary receipts may be established by a depositary without participation by the underlying issuer. Holders of unsponsored depositary receipts generally bear all the costs associated with establishing the unsponsored depositary receipts. In addition, the issuers of the securities underlying unsponsored depositary receipts are not obligated to disclose material information in the U.S. and, therefore, there may be less information available regarding such issuers and there may not be a correlation between such information and the market value of the depositary receipts.
EMERGING MARKETS RISK. Investments in securities issued by companies operating in emerging market countries involve additional risks relating to political, economic, or regulatory conditions not associated with investments in securities and
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instruments issued by U.S. companies or by companies operating in other developed market countries. This is due to, among other things, the potential for greater market volatility, lower trading volume, higher levels of inflation, political and economic instability, greater risk of a market shutdown and more governmental limitations on foreign investments in emerging market countries than are typically found in more developed market countries. Moreover, emerging market countries often have less uniformity in accounting and reporting requirements, unsettled securities laws, less reliable securities valuations and greater risks associated with custody of securities than developed markets. In addition, emerging market countries often have greater risk of capital controls through such measures as taxes or interest rate control than developed markets. Certain emerging market countries may also lack the infrastructure necessary to attract large amounts of foreign trade and investment. Local securities markets in emerging market countries may trade a small number of securities and may be unable to respond effectively to increases in trading volume, potentially making prompt liquidation of holdings difficult or impossible. Settlement procedures in emerging market countries are frequently less developed and reliable than those in the U.S. and other developed market countries. In addition, significant delays may occur in registering the transfer of securities. Settlement or registration problems may make it more difficult for the Fund to value its portfolio securities and could cause the Fund to miss attractive investment opportunities. Investing in emerging market countries involves a higher risk of expropriation, nationalization, confiscation of assets and property or the imposition of restrictions on foreign investments and on repatriation of capital invested by certain emerging market countries. Enforcing legal rights may be made difficult, costly and slow in emerging markets as there may be additional problems enforcing claims against non-U.S. governments.
EUROPE RISK. The Fund may invest significantly in the securities of European issuers. Therefore, in addition to the risks associated with investments in non-U.S. securities generally, the Fund is subject to certain risks associated specifically with investments in securities of European issuers. Political or economic disruptions in European countries, even in countries in which the Fund is not invested, may adversely affect security values and thus the Fund’s holdings. A significant number of countries in Europe are member states in the EU, and the member states no longer control their own monetary policies by directing independent interest rates for their currencies. In these member states, the authority to direct monetary policies, including money supply and official interest rates for the Euro, is exercised by the European Central Bank. The United Kingdom’s referendum on June 23, 2016 to leave the EU (known as “Brexit”) sparked depreciation in the value of the British pound, short-term declines in the stock markets and heightened risk of continued economic volatility worldwide. Although the long-term effects of Brexit are difficult to gauge and cannot be fully known, they could have wide ranging implications for the United Kingdom’s economy, including: possible inflation or recession, continued depreciation of the pound, or disruption to Britain’s trading arrangements with the rest of Europe. The United Kingdom is one of the EU’s largest economies. Its departure may negatively impact the EU and Europe as a whole, such as by causing volatility within the EU, triggering prolonged economic downturns in certain European countries or sparking additional member states to contemplate departing the EU (thereby perpetuating political instability in the region).
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. The Fund invests significantly in financial companies. 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.
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FIXED-TO-FLOATING RATE SECURITIES RISK. The Fund invests in fixed-to-floating rate securities. Fixed-to-floating rate securities are securities that have a fixed dividend rate for an initial term that converts to a floating dividend rate upon the expiration of the initial term. Securities with a floating or variable interest rate component can be less sensitive to interest rate changes than securities with fixed interest rates but may decline in value if their interest rates do not rise as much, or as quickly, as interest rates in general. While fixed-to-floating rate securities can be less sensitive to interest rate risk than fixed-rate securities they generally carry lower yields than similar fixed-rate securities. The interest rate for a floating rate security resets or adjusts periodically by reference to a benchmark interest rate. The impact of interest rate changes on floating rate investments is typically mitigated by the periodic interest rate reset of the investments. Fixed-to-floating rate securities generally are 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. There is no guarantee or assurance that the Fund will be able to invest in a desired amount of fixed-to-floating rate securities, will be able to buy such securities at a desirable price or that the fixed-to-floating rate securities in which it invests or seeks to invest will be actively traded. Any or all of the foregoing, should they occur, could negatively impact the Fund.
FLOATING RATE SECURITIES RISK. Floating rate securities 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 security is set in the loan agreement at the level of a widely followed interest rate, plus a fixed spread. As a result, it is expected that when interest rates change, the value of floating rate securities will fluctuate less than the value fixed rate debt securities. The coupon on floating rate securities will generally decline in a falling interest rate environment, causing the Fund to experience a reduction in the income it receives from the security. A floating rate security’s coupon rate resets periodically according to the terms of the security. Consequently, in a rising interest rate environment, floating rate securities with coupon rates that reset infrequently may lag behind the changes in market interest rates and may effect the value of the security. Floating rate securities may also contain terms that impose a maximum coupon rate the issuer will pay, regardless of the level of the reference rate which would decrease the value of the security. The secondary market value of a floating rate security is based on the volatility of the reference rate, the time remaining to maturity, the outstanding amount of such securities, market interest rates and the credit quality or perceived financial status of the issuer. Floating rate securities may be less liquid than other types of securities.
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.
HYBRID CAPITAL SECURITIES RISK. Hybrid capital securities are securities which contain characteristics of both debt and equity securities and are subject to many of the same risks as equity and debt securities. The claims of holders of hybrid capital securities of an issuer are generally subordinated to those of holders of traditional debt securities in bankruptcy, and thus hybrid capital securities may be more volatile and subject to greater risk than traditional debt securities, and may in certain circumstances be even more volatile than traditional equity securities. At the same time, hybrid capital securities may not fully participate in gains of their issuer and thus potential returns of such securities are generally more limited than traditional equity securities, which would participate in such gains. Hybrid capital securities may also be more limited in their rights to participate in management decisions of an issuer (such as voting for the board of directors). The terms of hybrid capital securities may vary substantially and the risks of a particular hybrid capital security will depend upon the terms of the instrument. Certain hybrid capital securities may be more thinly traded and less liquid than either publicly issued equity or debt securities, especially hybrid capital securities that are “customized” to meet the needs of particular investors, potentially making it difficult for the Fund to sell such securities at a favorable price or at all. Any of these features could cause a loss in market value of hybrid capital securities held by the Fund or otherwise adversely affect the Fund.
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
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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 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 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. Interest rate risk may be increased by the Fund’s investment in inverse floaters because of the leveraged nature of those investments. 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. In 2012, regulators in the United States and the United Kingdom alleged that certain banks, including some banks serving on the panel for U.S. dollar LIBOR, engaged in manipulative acts in connection with their submissions to the British Bankers Association. Manipulation of the LIBOR rate-setting process would raise the risk to the Fund of being adversely impacted if the Fund received a payment based upon LIBOR and such manipulation of LIBOR resulted in lower resets than would have occurred had there been no manipulation. In 2017, the head of the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority announced a desire to phase out the use of LIBOR by the end of 2021. There remains uncertainty regarding the future utilization of LIBOR and the nature of any replacement rate. As such, the potential effect of a transition away from LIBOR on the Fund or the financial instruments in which the Fund invests cannot yet be determined.
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.
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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 investments due to short-term market movements or any longer periods during more prolonged market downturns.
NON-DIVERSIFICATION RISK. The Fund is classified as non-diversified under the 1940 Act. 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.
NON-U.S. SECURITIES RISK. An investment in securities of non-U.S. companies involves risks not associated with domestic issuers. Investment in non-U.S. securities may involve higher costs than investment in U.S. securities, including higher transaction and custody costs as well as the imposition of additional taxes by non-U.S. governments. Non-U.S. investments may also involve risks associated with the level of currency exchange rates, less complete financial information about the issuers, less market liquidity, more market volatility and political instability. Future political and economic developments, the possible imposition of withholding taxes on dividend income, the possible seizure or nationalization of non-U.S. holdings, the possible establishment of exchange controls or freezes on the convertibility of currency or the adoption of other governmental restrictions might adversely affect an investment in non-U.S. securities. Additionally, non-U.S. issuers may be subject to less stringent regulation, and to different accounting, auditing and recordkeeping requirements. The U.S. and non-U.S. markets often rise and fall at different times or by different amounts due to economic or other regional developments particular to a given country or region.
PREFERRED SECURITIES RISK. Preferred securities combine some of the characteristics of both common stocks and bonds. Preferred securities are typically subordinated to bonds and other debt securities in a company’s capital structure in terms of priority to corporate income, subjecting them to greater credit risk than those debt securities. Preferred securities often include provisions that permit the issuer, at its discretion, to defer distributions for a stated period without any adverse consequences to the issuer. If the Fund owns a preferred security that is deferring its distributions, the Fund may be required to report income for federal income tax purposes although it has not yet received such income in cash. Generally, holders of preferred securities have no voting rights with respect to the issuing company unless preferred dividends have been in arrears for a specified number of periods, at which time the preferred security holders may elect a number of directors to the issuer’s board of director. Generally, once the issuer pays all the arrearages, the preferred security holders no longer have voting rights. In certain circumstances, an issuer of preferred securities may redeem the securities prior to a specified date. For instance, for certain types of preferred securities, a redemption may be triggered by a change in federal income tax or securities laws or a change in regulatory trademark. As with redemption provisions of debt securities, a special redemption by the issuer may negatively impact the return of the preferred security held by the Fund. Preferred securities may also be substantially less liquid than other securities, including common stock.
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
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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.
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.
REIT RISK. REITs typically own and operate income-producing real estate, such as residential or commercial buildings, or real-estate related assets, including mortgages. As a result, investments in REITs are subject to the risks associated with investing in real estate, which may include, but are not limited to: fluctuations in the value of underlying properties; defaults by borrowers or tenants; market saturation; changes in general and local operating expenses; and other economic, political or regulatory occurrences affecting companies in the real estate sector. Additionally, investing in REITs involves certain other risks related to their structure and focus, which include, but are not limited to, dependency upon management skills, limited diversification, the risks of locating and managing financing for projects, heavy cash flow dependency, possible default by borrowers, the costs and potential losses of self-liquidation of one or more holdings, the risk of a possible lack of mortgage funds and associated interest rate risks, overbuilding, property vacancies, increases in property taxes and operating expenses, changes in zoning laws, losses due to environmental damages, changes in neighborhood values and appeal to purchasers, the possibility of failing to maintain exemptions from registration under the 1940 Act, failure to satisfy the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 for maintaining REIT status and, in many cases, relatively small market capitalization, which may result in less market liquidity and greater price volatility for a REIT’s shares. REITs are also subject to the risk that the real estate market may experience an economic downturn generally, which may have a material effect on the real estate in which the REITs invest and their underlying portfolio securities.
RESTRICTED SECURITIES RISK. Restricted securities are securities that cannot be offered for public resale unless registered under the applicable securities laws or that have a contractual restriction that prohibits or limits their resale. Restricted securities include private placement securities that have not been registered under the applicable securities laws, such as Rule 144A securities, and securities of U.S. and non-U.S. issuers that are issued pursuant to Regulation S. Private placements are generally subject to strict restrictions on resale. Restricted securities may be illiquid as they generally are not listed on an exchange and may have no active trading market. The Fund may be unable to sell a restricted security on short notice or may be able to sell them only at a price below current value. It may be more difficult to determine a market value for a restricted security. Also, the Fund may get limited information about the issuer of a restricted security, so it may be less able to predict a loss. In addition, if Fund management receives material non-public information about the issuer, the Fund may as a result be unable to sell the securities. Certain restricted securities may involve a high degree of business and financial risk and may result in substantial losses.
SMALLER COMPANIES RISK. The stock price of small and/or mid capitalization companies may be more volatile than those of larger companies and therefore the Fund’s share price may be more volatile than those of funds that invest a larger percentage of their assets in stocks issued by large capitalization companies. Stock prices of small and/or mid capitalization companies are also generally more vulnerable than those of large capitalization companies to adverse business and economic developments. Securities of small and/or mid capitalization companies may be thinly traded, making it difficult for the Fund to buy and sell them. In addition, small and/or mid capitalization companies are typically less financially stable than larger, more established companies and may reinvest a high proportion of their earnings in their business and may not pay dividends. Small and/or mid capitalization companies may also depend on a small number of essential personnel who may also be less experienced than the management of larger companies, making these companies more vulnerable to experiencing adverse effects due to the loss or inexperience of personnel. Small and/or mid capitalization companies also normally have less diverse product lines than those of large capitalization companies and are more susceptible to adverse developments concerning their products.
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SUBORDINATED DEBT RISK. Perpetual subordinated debt is a type of hybrid instrument that has no maturity date for the return of principal and does not need to be redeemed by the issuer. These investments typically have lower credit ratings and lower priority than other obligations of an issuer during bankruptcy, presenting a greater risk for nonpayment. This risk increases as the priority of the obligation becomes lower. Payments on these securities may be subordinated to all existing and future liabilities and obligations of subsidiaries and associated companies of an issuer. Additionally, some perpetual subordinated debt does not restrict the ability of an issuer’s subsidiaries to incur further unsecured indebtedness.
TRADING ISSUES RISK. Although the shares of the Fund are listed for trading on the Exchange, there can be no assurance that an active trading market for such shares will develop or be maintained. Trading in 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 shares on the Exchange is subject to trading halts caused by extraordinary market volatility pursuant to the Exchange’s “circuit breaker” rules. Market makers are under no obligation to make a market in the Fund’s shares, and authorized participants are not obligated to submit purchase or redemption orders for Creation Units. In the event market makers cease making a market in the Fund’s shares or authorized participants stop submitting purchase or redemption orders for Creation Units, Fund shares may trade at a larger premium or discount to their net asset value. 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 or the Fund does not have enough shareholders.
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 which may be anywhere in the world where the buyer and seller can settle on a price. Due to the lack of centralized information and trading, the valuation of debt securities may carry more uncertainty and risk than that of publicly traded securities. Accordingly, determinations of the fair value of debt securities may be based on infrequent and dated information. Also, 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. Typically, debt securities are valued using information provided by a third-party pricing service utilizing a range of market-based inputs and assumptions, including broker quotations and transactions in comparable securities to value the securities. There is no assurance that the Fund will be able to sell a portfolio security at the price established by the pricing service.
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.
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. The Sub-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 Sub-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 Sub-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
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in supply and demand relationships. Trading derivative instruments involves risks different from, or possibly greater than, 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 the 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. 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 for the dividends received deduction in the case of corporate shareholders. See “Federal Tax Matters.”
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 in which the Fund invests. 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.
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 Advisor seek to reduce these operational risks through controls and procedures, there is no way to completely protect against such risks.
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 objective 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, Sub-Advisor, custodian and fund administrative and accounting agent.
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 overseeing the Sub-Advisor in 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.
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First Trust serves as advisor or sub-advisor for 7 mutual fund portfolios, 10 exchange-traded funds consisting of 141 series and 15 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.
The Trust, on behalf of the Fund, and First Trust have retained Stonebridge, an affiliate of First Trust, to serve as investment sub-advisor pursuant to a sub-advisory agreement (the “Sub-Advisory Agreement”). In this capacity, Stonebridge is responsible for the selection and ongoing monitoring of the securities in the Fund’s investment portfolio. Stonebridge is a niche asset management firm that manages portfolios of preferred securities for investors. Stonebridge, formed in December 2004, serves as investment advisor to investment portfolios with approximately $7.722 billion in assets which it managed as of January 31, 2019.
Scott T. Fleming and Robert Wolf are the Fund’s portfolio managers and share responsibilities for the day-to-day management of the Fund’s investment portfolio.
Scott Fleming serves as Chief Executive Officer and President of Stonebridge setting the strategic direction of Stonebridge including operations, business and product development, and marketing strategies. Mr. Fleming leads the Investment Committee and oversees investment policies and strategies for all of the company’s portfolio management activities. Additionally, Mr. Fleming directs the daily management of preferred stock portfolios. Prior to founding Stonebridge in 2004, Mr. Fleming co-founded Spectrum Asset Management, Inc., an investment advisor that specializes in preferred securities asset management for institutional clients and mutual funds. During his 13-year tenure there, he served as Chairman of the Board of Directors, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Investment Officer. Under his leadership, Spectrum grew to be the largest preferred securities manager in the country. Mr. Fleming previously served as Vice President, Portfolio Manager for DBL Preferred Management, Inc. in New York City. Mr. Fleming received a B.S. in Accounting from Bentley College in Waltham, MA and his MBA in Finance from Babson College in Wellesley, MA.
Robert Wolf serves as Chief Investment Officer, Senior Vice President and Senior Portfolio Manager at Stonebridge. Mr. Wolf is a senior member of Stonebridge Advisors’ Investment Committee and oversees investment strategies and portfolio management activities across fund products and separately managed accounts. Mr. Wolf directs the daily management of preferred securities portfolios and performs both credit research and trading functions. Mr. Wolf has over sixteen years of fixed-income experience in both portfolio management and credit research. Prior to joining Stonebridge in 2006, Mr. Wolf was a high-yield fixed-income research analyst at Lehman Brothers. In this role, his responsibilities included detailed credit analysis across multiple sectors, relative value analysis, and developing trade recommendations. Mr. Wolf previously worked for Lehman Brothers’ commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) trading desk as a credit analyst. Mr. Wolf received his B.S. degree in Chemistry from Villanova University and his MBA in Finance from the New York University Stern School of Business.
For additional information concerning First Trust and the Sub-Advisor, 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 oversees Stonebridge's management of the Fund's assets and pays Stonebridge for its services as Sub-Advisor. First Trust is paid an annual unitary management fee by the Fund equal to 0.85% of the Fund's average daily net assets and is responsible for the Fund's expenses, including the cost of transfer agency, sub-advisory, 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 pursuant to a 12b-1 plan, if any, and extraordinary expenses.
A discussion regarding the Board’s approval of the Investment Management Agreement and the Sub-Advisory Agreement is available in the Fund’s Annual Report to Shareholders for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2017.
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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 the Exchange. 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 incur customary 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 spread between the bid and the offer price in the secondary market on each leg of a round trip (purchase and sale) transaction. Share prices are reported in dollars and cents per share.
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 Sections 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 Exchange 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.
Information regarding the intra-day value of the shares of the Fund, also referred to as the “indicative optimized portfolio value” (“IOPV”), is disseminated every 15 seconds throughout the Fund’s trading day by the national securities exchange on which the shares are listed or by market data vendors or other information providers. IOPV is based on the current market value of the securities or other assets and/or cash required to be deposited in exchange for a Creation Unit and any expenses of the Fund. The IOPV does not necessarily reflect the precise composition of the current portfolio of securities or other assets held by the Fund at a particular point in time or the best possible valuation of the current portfolio. Therefore, the IOPV should not be viewed as a “real-time” update of the net asset value per share of the Fund because the IOPV may not be calculated in the same manner as the net asset value, which is computed once a day, generally at the end of the business day. The IOPV is generally determined by using current market quotations. The price of a non-U.S. security that is primarily traded on a non-U.S. exchange will be updated, using the last sale price, every 15 seconds throughout the trading day, provided that upon the closing of such non-U.S. exchange, the closing price of the security, after being converted to U.S. dollars, will be used. Furthermore, in calculating the IOPV of the Fund’s shares, exchange rates may be used throughout the day (9:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., Eastern Time) that may differ from those used to calculate the net asset value per share of the Fund and consequently may result in differences between the net asset value and the IOPV. The Fund is not involved in, or responsible for, the calculation or dissemination of the IOPV of shares of the Fund and the Fund does not make any warranty as to its accuracy.
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.
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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 objective. 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.
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 was not asked to review, and has not reached a conclusion with respect to, the federal income tax treatment of the assets to be included in the Fund. This 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 continue 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, as further discussed below, 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. The tax status of your distributions from
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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 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
If you are an individual, the maximum stated marginal federal tax rate for net capital gain is generally 20% (15% or 0% for taxpayers with taxable incomes below certain thresholds). Some portion of your capital gain dividends from the Fund may be taxed at a higher maximum stated tax rate. Capital gain received from assets held for more than one year that is considered “unrecaptured section 1250 gain” (which may be the case, for example, with some capital gains attributable to equity interests in real estate investment trusts that constitute interests in entities treated as real estate investment trusts for federal income tax purposes) is taxed at a maximum stated marginal federal tax rate of 25%. In the case of capital gain dividends, the determination of which portion of the capital gain dividend, if any, is subject to the 25% tax rate, will be made based on rules prescribed by the United States Treasury. 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 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 shares 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.
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. Dividends from REITs and foreign corporations are qualifying dividends only in limited circumstances. 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.
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.
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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 invests 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 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. Dispositions of shares by such persons may be subject to such withholding after December 31, 2018. Proposed regulations would remove the requirement to withhold on dispositions.
Investments in Certain Non-U.S. Corporations
If the Fund holds an equity interest in any passive foreign investment companies (“PFICs”), 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 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 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. Dividends paid by PFICs 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 February 28, 2020. However, in the event 12b-1 fees are charged in the future, because these fees are paid
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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.
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 The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC ("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. For portfolio securities traded on an exchange that provides both an official closing price and a last sale price, the Advisor's Pricing Committee, at its discretion, shall determine to use either the last sale price or the official closing price, depending on which price reflects the appropriate market value. 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 quotations or official closing prices on the applicable exchange. A variety of factors may be considered in determining the fair value of such securities. 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
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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.
Preferred, hybrid and fixed income securities will be valued by the fund accounting agent using a pricing service. Fixed income securities with a remaining maturity of 60 days or less when purchased will be valued at cost adjusted for amortization of premiums and accretion of discounts. When price quotes are not available, fair market value is based on prices of comparable securities.
Repurchase agreements will be valued as follows: Overnight repurchase agreements will be valued at cost. Term repurchase agreements (i.e., those whose maturity exceeds seven days) will be valued by the Advisor’s Pricing Committee at the average of the bid quotations obtained daily from at least two recognized dealers.
Currency-linked notes, credit-linked notes, interest rate swaps, credit default swaps, and other similar instruments will be valued by the Fund by using a pricing service or, if the pricing service does not provide a value, by quotes provided by the selling dealer or financial institution. When price quotes are not available, fair market value is based on prices of comparable securities. Absent a material difference between the exit price for these instruments and the market rates for similar instruments, currency-linked notes, credit-linked notes, etc. will be valued at the exit price.
Fund Service Providers
Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., 50 Post Office Square, Boston, Massachusetts 02110, acts as the administrator, accounting agent, custodian and transfer agent for the Fund. Chapman and Cutler LLP, 111 West Monroe Street, Chicago, Illinois 60603, serves as legal counsel to the Fund. First Trust serves as the fund reporting agent for the Fund.
Premium/Discount Information
The tables that follow present information about the differences between the Fund’s daily market price on the Exchange and its net asset value. The “Market Price” of the Fund generally is determined using the midpoint between the highest bid and lowest offer on the Exchange, as of the time the Fund’s net asset value is calculated. The Fund’s Market Price may be at, above, or below its net asset value. The net asset value of the Fund will fluctuate with changes in the market value of its portfolio holdings. The Market Price of the Fund will fluctuate in accordance with changes in its net asset value, as well as market supply and demand.
Premiums or discounts are the differences (generally expressed as a percentage) between the net asset value and Market Price of the Fund on a given day, generally at the time net asset value is calculated. A premium is the amount that the Fund is trading above the reported net asset value. A discount is the amount that the Fund is trading below the reported net asset value.
The following information shows the frequency distribution of premiums and discounts of the daily bid/ask price of the Fund against its net asset value. The information shown for the Fund is for the periods indicated. Shareholders may pay more than net asset value when they buy Fund shares and receive less than net asset value when they sell those shares because shares are bought and sold at current market price. All data presented here represents past performance, which cannot be used to predict future results. Information about the premiums and discounts at which the Fund's shares have traded is available on the Fund's website at www.ftportfolios.com.
First Trust Institutional Preferred Securities and Income ETF (FPEI)
Bid/Ask Midpoint vs. Net Asset Value
Number of Days Bid/Ask Midpoint At/Above Net Asset Value
  0.00%0.49% 0.50%0.99% 1.00%1.99% >=2.00%
12 Months Ended 12/31/2018 160 4 2 0
Number of Days Bid/Ask Midpoint Below Net Asset Value
  0.00%0.49% 0.50%0.99% 1.00%1.99% >=2.00%
12 Months Ended 12/31/2018 82 3 0 0
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Total Return Information
The table below compares the total return of the Fund to a market index. The information presented for the Fund is for the period indicated.
“Cumulative total returns” represent the total change in value of an investment over the period indicated. The return information shown under “Annual Total Return” in the Fund’s summary prospectus represents the average annual total returns of the Fund as of the calendar year end, while the information presented below is as of the Fund’s fiscal year end. The net asset value per share of the Fund is the value of one share of the Fund and is computed by dividing the value of all assets of the Fund (including accrued interest and dividends), less liabilities (including accrued expenses and dividends declared but unpaid), by the total number of outstanding shares. The net asset value return is based on the net asset value per share of the Fund and the market return is based on the market price per share of the Fund. The price used to calculate market return (“Market Price”) generally is determined by using the midpoint between the highest bid and the lowest offer on the Exchange on which the shares of the Fund are listed for trading, as of the time that the Fund's net asset value is calculated. Since the shares of the Fund typically do not trade in the secondary market until several days after the Fund's inception, for the period from inception to the first day of secondary market trading in shares of the Fund, the net asset value of the Fund is used as a proxy for the secondary market trading price to calculate market returns. Market and net asset value returns assume that all distributions have been reinvested in the Fund at Market Price and net asset value, respectively. An index is a statistical composite that tracks a specified financial market or sector. Unlike the Fund, an index does not actually hold a portfolio of securities and therefore does not incur the expenses incurred by the Fund. These expenses negatively impact the performance of the Fund. Also, market returns do not include brokerage commissions that may be payable on secondary market transactions. If brokerage commissions were included, market returns would be lower. The total returns reflect the reinvestment of dividends on securities in the index. The returns shown in the table below do not reflect the deduction of taxes that a shareholder would pay on Fund distributions or the redemption or sale of shares of the Fund. The investment return and principal value of shares of the Fund will vary with changes in market conditions. Shares of the Fund may be worth more or less than their original cost when they are redeemed or sold in the market. The Fund's past performance is no guarantee of future results.
First Trust Institutional Preferred Securities and Income ETF (FPEI)
Total Returns as of October 31, 2018
    Average Annual   Cumulative
  1 Year Inception
(8/22/2017)
  Inception
(8/22/2017)
Fund Performance        
Net Asset Value -2.42% -0.39%   -0.46%
Market Price -2.53% -0.44%   -0.52%
Index Performance        
ICE BofAML US Investment Grade Institutional Capital Securities Index -2.02% -0.67%   -0.79%
  
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Financial Highlights
The financial highlights table is intended to help you understand the Fund's financial performance for the period shown. Certain information reflects financial results for a single share of the Fund. The total returns represent the rate that an investor would have earned (or lost) on an investment in the Fund (assuming reinvestment of all dividends and distributions). The information for the period indicated has been derived from financial statements audited by Deloitte & Touche LLP, whose report, along with the Fund's financial statements, is included in the Fund's Annual Report to Shareholders dated October 31, 2018 and is incorporated by reference in the Fund's SAI, which is available upon request.
First Trust Institutional Preferred Securities and Income ETF (FPEI)
Financial Highlights
For a share outstanding throughout each period
  Year ended October 31, Period
Ended
10/31/2017 (a)
  2018
Net asset value, beginning of period $20.26 $20.00
Income from investment operations:    
Net investment income (loss) 0.99 0.18
Net realized and unrealized gain (loss) (1.47) 0.22
Total from investment operations (0.48) 0.40
Distributions paid to shareholders from:    
Net investment income (1.03) (0.14)
Net asset value, end of period $18.75 $20.26
Total Return (b) (2.42)% 2.00%
Ratios/supplemental data:    
Net assets, end of period (in 000’s) $93,757 $24,313
Ratios to average net assets:    
Ratio of total expenses to average net assets 0.85% 0.85% (c)
Ratio of net investment income (loss) to average net assets 5.36% 4.93% (c)
Portfolio turnover rate (d) 25% 13%
(a) Inception date is August 22, 2017, which is consistent with the commencement of investment operations and is the date the initial creation units were established.
(b Total return is calculated assuming an initial investment made at the net asset value at the beginning of the period, reinvestment of all distributions at net asset value during the period, and redemption at net asset value on the last day of the period. The returns presented do not reflect the deduction of taxes that a shareholder would pay on Fund distributions or the redemption or sale of Fund shares. Total return is calculated for the time period presented and is not annualized for periods of less than a year.
(c) Annualized.
(d) Portfolio turnover is calculated for the time period presented and is not annualized for periods of less than a year and does not include securities received or delivered from processing creations or redemptions and in-kind transactions.
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Other Information
Continuous Offering
The Fund issues, 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 III

First Trust Institutional Preferred Securities and Income 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 or in person at the SEC’s Public Reference Room in Washington, D.C., or call the SEC at (202) 551-8090 for information on the Public Reference Room. You may also request information regarding the Fund by sending a request (along with a duplication fee) to the SEC’s Public Reference Section, 100 F Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20549-1520 or by sending an electronic request to publicinfo@sec.gov.
First Trust Advisors L.P.
120 East Liberty Drive, Suite 400
Wheaton, Illinois 60187
(800) 621-1675
www.ftportfolios.com
SEC File #: 333-176976
811-22245

 


 

First Trust
Exchange-Traded Fund III

Prospectus
First Trust Long/Short Equity ETF
Ticker Symbol: FTLS
Exchange: NYSE Arca
First Trust Long/Short Equity ETF (the “Fund”) lists and principally trades 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 each consisting of 50,000 shares (each such block of shares called a “Creation Unit, and collectively, the “Creation Units”). The Fund’s Creation Units are generally issued and redeemed in-kind for securities in which the Fund invests and, in certain circumstances, for cash, and only to and from broker-dealers and large institutional investors that have entered into participation agreements.
The Fund is a series of First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund III (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
March 1, 2019


Summary Information
Investment Objective
The First Trust Long/Short Equity ETF's (the "Fund") investment objective is to seek to provide investors with long-term total return.
Fees and Expenses of the Fund
The following table describes the fees and expenses you may pay if you buy and hold shares of the Fund. Investors purchasing and selling shares may be subject to costs (including customary brokerage commissions) charged by their broker, which are not reflected in the table 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 0.95%
Distribution and Service (12b-1) Fees 0.00%
Other Expenses(1) 0.64%
Total Annual Fund Operating Expenses 1.59%
(1) Other Expenses consist of margin interest expense and dividend expense on investments sold short.
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. 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 5 Years 10 Years
$162 $502 $866 $1,889
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. During the most recent fiscal year, the Fund’s portfolio turnover rate was 249% of the average value of its portfolio.
Principal Investment Strategies
Under normal conditions, the Fund will expose at least 80% of its net assets (including investment borrowings) to U.S. exchange-listed equity securities and/or U.S. exchange-traded funds ("ETFs") that provide exposure to U.S. exchange-listed equity securities. The Fund pursues its investment objective by establishing long and short positions in its portfolio of U.S. exchange-listed equity securities and ETFs. The Fund’s portfolio may include U.S. exchange-listed equity securities of non-U.S. issuers, including the securities of non-U.S. issuers traded on U.S. exchanges in the form of depositary receipts.
The Fund’s portfolio is composed of both long and short positions in equity securities and ETFs. As opposed to taking long positions in which an investor seeks to profit from increases in the price of a security, short selling is a technique that will be used by the Fund to try and profit from the falling price of a security. Short selling involves selling a security that has been borrowed from a third party with the intention of buying an identical security back at a later date to return to that third party. Having both long and short positions in an equity security portfolio is a common way to create returns that are independent of market moves. One advantage of a long and short portfolio is that the long and short positions may offset one another in
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a manner that results in a lower net exposure to the direction of the market. In addition, cash balances arising from the use of short selling typically will be held in money market instruments.
The Fund’s investment advisor will manage the Fund’s portfolio using an investment process that analyzes fundamental, market-related, technical and statistical attributes of eligible securities to assess total return potential. The Fund’s investment advisor will then use this analysis as the basis to establish long and short positions within the Fund’s portfolio. The Fund pursues its objective by using a variety of quantitative tools to select securities that the Fund’s investment advisor believes will either outperform (the “long basket”) or underperform (the “short basket”). Preliminary rankings of the positions will rely on the Sabrient Systems Earnings Quality Rank (EQR) model and the proprietary research of the Fund’s investment advisor. Long and short baskets are then integrated and optimized to build a final portfolio. The overall portfolio, under normal market conditions, will be 80 to 100% invested in long positions and 0% to 50% invested in short positions. The Fund will not use proceeds from the short positions to add leverage to the long positions, and as such, the Fund will not have a net long exposure of greater than 100%. The Fund’s investment advisor may alter the size of the short positions and/or the risk profile of the short positions based upon its assessment of the equity markets. Additionally, the notional position of the short positions may be reduced significantly or eliminated temporarily.
The Fund may invest up to 20% of its net assets (including investment borrowings) in U.S. exchange-listed equity index futures contracts. These futures contracts will be used to gain long or short exposure to broad based equity indexes.
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 objective will be achieved.
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.
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 securities issuers or the Fund’s third-party service providers, such as its administrator, transfer agent, custodian, or sub-advisor, as applicable, or issuers in which the Fund invests, 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.
DEPOSITARY RECEIPTS RISK. Depositary receipts may be less liquid than the underlying shares in their primary trading market. Any distributions paid to the holders of depositary receipts are usually subject to a fee charged by the depositary. Holders of depositary receipts may have limited voting rights, and investment restrictions in certain countries may adversely impact the value of depositary receipts because such restrictions may limit the ability to convert the equity shares into depositary receipts and vice versa. Such restrictions may cause the equity shares of the underlying issuer to trade at a discount or premium to the market price of the depositary receipts.
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
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in supply and demand relationships. Trading derivative instruments involves risks different from, or possibly greater than, 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 the 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.
EQUITY SECURITIES RISK. The value of the Fund’s shares will fluctuate with changes in the value of the equity securities in which it invests. Equity securities prices fluctuate for several reasons, including changes in investors’ perceptions of the financial condition of an issuer or the general condition of the relevant equity market, such as market volatility, or when political or economic events affecting an issuer occur. Common stock prices may be particularly sensitive to rising interest rates, as the cost of capital rises and borrowing costs increase. Equity securities may decline significantly in price over short or extended periods of time, and such declines may occur in the equity market as a whole, or they may occur in only a particular country, company, industry or sector of the market.
FUTURES CONTRACTS RISK. 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. In the event no secondary market exists for a particular contract, it might not be possible to effect closing transactions, and the Fund will be unable to terminate the derivative. 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 may not correlate perfectly with movements in the securities or index underlying them.
INDEX CONSTITUENT RISK. The Fund may be a constituent of one or more indices. 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.
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.
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.
NON-U.S. SECURITIES RISK. Non-U.S. securities are subject to higher volatility than securities of domestic issuers due to possible adverse political, social or economic developments, restrictions on foreign investment or exchange of securities, lack of liquidity, currency exchange rates, excessive taxation, government seizure of assets, different legal or accounting standards, and less government supervision and regulation of securities exchanges in foreign countries.
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PORTFOLIO TURNOVER RISK. High portfolio turnover may result in the Fund paying higher levels of transaction costs and may generate greater tax liabilities for shareholders. Portfolio turnover risk may cause the Fund’s performance to be less than expected.
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.
SHORT SALES RISK. In connection with a short sale of a security or other instrument, the Fund is subject to the risk that instead of declining, the price of the security or other instrument sold short will rise. If the price of the security or other instrument sold short increases between the date of the short sale and the date on which the Fund replaces the security or other instrument borrowed to make the short sale, the Fund will experience a loss, which is theoretically unlimited since there is a theoretically unlimited potential for the market price of a security or other instrument sold short to increase.
TRADING ISSUES RISK. Although the shares of the Fund are listed for trading on the Exchange, there can be no assurance that an active trading market for such shares will develop or be maintained. Trading in 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 shares on the Exchange is subject to trading halts caused by extraordinary market volatility pursuant to the Exchange’s “circuit breaker” rules. Market makers are under no obligation to make a market in the Fund’s shares, and authorized participants are not obligated to submit purchase or redemption orders for Creation Units. In the event market makers cease making a market in the Fund's shares or authorized participants stop submitting purchase or redemption orders for Creation Units, Fund shares may trade at a larger premium or discount to their net asset value. 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 or the Fund does not have enough shareholders.
Annual Total Return
The bar chart and table below illustrate the annual calendar year returns of the Fund based on net asset value as well as the average annual Fund returns. The bar chart and table provide an indication of the risks of investing in the Fund by showing changes in the Fund’s performance from year-to-year and by showing how the Fund’s average annual total returns based on net asset value compared to those of a market index. See “Total Return Information” for additional performance information regarding the Fund. The Fund’s performance information is accessible on the Fund’s website at www.ftportfolios.com.
First Trust Long/Short Equity ETF
Calendar Year Total Returns as of 12/31
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During the periods shown in the chart above:
Best Quarter Worst Quarter
5.84% December 31, 2017 -8.17% December 31, 2018
The Fund’s past performance (before and after taxes) is not necessarily an indication of how the Fund will perform in the future.
Returns before taxes do not reflect the effects of any income or capital gains taxes. All after-tax returns are calculated using the historical highest individual federal marginal income tax rates and do not reflect the impact of any state or local tax. Returns after taxes on distributions reflect the taxed return on the payment of dividends and capital gains. Returns after taxes on distributions and sale of shares assume you sold your shares at period end, and, therefore, are also adjusted for any capital gains or losses incurred. Returns for the market indices do not include expenses, which are deducted from Fund returns, or taxes.
Your own actual after-tax returns will depend on your specific tax situation and may differ from what is shown here. After-tax returns are not relevant to investors who hold Fund shares in tax-deferred accounts such as individual retirement accounts (IRAs) or employee-sponsored retirement plans.
Average Annual Total Returns for the Periods Ended December 31, 2018
  1 Year Since
Inception
Inception
Date
Return Before Taxes -4.79% 5.84% 9/8/2014
Return After Taxes On Distributions -5.11% 5.48%  
Return After Taxes on Distributions and Sale of Fund Shares -2.83% 4.37%  
S&P 500® Index (reflects no deduction for fees, expenses or taxes) -4.38% 7.55%  
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.
John Gambla, CFA, FRM, PRM, Senior Portfolio Manager of First Trust
Rob A. Guttschow, CFA, Senior 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 in such capacity for the Fund since 2014.
Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares
The Fund issues and redeems shares on a continuous basis, at net asset value, only in Creation Units consisting of 50,000 shares. The Fund’s Creation Units are generally issued and redeemed in-kind for securities in which the Fund invests and, in certain circumstances, for cash and only to and from broker-dealers and large institutional investors that have entered into participation agreements. Individual shares of the Fund may only be purchased and sold on NYSE Arca and other eligible securities exchanges through a broker-dealer. Shares of the Fund trade on NYSE Arca at market prices rather than net asset value, which may cause the shares to trade at a price greater than net asset value (premium) or less than net asset value (discount).
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.
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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 Objective and Strategies
The Fund is a series of First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund III 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 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 objective.
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 (including investment borrowings) in equity securities. The Name Policy may be changed by the Board of Trustees without shareholder approval upon 60 days prior written notice.
Fund Investments
Principal Investments
Equity Securities
The Fund invests in equity securities, which may include common stocks, preferred securities, warrants to purchase common stocks or preferred securities, securities convertible into common stocks or preferred securities, and other securities with equity characteristics, such as real estate investment trusts, master limited partnerships and depositary receipts. The Fund takes long and short positions in equity securities. Generally, long positions seek to profit from increases in the price of a security, while short selling is a technique that seeks to profit from the falling price of a security. Short selling involves selling a security that has been borrowed from a third party with the intention of buying an identical security back at a later date to return to that third party.
Exchange-Traded Funds
ETFs are registered investment companies that trade on a securities exchange and their shares may, at times, trade at a premium or discount to their net asset value. In addition, the Fund will incur brokerage costs when purchasing and selling shares of ETFs. As a shareholder in an ETF, the Fund will bear its ratable share of the ETF’s expenses and will remain subject to payment of the ETF’s advisory and administrative fees with respect to assets so invested. Shareholders would therefore subject to duplicative expenses. In addition, the Fund will incur brokerage costs when purchasing and selling shares of ETFs. Securities of ETFs may be leveraged, in which case the value and/or yield of such securities will tend to be more volatile than securities of unleveraged vehicles.
The Fund's ability to invest in other investment companies is limited by the 1940 Act and the related rules and interpretations. The Fund has adopted a policy that it will not invest in other investment companies in excess of 1940 Act limits in reliance on Sections 12(d)(1)(F) or 12(d)(1)(G) of the 1940 Act.
Derivative Instruments
The Fund may invest up to 20% of the Fund’s net assets in derivative instruments, including U.S. exchange-listed equity index futures contracts. The Fund will comply with the regulatory requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission to maintain assets as “cover,” maintain segregated accounts and/or make margin payments when it takes positions in derivative instruments involving obligations to third parties (i.e., instruments other than purchase options). If the applicable guidelines prescribed under the 1940 Act so require, the Fund will earmark or set aside cash, U.S. government securities, high grade liquid debt securities and/or other liquid assets permitted by the Securities and Exchange Commission in a segregated custodial account in the amount prescribed. The Fund will only enter into transactions in derivative instruments with counterparties that the Advisor reasonably believes are capable of performing under the applicable contract. 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.
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Non-Principal Investments
Cash Equivalents and Short-Term Investments
Normally, the Fund invests substantially all of its assets to meet its investment objective. The Fund may invest the remainder of its assets in securities with maturities of less than one year or 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 objective. 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 SAI.
Illiquid Securities
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 securities may include, but are not limited to, 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 Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), that are deemed to be illiquid, and certain repurchase agreements, among others.
Disclosure of Portfolio Holdings
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 available on the Fund’s website at www.ftportfolios.com.
Additional 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 objective. Before you invest, you should consider the following supplemental disclosure pertaining to the Principal Risks set forth above as well as additional Non-Principal Risks set forth below in this prospectus.
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. Although participants are not obligated to make a market in the Fund’s shares or submit purchase and redemption orders for correction 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.
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 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 security issuers, 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
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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.
DEPOSITARY RECEIPTS RISK. The Fund invests in depositary receipts. Depository receipts are securities issued by a bank or trust company reflecting ownership of underlying securities issued by a foreign company. An investment in depositary receipts involves further risks due to certain unique features. Any distributions paid to the holders of depositary receipts are usually subject to a fee charged by the depositary. Holders of depositary receipts may have limited voting rights pursuant to a deposit agreement between the underlying issuer and the depositary. In certain cases, the depositary will vote the shares deposited with it as directed by the underlying issuer’s board of directors. Furthermore, investment restrictions in certain countries may adversely impact the value of depositary receipts because such restrictions may limit the ability to convert shares into depositary receipts and vice versa. Such restrictions may cause shares of the underlying issuer to trade at a discount or premium to the market price of the depositary receipt. Moreover, if depositary receipts are converted into shares, the laws in certain countries may limit the ability of a non-resident to trade the shares and to reconvert the shares to depositary receipts. Depositary receipts may be “sponsored” or “unsponsored.” Sponsored depositary receipts are established jointly by a depositary and the underlying issuer, whereas unsponsored depositary receipts may be established by a depositary without participation by the underlying issuer. Holders of unsponsored depositary receipts generally bear all the costs associated with establishing the unsponsored depositary receipts. In addition, the issuers of the securities underlying unsponsored depositary receipts are not obligated to disclose material information in the U.S. and, therefore, there may be less information available regarding such issuers and there may not be a correlation between such information and the market value of the depositary receipts.
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, 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 the 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.
EQUITY SECURITIES RISK. The value of the Fund’s shares will fluctuate with changes in the value of the equity securities in which it invests. Equity securities prices fluctuate for several reasons, including changes in investors' perceptions of the financial condition of an issuer or the general condition of the relevant equity market, such as market volatility, or when political or economic events affecting the issuers occur. Common stock prices may be particularly sensitive to rising interest rates, as the cost of capital rises and borrowing costs increase. Equity securities may decline significantly in price over short or extended periods of time, and such declines may occur in the equity market as a whole, or they may occur in only a particular country, company, industry or sector of the market. Additionally, holders of an issuer's common stock may be subject to greater risks than holders of its preferred stock and debt securities because common stockholders' claims are subordinated to those of holders of preferred stocks and debt securities upon the bankruptcy of an issuer.
FUTURES CONTRACTS RISK. The Fund may enter into 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.
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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 Commodity Futures Trading Commission 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.
INDEX 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.
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 investments due to short-term market movements or any longer periods during more prolonged market downturns.
NON-U.S. SECURITIES RISK. The Fund may invest in non-U.S. securities. An investment in securities of non-U.S. companies involves risks not associated with domestic issuers. Investment in non-U.S. securities may involve higher costs than investment in U.S. securities, including higher transaction and custody costs as well as the imposition of additional taxes by non-U.S. governments. Non-U.S. investments may also involve risks associated with the level of currency exchange rates, less complete financial information about the issuers, less market liquidity, more market volatility and political instability. Future political and economic developments, the possible imposition of withholding taxes on dividend income, the possible seizure or nationalization of non-U.S. holdings, the possible establishment of exchange controls or freezes on the convertibility of currency or the adoption of other governmental restrictions might adversely affect an investment in non-U.S. securities. Additionally, non-U.S. issuers may be subject to less stringent regulation, and to different accounting, auditing and recordkeeping requirements. The U.S. and non-U.S. markets often rise and fall at different times or by different amounts due to economic or other regional developments particular to a given country or region.
PORTFOLIO TURNOVER RISK. The Fund has an investment strategy that may frequently involve buying and selling portfolio securities. High portfolio turnover may result in the Fund paying higher levels of transaction costs, including brokerage
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commissions, dealer mark-ups and other costs and may generate greater tax liabilities for shareholders. Portfolio turnover risk may cause the Fund’s performance to be less than expected.
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.
SHORT SALES RISK. The Fund may engage in short sales. In connection with a short sale of a security or other instrument, the Fund is subject to the risk that instead of declining, the price of the security or other instrument sold short will rise. If the price of the security or derivative that is the subject of a short sale increases, then the Fund will incur a loss equal to the increase in price from the time that the short sale was entered into plus any premiums and interest paid to a third party in connection with the short sale. The risk of loss on a shorted position arises from the increase in value of the security sold short and is potentially unlimited unlike the risk of loss on a long position, which is limited to the amount paid for the investment plus transaction costs. Therefore, short sales involve the risk that losses may be exaggerated, potentially losing more money than the actual cost of the investment. Also, there is the risk that the third party to the short sale may fail to honor its contract terms, causing a loss to the Fund. Further, in times of unusual or adverse economic, market or political conditions, the Fund may not be able to fully or partially implement its short selling strategy.
TRADING ISSUES RISK. Although the shares of the Fund are listed for trading on the Exchange, there can be no assurance that an active trading market for such shares will develop or be maintained. Trading in 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 shares on the Exchange is subject to trading halts caused by extraordinary market volatility pursuant to the Exchange’s “circuit breaker” rules. Market makers are under no obligation to make a market in the Fund’s shares, and authorized participants are not obligated to submit purchase or redemption orders for Creation Units. In the event market makers cease making a market in the Fund’s shares or authorized participants stop submitting purchase or redemption orders for Creation Units, Fund shares may trade at a larger premium or discount to their net asset value. 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 or the Fund does not have enough shareholders.
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.
CASH TRANSACTIONS RISK. The Fund may, under certain circumstances, effect a portion of creations and redemptions for cash, rather than in-kind securities. 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. A Fund that effects redemptions for cash 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
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fees and taxes. These brokerage fees and taxes, which will be higher than if the Fund sold and redeemed its shares principally 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.
DEPENDENCE ON KEY PERSONNEL. The Fund 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 either 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 either of the portfolio managers in the event of their death, resignation, retirement or inability to act on behalf of the Advisor.
ETF RISK. The Fund may invest in ETFs. Most ETFs use a “passive” investment strategy and seek to replicate the performance of a market index. Such ETFs do not take defensive positions in volatile or declining markets their shares may trade below net asset value. While some ETFs seek to achieve the same return as a particular market index, the performance of the ETF may diverge from the performance of the index. Some ETFs are actively managed ETFs and do not track a particular index which indirectly subjects an investor to active management risk. An active secondary market in ETF shares may not develop or be maintained and may be halted or interrupted due to actions by its listing exchange, unusual market conditions or other reasons. There can be no assurance that an ETF’s shares will continue to be listed on an active exchange. In addition, shareholders bear both their proportionate share of the Fund’s expenses and, indirectly, the ETF’s expenses, incurred through the Fund’s ownership of the ETF. Because the expenses and costs of an ETF are shared by its investors, redemptions by other investors in the ETF could result in decreased economies of scale and increased operating expenses for such ETF. These transactions might also result in higher brokerage, tax or other costs for the ETF. This risk may be particularly important when one investor owns a substantial portion of the ETF. There is a risk that ETFs in which the Fund invests may terminate due to extraordinary events. For example, any of the service providers to ETFs, such as the trustee or sponsor, may close or otherwise fail to perform their obligations to the ETF, and the ETF may not be able to find a substitute service provider. Also, certain ETFs may be dependent upon licenses to use various indexes as a basis for determining their compositions and/or otherwise to use certain trade names. If these licenses are terminated, the ETFs may also terminate. In addition, an ETF may terminate if its net assets fall below a certain amount.
FAILURE TO QUALIFY AS A REGULATED INVESTMENT COMPANY. 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 for the dividends received deduction in the case of corporate shareholders. See “Federal Tax Matters.”
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.
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 in which the Fund invests. 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 Advisor determines to sell such a holding.
MLP RISK. Investments in securities of MLPs involve certain risks different from or in addition to the risks of investing in common stocks, including for example risks related to the limited ability of investors to control an MLP and to vote on matters affecting the MLP, risks related to potential conflicts of interest between an MLP and the MLP's general partner, the risk that an MLP will generate insufficient cash flow to meet its current operating requirements, the risk that an MLP will issue additional securities or engage in other transactions that will have the effect of diluting the interests of existing investors, and risks related to the general partner's right to require investors to sell their common units at an undesirable time or price. MLP common
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units can be affected by macro-economic and other factors affecting the stock market in general, changes or anticipated changes in interest rates, investor sentiment towards MLPs or the energy sector generally, changes in a particular issuer's financial condition, or unfavorable or unanticipated poor performance of a particular issuer (in the case of MLPs, generally measured in terms of distributable cash flow). Prices of common units of individual MLPs also can be affected by other factors unique to the partnership or company, including earnings power and coverage ratios. Certain MLP securities may trade in relatively low volumes due to their smaller capitalizations or other factors, which may cause them to have a high degree of price volatility and lack sufficient market liquidity to enable the Fund to effect a sale at an advantageous time or price. Because many MLPs pay out most of their operating cash flows, the MLPs rely on capital markets for access to equity and debt financing to fund growth through organization. If market conditions limit an MLPs access to capital markets, the MLPs growth prospects could diminish and its costs of capital increase, which would decrease the value of the common units held by the Fund.
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 Advisor seek to reduce these operational risks through controls and procedures, there is no way to completely protect against such risks.
REIT RISK. REITs typically own and operate income-producing real estate, such as residential or commercial buildings, or real-estate related assets, including mortgages. As a result, investments in REITs are subject to the risks associated with investing in real estate, which may include, but are not limited to: fluctuations in the value of underlying properties; defaults by borrowers or tenants; market saturation; changes in general and local operating expenses; and other economic, political or regulatory occurrences affecting companies in the real estate sector. Additionally, investing in REITs involves certain other risks related to their structure and focus, which include, but are not limited to, dependency upon management skills, limited diversification, the risks of locating and managing financing for projects, heavy cash flow dependency, possible default by borrowers, the costs and potential losses of self-liquidation of one or more holdings, the risk of a possible lack of mortgage funds and associated interest rate risks, overbuilding, property vacancies, increases in property taxes and operating expenses, changes in zoning laws, losses due to environmental damages, changes in neighborhood values and appeal to purchasers, the possibility of failing to maintain exemptions from registration under the 1940 Act, failure to satisfy the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 for maintaining REIT status and, in many cases, relatively small market capitalization, which may result in less market liquidity and greater price volatility for a REIT’s shares. REITs are also subject to the risk that the real estate market may experience an economic downturn generally, which may have a material effect on the real estate in which the REITs invest and their underlying portfolio securities.
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 objective 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.
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 selection and ongoing monitoring of the securities in the Fund’s portfolio and certain other services necessary for the management of the portfolios.
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 7 mutual fund portfolios, 10 exchange-traded funds consisting of 141 series and 15 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.
John Gambla and Rob Guttschow are the Fund’s portfolio managers and share responsibilities for the day-to-day management of the Fund’s investment portfolio.
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Mr. Gambla, CFA, FRM, PRM, is a senior portfolio manager for the Alternatives Investment Team at First Trust. Prior to joining First Trust in July 2011, Mr. Gambla was co-Chief Investment Officer at the Nuveen HydePark Group LLC where he started in 2007. While at Nuveen HydePark Group LLC, Mr. Gambla co-directed investment activities including research, product development, trading, portfolio management and performance attribution. Mr. Gambla also led the research systems and infrastructure development for Nuveen HydePark Group LLC. Previously, Mr. Gambla was a Senior Trader and Quantitative specialist at Nuveen Asset Management. While there, he was responsible for trading all derivatives for the 120+ municipal mutual funds with Nuveen Asset Management. Mr. Gambla, has served in a variety of roles throughout his career including: portfolio management, research, business development and strategy development.
Mr. Guttschow, CFA, is a senior portfolio manager for the Alternatives Investment Team at First Trust. Prior to joining First Trust in July 2011, Mr. Guttschow was co-Chief Investment Officer at the Nuveen HydePark Group LLC where he started in 2007. While at Nuveen HydePark Group LLC, Mr. Guttschow co-directed investment activities including research, product development, trading, portfolio management and performance attribution. Previously, Mr. Guttschow was an Overlay Manager and Senior Portfolio Manager at Nuveen Asset Management. While there, he developed Nuveen’s buy-side derivative desk for fixed income and equity portfolio hedging.
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 unitary management fee by the Fund equal to 0.95% of the Fund’s average daily net assets and is responsible for the expenses of the Fund 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, expenses associated with short sales transactions, distribution and service fees pursuant to a Rule 12b-1 plan, if any, and extraordinary expenses.
A discussion regarding the Board’s approval of the continuation of the Investment Management Agreement is available in the Fund’s Annual Report to Shareholders for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2018.
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 the Exchange. 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 incur customary 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 spread between the bid and the offer price in the secondary market on each leg of a round trip (purchase and sale) transaction. Share prices are reported in dollars and cents per share.
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 Sections 3(c)(1) and 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.
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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 Exchange 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.
Information regarding the intra-day value of the shares of the Fund, also referred to as the “indicative optimized portfolio value” (“IOPV”), is disseminated every 15 seconds throughout the Fund’s trading day by the national securities exchange on which the shares are listed or by market data vendors or other information providers. The IOPV is based on the current market value of the securities or other assets and/or cash required to be deposited in exchange for a Creation Unit and any expenses of the Fund. The IOPV does not necessarily reflect the precise composition of the current portfolio of securities or other assets held by the Fund at a particular point in time or the best possible valuation of the current portfolio. Therefore, the IOPV should not be viewed as a “real-time” update of the net asset value per share of the Fund because the IOPV may not be calculated in the same manner as the net asset value, which is computed once a day, generally at the end of the business day. The IOPV is generally determined by using current market quotations. The price of a non-U.S. security that is primarily traded on a non-U.S. exchange will be updated, using the last sale price, every 15 seconds throughout the trading day, provided that upon the closing of such non-U.S. exchange, the closing price of the security, after being converted to U.S. dollars, will be used. Furthermore, in calculating the IOPV of the Fund’s shares, exchange rates may be used throughout the day (9:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., Eastern Time) that may differ from those used to calculate the net asset value per share of the Fund and consequently may result in differences between the net asset value and the IOPV. The Fund is not involved in, or responsible for, the calculation or dissemination of the IOPV of shares of the Fund and the Fund does not make any warranty as to its accuracy.
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 objective. 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 of the Fund, if any, are declared and paid quarterly by the Fund. The Fund distributes its net realized capital gains, if any, to shareholders at least annually.
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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.
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 was not asked to review, and has not reached a conclusion with respect to, the federal income tax treatment of the assets to be included in the Fund. This 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 continue 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, as further discussed below, 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. 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. The use of the long/short strategy may reduce the amount of dividends that would otherwise be 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 portion of your capital gain dividends from the Fund may be taxed at a higher maximum stated tax rate. Capital gains may also be subject to the Medicare tax described above.
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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 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.
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. The use of the long/short strategy may reduce the amount of dividends that would otherwise be 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.
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 invests 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 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. Dispositions of shares by
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such persons may be subject to such withholding after December 31, 2018. Proposed regulations would remove the requirement to withhold on dispositions.
Investments in Certain Non-U.S. Corporations
If the Fund holds an equity interest in any passive foreign investment companies (“PFICs”), 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 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 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. Dividends paid by PFICs 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 March 1, 2020. 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.
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 The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC ("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
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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. For portfolio securities traded on an exchange that provides both an official closing price and a last sale price, the Advisor's Pricing Committee, at its discretion, shall determine to use either the last sale price or the official closing price, depending on which price reflects the appropriate market value. 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 quotations or official closing prices on the applicable exchange. A variety of factors may be considered in determining the fair value of such securities. 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
Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., 50 Post Office Square, Boston, Massachusetts 02110, acts as the administrator, accounting agent, custodian and transfer agent for the Fund. Chapman and Cutler LLP, 111 West Monroe Street, Chicago, Illinois 60603, serves as legal counsel to the Fund. First Trust serves as the fund reporting agent for the Fund.
Premium/Discount Information
The tables that follow present information about the differences between the Fund’s daily market price on the Exchange and its net asset value. The “Market Price” of the Fund generally is determined using the midpoint between the highest bid and lowest offer on the Exchange, as of the time the Fund’s net asset value is calculated. The Fund’s Market Price may be at, above, or below its net asset value. The net asset value of the Fund will fluctuate with changes in the market value of its portfolio holdings. The Market Price of the Fund will fluctuate in accordance with changes in its net asset value, as well as market supply and demand.
Premiums or discounts are the differences (generally expressed as a percentage) between the net asset value and Market Price of the Fund on a given day, generally at the time net asset value is calculated. A premium is the amount that the Fund is trading above the reported net asset value. A discount is the amount that the Fund is trading below the reported net asset value.
The following information shows the frequency distribution of premiums and discounts of the daily bid/ask price of the Fund against its net asset value. The information shown for the Fund is for the periods indicated. Shareholders may pay more than net asset value when they buy Fund shares and receive less than net asset value when they sell those shares because shares are bought and sold at current market price. All data presented here represents past performance, which cannot be used to
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predict future results. Information about the premiums and discounts at which the Fund's shares have traded is available on the Fund's website at www.ftportfolios.com.
First Trust Long/Short Equity ETF (FTLS)
Bid/Ask Midpoint vs. Net Asset Value
Number of Days Bid/Ask Midpoint At/Above Net Asset Value
  0.00%0.49% 0.50%0.99% 1.00%1.99% >=2.00%
12 Months Ended 12/31/2018 168 0 0 0
Number of Days Bid/Ask Midpoint Below Net Asset Value
  0.00%0.49% 0.50%0.99% 1.00%1.99% >=2.00%
12 Months Ended 12/31/2018 82 1 0 0
Total Return Information
The table below compares the total return of the Fund to a market index. The information presented for the Fund is for the period indicated.
“Average annual total returns” represent the average annual change in the value of an investment over the period indicated. “Cumulative total returns” represent the total change in value of an investment over the period indicated. The return information shown under “Annual Total Return” in the Fund’s summary prospectus represents the average annual total returns of the Fund as of the calendar year end, while the information presented below is as of the Fund’s fiscal year end. The net asset value per share of the Fund is the value of one share of the Fund and is computed by dividing the value of all assets of the Fund (including accrued interest and dividends), less liabilities (including accrued expenses and dividends declared but unpaid), by the total number of outstanding shares. The net asset value return is based on the net asset value per share of the Fund and the market return is based on the market price per share of the Fund. The price used to calculate market return (“Market Price”) generally is determined by using the midpoint between the highest bid and the lowest offer on the Exchange on which the shares of the Fund are listed for trading, as of the time that the Fund's net asset value is calculated. Since the shares of the Fund typically do not trade in the secondary market until several days after the Fund's inception, for the period from inception to the first day of secondary market trading in shares of the Fund, the net asset value of the Fund is used as a proxy for the secondary market trading price to calculate market returns. Market and net asset value returns assume that all distributions have been reinvested in the Fund at Market Price and net asset value, respectively. An index is a statistical composite that tracks a specified financial market or sector. Unlike the Fund, an index does not actually hold a portfolio of securities and therefore does not incur the expenses incurred by the Fund. These expenses negatively impact the performance of the Fund. Also, market returns do not include brokerage commissions that may be payable on secondary market transactions. If brokerage commissions were included, market returns would be lower. The total returns reflect the reinvestment of dividends on securities in the index. The returns shown in the table below do not reflect the deduction of taxes that a shareholder would pay on Fund distributions or the redemption or sale of shares of the Fund. The investment return and principal value of shares of the Fund will vary with changes in market conditions. Shares of the Fund may be worth more or less than their original cost when they are redeemed or sold in the market. The Fund's past performance is no guarantee of future results.
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First Trust Long/Short Equity ETF (FTLS)
Total Returns as of October 31, 2018
    Average Annual   Cumulative
  1 Year Inception
(9/8/2014)
  Inception
(9/8/2014)
Fund Performance        
Net Asset Value 2.45% 6.97%   32.24%
Market Price 2.35% 6.95%   32.13%
Index Performance        
S&P 500® Index 7.35% 9.82%   47.45%
  
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Financial Highlights
The financial highlights table is intended to help you understand the Fund's financial performance for the periods shown. Certain information reflects financial results for a single share of the Fund. The total returns represent the rate that an investor would have earned (or lost) on an investment in the Fund (assuming reinvestment of all dividends and distributions). The information for the periods indicated has been derived from financial statements audited by Deloitte & Touche LLP, whose report, along with the Fund's financial statements, is included in the Fund's Annual Report to Shareholders dated October 31, 2018 and is incorporated by reference in the Fund's SAI, which is available upon request.
First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund III
Financial Highlights
For a share outstanding throughout each period
First Trust Long/Short Equity ETF (FTLS)
  Year Ended October 31, Period Ended
10/31/2014 (a)
  2018 2017 2016 2015
Net asset value, beginning of period $37.78 $32.49 $32.61 $30.54 $30.00
Income from investment operations:          
Net investment income (loss) 0.26 0.24 0.32 0.19 0.05
Net realized and unrealized gain (loss) 0.67 5.34 (0.17) 2.12 0.51
Total from investment operations 0.93 5.58 0.15 2.31 0.56
Distributions paid to shareholders from:          
Net investment income (0.24) (0.29) (0.27) (0.22) (0.02)
Net realized gain (0.02)
Total distributions (0.24) (0.29) (0.27) (0.24) (0.02)
Net asset value, end of period $38.47 $37.78 $32.49 $32.61 $30.54
Total Return (b) 2.45% 17.23% 0.45% 7.60% 1.86%
Ratios to average net assets/supplemental data:          
Net assets, end of period (in 000’s) $155,803 $120,892 $120,231 $32,608 $3,054
Ratios of total expenses to average net assets(c) 1.59% 1.47% 1.40% 1.47% 1.17% (d)
Ratio of total expenses to average net assets excluding dividend expense and margin interest expense(c) 0.95% 0.95% 0.95% 0.95% 0.95% (d)
Ratio of net investment income (loss) to average net assets 0.71% 0.67% 1.00% 0.39% 1.08% (d)
Portfolio turnover rate (e) 249% 176% 201% 267% 1%
(a) Inception date is September 8, 2014, which is consistent with the commencement of operations and is the date the initial creation units were established.
(b) Total return is calculated assuming an initial investment made at the net asset value at the beginning of the period, reinvestment of all distributions at net asset value during the period, and redemption at net asset value on the last day of the period. The returns presented do not reflect the deduction of taxes that a shareholder would pay on Fund distributions or the redemption or sale of Fund shares. Total return is calculated for the time period presented and is not annualized for periods of less than a year.
(c) The Fund indirectly bears its proportionate share of fees and expenses incurred by the underlying funds in which the Fund invests. This ratio does not include these indirect fees and expenses.
(d) Annualized.
(e) Portfolio turnover is calculated for the time period presented and is not annualized for periods of less than a year and does not include securities received or delivered from processing creations or redemptions and in-kind transactions.
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Other Information
Continuous Offering
The Fund issues, 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 III

First Trust Long/Short Equity 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 or in person at the SEC’s Public Reference Room in Washington, D.C., or call the SEC at (202) 551-8090 for information on the Public Reference Room. You may also request information regarding the Fund by sending a request (along with a duplication fee) to the SEC’s Public Reference Section, 100 F Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20549-1520 or by sending an electronic request to publicinfo@sec.gov.
First Trust Advisors L.P.
120 East Liberty Drive, Suite 400
Wheaton, Illinois 60187
(800) 621-1675
www.ftportfolios.com
SEC File #: 333-176976
811-22245

 


 

First Trust
Exchange-Traded Fund III

Prospectus
First Trust Managed Municipal ETF
Ticker Symbol: FMB
Exchange: Nasdaq
First Trust Managed Municipal ETF (the “Fund”) lists and principally trades its shares on The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC ("Nasdaq" 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 each consisting of 50,000 shares (each such block of shares called a “Creation Unit, and collectively, the “Creation Units”). The Fund’s Creation Units are generally issued and redeemed for cash and, in certain circumstances, in-kind for securities in which the Fund invests, and only to and from broker-dealers and large institutional investors that have entered into participation agreements.
The Fund is a series of First Trust Exchange-Traded Fund III (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
March 1, 2018


Summary Information
Investment Objectives
The First Trust Managed Municipal ETF's (the "Fund") primary investment objective is to generate current income that is exempt from regular federal income taxes and its secondary objective is long term capital appreciation.
Fees and Expenses of the Fund
The following table describes the fees and expenses you may pay if you buy and hold shares of the Fund. Investors purchasing and selling shares may be subject to costs (including customary brokerage commissions) charged by their broker, which are not reflected in the table 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 0.65%
Distribution and Service (12b-1) Fees(1) 0.00%
Other Expenses 0.00%
Total Annual Fund Operating Expenses 0.65%
Fee Waiver(2)(3) 0.15%
Total Annual Fund Operating Expenses After Fee Waiver 0.50%
(1) Although the Fund has adopted a 12b-1 plan that permits it to pay up to 0.25% per annum, it will not pay 12b-1 fees at any time before March 1, 2019.
(2) Expenses have been restated to reflect the current fiscal year.
(3) Pursuant to a contractual agreement, First Trust Advisors L.P., the Fund’s investment advisor, has agreed to waive management fees of 0.15% of average daily net assets until March 1, 2019. 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 March 1, 2019.
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. The example also assumes that your investment has a 5% return each year and that the Fund’s operating expenses remain at current levels until March 1, 2019, and thereafter at 0.90% to represent the imposition of the 12b-1 fee of 0.25% per annum of the Fund’s average daily net assets. The example assumes First Trust’s agreement to waive management fees of 0.15% of average daily net assets per year will be terminated following March 1, 2019. Although your actual costs may be higher or lower, based on these assumptions your costs would be:
1 Year 3 Years 5 Years 10 Years
$51 $247 $459 $1,071
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. During the most recent fiscal year, the Fund’s portfolio turnover rate was 85% of the average value of its portfolio.
Principal Investment Strategies
Under normal market conditions, the Fund seeks to achieve its investment objectives by investing at least 80% of its net assets (including investment borrowings) in municipal debt securities that pay interest that is exempt from regular federal income
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taxes (collectively, “Municipal Securities”). 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. The Fund may invest in Municipal Securities of any maturity.
The Fund’s investment advisor selects the securities for the Fund by implementing an investment process that is comprised of the following components:
1. Total return scenario analysis: Evaluate individual bonds and portfolios of securities that are exposed to interest rate, yield curve and credit spread movements or shifts.
2. Sector analysis: Perform top-down review of core sectors based on bottom-up analysis of individual credits to determine the sectors in which the Fund will be overweight, neutral weight and underweight.
3. New issue credit analysis: Evaluate new bond offerings to determine portfolio suitability based on fundamental credit research on each borrower and individual bond security features.
4. Trading: Analyze how a bond might trade in the secondary market by reviewing total bond issuance size, underwriter willingness to make secondary markets and bond structural features, such as coupon, maturity, call dates and sinking fund payments.
5. Surveillance: Analyze holdings on a systematic basis to monitor any changes in credit trend. The Fund’s advisor monitors the credit rating momentum of each bond.
6. Performance attribution: Perform granular total return analysis by reviewing key portfolio attributes such as duration, credit rating, sector and state. The portfolio’s performance is also compared to various benchmarks.
The Fund invests at least 65% of its net assets in investment grade securities, which are securities that are rated at the time of investment in one of the four highest credit quality categories by at least one nationally recognized statistical rating organization rating that security or, if unrated, determined by the Fund’s investment advisor to be of comparable quality. The Fund considers pre-refunded or escrowed-to-maturity bonds, regardless of rating, to be investment grade securities. The Fund may invest up to 35% of its net assets in securities that are, at the time of investment, rated below investment grade (or securities that are unrated and determined by the Fund’s investment advisor to be of comparable quality), commonly referred to as “high yield” or “junk” bonds. If, subsequent to purchase by the Fund, a security held by the Fund experiences a decline in credit quality and falls below investment grade, the Fund may continue to hold the security and it will not cause the Fund to violate the 35% investment limitation; however, the security will be taken into account for purposes of determining whether purchases of additional securities will cause the Fund to violate such limitation.
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.
ALTERNATIVE MINIMUM TAX RISK. The Fund has no limit as to the amount that can be invested in alternative minimum tax bonds. Therefore, all or a portion of the Fund’s otherwise exempt-interest dividends may be taxable to those shareholders subject to the federal alternative minimum tax.
AUTHORIZED PARTICIPANT CONCENTRATION RISK. Only an authorized participant (as defined in the “Frequent Purchases and Redemptions” Section) may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund. The Fund has a limited number of institutions that act as authorized participants. To the extent that these institutions exit the business or are unable to proceed with creation and/or redemption orders with respect to the Fund and no other authorized participant is able to step forward to create or redeem, in either of these cases, Fund shares may trade at a discount to the Fund’s net asset value and possibly face delisting.
CALL RISK. If an issuer calls higher-yielding debt instruments held by the Fund, performance could be adversely impacted. During periods of falling interest rates, issuers of callable securities may call (redeem) securities with higher coupon rates or interest rates before their maturity dates. The Fund would then lose any price appreciation above the bond’s call price and would be forced to reinvest the unanticipated proceeds at lower interest rates, resulting in a decline in the Fund’s income. Such redemptions and subsequent reinvestments would also increase the Fund’s portfolio turnover rate.
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CASH TRANSACTIONS RISK. The Fund will, under most circumstances, effect a significant portion of creations and redemptions for cash, rather than in-kind securities. As a result, an investment in the Fund may be less tax-efficient than an investment in an exchange-traded fund ("ETF") that effects its creations and redemptions for in-kind securities. Because the Fund may effect a portion of 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 shares may result in capital gains or losses and may also result in higher brokerage costs.
CREDIT RISK. Credit risk is the risk that an issuer of a security held by the Fund will be unable or unwilling to make dividend, interest and/or principal payments when due and the related risk that the value of such security may decline because of concerns about the issuer’s ability to make such payments. Credit risk may be heightened if the Fund invests in “high yield” or “junk” securities; such 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.
CREDIT SPREAD RISK. Credit spread risk is the risk that credit spreads (i.e., the difference in yield between securities that have differences in credit quality or other factors) may increase, which may reduce the market values of the Fund’s securities. While the Fund may employ strategies to mitigate credit spread risk, these strategies may not be successful.
CUSTODIAL RECEIPT TRUSTS RISK. Custodial receipts are financial instruments similar to TOBs sold through private placements that represent the right to receive future principal and interest payments on underlying municipal obligations. Custodial receipt trusts may issue inverse floater securities and if the Fund were to hold inverse floaters issued by custodial receipt trusts, the Fund would be subject to the risks of inverse floaters described herein. In particular, because the instruments may be leveraged, their market values may be more volatile than other types of fixed-income instruments.
CYBER SECURITY RISK. As the use of Internet technology has become more prevalent in the course of business, the Fund has become more susceptible to potential 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 Fund’s third party service providers, such as its administrator, transfer agent, custodian, or sub-advisor, as applicable, or issuers in which the Fund invests, can also subject the Fund to many of the same risks associated with direct cyber security breaches. The Fund has established risk management systems designed to reduce the risks associated with cyber security. However, 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.
EXTENSION RISK. Extension risk is the risk that, when interest rates rise, certain obligations will be paid off by the issuer (or obligor) more slowly than anticipated, causing the value of these securities to fall. Rising interest rates tend to extend the duration of securities, making them more sensitive to changes in interest rates. The value of longer-term securities generally changes more in response to changes in interest rates than shorter-term securities. As a result, in a period of rising interest rates, securities may exhibit additional volatility and may lose value.
FLUCTUATION OF NET ASSET VALUE RISK. The net asset value of shares of the Fund will generally fluctuate with changes in the market value of the Fund’s holdings. The market prices of shares will generally fluctuate in accordance with changes in 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 to, 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 for cash, or in certain circumstances, in-kind, 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.
HIGH YIELD SECURITIES RISK. High yield securities, or “junk” bonds, are subject to greater market fluctuations and risk of loss than securities with higher ratings, and therefore, are considered to be highly speculative. These securities are issued by issuers that may have narrowly focused operations and/or other impediments to the timely payment of periodic interest and principal at maturity. If the economy slows down or dips into recession, the issuers of high yield securities may not have sufficient
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resources to continue making timely payment of periodic interest and principal at maturity. The market for high yield securities is smaller and less liquid than that for investment grade securities. High yield securities are generally not listed on a national securities exchange but trade in the over-the-counter markets. Due to the smaller, less liquid market for high yield securities, the bid-offer spread on such securities is generally greater than it is for investment grade securities and the purchase or sale of such securities may take longer to complete. In general, high yield securities may have a greater risk of default than other types of securities.
INCOME RISK. Income from the Fund's fixed income investments could decline during periods of falling interest rates.
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. Duration is a measure of the expected price volatility of a debt security as a result of changes in market rates of interest, based on, among other factors, the weighted average timing of the debt security’s expected principal and interest payments. In general, duration represents the expected percentage change in the value of a security for an immediate 1% change 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.
INVERSE FLOATERS RISK. Investments in inverse floating rate securities issued by TOB trusts create effective leverage. Due to the leveraged nature of these investments, the value of an inverse floater will increase and decrease to a significantly greater extent than the values of the TOB trust’s underlying municipal bonds in response to changes in market interest rates or credit quality. In addition, distributions paid to the Fund on its inverse floaters will be reduced or even eliminated as short-term municipal interest rates rise and will increase when short-term municipal interest rates fall. An investment in inverse floaters typically will involve greater risk than an investment in a fixed rate municipal bond.
MANAGEMENT RISK. The Fund is subject to management risk because it is an actively managed portfolio. In managing the Fund’s investment portfolio, the Fund’s investment advisor will apply investment techniques and risk analyses that may not have the desired result. There can be no guarantee that the Fund will meet its investment objectives.
MARKET MAKER RISK. If the Fund has lower average daily trading volumes, it 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. In addition, 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. 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 owned by the Fund 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.
MUNICIPAL LEASE OBLIGATIONS RISK. Participation interests in municipal leases pose special risks because many leases and contracts contain “non-appropriation” clauses that provide that the governmental issuer has no obligation to make future payments under the lease or contract unless money is appropriated for this purpose by the appropriate legislative body.
MUNICIPAL SECURITIES MARKET LIQUIDITY RISK. Inventories of Municipal Securities held by brokers and dealers have decreased in recent years, lessening their ability to make a market in these securities. This reduction in market making capacity has the potential to decrease the Fund’s ability to buy or sell Municipal Securities, and increase price volatility and trading costs, particularly during periods of economic or market stress. As a result, the Fund may be forced to accept a lower price to sell a Municipal Security, to sell other securities to raise cash, or to give up an investment opportunity, any of which could have a negative effect on performance.
POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC RISK. The values of Municipal Securities held by the Fund 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.
PRE-REFUNDED BONDS RISK. Pre-refunded bonds are bonds that have been refunded to a call date prior to the final maturity of principal, or, in the case of pre-refunded bonds commonly referred to as “escrowed-to-maturity bonds,” to the final maturity
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of principal, and remain outstanding in the municipal market. The payment of principal and interest of the pre-refunded bonds held by the Fund is funded from securities held in a designated escrow account where such securities are obligations of and carry the full faith and credit of the U.S. Treasury. The securities held in the escrow fund pledged to pay the principal and interest of the pre-refunded bond do not guarantee the price of the bond. Investment in pre-refunded municipal bonds held by the Fund may subject the Fund to interest rate risk, market risk and credit risk. In addition, while a secondary market exists for pre-refunded municipal bonds, if the Fund sells pre-refunded municipal bonds prior to maturity, the price received may be more or less than the original cost, depending on market conditions at the time of sale.
PRIVATE ACTIVITY BONDS RISK. Municipalities and other public authorities issue private activity bonds to finance development of industrial facilities for use by a private enterprise. The private enterprise pays the principal and interest on the bond and the issuing authority ordinarily does not pledge its full faith, credit and taxing power for repayment. The private enterprise can have a substantially different credit profile than the municipality or public authority. The private activity bonds in which the Fund may invest may be negatively impacted by conditions affecting either the general credit of the user of the private activity project or the project itself. The Fund’s private activity bond holdings also may pay interest subject to the alternative minimum tax.
TAX RISK. Interest income from Municipal Securities is normally not subject to regular federal income tax, but income from Municipal Securities held by the 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 a bond issuer. Consequently, the attractiveness of Municipal Securities in relation to other investment alternatives is affected by changes in federal income tax rates or changes in the tax-exempt status of interest income from Municipal Securities.
TRADING ISSUES RISK. Although the shares of the Fund are listed for trading on the Exchange, there can be no assurance that an active trading market for such shares will develop or be maintained. Trading in 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 shares on the Exchange is subject to trading halts caused by extraordinary market volatility pursuant to the Exchange’s “circuit breaker” rules. Market makers are under no obligation to make a market in the Fund’s shares, and authorized participants are not obligated to submit purchase or redemption orders for Creation Units. 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. In particular, if the Fund does not comply with any provision of the listing standards of the Exchange that are applicable to the Fund, and cannot bring itself into compliance within a reasonable period after discovering the matter, the Exchange may remove the shares of the Fund from listing. The Fund may have difficulty maintaining its listing on the Exchange in the event the Fund’s assets are small or the Fund does not have enough shareholders.
ZERO COUPON BONDS RISK. Zero coupon bonds do not pay interest on a current basis and may be highly volatile as interest rates rise or fall. In addition, while such bonds generate income for purposes of generally accepted accounting standards, they do not generate cash flow and thus could cause the Fund to be forced to liquidate securities at an inopportune time in order to distribute cash, as required by tax laws.
Annual Total Return
The bar chart and table below illustrate the annual calendar year returns of the Fund based on net asset value as well as the average annual Fund returns. The bar chart and table provide an indication of the risks of investing in the Fund by showing changes in the Fund’s performance from year-to-year and by showing how the Fund’s average annual total returns based on net asset value compared to those of a specialized market index. See “Total Return Information” for additional performance information regarding the Fund. The Fund’s performance information is accessible on the Fund’s website at www.ftportfolios.com.
Returns before taxes do not reflect the effects of any income or capital gains taxes. All after-tax returns are calculated using the historical highest individual federal marginal income tax rates and do not reflect the impact of any state or local tax. Returns after taxes on distributions reflect the taxed return on the payment of dividends and capital gains. Returns after taxes on distributions and sale of shares assume you sold your shares at period end, and, therefore, are also adjusted for any capital gains or losses incurred. Returns for the market indices do not include expenses, which are deducted from Fund returns, or taxes.
Your own actual after-tax returns will depend on your specific tax situation and may differ from what is shown here. After-tax returns are not relevant to investors who hold Fund shares in tax-deferred accounts such as individual retirement accounts (IRAs) or employee-sponsored retirement plans.
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First Trust Managed Municipal ETF
Calendar Year Total Returns as of 12/31
During the periods shown in the chart above:
Best Quarter Worst Quarter
3.28% June 30, 2016 -4.59% December 31, 2016
The Fund’s past performance (before and after taxes) is not necessarily an indication of how the Fund will perform in the future.
Average Annual Total Returns for the Periods Ended December 31, 2017
  1 Year Since
Inception
Inception
Date
Return Before Taxes 7.40% 4.74% 5/13/2014
Return After Taxes On Distributions 6.23%