STATEMENT OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
February 28, 2023
NATIONWIDE MUTUAL FUNDS
Nationwide Amundi
Global High Yield
Fund
Class A (NWXIX)
Class C (NWXJX)
Class R6 (NWXKX)
Institutional Service
Class (NWXLX)
Nationwide Amundi
Strategic Income Fund
Class A (NWXEX)
Class C (NWXFX)
Class R6 (NWXGX)
Institutional Service
Class (NWXHX)
Nationwide Bailard
Cognitive Value Fund
Class A (NWHDX)
Class C (NWHEX)
Class M (NWHFX)
Class R6 (NWHGX)
Institutional Service
Class (NWHHX)
Nationwide Bailard
International Equities
Fund
Class A (NWHJX)
Class C (NWHKX)
Class M (NWHLX)
Class R6 (NWHMX)
Institutional Service
Class (NWHNX)
Nationwide Bailard
Technology & Science
Fund
Class A (NWHOX)
Class C (NWHPX)
Class M (NWHQX)
Class R6 (NWHTX)
Institutional Service
Class (NWHUX)
Nationwide BNY
Mellon Core Plus
Bond ESG Fund
Class A (NWCPX)
Class R6 (NWCIX)
Institutional Service
Class (NWCSX)
Nationwide BNY
Mellon Disciplined
Value Fund Class A
(NWALX)
Class K (NWAMX)
Class R6 (NWANX)
Institutional Service
Class (NWAOX)
Eagle Class (NWAPX)
Nationwide BNY
Mellon Dynamic
U.S. Core Fund Class A
(NMFAX)
Class C (GCGRX)
Class R (GGFRX)
Class R6 (MUIGX)
Institutional Service
Class (NGISX)
Eagle Class (NWAEX)
Nationwide Bond
Fund
Class A (NBDAX)
Class C (GBDCX)
Class R6 (NWIBX)
Institutional Service
Class (MUIBX)
Nationwide Bond
Index Fund
Class A (GBIAX)
Class C (GBICX)
Class R (n/a)
Class R6 (GBXIX)
Institutional Service
Class (NWXOX)
Nationwide Fund
Class A (NWFAX)
Class C (GTRCX)
Class R (GNWRX)
Class R6 (NWABX)
Institutional Service
Class (MUIFX)
Nationwide Geneva
Mid Cap Growth Fund
Class A (NWHVX)
Class C (NWHWX)
Class R6 (NWKAX)
Institutional Service
Class (NWHYX)
Nationwide Geneva
Small Cap Growth
Fund
Class A (NWHZX)
Class C (NWKBX)
Class R6 (NWKCX)
Institutional Service
Class (NWKDX)
Nationwide Global
Sustainable Equity
Fund
Class A (GGEAX)
Class C (GGECX)
Class R6 (GGEIX)
Institutional Service
Class (GGESX)
Nationwide
Government Money
Market Fund
Investor Shares
(MIFXX)
Class R6 (GMIXX)
Service
Class (NWSXX)
Nationwide GQG US
Quality Equity Fund
Class A (NWAUX)
Class R6 (NWAVX)
Institutional Service
Class (NWAWX)
Eagle Class (NWAYX)
Nationwide Inflation-
Protected Securities
Fund
Class A (NIFAX)
Class R6 (NIFIX)
Institutional Service
Class (NWXNX)
Nationwide
International Index
Fund
Class A (GIIAX)
Class C (GIICX)
Class R (GIIRX)
Class R6 (GIXIX)
Institutional Service
Class (NWXPX)
Nationwide
International Small
Cap Fund
Class A (NWXSX)
Class R6 (NWXUX)
Institutional Service
Class (NWXVX)
Nationwide Janus
Henderson Overseas
Fund (formerly,
Nationwide AllianzGI
International Growth
Fund)
Class A (NWAGX)
Class R6 (NWAHX)
Institutional Service
Class (NWAKX)
Eagle Class (NWAJX)
Nationwide Loomis All
Cap Growth Fund
Class A (NWZLX)
Class R6 (NWZMX)
Institutional Service
Class (NWZNX)
Eagle Class (NWADX)
Nationwide Loomis
Core Bond Fund
Class A (NWJGX)
Class C (NWJHX)
Class R6 (NWJIX)
Institutional Service
Class (NWJJX)
Nationwide Loomis
Short Term Bond
Fund
Class A (NWJSX)
Class C (NWJTX)
Class R6 (NWJUX)
Institutional Service
Class (NWJVX)
Nationwide Mid Cap
Market Index Fund
Class A (GMXAX)
Class C (GMCCX)
Class R (GMXRX)
Class R6 (GMXIX)
Institutional Service
Class (NWXQX)
Nationwide NYSE
Arca Tech 100 Index
Fund
Class A (NWJCX)
Class C (NWJDX)
Class R6 (NWJEX)
Institutional Service
Class (NWJFX)

Nationwide S&P 500
Index Fund
Class A (GRMAX)
Class C (GRMCX)
Class R (GRMRX)
Class R6 (GRMIX)
Service
Class (GRMSX)
Institutional Service
Class (GRISX)
Nationwide Small Cap
Index Fund
Class A (GMRAX)
Class C (GMRCX)
Class R (GMSRX)
Class R6 (GMRIX)
Institutional Service
Class (NWXRX)
Nationwide Small
Company Growth
Fund
Class A (NWSAX)
Institutional Service
Class (NWSIX)
Nationwide WCM
Focused Small Cap
Fund
Class A (NWGPX)
Class C (NWGQX)
Class R6 (NWKEX)
Institutional Service
Class (NWGSX)
 
 
 
 
 
 

Nationwide Mutual Funds (the “Trust”), a Delaware statutory trust, is a registered open-end investment company currently consisting of 47 series as of the date hereof. This Statement of Additional Information (“SAI”) relates to the 29 series of the Trust which are listed above (each, a “Fund” and collectively, the “Funds”).
This SAI is not a prospectus but is incorporated by reference into the following Prospectuses. It contains information in addition to and more detailed than that set forth in the Prospectuses for the Funds and should be read in conjunction with the following Prospectuses:
Nationwide Bailard Cognitive Value Fund, Nationwide Bailard Technology & Science Fund, Nationwide BNY Mellon Disciplined Value Fund, Nationwide BNY Mellon Dynamic U.S. Core Fund, Nationwide Fund, Nationwide Geneva Mid Cap Growth Fund, Nationwide Geneva Small Cap Growth Fund, Nationwide GQG US Quality Equity Fund, Nationwide Loomis All Cap Growth Fund, Nationwide Small Company Growth Fund and Nationwide WCM Focused Small Cap Fund dated February 28, 2023;
Nationwide BNY Mellon Core Plus Bond ESG Fund, Nationwide Bond Fund, Nationwide Government Money Market Fund, Nationwide Inflation-Protected Securities Fund, Nationwide Loomis Core Bond Fund and Nationwide Loomis Short Term Bond Fund dated February 28, 2023;
Nationwide Amundi Global High Yield Fund, Nationwide Amundi Strategic Income Fund, Nationwide Bailard International Equities Fund, Nationwide Global Sustainable Equity Fund, Nationwide International Small Cap Fund and Nationwide Janus Henderson Overseas Fund (formerly, Nationwide AllianzGI International Growth Fund), dated February 28, 2023; and
Nationwide Bond Index Fund, Nationwide International Index Fund, Nationwide Mid Cap Market Index Fund, Nationwide NYSE Arca Tech 100 Index Fund, Nationwide Small Cap Index Fund and Nationwide S&P 500 Index Fund and dated February 28, 2023.
Terms not defined in this SAI have the meanings assigned to them in the Prospectuses. The Prospectuses are posted on the Funds' website, nationwide.com/mutualfundprospectuses, or may be obtained from Nationwide Mutual Funds, P.O. Box 701, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201-0701 or by calling toll free 800-848-0920.
The Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm and Financial Statements of the Trust for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2022 included in the Trust’s Annual Report are incorporated herein by reference. Copies of the Annual Report and Semi-Annual Report are available without charge upon request by writing the Trust or by calling toll free 800-848-0920.
THE TRUST’S INVESTMENT COMPANY ACT FILE NO.: 811-08495
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General Information and History
Nationwide Mutual Funds (the “Trust”) is an open-end management investment company organized under the laws of the state of Delaware on October 1, 2004, pursuant to a Second Amended and Restated Agreement and Declaration of Trust dated June 17, 2009 (the “Second Amended and Restated Declaration of Trust”). The Trust currently consists of 47 separate series, each with its own investment objective.
Except for the Nationwide GQG US Quality Equity Fund, each of the Funds featured herein is a diversified fund as defined in the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”). The Nationwide GQG US Quality Equity Fund is a non-diversified fund, as defined in the 1940 Act.
The Nationwide Global Sustainable Equity Fund commenced operations on November 19, 2012 as a result of a reorganization in which the Nationwide Global Sustainable Equity Fund acquired all of the assets, subject to stated liabilities, of the UBS Global Equity Fund, a former series of The UBS Funds. The Nationwide Global Sustainable Equity Fund has adopted the historical performance of the UBS Global Equity Fund and had substantially similar investment goals and strategies as the UBS Global Equity Fund at the time of the reorganization.
The Nationwide BNY Mellon Core Plus Bond ESG Fund commenced operations on April 22, 2013, as a result of a reorganization in which the Nationwide BNY Mellon Core Plus Bond ESG Fund acquired all of the assets, subject to stated liabilities, of the TS&W Fixed Income Portfolio, a former series of The Advisors’ Inner Circle Fund (the “AIC Predecessor Fund”). The Nationwide BNY Mellon Core Plus Bond ESG Fund has adopted the historical performance of the AIC Predecessor Fund and had substantially similar investment goals and strategies as the AIC Predecessor Fund at the time of the reorganization.
Each of the Nationwide Bailard Cognitive Value Fund, Nationwide Bailard Technology & Science Fund, Nationwide Geneva Mid Cap Growth Fund, Nationwide Geneva Small Cap Growth Fund, Nationwide Bailard International Equities Fund, Nationwide NYSE Arca Tech 100 Index Fund, Nationwide WCM Focused Small Cap Fund, Nationwide Loomis Core Bond Fund and Nationwide Loomis Short Term Bond Fund, commenced operations on September 16, 2013, as a result of a reorganization in which the Nationwide Bailard Cognitive Value Fund, Nationwide Bailard Technology & Science Fund, Nationwide Geneva Mid Cap Growth Fund, Nationwide Geneva Small Cap Growth Fund, Nationwide Bailard International Equities Fund, Nationwide NYSE Arca Tech 100 Index Fund, Nationwide WCM Focused Small Cap Fund, Nationwide Loomis Core Bond Fund and Nationwide Loomis Short Term Bond Fund, acquired all of the assets, subject to stated liabilities, of the HighMark Cognitive Value Fund, HighMark Enhanced Growth Fund, HighMark Geneva Mid Cap Growth Fund, HighMark Geneva Small Cap Growth Fund, HighMark International Opportunities Fund, HighMark NYSE Arca Tech 100 Index Fund, HighMark Small Cap Core Fund, HighMark Bond Fund and HighMark Short Term Bond Fund, respectively, each a former series of HighMark Funds (each a “Predecessor Fund,” and collectively the “Predecessor Funds”). Each of these Funds have adopted the historical performance of its corresponding Predecessor Fund. Each such Fund and its corresponding Predecessor Fund had substantially similar investment goals and strategies at the time of the reorganization.
The Nationwide Janus Henderson Overseas Fund (formerly, Nationwide AllianzGI International Growth Fund) commenced operations on June 3, 2019, as a result of a reorganization in which the Nationwide Janus Henderson Overseas Fund acquired all of the assets, subject to stated liabilities, of the AllianzGI International Growth Fund, a former series of Allianz Funds Multi-Strategy Trust (the “Predecessor Fund”). The Nationwide Janus Henderson Overseas Fund has adopted the historical performance of the Predecessor Fund. At the time of the reorganization, the Nationwide Janus Henderson Overseas Fund and the Predecessor Fund had substantially similar investment goals and strategies.
The Nationwide BNY Mellon Disciplined Value Fund commenced operations on December 16, 2019, as a result of a reorganization in which the Nationwide BNY Mellon Disciplined Value Fund acquired all of the assets, subject to stated liabilities, of the BNY Mellon Disciplined Stock Fund, a former series of BNY Mellon Investment Funds IV, Inc. (the “Predecessor Fund”). The Nationwide BNY Mellon Disciplined Value Fund has adopted the historical performance of the Predecessor Fund. At the time of the reorganization, the Nationwide BNY Mellon Disciplined Value Fund and the Predecessor Fund had similar investment goals, although the Nationwide BNY Mellon Disciplined Value Fund and the Predecessor Fund had different investment objectives. Further, while the Nationwide BNY Mellon Disciplined Value Fund and the Predecessor Fund shared some investment strategies and policies, certain of the Nationwide BNY Mellon Disciplined Value Fund’s investment strategies and policies were different from those of the Predecessor Fund.
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Additional Information on Portfolio Instruments, Strategies
and Investment Policies
The Funds invest in a variety of securities and employ a number of investment techniques, which involve certain risks. The Prospectuses discuss each Fund’s principal investment strategies, investment techniques and risks. Therefore, you should carefully review a Fund’s Prospectus. This SAI contains information about non-principal investment strategies the Funds may use, as well as further information about certain principal strategies that are discussed in the Prospectuses. The discussion of investments in this SAI is qualified by Rule 2a-7 limitations with respect to the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund.
For purposes of this SAI, each of the following Funds (either singly or collectively) is referred to as the “Equity Funds”:
Nationwide Bailard Cognitive Value Fund
Nationwide Bailard International Equities Fund
Nationwide Bailard Technology & Science Fund
Nationwide BNY Mellon Disciplined Value Fund
Nationwide BNY Mellon Dynamic U.S. Core Fund
Nationwide Fund
Nationwide Geneva Mid Cap Growth Fund
Nationwide Geneva Small Cap Growth Fund
Nationwide Global Sustainable Equity Fund
Nationwide GQG US Quality Equity Fund
Nationwide International Index Fund
Nationwide International Small Cap Fund
Nationwide Janus Henderson Overseas Fund
Nationwide Loomis All Cap Growth Fund
Nationwide Mid Cap Market Index Fund
Nationwide NYSE Arca Tech 100 Index Fund
Nationwide S&P 500 Index Fund
Nationwide Small Cap Index Fund
Nationwide Small Company Growth Fund
Nationwide WCM Focused Small Cap Fund
For purposes of this SAI, each of the following Funds (either singly or collectively) is referred to as the “Fixed-Income Funds”:
Nationwide Amundi Global High Yield Fund
Nationwide Amundi Strategic Income Fund
Nationwide BNY Mellon Core Plus Bond ESG Fund
Nationwide Bond Fund
Nationwide Bond Index Fund
Nationwide Government Money Market Fund
Nationwide Inflation-Protected Securities Fund
Nationwide Loomis Core Bond Fund
Nationwide Loomis Short Term Bond Fund
For purposes of this SAI, each of the following Funds (either singly or collectively) is referred to as the “Index Funds”:
Nationwide Bond Index Fund
Nationwide International Index Fund
Nationwide Mid Cap Market Index Fund
Nationwide NYSE Arca Tech 100 Index Fund
Nationwide S&P 500 Index Fund
Nationwide Small Cap Index Fund
Bank and Corporate Loans
With the exception of the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund, each of the Fixed-Income Funds may invest in bank or corporate loans. Bank or corporate loans are generally non-investment grade floating rate instruments. Usually, they are freely callable at the issuer’s option. A Fund may invest in fixed and floating rate loans (“Loans”) arranged through private negotiations between a corporate borrower or a foreign sovereign entity and one or more financial institutions (“Lenders”). A Fund may invest in such Loans in the form of participations in Loans (“Participations”) and assignments of all or a portion of Loans from third parties (“Assignments”). A Fund considers these investments to be investments in debt securities for purposes of its investment policies. Participations typically will result in a Fund having a contractual relationship only with the Lender, not with the borrower. A Fund will have the right to receive payments of principal, interest and any fees to which it is entitled only from the Lender selling the Participation and only upon receipt by the Lender of the payments from the borrower. In connection with purchasing Participations, a Fund generally will have no right to enforce compliance by the borrower with the terms of the loan agreement relating to the Loans, nor any rights of set-off against the borrower, and a Fund may not benefit directly from any collateral supporting the Loan in which it has purchased the Participation. As a result, a Fund will assume the credit risk of both the borrower and the Lender that is selling the Participation. In the event of the insolvency of the Lender selling the Participation, a Fund may be treated as a general creditor of the Lender and may not benefit from any set-off between the Lender and the borrower. When a Fund purchases Assignments from Lenders, a Fund will acquire direct rights against the borrower on the Loan, and will not have exposure to a counterparty’s credit risk. A Fund may enter into Participations and Assignments on a forward commitment or “when
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issued” basis, whereby a Fund would agree to purchase a Participation or Assignment at set terms in the future. For more information on forward commitments and when issued securities, see “When Issued Securities and Delayed-Delivery Transactions” below.
A Fund may have difficulty disposing of Assignments and Participations. In certain cases, the market for such instruments is not highly liquid, and therefore a Fund anticipates that in such cases such instruments could be sold only to a limited number of institutional investors. The lack of a highly liquid secondary market may have an adverse impact on the value of such instruments and on a Fund’s ability to dispose of particular Assignments or Participations in response to a specific economic event, such as deterioration in the creditworthiness of the borrower. Assignments and Participations will not be considered illiquid so long as it is determined by a Fund’s subadviser that an adequate trading market exists for these securities. To the extent that liquid Assignments and Participations that a Fund holds become illiquid, due to the lack of sufficient buyers or market or other conditions, the percentage of a Fund’s assets invested in illiquid assets would increase.
Leading financial institutions often act as agent for a broader group of lenders, generally referred to as a syndicate. The syndicate’s agent arranges the loans, holds collateral and accepts payments of principal and interest. If the agent develops financial problems, a Fund may not recover its investment or recovery may be delayed.
The Loans in which a Fund may invest are subject to the risk of loss of principal and income. Although borrowers frequently provide collateral to secure repayment of these obligations they do not always do so. If they do provide collateral, the value of the collateral may not completely cover the borrower’s obligations at the time of a default. If a borrower files for protection from its creditors under the U.S. bankruptcy laws, these laws may limit a Fund’s rights to its collateral. In addition, the value of collateral may erode during a bankruptcy case. In the event of a bankruptcy, the holder of a Loan may not recover its principal, may experience a long delay in recovering its investment and may not receive interest during the delay.
In certain circumstances, Loans may not be deemed to be securities under certain federal securities laws. Therefore, in the event of fraud or misrepresentation by a borrower or an arranger, Lenders and purchasers of interests in Loans, such as a Fund, may not have the protection of the anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities laws as would otherwise be available for bonds or stocks. Instead, in such cases, parties generally would rely on the contractual provisions in the Loan agreement itself and common-law fraud protections under applicable state law.
Borrowing
Each Fund may borrow money from banks, limited by each Fund’s fundamental investment restriction (generally, 33 13% of its total assets (including the amount borrowed)), including borrowings for temporary or emergency purposes. In addition to borrowings that are subject to 300% asset coverage and are considered by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) to be permitted “senior securities,” each Fund is also permitted under the 1940 Act to borrow for temporary purposes in an amount not exceeding 5% of the value of its total assets at the time when the loan is made. A loan will be presumed to be for temporary purposes if it is repaid within 60 days and is not extended or renewed.
Leverage. The use of leverage by a Fund creates an opportunity for greater total return, but, at the same time, creates special risks. For example, leveraging may exaggerate changes in the net asset value of Fund shares and in the return on a Fund’s portfolio. Although the principal of such borrowings will be fixed, a Fund’s assets may change in value during the time the borrowings are outstanding. Borrowings will create interest expenses for the Fund which can exceed the income from the assets purchased with the borrowings. To the extent the income or capital appreciation derived from securities purchased with borrowed funds exceeds the interest a Fund will have to pay on the borrowings, the Fund’s return will be greater than if leverage had not been used. Conversely, if the income or capital appreciation from the securities purchased with such borrowed funds is not sufficient to cover the cost of borrowing, the return to a Fund will be less than if leverage had not been used, and therefore the amount available for distribution to shareholders as dividends and other distributions will be reduced. In the latter case, a Fund’s portfolio management in its best judgment nevertheless may determine to maintain the Fund’s leveraged position if it expects that the benefits to the Fund’s shareholders of maintaining the leveraged position will outweigh the current reduced return.
Certain types of borrowings by a Fund may result in the Fund being subject to covenants in credit agreements relating to asset coverage, portfolio composition requirements and other matters. It is not anticipated that observance of such covenants would impede the Fund’s portfolio management from managing a Fund’s portfolio in accordance with the Fund’s investment
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objectives and policies. However, a breach of any such covenants not cured within the specified cure period may result in acceleration of outstanding indebtedness and require the Fund to dispose of portfolio investments at a time when it may be disadvantageous to do so.
Brady Bonds
Except for the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund, each of the Fixed-Income Funds may invest in Brady Bonds. Brady Bonds are debt securities, generally denominated in U.S. dollars, issued under the framework of the Brady Plan. The Brady Plan is an initiative announced by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Nicholas F. Brady in 1989 as a mechanism for debtor nations to restructure their outstanding external commercial bank indebtedness. In restructuring its external debt under the Brady Plan framework, a debtor nation negotiates with its existing bank lenders as well as multilateral institutions such as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (the “World Bank”) and the International Monetary Fund (the “IMF”). The Brady Plan framework, as it has developed, contemplates the exchange of external commercial bank debt for newly issued bonds known as “Brady Bonds.” Brady Bonds may also be issued in respect of new money being advanced by existing lenders in connection with the debt restructuring. The World Bank and/or the IMF support the restructuring by providing funds pursuant to loan agreements or other arrangements that enable the debtor nation to collateralize the new Brady Bonds or to repurchase outstanding bank debt at a discount. Under these arrangements with the World Bank and/or the IMF, debtor nations have been required to agree to the implementation of certain domestic monetary and fiscal reforms. Such reforms have included the liberalization of trade and foreign investment, the privatization of state-owned enterprises and the setting of targets for public spending and borrowing. These policies and programs seek to promote the debtor country’s economic growth and development. Investors should also recognize that the Brady Plan only sets forth general guiding principles for economic reform and debt reduction, emphasizing that solutions must be negotiated on a case-by-case basis between debtor nations and their creditors. A Fund's portfolio management may believe that economic reforms undertaken by countries in connection with the issuance of Brady Bonds may make the debt of countries which have issued or have announced plans to issue Brady Bonds an attractive opportunity for investment. However, there can be no assurance that the portfolio management’s expectations with respect to Brady Bonds will be realized.
Agreements implemented under the Brady Plan to date are designed to achieve debt and debt-service reduction through specific options negotiated by a debtor nation with its creditors. As a result, the financial packages offered by each country differ. The types of options have included the exchange of outstanding commercial bank debt for bonds issued at 100% of face value of such debt which carry a below-market stated rate of interest (generally known as par bonds), bonds issued at a discount from the face value of such debt (generally known as discount bonds), bonds bearing an interest rate which increases over time and bonds issued in exchange for the advancement of new money by existing lenders. Regardless of the stated face amount and stated interest rate of the various types of Brady Bonds, a Fund will purchase Brady Bonds in secondary markets, as described below, in which the price and yield to the investor reflect market conditions at the time of purchase. Certain sovereign bonds are entitled to “value recovery payments” in certain circumstances, which in effect constitute supplemental interest payments but generally are not collateralized. Certain Brady Bonds have been collateralized as to principal due date at maturity (typically 30 years from the date of issuance) by U.S. Treasury zero coupon bonds with a maturity equal to the final maturity of such Brady Bonds. The U.S. Treasury bonds purchased as collateral for such Brady Bonds are financed by the IMF, the World Bank and the debtor nations’ reserves. In addition, interest payments on certain types of Brady Bonds may be collateralized by cash or high-grade securities in amounts that typically represent between 12 and 18 months of interest accruals on these instruments with the balance of the interest accruals being uncollateralized. In the event of a default with respect to collateralized Brady Bonds as a result of which the payment obligations of the issuer are accelerated, the U.S. Treasury zero coupon obligations held as collateral for the payment of principal will not be distributed to investors, nor will such obligations be sold and the proceeds distributed. The collateral will be held by the collateral agent to the scheduled maturity of the defaulted Brady Bonds, which will continue to be outstanding, at which time the face amount of the collateral will equal the principal payments that would have then been due on the Brady Bonds in the normal course. However, in light of the residual risk of the Brady Bonds and, among other factors, the history of default with respect to commercial bank loans by public and private entities of countries issuing Brady Bonds, investments in Brady Bonds are considered speculative. Each Fund may purchase Brady Bonds with no or limited collateralization, and, for payment of interest and (except in the case of principal collateralized Brady Bonds) principal, will be relying primarily on the willingness and ability of the foreign government to make payment in accordance with the terms of the Brady Bonds.
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Collateralized Debt Obligations
Except for the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund, each of the Fixed-Income Funds may invest in collateralized debt obligations. Collateralized debt obligations (“CDOs”) are a type of asset-backed security and include, among other things, collateralized bond obligations (“CBOs”), collateralized loan obligations (“CLOs”) and other similarly structured securities. A CBO is a trust which is backed by a diversified pool of high risk, below investment grade fixed-income securities. A CLO is a trust typically collateralized by a pool of loans, which may include, among others, domestic and foreign senior secured loans, senior unsecured loans and subordinate corporate loans, including loans that may be rated below investment grade or equivalent unrated loans.
The cash flows from the CDO trust are split generally into two or more portions, called tranches, varying in risk and yield. Senior tranches are paid from the cash flows from the underlying assets before the junior tranches and equity or “first loss” tranches. Losses are first borne by the equity tranches, next by the junior tranches, and finally by the senior tranches. Senior tranches pay the lowest interest rates but generally are safer investments than more junior tranches because, should there be any default, senior tranches typically are paid first. The most junior tranches, such as equity tranches, would attract the highest interest rates but suffer the highest risk should the holder of an underlying loan default. If some loans default and the cash collected by the CDO is insufficient to pay all of its investors, those in the lowest, most junior tranches suffer losses first. Since it is partially protected from defaults, a senior tranche from a CDO trust typically has higher ratings and lower yields than the underlying securities, and can be rated investment grade. Despite the protection from the equity tranche, more senior CDO tranches can experience substantial losses due to actual defaults, increased sensitivity to defaults due to collateral default and disappearance of protecting tranches, market anticipation of defaults and aversion to CDO securities as a class.
The risks of an investment in a CDO depend largely on the quality and type of the collateral and the tranche of the CDO in which a Fund invests. Normally, CBOs, CLOs and other CDOs are privately offered and sold, and thus are not registered under the securities laws. As a result, investments in CDOs may be characterized by a Fund as illiquid securities; however, an active dealer market, or other relevant measures of liquidity, may exist for CDOs allowing a CDO potentially to be deemed liquid by the subadviser under liquidity policies approved by the Board of Trustees. In addition to the risks associated with debt instruments (e.g., interest rate risk and credit risk), CDOs carry additional risks including, but not limited to: (i) the possibility that distributions from collateral securities will not be adequate to make interest or other payments; (ii) the quality of the collateral may decline in value or default; (iii) the possibility that a Fund may invest in CDOs that are subordinate to other classes; and (iv) the complex structure of the security may not be fully understood at the time of investment and may produce disputes with the issuer or unexpected investment results.
Collateralized Loan Obligations (“CLOs”). Except for the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund, each of the Fixed-Income Funds may invest in collateralized loan obligations. A CLO is a financing company (generally called a Special Purpose Vehicle or “SPV”), created to reapportion the risk and return characteristics of a pool of assets. While the assets underlying CLOs are typically senior loans, the assets also may include: (i) unsecured loans, (ii) other debt securities that are rated below investment grade, (iii) debt tranches of other CLOs and (iv) equity securities incidental to investments in senior loans. When investing in CLOs, a Fund will not invest in equity tranches, which are the lowest tranche. However, a Fund may invest in lower debt tranches of CLOs, which typically experience a lower recovery, greater risk of loss or deferral or non-payment of interest than more senior debt tranches of the CLO. In addition, a Fund may invest in CLOs consisting primarily of individual senior loans of borrowers and not repackaged CLO obligations from other high risk pools. The underlying senior loans purchased by CLOs generally are performing at the time of purchase but may become non-performing, distressed or defaulted. CLOs with underlying assets of non-performing, distressed or defaulted loans are not contemplated to comprise a significant portion of a Fund’s investments in CLOs. The key feature of the CLO structure is the prioritization of the cash flows from a pool of debt securities among the several classes of the CLO. The SPV is a company founded solely for the purpose of securitizing payment claims arising out of this diversified asset pool. On this basis, marketable securities are issued by the SPV which, due to the diversification of the underlying risk, generally represent a lower level of risk than the original assets. The redemption of the securities issued by the SPV typically takes place at maturity out of the cash flow generated by the collected claims. Holders of CLOs bear risks of the underlying investments, index or reference obligation and are subject to counterparty risk.
A Fund may have the right to receive payments only from the CLOs, and generally does not have direct rights against the issuer or the entity that sold the assets to be securitized. While certain CLOs enable the investor to acquire interests in a pool of securities without the brokerage and other expenses associated with directly holding the same securities, investors in
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CLOs generally pay their share of the CLO’s administrative and other expenses. Although it is difficult to predict whether the prices of indices and securities underlying a CLO will rise or fall, these prices (and, therefore, the prices of CLOs) will be influenced by the same types of political and economic events that affect issuers of securities and capital markets generally. If the issuer of a CLO uses shorter term financing to purchase longer term securities, the issuer may be forced to sell its securities at below market prices if it experiences difficulty in obtaining short-term financing, which may adversely affect the value of the CLOs owned by a Fund.
Certain CLOs may be thinly traded or have a limited trading market. CLOs typically are offered and sold privately. As a result, investments in CLOs may be characterized by a Fund as illiquid securities. In addition to the general risks associated with debt securities discussed below, CLOs carry additional risks, including, but not limited to: (i) the possibility that distributions from collateral securities will not be adequate to make interest or other payments; (ii) the quality of the collateral may decline in value or default; (iii) the possibility that the investments in CLOs are subordinate to other classes or tranches thereof; and (iv) the complex structure of the security may not be fully understood at the time of investment and may produce disputes with the issuer or unexpected investment results.
Debt Obligations
Debt obligations are subject to the risk of an issuer’s inability to meet principal and interest payments on its obligations when due (“credit risk”) and are subject to price volatility due to such factors as interest rate sensitivity, market perception of the creditworthiness of the issuer, and general market liquidity. Lower-rated securities are more likely to react to developments affecting these risks than are more highly rated securities, which react primarily to movements in the general level of interest rates. Although the fluctuation in the price of debt securities is normally less than that of common stocks, in the past there have been extended periods of cyclical increases in interest rates that have caused significant declines in the price of debt securities in general and have caused the effective maturity of securities with prepayment features to be extended, thus effectively converting short or intermediate securities (which tend to be less volatile in price) into long-term securities (which tend to be more volatile in price). In addition, a corporate event such as a restructuring, merger, leveraged buyout, takeover, or similar action may cause a decline in market value of its securities or credit quality of the company’s bonds due to factors including an unfavorable market response or a resulting increase in the company’s debt. Added debt may significantly reduce the credit quality and market value of a company’s bonds, and may thereby affect the value of its equity securities as well.
Recent market data indicates that primary dealer inventories of corporate bonds appear to be at an all-time low, relative to the market size. A significant reduction in dealer market-making capacity has the potential to decrease liquidity and increase volatility in the fixed-income markets.
Changes to monetary policy by the Federal Reserve or other regulatory actions could expose fixed income and related markets to heightened volatility, interest rate sensitivity and reduced liquidity, which may impact a Fund’s operations and return potential.
Duration. Duration is a measure of the average life of a fixed-income security that was developed as a more precise alternative to the concepts of “term-to-maturity” or “average dollar weighted maturity” as measures of “volatility” or “risk” associated with changes in interest rates. Duration incorporates a security’s yield, coupon interest payments, final maturity and call features into one measure.
Most debt obligations provide interest (“coupon”) payments in addition to final (“par”) payment at maturity. Some obligations also have call provisions. Depending on the relative magnitude of these payments and the nature of the call provisions, the market values of debt obligations may respond differently to changes in interest rates.
Traditionally, a debt security’s “term-to-maturity” has been used as a measure of the sensitivity of the security’s price to changes in interest rates (which is the “interest rate risk” or “volatility” of the security). However, “term-to-maturity” measures only the time until a debt security provides its final payment, taking no account of the pattern of the security’s payments prior to maturity. Average dollar weighted maturity is calculated by averaging the terms of maturity of each debt security held with each maturity “weighted” according to the percentage of assets that it represents. Duration is a measure of the expected life of a debt security on a present value basis and reflects both principal and interest payments. Duration takes the length of the time intervals between the present time and the time that the interest and principal payments are scheduled or, in the case of a callable security, expected to be received, and weights them by the present values of the cash to be received
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at each future point in time. For any debt security with interest payments occurring prior to the payment of principal, duration is ordinarily less than maturity. In general, all other factors being the same, the lower the stated or coupon rate of interest of a debt security, the longer the duration of the security; conversely, the higher the stated or coupon rate of interest of a debt security, the shorter the duration of the security.
There are some situations where the standard duration calculation does not properly reflect the interest rate exposure of a security. For example, floating- and variable-rate securities often have final maturities of ten or more years; however, their interest rate exposure corresponds to the frequency of the coupon reset. Another example where the interest rate exposure is not properly captured by duration is the case of mortgage pass-through securities. The stated final maturity of such securities is generally 30 years, but current prepayment rates are more critical in determining the securities’ interest rate exposure. In these and other similar situations, a Fund’s portfolio management will use more sophisticated analytical techniques to project the economic life of a security and estimate its interest rate exposure. Since the computation of duration is based on predictions of future events rather than known factors, there can be no assurance that a Fund will at all times achieve its targeted portfolio duration.
The change in market value of U.S. government fixed-income securities is largely a function of changes in the prevailing level of interest rates. When interest rates are falling, a portfolio with a shorter duration generally will not generate as high a level of total return as a portfolio with a longer duration. When interest rates are stable, shorter duration portfolios generally will not generate as high a level of total return as longer duration portfolios (assuming that long-term interest rates are higher than short-term rates, which is commonly the case). When interest rates are rising, a portfolio with a shorter duration will generally outperform longer duration portfolios. With respect to the composition of a fixed-income portfolio, the longer the duration of the portfolio, generally, the greater the anticipated potential for total return, with, however, greater attendant interest rate risk and price volatility than for a portfolio with a shorter duration.
Low or Negative Interest Rates. In a low or negative interest rate environment, debt securities may trade at, or be issued with, negative yields, which means the purchaser of the security may receive at maturity less than the total amount invested. In addition, in a negative interest rate environment, if a bank charges negative interest, instead of receiving interest on deposits, a depositor must pay the bank fees to keep money with the bank. To the extent a Fund holds a negatively-yielding debt security or has a bank deposit with a negative interest rate, the Fund would generate a negative return on that investment. Cash positions may also subject a Fund to increased counterparty risk to the Fund's bank.
If low or negative interest rates become more prevalent in the market and/or if low or negative interest rates persist for a sustained period of time, some investors may seek to reallocate assets to other income-producing assets. This may cause the price of such higher yielding instruments to rise, could further reduce the value of instruments with a negative yield, and may limit a Fund's ability to locate fixed income instruments containing the desired risk/return profile. Changing interest rates including, rates that fall below zero, could have unpredictable effects on the markets and may expose fixed income markets to heightened volatility, increased redemptions, and potential illiquidity.
A low or negative interest rate environment could, and a prolonged low or negative interest rate environment will, impact the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund's ability to provide a positive yield to its shareholders, pay expenses out of current income, and/or achieve its investment objective, including maintaining a stable NAV of $1 per share. In a prolonged environment of low to negative interest rates, the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund's board of trustees may consider taking various actions, including discontinuing use of the amortized cost method of valuation to maintain a stable NAV of $1 per share and establishing a fluctuating NAV rounded to four decimal places by using available market quotations or equivalents. In December 2021, the SEC proposed amendments to Rule 2a-7 that, if adopted, would impact the manner in which all types of money market funds operate. The amendments would, among other items, prohibit certain mechanisms for maintaining a stable NAV per share in negative interest rate environments, such as by reducing the number of fund shares outstanding (including through reverse distribution mechanisms).
Ratings as Investment Criteria. High-quality, medium-quality and non-investment grade debt obligations are characterized as such based on their ratings by nationally recognized statistical rating organizations (“NRSROs”), such as Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services (“Standard & Poor’s”) or Moody’s Investors Service (“Moody’s”). In general, the ratings of NRSROs represent the opinions of these agencies as to the quality of securities that they rate. Such ratings, however, are relative and subjective, are not absolute standards of quality and do not evaluate the market value risk of the securities. Further, credit ratings do not provide assurance against default or other loss of money. These ratings are considered in the selection of a Fund’s portfolio securities, but the Fund also relies upon the independent advice of its portfolio management to
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evaluate potential investments. This is particularly important for lower-quality securities. Among the factors that will be considered is the long-term ability of the issuer to pay principal and interest and general economic trends, as well as an issuer’s capital structure, existing debt and earnings history. Appendix A to this SAI contains further information about the rating categories of NRSROs and their significance. If a security has not received a credit rating, the Fund must rely entirely on the credit assessment of the portfolio management.
Subsequent to the purchase of securities by a Fund, the issuer of the securities may cease to be rated or its rating may be reduced below the minimum required for purchase by such Fund. In addition, it is possible that an NRSRO might not change its rating of a particular issuer to reflect subsequent events. None of these events generally will require sale of such securities, but a Fund’s portfolio management will consider such events in its determination of whether the Fund should continue to hold the securities.
In addition, to the extent that the ratings change as a result of changes in an NRSRO or its rating systems, or due to a corporate reorganization, a Fund will attempt to use comparable ratings as standards for its investments in accordance with its investment objective and policies.
Eligible Securities (Nationwide Government Money Market Fund). All investments made by the Fund must be Eligible Securities at the time of acquisition as defined in Rule 2a-7 under the 1940 Act. Eligible Securities include: U.S. government securities; securities with a remaining maturity of 397 calendar days or less that the Fund’s subadviser, subject to oversight by the Fund’s Board of Trustees, determines present minimal credit risks to the Fund; and securities issued by other money market funds. As a government money market fund, the Fund invests at least 99.5% of its total assets in (1) U.S. government securities, (2) repurchase agreements that are collateralized fully by U.S. government securities or cash, (3) cash, and/or (4) other money market funds that operate as government money market funds.
Under Rule 2a-7, the determination of whether a security presents minimal credit risks to the Fund must include an analysis of the capacity of the security’s issuer or guarantor (including for the provider of a conditional demand feature, when applicable) to meet its financial obligations, and such analysis must include, to the extent appropriate, consideration of the following factors with respect to the security’s issuer or guarantor: (i) financial condition; (ii) sources of liquidity; (iii) ability to react to future market-wide and issuer- or guarantor-specific events, including ability to repay debt in a highly adverse situation; and (iv) strength of the issuer or guarantor’s industry within the economy and relative to economic trends, and issuer or guarantor’s competitive position within its industry.
In determining whether a security presents minimal credit risks, the subadviser may take into account credit quality determinations prepared by outside sources, including NRSROs that the subadviser considers reliable in assessing credit risk.
Derivative Instruments
Each Fund, except the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund, may use instruments referred to as derivative instruments (“derivatives”). A derivative is a financial instrument the value of which is derived from a security, a commodity (such as gold or oil), a currency or an index (a measure of value or rates, such as the S&P 500 Index or the prime lending rate). Derivatives allow a Fund to increase or decrease the level of risk to which the Fund is exposed more quickly and efficiently than transactions in other types of instruments. Each Fund may use derivatives as a substitute for taking a position in a security, a group of securities or a securities index as well as for hedging purposes. Certain Funds, as noted in their respective Prospectuses, also may use derivatives for speculative purposes to seek to enhance returns. The use of a derivative is speculative if a Fund is primarily seeking to achieve gains, rather than offset the risk of other positions. When a Fund invests in a derivative for speculative purposes, the Fund will be fully exposed to the risks of loss of that derivative, which may sometimes be greater than the derivative’s cost. No Fund may use any derivative to gain exposure to an asset or class of assets that it would be prohibited by its investment restrictions from purchasing directly.
Derivatives generally have investment characteristics that are based upon either forward contracts (under which one party is obligated to buy and the other party is obligated to sell an underlying asset at a specific price on a specified date) or option contracts (under which the holder of the option has the right but not the obligation to buy or sell an underlying asset at a specified price on or before a specified date). Consequently, the change in value of a forward-based derivative generally is roughly proportional to the change in value of the underlying asset. In contrast, the buyer of an option-based derivative generally will benefit from favorable movements in the price of the underlying asset but is not exposed to the corresponding losses that result from adverse movements in the value of the underlying asset. The seller (writer) of an option-based
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derivative generally will receive fees or premiums but generally is exposed to losses resulting from changes in the value of the underlying asset. Depending on the change in the value of the underlying asset, the potential for loss may be limitless. Derivative transactions may include elements of leverage and, accordingly, the fluctuation of the value of the derivative transaction in relation to the underlying asset may be magnified.
The use of these derivatives is subject to applicable regulations of the SEC, the several options and futures exchanges upon which they may be traded, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”). Nationwide Fund Advisors (“NFA” or the “Adviser”), although registered as a commodity pool operator, has claimed exclusion from the definition of the term “commodity pool operator” under the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”) with respect to the Funds and, therefore, is not subject to regulation as a commodity pool operator under the CEA with respect to the Funds.
In October 2020, the SEC adopted Rule 18f-4 under the 1940 Act (“Rule 18f-4”), which imposes new requirements and restrictions on the Funds' use of derivatives and eliminates the asset segregation framework previously used by funds, including the Funds, to comply with Section 18 of the 1940 Act. Rule 18f-4 imposes limits on the amount of leverage risk to which a Fund may be exposed through certain derivative instruments that may oblige the Fund to make payments or incur additional obligations in the future. Under Rule 18f-4, the Funds' investment in such derivatives is limited through a value-at-risk or “VaR” test. Funds whose use of such derivatives is more than a limited specified exposure amount are required to establish and maintain a derivatives risk management program, subject to oversight by the Board of Trustees of the Trust (“Board of Trustees”), and appoint a derivatives risk manager to implement such program. To the extent a Fund’s compliance with Rule 18f-4 changes how the Fund uses derivatives, Rule 18f-4 may adversely affect the Fund’s performance and/or increase costs related to the Fund’s use of derivatives.
Special Risks of Derivative Instruments. The use of derivatives involves special considerations and risks as described below. Risks pertaining to particular instruments are described in the sections that follow.
(1)
Successful use of most derivatives depends upon a Fund’s portfolio management’s ability to predict movements of the overall securities and currency markets, which requires different skills than predicting changes in the prices of individual securities. There can be no assurance that any particular strategy adopted will succeed.
(2)
There might be imperfect correlation, or even no correlation, between price movements of a derivative and price movements of the investments being hedged. For example, if the value of a derivative used in a short hedge (such as writing a call option, buying a put option, or selling a futures contract) increased by less than the decline in value of the hedged investment, the hedge would not be fully successful. Such a lack of correlation might occur due to factors unrelated to the value of the investments being hedged, such as speculative or other pressures on the markets in which these instruments are traded. The effectiveness of hedges using derivatives on indices will depend on the degree of correlation between price movements in the index and price movements in the investments being hedged, as well as how similar the index is to the portion of the Fund’s assets being hedged in terms of securities composition.
(3)
Hedging strategies, if successful, can reduce the risk of loss by wholly or partially offsetting the negative effect of unfavorable price movements in the investments being hedged. However, hedging strategies also can reduce opportunity for gain by offsetting the positive effect of favorable price movements in the hedged investments. For example, if a Fund entered into a short hedge because a Fund’s portfolio management projected a decline in the price of a security in the Fund’s portfolio, and the price of that security increased instead, the gain from that increase might be wholly or partially offset by a decline in the price of the derivative. Moreover, if the price of the derivative declines by more than the increase in the price of the security, a Fund could suffer a loss.
(4)
As described below, a Fund might be required to make margin payments when it takes positions in derivatives involving obligations to third parties (i.e., instruments other than purchased options). If the Fund were unable to close out its positions in such derivatives, it might be required to continue to make such payments until the position expired or matured. The requirements might impair the Fund’s ability to sell a portfolio security or make an investment at a time when it would otherwise be favorable to do so, or require that the Fund sell a portfolio security at a disadvantageous time. The Fund’s ability to close out a position in a derivative prior to expiration or maturity depends on the existence of a liquid secondary market or, in the absence of such a market, the ability and willingness of the other party to the transaction (“counterparty”) to enter into a transaction closing out the position. Therefore, there is no assurance that any hedging position can be closed out at a time and price that is favorable to the Fund.
For a discussion of the federal income tax treatment of a Fund’s derivative instruments, see “Additional General Tax Information for All Funds” in this SAI.
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Options. A Fund may purchase or write put and call options on securities and indices, and may purchase options on foreign currencies, and enter into closing transactions with respect to such options to terminate an existing position. The purchase of call options can serve as a long hedge (i.e., taking a long position in the underlying security), and the purchase of put options can serve as a short hedge (i.e., taking a short position in the underlying security). Writing put or call options can enable a Fund to enhance income by reason of the premiums paid by the purchaser of such options. Writing call options serves as a limited short hedge because declines in the value of the hedged investment would be offset to the extent of the premium received for writing the option. However, if the security appreciates to a price higher than the exercise price of the call option, it can be expected that the option will be exercised, and a Fund will be obligated to sell the security at less than its market value or will be obligated to purchase the security at a price greater than that at which the security must be sold under the option. All or a portion of any assets used as cover for over-the-counter (“OTC”) options written by a Fund would be considered illiquid to the extent described under “Restricted, Non-Publicly Traded and Illiquid Securities” below. Writing put options serves as a limited long hedge because increases in the value of the hedged investment would be offset to the extent of the premium received for writing the option. However, if the security depreciates to a price lower than the exercise price of the put option, it can be expected that the put option will be exercised, and the Fund will be obligated to purchase the security at more than its market value.
The value of an option position will reflect, among other things, the historical price volatility of the underlying investment, the current market value of the underlying investment, the time remaining until expiration of the option, the relationship of the exercise price to the market price of the underlying investment, and general market conditions. Options that expire unexercised have no value. Options used by a Fund may include European-style options, which can be exercised only at expiration. This is in contrast to American-style options which can be exercised at any time prior to the expiration date of the option.
A Fund may effectively terminate its right or obligation under an option by entering into a closing transaction. For example, a Fund may terminate its obligation under a call or put option that it had written by purchasing an identical call or put option; this is known as a closing purchase transaction. Conversely, a Fund may terminate a position in a put or call option it had purchased by writing an identical put or call option; this is known as a closing sale transaction. Closing transactions permit the Fund to realize the profit or limit the loss on an option position prior to its exercise or expiration.
A Fund may purchase or write both OTC options and options traded on foreign and U.S. exchanges. Exchange-traded options are issued by a clearing organization affiliated with the exchange on which the option is listed that, in effect, guarantees completion of every exchange-traded option transaction. OTC options are contracts between the Fund and the counterparty (usually a securities dealer or a bank) with no clearing organization guarantee. Thus, when the Fund purchases or writes an OTC option, it relies on the counterparty to make or take delivery of the underlying investment upon exercise of the option. Failure by the counterparty to do so would result in the loss of any premium paid by the Fund as well as the loss of any expected benefit of the transaction.
A Fund’s ability to establish and close out positions in exchange-listed options depends on the existence of a liquid market. A Fund generally intends to purchase or write only those exchange-traded options for which there appears to be a liquid secondary market. However, there can be no assurance that such a market will exist at any particular time. Closing transactions can be made for OTC options only by negotiating directly with the counterparty, or by a transaction in the secondary market if any such market exists. Although a Fund will enter into OTC options only with counterparties that are expected to be capable of entering into closing transactions with a Fund, there is no assurance that such Fund will in fact be able to close out an OTC option at a favorable price prior to expiration. In the event of insolvency of the counterparty, a Fund might be unable to close out an OTC option position at any time prior to its expiration.
If a Fund is unable to effect a closing transaction for an option it had purchased, it would have to exercise the option to realize any profit. The inability to enter into a closing purchase transaction for a covered call option written by a Fund could cause material losses because the Fund would be unable to sell the investment used as a cover for the written option until the option expires or is exercised.
A Fund may engage in options transactions on indices in much the same manner as the options on securities discussed above, except that index options may serve as a hedge against overall fluctuations in the securities markets in general.
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The writing and purchasing of options is a highly specialized activity that involves investment techniques and risks different from those associated with ordinary portfolio securities transactions. Imperfect correlation between the options and securities markets may detract from the effectiveness of attempted hedging.
An interest rate option is an agreement with a counterparty giving the buyer the right but not the obligation to buy or sell an interest rate hedging vehicle (such as a Treasury future or interest rate swap) at a future date at a predetermined price. The option buyer would pay a premium at the inception of the agreement. An interest rate option can be used to actively manage a Fund’s interest rate risk with respect to either an individual bond or an overlay of the entire portfolio.
Spread Transactions. A Fund may purchase covered spread options from securities dealers. Such covered spread options are not presently exchange-listed or exchange-traded. The purchase of a spread option gives a Fund the right to put, or sell, a security that it owns at a fixed dollar spread or fixed yield spread in relationship to another security that the Fund does not own, but which is used as a benchmark. The risk to a Fund in purchasing covered spread options is the cost of the premium paid for the spread option and any transaction costs. In addition, there is no assurance that closing transactions will be available. The purchase of spread options will be used to protect a Fund against adverse changes in prevailing credit quality spreads, i.e., the yield spread between high-quality and lower-quality securities. Such protection is only provided during the life of the spread option.
Futures Contracts. A Fund may enter into futures contracts, including interest rate, index, and currency futures and purchase and write (sell) related options. The purchase of futures or call options thereon can serve as a long hedge, and the sale of futures or the purchase of put options thereon can serve as a short hedge. Writing covered call options on futures contracts can serve as a limited short hedge, and writing covered put options on futures contracts can serve as a limited long hedge, using a strategy similar to that used for writing covered options in securities. A Fund’s hedging may include purchases of futures as an offset against the effect of expected increases in securities prices or currency exchange rates and sales of futures as an offset against the effect of expected declines in securities prices or currency exchange rates. A Fund may write put options on futures contracts while at the same time purchasing call options on the same futures contracts in order to create synthetically a long futures contract position. Such options would have the same strike prices and expiration dates. A Fund will engage in this strategy only when a Fund’s portfolio management believes it is more advantageous to a Fund than purchasing the futures contract.
To the extent required by regulatory authorities, a Fund will only enter into futures contracts that are traded on U.S. or foreign exchanges or boards of trade approved by the CFTC and are standardized as to maturity date and underlying financial instrument. These transactions may be entered into for “bona fide hedging” purposes as defined in CFTC regulations and other permissible purposes including increasing return, substituting a position in a security, group of securities or an index, and hedging against changes in the value of portfolio securities due to anticipated changes in interest rates, currency values and/or market conditions. There is no overall limit on the percentage of a Fund’s assets that may be at risk with respect to futures activities. Although techniques other than sales and purchases of futures contracts could be used to obtain or reduce a Fund’s exposure to market, currency, or interest rate fluctuations, such Fund may be able to obtain or hedge its exposure more effectively and perhaps at a lower cost through using futures contracts.
A futures contract provides for the future sale by one party and purchase by another party of a specified amount of a specific financial instrument (e.g., debt security), asset, commodity or currency for a specified price at a designated date, time, and place. An index futures contract is an agreement pursuant to which the parties agree to take or make delivery of an amount of cash equal to a specified multiplier times the difference between the value of the index at the close of the last trading day of the contract and the price at which the index futures contract was originally written. Transaction costs are incurred when a futures contract is bought or sold and margin deposits must be maintained. A futures contract may be satisfied by delivery or purchase, as the case may be, of the instrument, the currency, or by payment of the change in the cash value of the index. More commonly, futures contracts are closed out prior to delivery by entering into an offsetting transaction in a matching futures contract. Although the value of an index might be a function of the value of certain specified securities, no physical delivery of those securities is made. If the offsetting purchase price is less than the original sale price, a Fund realizes a gain; if it is more, a Fund realizes a loss. Conversely, if the offsetting sale price is more than the original purchase price, a Fund realizes a gain; if it is less, a Fund realizes a loss. The transaction costs must also be included in these calculations. There can be no assurance, however, that a Fund will be able to enter into an offsetting transaction with respect to a particular futures contract at a particular time. If a Fund is not able to enter into an offsetting transaction, the Fund will continue to be required to maintain the margin deposits on the futures contract.
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No price is paid by a Fund upon entering into a futures contract. Instead, at the inception of a futures contract, the Fund is required to deposit with the futures broker or in a segregated account with its custodian, in the name of the futures broker through whom the transaction was effected, “initial margin” consisting of cash, U.S. government securities or other liquid obligations, in an amount generally equal to 10% or less of the contract value. Margin must also be deposited when writing a call or put option on a futures contract, in accordance with applicable exchange rules. Unlike margin in securities transactions, initial margin on futures contracts does not represent a borrowing, but rather is in the nature of a performance bond or good-faith deposit that is returned to a Fund at the termination of the transaction if all contractual obligations have been satisfied. Under certain circumstances, such as periods of high volatility, a Fund may be required by an exchange to increase the level of its initial margin payment, and initial margin requirements might be increased generally in the future by regulatory action.
Subsequent “variation margin” payments are made to and from the futures broker daily as the value of the futures position varies, a process known as “marking to market.” Variation margin does not involve borrowing, but rather represents a daily settlement of a Fund’s obligations to or from a futures broker. When a Fund purchases an option on a future, the premium paid plus transaction costs is all that is at risk. In contrast, when a Fund purchases or sells a futures contract or writes a call or put option thereon, it is subject to daily variation margin calls that could be substantial in the event of adverse price movements. If a Fund has insufficient cash to meet daily variation margin requirements, it might need to sell securities at a time when such sales are disadvantageous. Purchasers and sellers of futures positions and options on futures can enter into offsetting closing transactions by selling or purchasing, respectively, an instrument identical to the instrument held or written. Positions in futures and options on futures may be closed only on an exchange or board of trade on which they were entered into (or through a linked exchange). Although the Funds generally intend to enter into futures transactions only on exchanges or boards of trade where there appears to be an active market, there can be no assurance that such a market will exist for a particular contract at a particular time.
Under certain circumstances, futures exchanges may establish daily limits on the amount that the price of a future or option on a futures contract can vary from the previous day’s settlement price; once that limit is reached, no trades may be made that day at a price beyond the limit. Daily price limits do not limit potential losses because prices could move to the daily limit for several consecutive days with little or no trading, thereby preventing liquidation of unfavorable positions.
If a Fund were unable to liquidate a futures contract or option on a futures contract position due to the absence of a liquid secondary market or the imposition of price limits, it could incur substantial losses, because it would continue to be subject to market risk with respect to the position. In addition, except in the case of purchased options, the Fund would continue to be required to make daily variation margin payments and might be required to maintain the position being hedged by the future or option or to maintain cash or securities in a segregated account.
Certain characteristics of the futures market might increase the risk that movements in the prices of futures contracts or options on futures contracts might not correlate perfectly with movements in the prices of the investments being hedged. For example, all participants in the futures and options on futures contracts markets are subject to daily variation margin calls and might be compelled to liquidate futures or options on futures contracts positions whose prices are moving unfavorably to avoid being subject to further calls. These liquidations could increase price volatility of the instruments and distort the normal price relationship between the futures or options and the investments being hedged. Also, because initial margin deposit requirements in the futures markets are less onerous than margin requirements in the securities markets, there might be increased participation by speculators in the future markets. This participation also might cause temporary price distortions. In addition, activities of large traders in both the futures and securities markets involving arbitrage, “program trading” and other investment strategies might result in temporary price distortions.
A Fund that enters into a futures contract is subject to the risk of loss of the initial and variation margin in the event of bankruptcy of the futures commission merchant (“FCM”) with which the Fund has an open futures position. A Fund’s assets may not be fully protected in the event of the bankruptcy of the FCM or central counterparty because the Fund might be limited to recovering only a pro rata share of all available funds and margin segregated on behalf of the FCM’s customers. If the FCM fails to provide accurate reporting, a Fund is also subject to the risk that the FCM could use the Fund’s assets, which are held in an omnibus account with assets belonging to the FCM’s other customers, to satisfy its own obligations or the payment obligations of another customer to the central counterparty.
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Indexed and Inverse Securities. A Fund may invest in securities the potential return of which is based on an index or interest rate. As an illustration, a Fund may invest in a debt security that pays interest based on the current value of an interest rate index, such as the prime rate. A Fund also may invest in a debt security that returns principal at maturity based on the level of a securities index or a basket of securities, or based on the relative changes of two indices. In addition, certain Funds may invest in securities the potential return of which is based inversely on the change in an index or interest rate (that is, a security the value of which will move in the opposite direction of changes to an index or interest rate). For example, a Fund may invest in securities that pay a higher rate of interest when a particular index decreases and pay a lower rate of interest (or do not fully return principal) when the value of the index increases. If a Fund invests in such securities, it may be subject to reduced or eliminated interest payments or loss of principal in the event of an adverse movement in the relevant interest rate, index or indices. Indexed and inverse securities involve credit risk, and certain indexed and inverse securities may involve leverage risk, liquidity risk and currency risk. When used for hedging purposes, indexed and inverse securities involve correlation risk. (Furthermore, where such a security includes a contingent liability, in the event of an adverse movement in the underlying index or interest rate, a Fund may be required to pay substantial additional margin to maintain the position.)
Credit Linked Notes. (Fixed-Income Funds only) A credit linked note (“CLN”) is a type of hybrid instrument in which a special purpose entity issues a structured note (the “Note Issuer”) that is intended to replicate a corporate bond or a portfolio of corporate bonds. The purchaser of the CLN (the “Note Purchaser”) invests a par amount and receives a payment during the term of the CLN that equals a fixed or floating rate of interest equivalent to a highly rated funded asset (such as a bank certificate of deposit) plus an additional premium that relates to taking on the credit risk of an identified bond (the “Reference Bond”). Upon maturity of the CLN, the Note Purchaser will receive a payment equal to: (i) the original par amount paid to the Note issuer, if there is neither a designated event of default (an “Event of Default”) with respect to the Reference Bond nor a restructuring of the issuer of the Reference Bond (a “Restructuring Event”); or (ii) the value of the Reference Bond if an Event of Default or a Restructuring Event has occurred. Depending upon the terms of the CLN, it is also possible that the Note Purchaser may be required to take physical delivery of the Reference Bond in the event of an Event of Default or a Restructuring Event.
Structured Notes. A Fund may use structured notes to pursue its objective. Structured notes generally are individually negotiated agreements and may be traded over-the-counter. They are organized and operated to restructure the investment characteristics of the underlying security or asset. This restructuring involves the deposit with or purchase by an entity, such as a corporation or trust, of specified instruments (such as commercial bank loans) and the issuance by that entity of one or more classes of securities (“structured securities”) backed by, or representing interests in, the underlying instruments. The cash flow on the underlying instruments may be apportioned among the newly issued structured securities to create securities with different investment characteristics, such as varying maturities, payment priorities and interest rate provisions, and the extent of such payments made with respect to structured securities is dependent on the extent of the cash flow on the underlying instruments.
With respect to structured notes, because structured securities typically involve no credit enhancement, their credit risk generally will be equivalent to that of the underlying instruments. Investments in structured securities are generally of a class that is either subordinated or unsubordinated to the right of payment of another class. Subordinated structured securities typically have higher yields and present greater risks than unsubordinated structured securities. Structured securities are typically sold in private placement transactions, and there is currently no active trading market for these securities. See also “Additional Information on Portfolio Instruments, Strategies and Investment Policies— Restricted, Non-Publicly Traded and Illiquid Securities.”
Swap Agreements. The Funds (except the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund) may enter into securities index, interest rate, total return, currency exchange rate or single/multiple security swap agreements for any lawful purpose consistent with the Fund’s investment objective, such as (but not limited to) for the purpose of attempting to obtain or preserve a particular desired return or spread at a lower cost to the Fund than if the Fund had invested directly in an instrument that yielded that desired return or spread. The Fund also may enter into swaps in order to protect against an increase in the price of, or the currency exchange rate applicable to, securities that the Fund anticipates purchasing at a later date. Swap agreements are two-party contracts entered into primarily by institutional investors for periods ranging from one or more days to several years. In a standard “swap” transaction, two parties agree to exchange the returns (or differentials in rates of return) realized on particular predetermined investments or instruments. The gross returns to be exchanged or “swapped” between the parties are calculated with respect to a “notional amount,” i.e., the return on or increase or decrease in value of a particular dollar amount invested at a particular interest rate, in a particular foreign currency, or in a “basket” of securities, such as a selection of particular securities or those representing a particular index. Swap agreements may be
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negotiated bilaterally and traded OTC between the two parties (for an uncleared swap) or, with respect to swaps that have been designated by the CFTC for mandatory clearing (cleared swaps), through an FCM and cleared through a clearinghouse that serves as a central counterparty. See “Uncleared Swaps” and “Cleared Swaps” below for additional explanation of cleared and uncleared swaps. Swap agreements may include interest rate caps, under which, in return for a premium, one party agrees to make payments to the other to the extent that interest rates exceed a specified rate, or “cap”; interest rate floors under which, in return for a premium, one party agrees to make payments to the other to the extent that interest rates fall below a specified level, or “floor”; and interest rate collars, under which a party sells a cap and purchases a floor, or vice versa, in an attempt to protect itself against interest rate movements exceeding given minimum or maximum levels. “Total return swaps” are contracts in which one party agrees to make payments of the total return from the underlying asset during the specified period, in return for payments equal to a fixed or floating rate of interest or the total return from another underlying asset. See “Swaps regulation” below.
The “notional amount” of the swap agreement is the agreed upon basis for calculating the obligations that the parties to a swap agreement have agreed to exchange. Under most swap agreements entered into by the Fund, the obligations of the parties would be exchanged on a “net basis.” Consequently, the Fund’s obligation (or rights) under a swap agreement generally will be equal only to the net amount to be paid or received under the agreement based on the relative values of the positions held by each party to the agreement (the “net amount”). The Fund’s obligation under a swap agreement will be accrued daily (offset against amounts owed to the Fund). Moreover, the Fund bears the risk of loss of the amount expected to be received under a swap agreement in the event of the default or bankruptcy of a swap agreement counterparty. The swaps market is largely unregulated.
Whether the Fund’s use of swap agreements will be successful in furthering its investment objective will depend, in part, on the Fund’s portfolio management’s ability to predict correctly whether certain types of investments are likely to produce greater returns than other investments, replicate a particular benchmark index, or otherwise achieve the intended results. Swap agreements, especially OTC uncleared swap agreements, may be considered to be illiquid.
Swaps regulation. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (the “Dodd-Frank Act”) and related regulatory developments have imposed comprehensive regulatory requirements on swaps and swap market participants. The regulatory framework includes: (1) registration and regulation of swap dealers and major swap participants; (2) central clearing and execution of standardized swaps; (3) margin requirements in swap transactions; (4) position limits and large trader reporting requirements; and (5) recordkeeping and centralized and public reporting requirements, on an anonymous basis, for most swaps. The CFTC is responsible for the regulation of most swaps, and has adopted rules implementing most of the swap regulations dictated by the Dodd-Frank Act. The SEC has jurisdiction over a small segment of the market referred to as “security-based swaps,” which includes swaps on single securities or credits, or narrow-based indices of securities or credits.
Uncleared swaps. In an uncleared swap, the swap counterparty is typically a brokerage firm, bank or other financial institution. The Fund customarily enters into uncleared swaps based on the standard terms and conditions of an International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) Master Agreement. ISDA is a voluntary industry association of participants in the OTC derivatives markets that has developed standardized contracts used by such participants that have agreed to be bound by such standardized contracts.
In the event that one party to a swap transaction defaults and the transaction is terminated prior to its scheduled termination date, one of the parties may be required to make an early termination payment to the other. An early termination payment may be payable by either the defaulting or non-defaulting party, depending upon which of them is “in-the-money” with respect to the swap at the time of its termination. Early termination payments may be calculated in various ways, but are intended to approximate the amount the “in-the-money” party would have to pay to replace the swap as of the date of its termination.
A Fund will enter uncleared swap agreements only with counterparties that the Fund’s portfolio management reasonably believes are capable of performing under the swap agreements. If there is a default by the other party to such a transaction, the Fund will have to rely on its contractual remedies (which may be limited by bankruptcy, insolvency or similar laws) pursuant to the agreements related to the transaction.
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Cleared swaps. Certain swaps have been designated by the CFTC for mandatory central clearing. The Dodd-Frank Act and implementing rules will ultimately require the clearing and exchange-trading of many swaps. Mandatory exchange-trading and clearing will occur on a phased-in basis based on the type of market participant and CFTC approval of contracts for central clearing. To date, the CFTC has designated only certain of the most common types of credit default index swaps and interest rate swaps for mandatory clearing, but it is expected that the CFTC will designate additional categories of swaps for mandatory clearing. Central clearing is intended to reduce counterparty credit risk and increase liquidity, but central clearing does not necessarily eliminate these risks and may involve additional risks not involved with uncleared swaps.
In a cleared swap, a Fund’s ultimate counterparty is a central clearinghouse rather than a brokerage firm, bank or other financial institution. The Fund initially will enter into cleared swaps through an executing broker. Such transactions will then be submitted for clearing and, if cleared, will be held at regulated FCMs that are members of the clearinghouse that serves as the central counterparty.
When a Fund enters into a cleared swap, it must deliver to the central counterparty (via the FCM) an amount referred to as “initial margin.” Initial margin requirements are determined by the central counterparty, but an FCM may require additional initial margin above the amount required by the central counterparty. During the term of the swap agreement, a “variation margin” amount also may be required to be paid by the Fund or may be received by the Fund in accordance with margin controls set for such accounts, depending upon changes in the price of the underlying reference instrument subject to the swap agreement. At the conclusion of the term of the swap agreement, if the Fund has a loss equal to or greater than the margin amount, the margin amount is paid to the FCM along with any loss in excess of the margin amount. If the Fund has a loss of less than the margin amount, the excess margin is returned to the Fund. If the Fund has a gain, the full margin amount and the amount of the gain is paid to the Fund.
CFTC rules require the trading and execution of certain cleared swaps on Swap Execution Facilities (“SEFs”), which are trading systems on platforms in which multiple participants have the ability to execute or trade swaps by accepting bids and offers made by multiple participants on the facility or system, through any means of interstate commerce. Moving trading to an exchange-type system may increase market transparency and liquidity but may require a Fund to incur increased expenses to access the same types of swaps that it has used in the past.
Rules adopted under the Dodd-Frank Act require centralized reporting of detailed information about many swaps, whether cleared or uncleared. This information is available to regulators and also, to a more limited extent and on an anonymous basis, to the public. Reporting of swaps data is intended to result in greater market transparency. This may be beneficial to funds that use swaps in their trading strategies. However, public reporting imposes additional recordkeeping burdens on these funds, and the safeguards established to protect anonymity are not yet tested and may not provide protection of trader identities as intended.
Certain Internal Revenue Service positions may limit a Fund’s ability to use swap agreements in a desired tax strategy. It is possible that developments in the swap markets and/or the laws relating to swap agreements, including potential government regulation, could adversely affect the Fund’s ability to benefit from using swap agreements, or could have adverse tax consequences.
Risks of cleared swaps. As noted above, certain types of swaps are, and others eventually are expected to be, required to be cleared through a central counterparty, which may affect counterparty risk and other risks faced by a Fund. Central clearing is designed to reduce counterparty credit risk and increase liquidity compared to bilateral swaps because central clearing interposes the central clearinghouse as the counterparty to each participant’s swap, but it does not eliminate those risks completely. There is also a risk of loss by a Fund of the initial and variation margin deposits in the event of bankruptcy of the FCM with which the Fund has an open position in a swap contract. The assets of the Fund may not be fully protected in the event of the bankruptcy of the FCM or central counterparty because the Fund might be limited to recovering only a pro rata share of all available funds and margin segregated on behalf of an FCM’s customers. If the FCM does not provide accurate reporting, the Fund is also subject to the risk that the FCM could use the Fund’s assets, which are held in an omnibus account with assets belonging to the FCM’s other customers, to satisfy its own financial obligations or the payment obligations of another customer to the central counterparty.
With cleared swaps, a Fund may not be able to obtain as favorable terms as it would be able to negotiate for a bilateral, uncleared swap. In addition, an FCM may unilaterally amend the terms of its agreement with the Fund, which may include the imposition of position limits or additional margin requirements with respect to the Fund’s investment in certain types of
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swaps. Central counterparties and FCMs generally can require termination of existing cleared swap transactions at any time, and can also require increases in margin above the margin that is required at the initiation of the swap agreement. Additionally, depending on a number of factors, the margin required under the rules of the clearinghouse and FCM may be in excess of the collateral required to be posted by a Fund to support its obligations under a similar uncleared swap. However, regulators are expected to adopt rules imposing certain margin requirements, including minimums, on uncleared swaps in the near future, which could change this comparison.
Finally, the Fund is subject to the risk that, after entering into a cleared swap with an executing broker, no FCM or central counterparty is willing or able to clear the transaction. In such an event, a Fund may be required to break the trade and make an early termination payment to the executing broker.
Credit Default Swaps. Except for the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund, each Fixed-Income Fund may enter into credit default swap contracts for any lawful purpose consistent with such Fund's investment objective, such as for the purpose of attempting to obtain or preserve a particular desired return or spread at a lower cost to the Fund than if the Fund had invested directly in an instrument that yielded that desired return or spread (e.g., to create direct or synthetic short or long exposure to domestic or foreign corporate or sovereign debt securities). The Funds also may enter into credit default swaps in order to protect against an increase in the price of, or the currency exchange rate applicable to, securities that Funds anticipate purchasing at a later date, or for other hedging purposes.
As the seller in a credit default swap contract, a Fund would be required to pay the par (or other agreed-upon) value of a referenced debt obligation to the counterparty in the event of a default (or similar event) by a third party, such as a U.S. or foreign issuer, on the debt obligation. In return, the Fund would receive from the counterparty a periodic stream of payments over the term of the contract, provided that no event of default (or similar event) occurs. If no event of default (or similar event) occurs, the Fund would keep the stream of payments and would have no payment of obligations. As the seller in a credit default swap contract, the Fund effectively would add economic leverage to its portfolio because, in addition to its total net assets, the Fund would be subject to investment exposure on the notional amount of the swap.
As the purchaser in a credit default swap contract, a Fund would function as the counterparty referenced in the preceding paragraph. This would involve the risk that the investment might expire worthless. It also would involve credit risk–that the seller may fail to satisfy its payment obligations to a Fund in the event of a default (or similar event). As the purchaser in a credit default swap contract, a Fund’s investment would generate income only in the event of an actual default (or similar event) by the issuer of the underlying obligation.
Equity Swaps. The Equity Funds may enter into equity swap contracts to invest in a market without owning or taking physical custody of securities in various circumstances, including (but not limited to) circumstances where direct investment in the securities is restricted for legal reasons or is otherwise impracticable. Equity swaps may also be used for hedging purposes or to seek to increase total return. Until equity swaps are designated for central clearing, the counterparty to an equity swap contract will typically be a bank, investment banking firm or broker/dealer. Equity swap contracts may be structured in different ways. For example, a counterparty may agree to pay the Fund the amount, if any, by which the notional amount of the equity swap contract would have increased in value had it been invested in the particular stocks (or an index of stocks), plus the dividends that would have been received on those stocks. In these cases, the Fund may agree to pay to the counterparty a floating rate of interest on the notional amount of the equity swap contract plus the amount, if any, by which that notional amount would have decreased in value had it been invested in such stocks. Therefore, the return to the Fund on the equity swap contract should be the gain or loss on the notional amount plus dividends on the stocks less the interest paid by the Fund on the notional amount. In other cases, the counterparty and the Fund may each agree to pay the other the difference between the relative investment performances that would have been achieved if the notional amount of the equity swap contract had been invested in different stocks (or indices of stocks).
A Fund will generally enter into equity swaps on a net basis, which means that the two payment streams are netted out, with the Fund receiving or paying, as the case may be, only the net amount of the two payments. Payments may be made at the conclusion of an equity swap contract or periodically during its term. Equity swaps normally do not involve the delivery of securities or other underlying assets. Accordingly, the risk of loss with respect to equity swaps is normally limited to the net amount of payments that the Fund is contractually obligated to make. If the other party to an equity swap defaults, the Funds' risk of loss consists of the net amount of payments that the Fund is contractually entitled to receive, if any.
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Total Rate of Return Swaps. The Funds (except the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund) may enter into total rate of return swaps. Total rate of return swaps are contracts in which one party agrees to make payments of the total return from the underlying asset during the specified period, in return for payments equal to a fixed or floating rate of interest or the total return from another underlying asset. A total rate of return swap may allow the Funds to quickly and cost effectively invest cash flows into a diversified basket of assets.
Interest Rate Swaps. The Fixed-Income Funds (except for the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund) may enter into interest rate swaps. In an interest rate swap, the parties exchange their rights to receive interest payments on a security or other reference rate. For example, they might swap the right to receive floating rate payments for the right to receive fixed rate payments. Interest rate swaps entail both interest rate risk and credit risk. There is a risk that based on movements of interest rates, the payments made under a swap agreement will be greater than the payments received, as well as the risk that the counterparty will fail to meet its obligations.
Hybrid Instruments. Hybrid instruments combine elements of derivative contracts with those of another security (typically a fixed-income security). All or a portion of the interest or principal payable on a hybrid security is determined by reference to changes in the price of an underlying asset or by reference to another benchmark (such as interest rates, currency exchange rates or indices). Hybrid instruments also include convertible securities with conversion terms related to an underlying asset or benchmark.
The risks of investing in hybrid instruments reflect a combination of the risks of investing in securities, options, futures and currencies, and depend upon the terms of the instrument. Thus, an investment in a hybrid instrument may entail significant risks in addition to those associated with traditional fixed-income or convertible securities. Hybrid instruments are also potentially more volatile and carry greater interest rate risks than traditional instruments. Moreover, depending on the structure of the particular hybrid, it may expose a Fund to leverage risks or carry liquidity risks.
Foreign Currency-Related Derivative Strategies— Special Considerations. A Fund may use futures and options on futures on foreign currencies and forward currency contracts to increase returns, to manage the Fund’s average portfolio duration, or to hedge against movements in the values of the foreign currencies in which a Fund’s securities are denominated. Currency contracts also may be purchased such that net exposure to an individual currency exceeds the value of the Fund’s securities that are denominated in that particular currency. A Fund may engage in currency exchange transactions to protect against uncertainty in the level of future exchange rates and also may engage in currency transactions to increase income and total return. Such currency hedges can protect against price movements in a security the Fund owns or intends to acquire that are attributable to changes in the value of the currency in which it is denominated. Such hedges do not, however, protect against price movements in the securities that are attributable to other causes.
A Fund might seek to hedge against changes in the value of a particular currency when no hedging instruments on that currency are available or such hedging instruments are more expensive than certain other hedging instruments. In such cases, a Fund may hedge against price movements in that currency by entering into transactions using hedging instruments on another foreign currency or a basket of currencies, the values of which a Fund’s portfolio management believes will have a high degree of positive correlation to the value of the currency being hedged. The risk that movements in the price of the hedging instrument will not correlate perfectly with movements in the price of the currency being hedged is magnified when this strategy is used.
The value of derivative instruments on foreign currencies depends on the value of the underlying currency relative to the U.S. dollar. Because foreign currency transactions occurring in the interbank market might involve substantially larger amounts than those involved in the use of such hedging instruments, a Fund could be disadvantaged by having to deal in the odd-lot market (generally consisting of transactions of less than $1 million) for the underlying foreign currencies at prices that are less favorable than for round lots.
There is no systematic reporting of last sale information for foreign currencies or any regulatory requirement that quotations available through dealers or other market sources be firm or revised on a timely basis. Quotation information generally is representative of very large transactions in the interbank market and thus might not reflect odd-lot transactions where rates might be less favorable. The interbank market in foreign currencies is a global, round-the-clock market. To the extent the U.S. options or futures markets are closed while the markets for the underlying currencies remain open, significant price and rate movements might take place in the underlying markets that cannot be reflected in the markets for the derivative instruments until they reopen.
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Settlement of derivative transactions involving foreign currencies might be required to take place within the country issuing the underlying currency. Thus, a Fund might be required to accept or make delivery of the underlying foreign currency in accordance with any U.S. or foreign regulations regarding the maintenance of foreign banking arrangements by U.S. residents and might be required to pay any fees, taxes and charges associated with such delivery assessed in the issuing country.
Permissible foreign currency options will include options traded primarily in the OTC market. Although options on foreign currencies are traded primarily in the OTC market, a Fund will normally purchase OTC options on foreign currency only when a Fund’s portfolio management believes a liquid secondary market will exist for a particular option at any specific time.
Forward Currency Contracts. A forward currency contract involves an obligation to purchase or sell a specific currency at a future date, which may be any fixed number of days from the date of the contract agreed upon by the parties, at a price set at the time of the contract. These contracts are entered into in the interbank market conducted directly between currency traders (usually large commercial banks) and their customers.
At or before the maturity of a forward currency contract, a Fund may either sell a portfolio security and make delivery of the currency, or retain the security and fully or partially offset its contractual obligation to deliver the currency by purchasing a second contract. If a Fund retains the portfolio security and engages in an offsetting transaction, the Fund, at the time of execution of the offsetting transaction, will incur a gain or a loss to the extent that movement has occurred in forward currency contract prices.
The precise matching of forward currency contract amounts and the value of the securities involved generally will not be possible because the value of such securities, measured in the foreign currency, will change after the foreign currency contract has been established. Thus, a Fund might need to purchase or sell foreign currencies in the spot (cash) market to the extent such foreign currencies are not covered by forward currency contracts. The projection of short-term currency market movements is extremely difficult, and the successful execution of a short-term hedging strategy is highly uncertain.
Markets for trading foreign forward currency contracts offer less protection against defaults than is available when trading in currency instruments on an exchange. Forward currency contracts are subject to the risk that the counterparty to such contract will default on its obligations. Since a forward foreign currency exchange contract is not guaranteed by an exchange or clearinghouse, a default on the contract would deprive a Fund of unrealized profits or the benefits of a currency hedge, impose transaction costs or force the Fund to cover its purchase or sale commitments, if any, at the current market price. In addition, the institutions that deal in forward currency contracts are not required to continue to make markets in the currencies in which they trade and these markets can experience periods of illiquidity. To the extent that a substantial portion of a Fund’s total assets, adjusted to reflect the Fund’s net position after giving effect to currency transactions, is denominated or quoted in currencies of foreign countries, the Fund will be more susceptible to the risk of adverse economic and political developments within those countries.
Currency Hedging. While the values of forward currency contracts, currency options, currency futures and options on futures may be expected to correlate with exchange rates, they will not reflect other factors that may affect the value of a Fund’s investments. A currency hedge, for example, should protect a Yen-denominated bond against a decline in the Yen, but will not protect a Fund against price decline if the issuer’s creditworthiness deteriorates. Because the value of a Fund’s investments denominated in a foreign currency will change in response to many factors other than exchange rates, a currency hedge may not be entirely successful in mitigating changes in the value of a Fund’s investments denominated in that currency over time.
A decline in the dollar value of a foreign currency in which a Fund’s securities are denominated will reduce the dollar value of the securities, even if their value in the foreign currency remains constant. The use of currency hedges does not eliminate fluctuations in the underlying prices of the securities, but it does establish a rate of exchange that can be achieved in the future. In order to protect against such diminutions in the value of securities it holds, a Fund may purchase put options on the foreign currency. If the value of the currency does decline, the Fund will have the right to sell the currency for a fixed amount in dollars and will thereby offset, in whole or in part, the adverse effect on its securities that otherwise would have resulted. Conversely, if a rise in the dollar value of a currency in which securities to be acquired are denominated is projected, thereby potentially increasing the cost of the securities, a Fund may purchase call options on the particular currency. The
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purchase of these options could offset, at least partially, the effects of the adverse movements in exchange rates. Although currency hedges limit the risk of loss due to a decline in the value of a hedged currency, at the same time, they also limit any potential gain that might result should the value of the currency increase.
A Fund may enter into foreign currency exchange transactions to hedge its currency exposure in specific transactions or portfolio positions. Currency contracts also may be purchased such that net exposure to an individual currency exceeds the value of the Fund’s securities that are denominated in that particular currency. Transaction hedging is the purchase or sale of forward currency with respect to specific receivables or payables of a Fund generally accruing in connection with the purchase or sale of its portfolio securities. Position hedging is the sale of forward currency with respect to portfolio security positions. A Fund may not position hedge to an extent greater than the aggregate market value (at the time of making such sale) of the hedged securities.
Non-Deliverable Forwards. A Fund may, from time to time, engage in non-deliverable forward transactions to manage currency risk or to gain exposure to a currency without purchasing securities denominated in that currency. A non-deliverable forward is a transaction that represents an agreement between a Fund and a counterparty (usually a commercial bank) to buy or sell a specified (notional) amount of a particular currency at an agreed upon foreign exchange rate on an agreed upon future date. Unlike other currency transactions, there is no physical delivery of the currency on the settlement of a non-deliverable forward transaction. Rather, the Fund and the counterparty agree to net the settlement by making a payment in U.S. dollars or another fully convertible currency that represents any differential between the foreign exchange rate agreed upon at the inception of the non-deliverable forward agreement and the actual exchange rate on the agreed upon future date. Thus, the actual gain or loss of a given non-deliverable forward transaction is calculated by multiplying the transaction’s notional amount by the difference between the agreed upon forward exchange rate and the actual exchange rate when the transaction is completed.
Since a Fund generally may only close out a non-deliverable forward with the particular counterparty, there is a risk that the counterparty will default on its obligation under the agreement. If the counterparty defaults, the Fund will have contractual remedies pursuant to the agreement related to the transaction, but there is no assurance that contract counterparties will be able to meet their obligations pursuant to such agreements or that, in the event of a default, the Fund will succeed in pursuing contractual remedies. A Fund thus assumes the risk that it may be delayed or prevented from obtaining payments owed to it pursuant to non-deliverable forward transactions.
In addition, where the currency exchange rates that are the subject of a given non-deliverable forward transaction do not move in the direction or to the extent anticipated, the Fund could sustain losses on the non-deliverable forward transaction. A Fund’s investment in a particular non-deliverable forward transaction will be affected favorably or unfavorably by factors that affect the subject currencies, including economic, political and legal developments that impact the applicable countries, as well as exchange control regulations of the applicable countries. These risks are heightened when a non-deliverable forward transaction involves currencies of emerging market countries because such currencies can be volatile and there is a greater risk that such currencies will be devalued against the U.S. dollar or other currencies.
The SEC and CFTC consider non-deliverable forwards as swaps, and they are therefore included in the definition of “commodity interests.” Non-deliverable forwards have historically been traded in the OTC market. However, as swaps, non-deliverable forwards may become subject to central clearing and trading on public facilities. Currency and cross currency forwards that qualify as deliverable forwards are not regulated as swaps for most purposes, and thus are not deemed to be commodity interests. However, such forwards are subject to some requirements applicable to swaps, including reporting to swap data repositories, documentation requirements, and business conduct rules applicable to swap dealers. CFTC regulation of currency and cross currency forwards, especially non-deliverable forwards, may restrict the Fund’s ability to use these instruments in the manner described above or subject NFA to CFTC registration and regulation as a commodity pool operator.
Foreign Commercial Paper. A Fund may invest in commercial paper which is indexed to certain specific foreign currency exchange rates. The terms of such commercial paper provide that its principal amount is adjusted upward or downward (but not below zero) at maturity to reflect changes in the exchange rate between two currencies while the obligation is outstanding. A Fund will purchase such commercial paper with the currency in which it is denominated and, at maturity, will receive interest and principal payments thereon in that currency, but the amount or principal payable by the issuer at maturity will change in proportion to the change (if any) in the exchange rate between two specified currencies between the date the instrument is issued and the date the instrument matures. While such commercial paper entails the risk
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of loss of principal, the potential for realizing gains as a result of changes in the foreign currency exchange rate enables a Fund to hedge or cross-hedge against a decline in the U.S. dollar value of investments denominated in foreign currencies while providing an attractive money market rate of return. A Fund will purchase such commercial paper either for hedging purposes or in order to seek investment gain.
Dividend-Paying Stocks
Dividend-paying stocks may fall out of favor with investors and underperform the market. Companies that issue dividend-paying stocks are not required to continue to pay dividends on such stocks. There is no guarantee that the issuers of the stocks held by a Fund will declare dividends in the future or that, if dividends are declared, they will remain at their current levels or increase over time. A Fund’s emphasis on dividend-paying stocks could cause the Fund to underperform similar funds that invest without consideration of a company’s track record of paying dividends or ability to pay dividends in the future. Dividend-paying stocks may not participate in a broad market advance to the same degree as other stocks, and a sharp rise in interest rates or economic downturn could cause a company to unexpectedly reduce or eliminate its dividend. Depending upon market conditions, dividend-paying stocks that meet a Fund’s investment criteria may not be widely available and/or may be highly concentrated in only a few market sectors. High-dividend stocks may not experience high earnings growth or capital appreciation.
Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) Securities
Certain Funds may invest in securities of issuers that meet certain ESG criteria. The application of a subadviser’s ESG analysis when selecting investments may affect the Funds’ exposure to certain companies, sectors, regions, and countries and may affect the Funds’ performance depending on whether such investments are in or out of favor. Adhering to the ESG criteria and applying a subadviser’s ESG analysis may also affect the Funds’ performance relative to similar funds that do not adhere to such criteria or apply such analysis. Additionally, a  Fund’s adherence to the ESG criteria and the application of the ESG analysis in connection with identifying and selecting equity investments in non-U.S. issuers, including emerging country issuers, often require subjective analysis and may be relatively more difficult than applying the ESG criteria or the ESG analysis to equity investments of U.S. issuers because data availability may be more limited or unreliable. Applying ESG criteria as an exclusionary approach to investing may result in a  Fund forgoing opportunities to buy certain securities when it might otherwise be advantageous to do so, or selling securities for ESG reasons when it might be otherwise disadvantageous for it to do so. The Funds may invest in companies that do not reflect the beliefs and values of any particular investor.
Equity Participation Notes or Equity Linked Notes
The Nationwide Global Sustainable Equity Fund may invest up to 10% of its total assets in equity participation notes or equity linked notes (collectively, “EPNs”). An EPN is a debt instrument whose return is determined by the performance of a single equity security, a basket of securities, or an equity index (collectively, “underlying security”). When purchasing an EPN, the Fund pays the counterparty the current value of the underlying security plus a commission. During the time that the EPN is owned, the price of the EPN will fluctuate in accordance with the price fluctuation of the underlying security, with a currency adjustment to reflect the fact that EPNs are generally priced in U.S. dollars whereas the underlying security is generally denominated in a foreign currency. At maturity or sale, the EPN owner’s profit or loss is the sum of the appreciation/depreciation of the underlying security, plus the appreciation/depreciation of the underlying security’s currency relative to the U.S. dollar, less any commissions paid. The Fund only invests in EPNs for which the underlying security is a permissible investment pursuant to the Fund’s investment policies and restrictions.
The Nationwide Global Sustainable Equity Fund invests in EPNs only to gain exposure to equities in foreign markets where direct investments in equity securities are not easily accessible or otherwise obtainable. The Fund only may invest in EPNs that are unleveraged and that do not have a “cap” or a “floor” on the maximum principal amount to be repaid to the Fund at maturity. In addition, the Fund only may invest in EPNs that are based on the performance of a single underlying equity security; that have no premium or discount in relation to the underlying asset; and that provide for the retention of dividend rights. Investments in EPNs will only be made if the counterparty is a financial institution rated at least A1 by S&P or P1 by Moody’s. EPNs are not considered equity securities for purposes of the Fund’s policy to invest 80% of its net assets in equity securities.
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EPNs possess the risks associated with the underlying security, such as market risk, and, with respect to EPNs based on foreign securities, foreign securities and currency risks. EPNs, however, involve greater risks than if the Fund had invested in the underlying security directly, since, in addition to general market and foreign securities risks, EPNs are subject to counterparty, credit and illiquidity risks. Counterparty risk is the risk that the issuer of the EPN may fail to pay the full amount due at maturity or redemption. In addition, an investment in an EPN creates exposure to the credit risk of the issuing financial institution. Also, the secondary market for EPNs may be limited, and the lack of liquidity in the secondary market may make EPNs difficult to dispose of and to value. In choosing EPNs appropriate for the Fund, the subadviser will select only those EPNs that have demonstrated patterns of brokers willing to provide liquidity on demand to ensure that the EPNs maintain their liquidity.
Floating- and Variable-Rate Securities
Each of the Fixed-Income Funds may invest in floating- or variable-rate securities. Floating- or variable-rate obligations bear interest at rates that are not fixed, but vary with changes in specified market rates or indices, such as the prime rate, or at specified intervals. The interest rate on floating-rate securities varies with changes in the underlying index (such as the Treasury bill rate), while the interest rate on variable- or adjustable-rate securities changes at preset times based upon an underlying index. Certain of the floating- or variable-rate obligations that may be purchased by the Funds may carry a demand feature that would permit the holder to tender them back to the issuer of the instrument or to a third party at par value prior to maturity.
Some of the demand instruments purchased by a Fund may not be traded in a secondary market and derive their liquidity solely from the ability of the holder to demand repayment from the issuer or third party providing credit support. If a demand instrument is not traded in a secondary market, a Fund will nonetheless treat the instrument as “readily marketable” for the purposes of its investment restriction limiting investments in illiquid securities unless the demand feature has a notice period of more than seven days in which case the instrument will be characterized as “not readily marketable” and therefore illiquid.
Such obligations include variable-rate master demand notes, which are unsecured instruments issued pursuant to an agreement between the issuer and the holder that permit the indebtedness thereunder to vary and to provide for periodic adjustments in the interest rate. Each Fund will limit its purchases of floating- and variable-rate obligations to those of the same quality as the debt securities it is otherwise allowed to purchase according to its principal investment strategies as disclosed in each Fund’s Prospectus. A Fund’s portfolio management will monitor on an ongoing basis the ability of an issuer of a demand instrument to pay principal and interest on demand.
A Fund’s right to obtain payment at par on a demand instrument could be affected by events occurring between the date the Fund elects to demand payment and the date payment is due that may affect the ability of the issuer of the instrument or third party providing credit support to make payment when due, except when such demand instruments permit same day settlement. To facilitate settlement, these same day demand instruments may be held in book entry form at a bank other than a Fund’s custodian subject to a sub-custodian agreement approved by the Fund between that bank and the Fund’s custodian.
Foreign Securities
Each Fund, except the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund, may invest in the securities of issuers located outside the United States. Funds that invest in foreign securities offer the potential for more diversification than Funds that invest only in the United States because securities traded on foreign markets have often (though not always) performed differently from securities traded in the United States. However, such investments often involve risks not present in U.S. investments that can increase the chances that a Fund will lose money. In particular, a Fund is subject to the risk that, because there are generally fewer investors on foreign exchanges and a smaller number of shares traded each day, it may be difficult for the Fund to buy and sell securities on those exchanges. In addition, prices of foreign securities may fluctuate more than prices of securities traded in the United States. Investments in foreign markets may also be adversely affected by governmental actions such as the imposition of punitive taxes. In addition, the governments of certain countries may prohibit or impose substantial restrictions on foreign investing in their capital markets or in certain industries. Any of these actions could severely affect security prices, impair a Fund’s ability to purchase or sell foreign securities or transfer the Fund’s assets or income back into the United States, or otherwise adversely affect a Fund’s operations. Other potential foreign market risks include changes in foreign currency exchange rates, exchange controls, difficulties in pricing securities, defaults on foreign government securities, difficulties in enforcing favorable legal judgments in foreign courts, and political and social
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instability. Legal remedies available to investors in certain foreign countries may be less extensive than those available to investors in the United States or other foreign countries. Dividends or interest on, or proceeds from the sale of, foreign securities may be subject to foreign withholding taxes.
Regional Risk. Adverse conditions in a certain region can adversely affect securities of issuers in other countries whose economies appear to be unrelated. To the extent that a Fund invests a significant portion of its assets in a specific geographic region, the Fund generally will have more exposure to regional economic risks. In the event of economic or political turmoil or a deterioration of diplomatic relations in a region or country where a substantial portion of the Fund’s assets are invested, the Fund may experience substantial illiquidity or losses.
Eurozone-Related Risk. A number of countries in the European Union (the “EU”) have experienced, and may continue to experience, severe economic and financial difficulties. Additional EU member countries may also fall subject to such difficulties. These events could negatively affect the value and liquidity of a Fund’s investments in euro-denominated securities and derivatives contracts, as well as securities of issuers located in the EU or with significant exposure to EU issuers or countries. If the euro is dissolved entirely, the legal and contractual consequences for holders of euro-denominated obligations and derivative contracts would be determined by laws in effect at such time. Such investments may continue to be held, or purchased, to the extent consistent with the Fund’s investment objective and permitted under applicable law. These potential developments, or market perceptions concerning these and related issues, could adversely affect the value of the Fund’s shares.
Certain countries in the EU have had to accept assistance from supra-governmental agencies such as the International Monetary Fund, the European Stability Mechanism, or other supra-governmental agencies. The European Central Bank has also been intervening to purchase Eurozone debt in an attempt to stabilize markets and reduce borrowing costs. There can be no assurance that these agencies will continue to intervene or provide further assistance, and markets may react adversely to any expected reduction in the financial support provided by these agencies. Responses to the financial problems by European governments, central banks, and others, including austerity measures and reforms, may not work, may result in social unrest, and may limit future growth and economic recovery or have other unintended consequences.
In June 2016, the United Kingdom (the “UK”) approved a referendum to leave the EU, commonly referred to as “Brexit,” which sparked depreciation in the value of the British pound, short-term declines in global stock markets, and heightened risk of continued worldwide economic volatility. The UK officially left the EU on January 31, 2020, with a transitional period that ended on December 31, 2020. On December 30, 2020, the UK and the EU signed an agreement on the terms governing certain aspects of the EU’s and the UK’s relationship following the end of the transition period, the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (the “TCA”). Notwithstanding the TCA, there is likely to be considerable uncertainty as to the UK’s post-transition framework, and in particular as to the arrangements which will apply to the UK’s relationships with the EU and with other countries, which is likely to continue to develop and could result in increased volatility and illiquidity and potentially lower economic growth. Brexit created and may continue to create an uncertain political and economic environment in the UK and other EU countries. This long-term uncertainty may affect other countries in the EU and elsewhere. Further, the UK’s departure from the EU may cause volatility within the EU, triggering prolonged economic downturns in certain European countries or sparking additional member states to contemplate departing the EU. In addition, the UK’s departure from the EU may create actual or perceived additional economic stresses for the UK, including potential for decreased trade, capital outflows, devaluation of the British pound, wider corporate bond spreads due to uncertainty, and possible declines in business and consumer spending, as well as foreign direct investment.
Foreign Economy Risk. The economies of certain foreign markets often do not compare favorably with that of the United States with respect to such issues as growth of gross national product, reinvestment of capital, resources, and balance of payments position. Certain such economies may rely heavily on particular industries or foreign capital and are more vulnerable to diplomatic developments, the imposition of economic sanctions against a particular country or countries, changes in international trading patterns, trade barriers, and other protectionist or retaliatory measures.
Currency Risk and Exchange Risk. Unless a Fund's Prospectus states a policy to invest only in securities denominated in U.S. dollars, a Fund may invest in securities denominated or quoted in currencies other than the U.S. dollar. In such case, changes in foreign currency exchange rates will affect the value of a Fund’s portfolio. Generally, when the U.S. dollar rises in value against a foreign currency, a security denominated in that currency loses value because the currency is worth fewer
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U.S. dollars. Conversely, when the U.S. dollar decreases in value against a foreign currency, a security denominated in that currency gains value because the currency is worth more U.S. dollars. This risk, generally known as “currency risk,” means that a stronger U.S. dollar will reduce returns for U.S. investors while a weak U.S. dollar will increase those returns.
Governmental Supervision and Regulation/Accounting Standards. Many foreign governments supervise and regulate stock exchanges, brokers and the sale of securities less than does the United States. Some countries may not have laws to protect investors comparable to the U.S. securities laws. For example, some foreign countries may have no laws or rules against insider trading. Insider trading occurs when a person buys or sells a company’s securities based on nonpublic information about that company. Accounting standards in other countries are not necessarily the same as in the United States. If the accounting standards in another country do not require as much detail as U.S. accounting standards, it may be harder for Fund management to completely and accurately determine a company’s financial condition. In addition, the U.S. government has from time to time in the past imposed restrictions, through penalties and otherwise, on foreign investments by U.S. investors such as a Fund. If such restrictions should be reinstituted, it might become necessary for the Fund to invest all or substantially all of its assets in U.S. securities.
Certain Risks of Holding Fund Assets Outside the United States. A Fund generally holds its foreign securities and cash in foreign banks and securities depositories. Some foreign banks and securities depositories may be recently organized or new to the foreign custody business. In addition, there may be limited or no regulatory oversight over their operations. Also, the laws of certain countries may put limits on a Fund’s ability to recover its assets if a foreign bank or depository or issuer of a security or any of their agents goes bankrupt. In addition, it is often more expensive for a Fund to buy, sell and hold securities in certain foreign markets than in the United States. The increased expense of investing in foreign markets reduces the amount a Fund can earn on its investments and typically results in a higher operating expense ratio for the Fund as compared to investment companies that invest only in the United States.
Settlement Risk. Settlement and clearance procedures in certain foreign markets differ significantly from those in the United States. Foreign settlement procedures and trade regulations also may involve certain risks (such as delays in payment for or delivery of securities) not typically generated by the settlement of U.S. investments. Communications between the United States and emerging market countries may be unreliable, increasing the risk of delayed settlements or losses of security certificates in markets that still rely on physical settlement. Settlements in certain foreign countries at times have not kept pace with the number of securities transactions; these problems may make it difficult for a Fund to carry out transactions. If a Fund cannot settle or is delayed in settling a purchase of securities, it may miss attractive investment opportunities and certain of its assets may be uninvested with no return earned thereon for some period. If a Fund cannot settle or is delayed in settling a sale of securities, it may lose money if the value of the security then declines or, if it has contracted to sell the security to another party, the Fund could be liable to that party for any losses incurred.
Investment in Emerging Markets. Each Fund, except the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund, may invest in securities of issuers domiciled in various countries with emerging capital markets. Emerging market countries typically are developing and low- or middle-income countries. Emerging market countries may be found in regions such as Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Investments in the securities of issuers domiciled in countries with emerging capital markets involve certain additional risks that do not generally apply to investments in securities of issuers in more developed capital markets, such as (i) low or non-existent trading volume, resulting in a lack of liquidity and increased volatility in prices for such securities, as compared to securities of comparable issuers in more developed capital markets; (ii) uncertain national policies and social, political and economic instability, increasing the potential for expropriation of assets, confiscatory taxation, high rates of inflation or unfavorable diplomatic developments; (iii) possible fluctuations in exchange rates, differing legal systems and the existence or possible imposition of exchange controls, custodial restrictions or other foreign or U.S. governmental laws or restrictions applicable to such investments; (iv) national policies that may limit a Fund’s investment opportunities, such as restrictions on investment in issuers or industries deemed sensitive to national interests; and (v) the lack or relatively early development of legal structures governing private and foreign investments and private property. In addition to withholding taxes on investment income, some countries with emerging markets may impose differential capital gains taxes on foreign investors.
Emerging capital markets are developing in a dynamic political and economic environment brought about by events over recent years that have reshaped political boundaries and traditional ideologies. In such a dynamic environment, there can be no assurance that any or all of these capital markets will continue to present viable investment opportunities for a Fund. In
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the past, governments of such nations have expropriated substantial amounts of private property, and most claims of the property owners have never been fully settled. There is no assurance that such expropriations will not reoccur. In such an event, it is possible that a Fund could lose the entire value of its investments in the affected market.
Also, there may be less publicly available information about issuers in emerging markets than would be available about issuers in more developed capital markets, and such issuers may not be subject to accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards and requirements comparable to those to which U.S. companies are subject. In certain countries with emerging capital markets, reporting standards vary widely. As a result, traditional investment measurements used in the United States, such as price/earnings ratios, may not be applicable. Emerging market securities may be substantially less liquid and more volatile than those of mature markets, and company shares may be held by a limited number of persons. This may adversely affect the timing and pricing of the Fund’s acquisition or disposal of securities.
Practices in relation to settlement of securities transactions in emerging markets involve higher risks than those in developed markets, in part because a Fund will need to use brokers and counterparties that are less well capitalized, and custody and registration of assets in some countries may be unreliable compared to developed countries. The possibility of fraud, negligence, undue influence being exerted by the issuer, or refusal to recognize ownership exists in some emerging markets, and, along with other factors, could result in ownership registration being completely lost. A Fund would absorb any loss resulting from such registration problems and may have no successful claim for compensation.
Investment in Frontier Markets. Frontier market countries generally have smaller economies and less developed capital markets than traditional emerging markets, and, as a result, the risks of investing in emerging market countries are magnified in frontier market countries. The economies of frontier market countries are less correlated to global economic cycles than those of their more developed counterparts and their markets have low trading volumes and the potential for extreme price volatility and illiquidity. This volatility may be further heightened by the actions of a few major investors. For example, a substantial increase or decrease in cash flows of mutual funds investing in these markets could significantly affect local stock prices and, therefore, the price of Fund shares. These factors make investing in frontier market countries significantly riskier than in other countries and any one of them could cause the price of a Fund’s shares to decline.
Governments of many frontier market countries in which a Fund may invest may exercise substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector. In some cases, the governments of such frontier market countries may own or control certain companies. Accordingly, government actions could have a significant effect on economic conditions in a frontier market country and on market conditions, prices and yields of securities in a Fund’s portfolio. Moreover, the economies of frontier market countries may be heavily dependent upon international trade and, accordingly, have been and may continue to be, adversely affected by trade barriers, exchange controls, managed adjustments in relative currency values and other protectionist measures imposed or negotiated by the countries with which they trade. These economies also have been and may continue to be adversely affected by economic conditions in the countries with which they trade.
Investment in equity securities of issuers operating in certain frontier market countries may be restricted or controlled to varying degrees. These restrictions or controls may at times limit or preclude foreign investment in equity securities of issuers operating in certain frontier market countries and increase the costs and expenses of a Fund. Certain frontier market countries require governmental approval prior to investments by foreign persons, limit the amount of investment by foreign persons in a particular issuer, limit the investment by foreign persons only to a specific class of securities of an issuer that may have less advantageous rights than the classes available for purchase by domiciliaries of the countries and/or impose additional taxes on foreign investors. Certain frontier market countries may also restrict investment opportunities in issuers in industries deemed important to national interests.
Frontier market countries may require governmental approval for the repatriation of investment income, capital or the proceeds of sales of securities by foreign investors, such as a Fund. In addition, if deterioration occurs in a frontier market country’s balance of payments, the country could impose temporary restrictions on foreign capital remittances. A Fund could be adversely affected by delays in, or a refusal to grant, any required governmental approval for repatriation of capital, as well as by the application to the Fund of any restrictions on investments. Investing in local markets in frontier market countries may require a Fund to adopt special procedures, seek local government approvals or take other actions, each of which may involve additional costs to the Fund.
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In addition, investing in frontier markets includes the risk of share blocking. Share blocking refers to a practice, in certain foreign markets, where voting rights related to an issuer’s securities are predicated on these securities being blocked from trading at the custodian or sub-custodian level, for a period of time around a shareholder meeting. These restrictions have the effect of prohibiting securities to potentially be voted (or having been voted), from trading within a specified number of days before, and in certain instances, after the shareholder meeting. Share blocking may prevent a Fund from buying or selling securities for a period of time. During the time that shares are blocked, trades in such securities will not settle. The specific practices may vary by market and the blocking period can last from a day to several weeks, typically terminating on a date established at the discretion of the issuer. Once blocked, the only manner in which to remove the block would be to withdraw a previously cast vote, or to abstain from voting altogether. The process for having a blocking restriction lifted can be very difficult with the particular requirements varying widely by country. In certain countries, the block cannot be removed.
There may be no centralized securities exchange on which securities are traded in frontier market countries. Also, securities laws in many frontier market countries are relatively new and unsettled. Therefore, laws regarding foreign investment in frontier market securities, securities regulation, title to securities, and shareholder rights may change quickly and unpredictably.
The frontier market countries in which a Fund invests may become subject to sanctions or embargoes imposed by the U.S. government and the United Nations. The value of the securities issued by companies that operate in, or have dealings with, these countries may be negatively impacted by any such sanction or embargo and may reduce a Fund’s returns. Banks in frontier market countries used to hold a Fund’s securities and other assets in that country may lack the same operating experience as banks in developed markets. In addition, in certain countries there may be legal restrictions or limitations on the ability of a Fund to recover assets held by a foreign bank in the event of the bankruptcy of the bank. Settlement systems in frontier markets may be less well organized than in the developed markets. As a result, there is greater risk than in developed countries that settlement will take longer and that cash or securities of a Fund may be in jeopardy because of failures of or defects in the settlement systems.
Restrictions on Certain Investments. A number of publicly traded closed-end investment companies have been organized to facilitate indirect foreign investment in developing countries, and certain of such countries, such as Thailand, South Korea, Chile and Brazil, have specifically authorized such funds. There also are investment opportunities in certain of such countries in pooled vehicles that resemble open-end investment companies. In accordance with the 1940 Act, a Fund may invest up to 10% of its total assets in securities of other investment companies, not more than 5% of which may be invested in any one such company. In addition, under the 1940 Act, a Fund may not own more than 3% of the total outstanding voting stock of any investment company. These restrictions on investments in securities of investment companies may limit opportunities for a Fund to invest indirectly in certain developing countries. Shares of certain investment companies may at times be acquired only at market prices representing premiums to their net asset values. If a Fund acquires shares of other investment companies, shareholders would bear both their proportionate share of expenses of the Fund (including management and advisory fees) and, indirectly, the expenses of such other investment companies.
Depositary Receipts. A Fund may invest in foreign securities by purchasing depositary receipts, including American Depositary Receipts (“ADRs”), European Depositary Receipts (“EDRs”), Global Depositary Receipts (“GDRs”) and non-voting depositary receipts (“NVDRs”) or other securities convertible into securities of issuers based in foreign countries. These securities may not necessarily be denominated in the same currency as the securities into which they may be converted. Generally, ADRs, in registered form, are denominated in U.S. dollars and are designed for use in the U.S. securities markets, GDRs, in bearer form, are issued and designed for use outside the United States and EDRs (also referred to as Continental Depositary Receipts (“CDRs”)), in bearer form, may be denominated in other currencies and are designed for use in European securities markets. ADRs are receipts typically issued by a U.S. bank or trust company evidencing ownership of the underlying securities. EDRs are European receipts evidencing a similar arrangement. GDRs are receipts typically issued by non-U.S. banks and trust companies that evidence ownership of either foreign or domestic securities. For purposes of a Fund’s investment policies, ADRs, EDRs, GDRs and NVDRs are deemed to have the same classification as the underlying securities they represent. Thus, an ADR, EDR, GDR or NVDR representing ownership of common stock will be treated as common stock.
A Fund may invest in depositary receipts through “sponsored” or “unsponsored” facilities. While ADRs issued under these two types of facilities are in some respects similar, there are distinctions between them relating to the rights and obligations of ADR holders and the practices of market participants.
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A depositary may establish an unsponsored facility without participation by (or even necessarily the acquiescence of) the issuer of the deposited securities, although typically the depositary requests a letter of non-objection from such issuer prior to the establishment of the facility. Holders of unsponsored ADRs generally bear all the costs of such facilities. The depositary usually charges fees upon the deposit and withdrawal of the deposited securities, the conversion of dividends into U.S. dollars, the disposition of non-cash distributions, and the performance of other services. The depositary of an unsponsored facility frequently is under no obligation to pass through voting rights to ADR holders in respect of the deposited securities. In addition, an unsponsored facility is generally not obligated to distribute communications received from the issuer of the deposited securities or to disclose material information about such issuer in the U.S. and thus there may not be a correlation between such information and the market value of the depositary receipts. Unsponsored ADRs tend to be less liquid than sponsored ADRs.
Sponsored ADR facilities are created in generally the same manner as unsponsored facilities, except that the issuer of the deposited securities enters into a deposit agreement with the depositary. The deposit agreement sets out the rights and responsibilities of the issuer, the depositary, and the ADR holders. With sponsored facilities, the issuer of the deposited securities generally will bear some of the costs relating to the facility (such as dividend payment fees of the depositary), although ADR holders continue to bear certain other costs (such as deposit and withdrawal fees). Under the terms of most sponsored arrangements, depositaries agree to distribute notices of shareholder meetings and voting instructions, and to provide shareholder communications and other information to the ADR holders at the request of the issuer of the deposited securities.
Foreign Sovereign Debt. The Fixed-Income Funds may invest in sovereign debt obligations issued by foreign governments. To the extent that a Fund invests in obligations issued by governments of developing or emerging market countries, these investments involve additional risks. Sovereign obligors in developing and emerging market countries are among the world’s largest debtors to commercial banks, other governments, international financial organizations and other financial institutions. These obligors have in the past experienced substantial difficulties in servicing their external debt obligations, which led to defaults on certain obligations and the restructuring of certain indebtedness. Restructuring arrangements have included, among other things, reducing and rescheduling interest and principal payments by negotiating new or amended credit agreements or converting outstanding principal and unpaid interest to Brady Bonds, and obtaining new credit for finance interest payments. Holders of certain foreign sovereign debt securities may be requested to participate in the restructuring of such obligations and to extend further loans to their issuers. There can be no assurance that the foreign sovereign debt securities in which a Fund may invest will not be subject to similar restructuring arrangements or to requests for new credit which may adversely affect the Fund’s holdings. Furthermore, certain participants in the secondary market for such debt may be directly involved in negotiating the terms of these arrangements and may therefore have access to information not available to other market participants.
China Investment Risk. Investing in China involves a high degree of risk and special considerations not typically associated with investing in other economies or more established securities markets. Such risks include: (a) the risk of nationalization or expropriation of assets or confiscatory taxation; (b) greater social, economic and political uncertainty (including the risk of war); (c) dependency on exports and the corresponding importance of international trade; (d) the increasing competition from Asia’s other low-cost emerging economies; (e) greater price volatility and significantly smaller market capitalization of securities markets; (f) substantially less liquidity, particularly of certain share classes of Chinese securities; (g) currency exchange rate fluctuations and the lack of available currency hedging instruments; (h) higher rates of inflation; (i) controls on foreign investment and limitations on repatriation of invested capital and on the Fund’s ability to exchange local currencies for U.S. dollars; (j) greater governmental involvement in and control over the economy; (k) the risk that the Chinese government may decide not to continue to support the economic reform programs implemented since 1978 and could return to the prior, completely centrally planned, economy; (l) the fact that Chinese companies may be smaller, less seasoned and newly-organized companies; (m) the difference in, or lack of, auditing and financial reporting standards which may result in unavailability of material information about issuers; (n) the fact that statistical information regarding the economy of China may be inaccurate or not comparable to statistical information regarding the U.S. or other economies; (o) the less extensive, and still developing, regulation of the securities markets, business entities and commercial transactions; (p) the fact that the settlement period of securities transactions in foreign markets may be longer; (q) the willingness and ability of the Chinese government to support the Chinese economy and market is uncertain; (r) the risk that it may be more difficult, or impossible, to obtain and/or enforce a judgment than in other countries; and (s) the rapidity and erratic nature of growth resulting in inefficiencies and dislocations.
Investment in China is subject to certain political risks. Following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China
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by the Communist Party in 1949, the Chinese government renounced various debt obligations incurred by China’s predecessor governments, which obligations remain in default, and expropriated assets without compensation. There can be no assurance that the Chinese government will not take similar action in the future.
Chinese Variable Interest Entities. In China, equity ownership of companies by foreign individuals and entities is restricted or prohibited in certain sectors, such as internet, media, education and telecommunications. To circumvent these limits, starting in the early 2000s many Chinese companies, including most of the well-known Chinese Internet companies, have used a special structure known as a variable interest entity (“VIE”) to raise capital from foreign investors. In a typical VIE structure, a shell company is set up in an offshore jurisdiction, such as the Cayman Islands. The shell company, through a wholly foreign-owned enterprise (“WFOE”) based in China, enters into service and other contracts with another Chinese company known as the VIE. The VIE must be owned by Chinese nationals (and/or other Chinese companies), which often are the VIE’s founders, in order to obtain the licenses and/or assets required to operate in the restricted or prohibited industry in China. The contractual arrangements entered into between the WFOE and VIE (which often include powers of attorney, loan and equity pledge agreements, call option agreements and exclusive services or business cooperation agreements) are designed to allow the shell company to exert a degree of control over, and obtain economic benefits arising from, the VIE without formal legal ownership.
The contractual arrangements are structured to require the shell company to consolidate the VIE into its financial statements, pursuant to U.S. generally accepted accounting principles, despite the absence of equity ownership. Such consolidation provides the shell company with the ability to issue shares on a foreign exchange, such as the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ, often with the same name as the VIE. Accordingly, foreign investors, such as the Fund, will only own stock in the shell company rather than directly in the VIE. Further, the ability of the WFOE to easily extract profits from the VIE structure through service agreements will partially depend on the proportion of the business that can legally be conducted by the WFOE versus the VIE, which varies based on the industry.
Guidance prohibiting these structures by the Chinese government, generally or with respect to specific industries, would likely cause impacted VIE-structured holding(s) to suffer significant, detrimental, and possibly permanent losses, and in turn, adversely affect the Fund’s returns and net asset value. While VIEs are a longstanding industry practice that is well known to Chinese officials and regulators, they have not been formally recognized under Chinese law. It is uncertain whether Chinese officials or regulators will withdraw their implicit acceptance of the VIE structure or limit a VIE’s ability to pass through economic and governance rights to foreign individuals and entities. In 2021, the Chinese government issued new guidelines that unexpectedly included a specific prohibition on the use of VIE structures by Chinese educational companies.
Further, if a Chinese court or arbitration body chose not to enforce the contracts, the value of the shell company would significantly decline, since it derives its value from the ability to consolidate the VIE into its financials pursuant to such contracts, and in turn, adversely affect the Fund’s returns and net asset value. The contractual arrangements with the VIE may not be as effective in providing operational control as direct equity ownership. The Chinese equity owner(s) of the VIE could decide to breach the contractual arrangement and may have conflicting interests and fiduciary duties as compared to investors in the shell company. Accordingly, VIEs depend heavily on executives who are Chinese nationals and own the underlying business licenses and/or assets required to operate in China. In addition to creating “key person” succession risk, the structure can restrict the ability of outside shareholders to challenge executives for poor decision-making, weak management, or equity-eroding actions. Any breach or dispute under these contracts will likely fall under Chinese jurisdiction and law.
Investing through Stock Connect. A Fund may invest in China A-shares of certain Chinese companies listed and traded on the Shanghai Stock Exchange and on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange (together, the “Exchanges”) through the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect Program and the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect Program, respectively (together, “Stock Connect”). Stock Connect is a securities trading and clearing program developed by the Exchange of Hong Kong, the Exchanges and the China Securities Depository and Clearing Corporation Limited. Stock Connect facilitates foreign investment in the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”) via brokers in Hong Kong. Persons investing through Stock Connect are subject to PRC regulations and Exchange listing rules, among others. These could include limitations on or suspension of trading. These regulations are relatively new and subject to changes which could adversely impact a Fund’s rights with respect to the securities. There are no assurances that the necessary systems to run the program will function properly. Stock Connect is subject to aggregate and daily quota limitations on purchases and a Fund may experience delays in transacting via
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Stock Connect. The stocks of Chinese companies that are owned by a Fund are held in an omnibus account and registered in nominee name. Please also see the sections on risks relating to investing outside the U.S. and investing in emerging markets. See, “Foreign Securities” above regarding investing outside the U.S.
Risks Related to Russian Invasion of Ukraine. In late February 2022, Russian military forces invaded Ukraine, significantly amplifying already existing geopolitical tensions among Russia, Ukraine, Europe, NATO, and the West. Russia’s invasion, the responses of countries and political bodies to Russia’s actions, and the potential for wider conflict may increase financial market volatility and could have severe adverse effects on regional and global economic markets, including the markets for certain securities and commodities such as oil and natural gas. Following Russia’s actions, various countries, including the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France, as well as the European Union, issued broad-ranging economic sanctions against Russia. The sanctions consist of the prohibition of trading in certain Russian securities and engaging in certain private transactions, the prohibition of doing business with certain Russian corporate entities, large financial institutions, officials and oligarchs, and the freezing of Russian assets. The sanctions include a commitment by certain countries and the European Union to remove selected Russian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, commonly called “SWIFT,” the electronic network that connects banks globally, and imposed restrictive measures to prevent the Russian Central Bank from undermining the impact of the sanctions. A number of large corporations and U.S. states have also announced plans to divest interests or otherwise curtail business dealings with certain Russian businesses.
The imposition of these current sanctions (and potential further sanctions in response to continued Russian military activity) and other actions undertaken by countries and businesses may adversely impact various sectors of the Russian economy, including but not limited to, the financials, energy, metals and mining, engineering, and defense and defense-related materials sectors. Such actions also may result in the decline of the value and liquidity of Russian securities, a weakening of the ruble, and could impair the ability of a Fund to buy, sell, receive, or deliver those securities. Moreover, the measures could adversely affect global financial and energy markets and thereby negatively affect the value of a Fund's investments beyond any direct exposure to Russian issuers or those of adjoining geographic regions. In response to sanctions, the Russian Central Bank raised its interest rates and banned sales of local securities by foreigners. Russia may take additional counter measures or retaliatory actions, which may further impair the value and liquidity of Russian securities and Fund investments. Such actions could, for example, include restricting gas exports to other countries, seizure of U.S. and European residents' assets, or undertaking or provoking other military conflict elsewhere in Europe, any of which could exacerbate negative consequences on global financial markets and the economy. The actions discussed above could have a negative effect on the performance of funds that have exposure to Russia. While diplomatic efforts have been ongoing, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is currently unpredictable and has the potential to result in broadened military actions. The duration of ongoing hostilities and corresponding sanctions and related events cannot be predicted and may result in a negative impact on performance and the value of Fund investments, particularly as it relates to Russia exposure.
Due to difficulties transacting in impacted securities, a Fund may experience challenges liquidating the applicable positions to continue to seek a Fund’s investment objective. Additionally, due to current and potential future sanctions or potential market closure impacting the ability to trade Russian securities, a Fund may experience higher transaction costs.
Initial Public Offerings
Each of the Equity Funds may participate in initial public offerings (“IPOs”). Securities issued in initial public offerings have no trading history, and information about the companies may be available for very limited periods. The volume of IPOs and the levels at which the newly issued stocks trade in the secondary market are affected by the performance of the stock market overall. If IPOs are brought to the market, availability may be limited and a Fund may not be able to buy any shares at the offering price, or if it is able to buy shares, it may not be able to buy as many shares at the offering price as it would like. In addition, the prices of securities involved in IPOs are often subject to greater and more unpredictable price changes than more established stocks.
Interfund Borrowing and Lending Program
Pursuant to an exemptive order issued by the SEC dated June 13, 2016, the Funds may lend money to, and borrow money for temporary purposes from, other funds advised by the Funds' investment adviser, NFA. Generally, a Fund will borrow money through the program only when the costs are equal to or lower than the cost of bank loans. Interfund
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borrowings can have a maximum duration of seven days. Loans may be called on one day’s notice. There is no assurance that a Fund will be able to borrow or lend under the program at any time, and a Fund may have to borrow from a bank at a higher interest rate if an interfund loan is unavailable, called, or not renewed.
Lending Portfolio Securities
Each Fund may lend its portfolio securities to brokers, dealers and other financial institutions, provided it receives collateral, with respect to each loan of U.S. securities, equal to at least 102% of the value of the portfolio securities loaned, and, with respect to each loan of non-U.S. securities, collateral of at least 105% of the value of the portfolio securities loaned, and at all times thereafter shall require the borrower to mark-to-market such collateral on a daily basis so that the market value of such collateral does not fall below 100% of the market value of the portfolio securities so loaned. By lending its portfolio securities, a Fund can increase its income through the investment of the collateral. For the purposes of this policy, a Fund considers collateral consisting of cash, U.S. government securities or letters of credit issued by banks whose securities meet the standards for investment by the Fund to be the equivalent of cash. From time to time, a Fund may return to the borrower or a third party which is unaffiliated with it, and which is acting as a “placing broker,” a part of the interest earned from the investment of collateral received for securities loaned.
The SEC currently requires that the following conditions must be met whenever portfolio securities are loaned: (1) a Fund must receive from the borrower collateral equal to at least 100% of the value of the portfolio securities loaned; (2) the borrower must increase such collateral whenever the market value of the securities loaned rises above the level of such collateral; (3) a Fund must be able to terminate the loan at any time; (4) a Fund must receive a reasonable rate of return on the loan, as well as any dividends, interest or other distributions payable on the loaned securities, and any increase in market value; (5) a Fund may pay only reasonable custodian fees in connection with the loan; and (6) while any voting rights on the loaned securities may pass to the borrower, the Board of Trustees must be able to terminate the loan and regain the right to vote the securities if a material event adversely affecting the investment occurs. In addition, a Fund may not have on loan securities representing more than one-third of its total assets at any given time. The collateral that a Fund receives may be included in calculating the Fund’s total assets. A Fund generally will not seek to vote proxies relating to the securities on loan, unless it is in the best interests of the applicable Fund to do so. These conditions may be subject to future modification. Loan agreements involve certain risks in the event of default or insolvency of the other party including possible delays or restrictions upon the Fund’s ability to recover the loaned securities or dispose of the collateral for the loan.
Investment of Securities Lending Collateral. The cash collateral received from a borrower as a result of a Fund’s securities lending activities will be used to purchase both fixed-income securities and other securities with debt-like characteristics that are rated A1 or P1 on a fixed-rate or floating-rate basis, including: bank obligations; commercial paper; investment agreements, funding agreements, or guaranteed investment contracts entered into with, or guaranteed by, an insurance company; loan participations; master notes; medium-term notes; repurchase agreements; and U.S. government securities. Except for the investment agreements, funding agreements or guaranteed investment contracts guaranteed by an insurance company, master notes, and medium-term notes (which are described below), these types of investments are described elsewhere in the SAI. Collateral may also be invested in a money market mutual fund or short-term collective investment trust.
Investment agreements, funding agreements, or guaranteed investment contracts entered into with, or guaranteed by, an insurance company are agreements in which an insurance company either provides for the investment of the Fund’s assets or provides for a minimum guaranteed rate of return to the investor.
Master notes are promissory notes issued usually with large, creditworthy broker-dealers on either a fixed-rate or floating-rate basis. Master notes may or may not be collateralized by underlying securities. If the master note is issued by an unrated subsidiary of a broker-dealer, then an unconditional guarantee is provided by the issuer’s parent.
Medium-term notes are unsecured, continuously offered corporate debt obligations. Although medium-term notes may be offered with a maturity from one to ten years, in the context of securities lending collateral, the maturity of the medium-term note generally will not exceed two years.
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LIBOR Risk
The Funds may be exposed to financial instruments that are tied to the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) to determine payment obligations, financing terms, hedging strategies or investment value. The Funds' investments may pay interest at floating rates based on LIBOR or may be subject to interest caps or floors based on LIBOR. The Funds may also obtain financing at floating rates based on LIBOR. Derivative instruments utilized by the Funds may also reference LIBOR.
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. On March 5, 2021, the administrator of LIBOR, ICE Benchmark Administration Limited, announced its intention to cease publishing two USD LIBOR settings immediately after publication on December 31, 2021, with the majority of the USD LIBOR settings to end immediately after publication on June 30, 2023. Actions by regulators have resulted in the establishment of alternative reference rates in most major currencies. The U.S. Federal Reserve, based on the recommendations of Alternative Reference Rates Committee, has begun publishing the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) that is intended to replace U.S. dollar LIBOR. Proposals for alternative reference rates for other currencies have also been announced or have already begun publication. Markets are slowly developing in response to these new reference rates.
Neither the effect of the LIBOR transition process nor its ultimate success can yet be known. The transition process might lead to increased volatility and illiquidity in markets for, and reduce the effectiveness of new hedges placed against, instruments whose terms currently include LIBOR. While some existing LIBOR-based instruments may contemplate a scenario where LIBOR is no longer available by providing for an alternative rate-setting methodology, there may be significant uncertainty regarding the effectiveness of any such alternative methodologies to replicate LIBOR. Not all existing LIBOR-based instruments may have alternative rate-setting provisions and there remains uncertainty regarding the willingness and ability of issuers to add alternative rate-setting provisions in certain existing instruments. In addition, a liquid market for newly-issued instruments that use a reference rate other than LIBOR still may be developing. There may also be challenges for the Funds to enter into hedging transactions against such newly-issued instruments until a market for such hedging transactions develops. All of the aforementioned may adversely affect the Funds' performance or net asset value.
Medium-Quality, Lower-Quality and High-Yield Securities
Except for the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund, each of the Fixed-Income Funds may invest in medium-quality securities and also in lower-quality and high-yield securities (commonly known as “junk bonds”) (hereinafter referred to as “lower-quality securities”).
Medium-Quality Securities. Medium-quality securities are obligations rated in the fourth highest rating category by any NRSRO. Medium-quality securities, although considered investment grade, may have some speculative characteristics and may be subject to greater fluctuations in value than higher-rated securities. In addition, the issuers of medium-quality securities may be more vulnerable to adverse economic conditions or changing circumstances than issuers of higher-rated securities.
Lower-Quality/High-Yield Securities. Non-investment grade debt or lower-quality/rated securities include: (i) bonds rated as low as C by Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, or Fitch, Inc. (“Fitch”); (ii) commercial paper rated as low as C by Standard & Poor’s, Not Prime by Moody’s or Fitch 4 by Fitch; and (iii) unrated debt securities of comparable quality. Lower-quality securities, while generally offering higher yields than investment grade securities with similar maturities, involve greater risks, including the possibility of default or bankruptcy. There is more risk associated with these investments because of reduced creditworthiness and increased risk of default. Under NRSRO guidelines, lower-quality securities and comparable unrated securities will likely have some quality and protective characteristics that are outweighed by large uncertainties or major risk exposures to adverse conditions. Lower-quality securities are considered to have extremely poor prospects of ever attaining any real investment standing, to have a current identifiable vulnerability to default or to be in default, to be unlikely to have the capacity to make required interest payments and repay principal when due in the event of adverse business, financial or economic conditions, or to be in default or not current in the payment of interest or principal. They are regarded as predominantly speculative with respect to the issuer’s capacity to pay interest and repay principal. The special risk considerations in connection with investments in these securities are discussed below.
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Effect of Interest Rates and Economic Changes. Interest-bearing securities typically experience appreciation when interest rates decline and depreciation when interest rates rise. The market values of lower-quality and comparable unrated securities tend to reflect individual corporate developments to a greater extent than do higher-rated securities, which react primarily to fluctuations in the general level of interest rates. Lower-quality and comparable unrated securities also tend to be more sensitive to economic conditions than are higher-rated securities. As a result, they generally involve more credit risks than securities in the higher-rated categories. During an economic downturn or a sustained period of rising interest rates, highly leveraged issuers of lower-quality and comparable unrated securities may experience financial stress and may not have sufficient revenues to meet their payment obligations. The issuer’s ability to service its debt obligations may also be adversely affected by specific corporate developments, the issuer’s inability to meet specific projected business forecasts or the unavailability of additional financing. The risk of loss due to default by an issuer of these securities is significantly greater than that of issuers of higher-rated securities also because such securities are generally unsecured and are often subordinated to other creditors. Further, if the issuer of a lower-quality or comparable unrated security defaulted, a Fund might incur additional expenses to seek recovery. Periods of economic uncertainty and changes would also generally result in increased volatility in the market prices of these securities and thus in a Fund’s net asset value.
As previously stated, the value of a lower-quality or comparable unrated security will generally decrease in a rising interest rate market, and accordingly so will a Fund's net asset value. If a Fund experiences unexpected net redemptions in such a market, it may be forced to liquidate a portion of its portfolio securities without regard to their investment merits. Due to the limited liquidity of lower-quality and comparable unrated securities (discussed below), a Fund may be forced to liquidate these securities at a substantial discount which would result in a lower rate of return to the Fund.
Payment Expectations. Lower-quality and comparable unrated securities typically contain redemption, call or prepayment provisions which permit the issuer of such securities containing such provisions to, at its discretion, redeem the securities. During periods of falling interest rates, issuers of these securities are likely to redeem or prepay the securities and refinance them with debt securities at a lower interest rate. To the extent an issuer is able to refinance the securities, or otherwise redeem them, a Fund may have to replace the securities with a lower yielding security, which would result in a lower return for the Fund.
Liquidity and Valuation. A Fund may have difficulty disposing of certain lower-quality and comparable unrated securities because there may be a thin trading market for such securities. Because not all dealers maintain markets in all lower-quality and comparable unrated securities, there may be no established retail secondary market for many of these securities. The Funds anticipate that such securities could be sold only to a limited number of dealers or institutional investors. To the extent a secondary trading market does exist, it is generally not as liquid as the secondary market for higher-rated securities. The lack of a liquid secondary market may have an adverse impact on the market price of the security. As a result, a Fund’s net asset value and ability to dispose of particular securities, when necessary to meet the Fund’s liquidity needs or in response to a specific economic event, may be impacted. The lack of a liquid secondary market for certain securities may also make it more difficult for a Fund to obtain accurate market quotations for purposes of valuing that Fund’s portfolio. Market quotations are generally available on many lower-quality and comparable unrated issues only from a limited number of dealers and may not necessarily represent firm bids of such dealers or prices for actual sales. During periods of thin trading, the spread between bid and asked prices is likely to increase significantly. In addition, adverse publicity and investor perceptions, whether or not based on fundamental analysis, may decrease the values and liquidity of lower-quality and comparable unrated securities, especially in a thinly traded market.
Mortgage- and Asset-Backed Securities
Each of the Fixed-Income Funds, except the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund, may invest in mortgage- and asset-backed securities. Mortgage-backed securities represent direct or indirect participation in, or are secured by and payable from, mortgage loans secured by real property. Mortgage-backed securities come in different forms. The simplest form of mortgage-backed securities is pass-through certificates. Such securities may be issued or guaranteed by U.S. government agencies or instrumentalities or may be issued by private issuers, generally originators in mortgage loans, including savings and loan associations, mortgage bankers, commercial banks, investment bankers, and special purpose entities (collectively, “private lenders”). The purchase of mortgage-backed securities from private lenders may entail greater risk than mortgage-backed securities that are issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, its agencies or instrumentalities. Mortgage-backed securities issued by private lenders may be supported by pools of mortgage loans or other mortgage-backed securities that are guaranteed, directly or indirectly, by the U.S. government or one of its agencies or instrumentalities,
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or they may be issued without any governmental guarantee of the underlying mortgage assets but with some form of non-governmental credit enhancement. These credit enhancements may include letters of credit, reserve funds, over-collateralization, or guarantees by third parties. There is no guarantee that these credit enhancements, if any, will be sufficient to prevent losses in the event of defaults on the underlying mortgage loans. Additionally, mortgage-backed securities purchased from private lenders are not traded on an exchange and there may be a limited market for the securities, especially when there is a perceived weakness in the mortgage and real estate market sectors. Without an active trading market, mortgage-backed securities held in a Fund’s portfolio may be particularly difficult to value because of the complexities involved in assessing the value of the underlying mortgage loan.
Through its investments in mortgage-backed securities, including those issued by private lenders, a Fund may have some exposure to subprime loans, as well as to the mortgage and credit markets generally. Subprime loans refer to loans made to borrowers with weakened credit histories or with a lower capacity to make timely payments on their loans. For these reasons, the loans underlying these securities have had, in many cases, higher default rates than those loans that meet government underwriting requirements. The risk of non-payment is greater for mortgage-backed securities issued by private lenders that contain subprime loans, but a level of risk exists for all loans.
Since privately-issued mortgage certificates are not guaranteed by an entity having the credit status of the Government National Mortgage Association (“GNMA”) or the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“FHLMC”), such securities generally are structured with one or more types of credit enhancement. Such credit enhancement falls into two categories: (i) liquidity protection; and (ii) protection against losses resulting from ultimate default by an obligor on the underlying assets. Liquidity protection refers to the provisions of advances, generally by the entity administering the pool of assets, to ensure that the pass-through of payments due on the underlying pool occurs in a timely fashion. Protection against losses resulting from ultimate default enhances the likelihood of ultimate payment of the obligations on at least a portion of the assets in the pool. Such protection may be provided through guarantees, insurance policies or letters of credit obtained by the issuer or sponsor from third parties, through various means of structuring the transaction or through a combination of such approaches.
The ratings of mortgage-backed securities for which third-party credit enhancement provides liquidity protection or protection against losses from default are generally dependent upon the continued creditworthiness of the provider of the credit enhancement. The ratings of such securities could be subject to reduction in the event of deterioration in the creditworthiness of the credit enhancement provider even in cases where the delinquency loss experienced on the underlying pool of assets is better than expected. There can be no assurance that the private issuers or credit enhancers of mortgage-backed securities will meet their obligations under the relevant policies or other forms of credit enhancement.
Examples of credit support arising out of the structure of the transaction include “senior-subordinated securities” (multiclass securities with one or more classes subordinate to other classes as to the payment of principal thereof and interest thereon, with the result that defaults on the underlying assets are borne first by the holders of the subordinated class), creation of “reserve funds” (where cash or investments sometimes funded from a portion of the payments on the underlying assets are held in reserve against future losses) and “over-collateralization” (where the scheduled payments on, or the principal amount of, the underlying assets exceed those required to make payment of the securities and pay any servicing or other fees). The degree of credit support provided for each issue is generally based on historical information with respect to the level of credit risk associated with the underlying assets. Delinquency or loss in excess of that which is anticipated could adversely affect the return on an investment in such security.
Private lenders or government-related entities may also create mortgage loan pools offering pass-through investments where the mortgages underlying these securities may be alternative mortgage instruments, that is, mortgage instruments whose principal or interest payments may vary or whose terms to maturity may be shorter than was previously customary. As new types of mortgage-related securities are developed and offered to investors, a Fund, consistent with its investment objective and policies, may consider making investments in such new types of securities.
The yield characteristics of mortgage-backed securities differ from those of traditional debt obligations. Among the principal differences are that interest and principal payments are made more frequently on mortgage-backed securities, usually monthly, and that principal may be prepaid at any time because the underlying mortgage loans or other assets generally may be prepaid at any time. As a result, if a Fund purchases these securities at a premium, a prepayment rate that is faster than expected will reduce yield to maturity, while a prepayment rate that is slower than expected will have the opposite effect of increasing the yield to maturity. Conversely, if a Fund purchases these securities at a discount, a prepayment rate that
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is faster than expected will increase yield to maturity, while a prepayment rate that is slower than expected will reduce yield to maturity. Accelerated prepayments on securities purchased by the Fund at a premium also impose a risk of loss of principal because the premium may not have been fully amortized at the time the principal is prepaid in full.
Unlike fixed rate mortgage-backed securities, adjustable rate mortgage-backed securities are collateralized by or represent interest in mortgage loans with variable rates of interest. These variable rates of interest reset periodically to align themselves with market rates. A Fund will not benefit from increases in interest rates to the extent that interest rates rise to the point where they cause the current coupon of the underlying adjustable rate mortgages to exceed any maximum allowable annual or lifetime reset limits (or “cap rates”) for a particular mortgage. In this event, the value of the adjustable rate mortgage-backed securities in a Fund would likely decrease. Also, a Fund’s net asset value could vary to the extent that current yields on adjustable rate mortgage-backed securities are different than market yields during interim periods between coupon reset dates or if the timing of changes to the index upon which the rate for the underlying mortgage is based lags behind changes in market rates. During periods of declining interest rates, income to a Fund derived from adjustable rate mortgage-backed securities which remain in a mortgage pool will decrease in contrast to the income on fixed rate mortgage-backed securities, which will remain constant. Adjustable rate mortgages also have less potential for appreciation in value as interest rates decline than do fixed rate investments.
There are a number of important differences among the agencies and instrumentalities of the U.S. government that issue mortgage-backed securities and among the securities that they issue. Mortgage-backed securities issued by GNMA include GNMA Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates (also known as “Ginnie Maes”), which are guaranteed as to the timely payment of principal and interest by GNMA, and such guarantee is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States. GNMA certificates also are supported by the authority of GNMA to borrow funds from the U.S. Treasury to make payments under its guarantee. Mortgage-backed securities issued by the Federal National Mortgage Association (“FNMA”) include FNMA Guaranteed Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates (also known as “Fannie Maes”), which are solely the obligations of FNMA, and are not backed by or entitled to the full faith and credit of the United States. Fannie Maes are guaranteed as to timely payment of the principal and interest by FNMA. Mortgage-backed securities issued by FHLMC include FHLMC Mortgage Participation Certificates (also known as “Freddie Macs” or “PCs”). FHLMC is a corporate instrumentality of the United States, created pursuant to an Act of Congress, which is owned entirely by Federal Home Loan Banks. Securities issued by FHLMC do not constitute a debt or obligation of the United States or by any Federal Home Loan Bank. Freddie Macs entitle the holder to timely payment of interest, which is guaranteed by the FHLMC. FHLMC guarantees either ultimate collection or timely payment of all principal payments on the underlying mortgage loans. When the FHLMC does not guarantee timely payment of principal, FHLMC may remit the amount due on account of its guarantee of ultimate payment of principal at any time after default on an underlying mortgage, but in no event later than one year after it becomes payable.
In 2012 the Federal Housing Finance Agency (“FHFA”) initiated a strategic plan to develop a program of credit risk transfer intended to reduce Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's overall risk through the creation of credit risk transfer assets (“CRTs”). CRTs come in two primary series: Structured Agency Credit Risk (“STACRs”) for Freddie Mac and Connecticut Avenue Securities (“CAS”) for Fannie Mae, although other series may be developed in the future. CRTs are typically structured as unsecured general obligations of either entities guaranteed by a government-sponsored stockholder-owned corporation, though not backed by the full faith and credit of the United States (such as by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (collectively, the “GSEs”)) or special purpose entities, and their cash flows are based on the performance of a pool of reference loans. Unlike traditional residential MBS securities, bond payments typically do not come directly from the underlying mortgages. Instead, the GSEs either make the payments to CRT investors, or the GSEs make certain payments to the special purpose entities and the special purpose entities make payments to the investors. In certain structures, the special purpose entities make payments to the GSEs upon the occurrence of credit events with respect to the underlying mortgages, and the obligation of the special purpose entity to make such payments to the GSE is senior to the obligation of the special purpose entity to make payments to the CRT investors. CRTs are typically floating rate securities and may have multiple tranches with losses first allocated to the most junior or subordinate tranche. This structure results in increased sensitivity to dramatic housing downturns, especially for the subordinate tranches. Many CRTs also have collateral performance triggers (e.g., based on credit enhancement, delinquencies or defaults, etc.) that could shut off principal payments to subordinate tranches. Generally, GSEs have the ability to call all of the CRT tranches at par in 10 years.
Collateralized Mortgage Obligations (“CMOs”) and Multiclass Pass-Through Securities. CMOs are a more complex form of mortgage-backed security in that they are multiclass debt obligations which are collateralized by mortgage loans or pass-through certificates. As a result of changes prompted by the Tax Reform Act of 1986, most CMOs are today issued as
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Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits (“REMICs”). From the perspective of the investor, REMICs and CMOs are virtually indistinguishable. However, REMICs differ from CMOs in that REMICs provide certain tax advantages for the issuer of the obligation. Multiclass pass-through securities are interests in a trust composed of whole loans or private pass-throughs (collectively hereinafter referred to as “Mortgage Assets”). Unless the context indicates otherwise, all references herein to CMOs include REMICs and multiclass pass-through securities.
Often, CMOs are collateralized by GNMA, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac Certificates, but also may be collateralized by Mortgage Assets. Unless the context indicates otherwise, all references herein to CMOs include REMICs and multiclass pass-through securities. Payments of principal and interest on the Mortgage Assets, and any reinvestment income thereon, provide the funds to pay debt service on the CMOs or make scheduled distributions on the multiclass pass-through securities. CMOs may be issued by agencies or instrumentalities of the U.S. government, or by private originators of, or investors in, mortgage loans, including savings and loan associations, mortgage banks, commercial banks, investment banks and special purpose subsidiaries of the foregoing.
In order to form a CMO, the issuer assembles a package of traditional mortgage-backed pass-through securities, or actual mortgage loans, and uses them as collateral for a multiclass security. Each class of CMOs, often referred to as a “tranche,” is issued at a specified fixed or floating coupon rate and has a stated maturity or final distribution date. Principal prepayments on the Mortgage Assets may cause the CMOs to be retired substantially earlier than their stated maturities or final distribution dates. Interest is paid or accrues on all classes of the CMOs on a monthly, quarterly or semiannual basis. The principal of and interest on the Mortgage Assets may be allocated among the several classes of a series of a CMO in innumerable ways. In one structure, payments of principal, including any principal prepayments, on the Mortgage Assets are applied to the classes of a CMO in the order of their respective stated maturities or final distribution dates, so that no payment of principal will be made on any class of CMOs until all other classes having an earlier stated maturity or final distribution date have been paid in full. As market conditions change, and particularly during periods of rapid or unanticipated changes in market interest rates, the attractiveness of the CMO classes and the ability of the structure to provide the anticipated investment characteristics may be significantly reduced. Such changes can result in volatility in the market value, and in some instances reduced liquidity, of the CMO class.
A Fund may also invest in, among other types of CMOs, parallel pay CMOs and Planned Amortization Class CMOs (“PAC Bonds”). Parallel pay CMOs are structured to provide payments of principal on each payment date to more than one class. These simultaneous payments are taken into account in calculating the stated maturity date or final distribution date of each class, which, as with other CMO structures, must be retired by its stated maturity date or a final distribution date but may be retired earlier. PAC Bonds are a type of CMO tranche or series designed to provide relatively predictable payments of principal provided that, among other things, the actual prepayment experience on the underlying mortgage loans falls within a predefined range. If the actual prepayment experience on the underlying mortgage loans is at a rate faster or slower than the predefined range or if deviations from other assumptions occur, principal payments on the PAC Bond may be earlier or later than predicted. The magnitude of the predefined range varies from one PAC Bond to another; a narrower range increases the risk that prepayments on the PAC Bond will be greater or smaller than predicted. Because of these features, PAC Bonds generally are less subject to the risks of prepayment than are other types of mortgage-backed securities.
Stripped Mortgage Securities. Stripped mortgage securities are derivative multiclass mortgage securities. Stripped mortgage securities may be issued by agencies or instrumentalities of the U.S. government, or by private originators of, or investors in, mortgage loans, including savings and loan associations, mortgage banks, commercial banks, investment banks and special purpose subsidiaries of the foregoing. Stripped mortgage securities have greater volatility than other types of mortgage securities. Although stripped mortgage securities are purchased and sold by institutional investors through several investment banking firms acting as brokers or dealers, the market for such securities has not yet been fully developed. Accordingly, stripped mortgage securities are generally illiquid.
Stripped mortgage securities are structured with two or more classes of securities that receive different proportions of the interest and principal distributions on a pool of mortgage assets. A common type of stripped mortgage security will have at least one class receiving only a small portion of the interest and a larger portion of the principal from the mortgage assets, while the other class will receive primarily interest and only a small portion of the principal. In the most extreme case, one class will receive all of the interest (“IO” or interest-only class), while the other class will receive the entire principal (“PO” or principal-only class). The yield to maturity on IOs, POs and other mortgage-backed securities that are purchased at a substantial premium or discount generally are extremely sensitive not only to changes in prevailing interest rates but also to the rate of principal payments (including prepayments) on the related underlying mortgage assets, and a rapid rate of
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principal payments may have a material adverse effect on such securities’ yield to maturity. If the underlying mortgage assets experience greater than anticipated prepayments of principal, a Fund may fail to fully recoup its initial investment in these securities even if the securities have received the highest rating by an NRSRO.
In addition to the stripped mortgage securities described above, certain Funds may invest in similar securities such as Super POs and Levered IOs which are more volatile than POs, IOs and IOettes. Risks associated with instruments such as Super POs are similar in nature to those risks related to investments in POs. IOettes represent the right to receive interest payments on an underlying pool of mortgages with similar risks as those associated with IOs. Unlike IOs, the owner also has the right to receive a very small portion of the principal. Risks connected with Levered IOs and IOettes are similar in nature to those associated with IOs. Such Funds may also invest in other similar instruments developed in the future that are deemed consistent with its investment objective, policies and restrictions. See “Additional General Tax Information for All Funds” in this SAI.
A Fund may also purchase stripped mortgage-backed securities for hedging purposes to protect that Fund against interest rate fluctuations. For example, since an IO will tend to increase in value as interest rates rise, it may be utilized to hedge against a decrease in value of other fixed-income securities in a rising interest rate environment. Stripped mortgage-backed securities may exhibit greater price volatility than ordinary debt securities because of the manner in which their principal and interest are returned to investors. The market value of the class consisting entirely of principal payments can be extremely volatile in response to changes in interest rates. The yields on stripped mortgage-backed securities that receive all or most of the interest are generally higher than prevailing market yields on other mortgage-backed obligations because their cash flow patterns are also volatile and there is a greater risk that the initial investment will not be fully recouped. The market for CMOs and other stripped mortgage-backed securities may be less liquid if these securities lose their value as a result of changes in interest rates; in that case, a Fund may have difficulty in selling such securities.
TBA Commitments. The Funds may enter into “to be announced” or “TBA” commitments. TBA commitments are forward agreements for the purchase or sale of securities, including mortgage-backed securities for a fixed price, with payment and delivery on an agreed upon future settlement date. The specific securities to be delivered are not identified at the trade date. However, delivered securities must meet specified terms, including issuer, rate and mortgage terms. See “When-Issued Securities and Delayed-Delivery Transactions” below.
Asset-Backed Securities. Asset-backed securities have structural characteristics similar to mortgage-backed securities. However, the underlying assets are not first-lien mortgage loans or interests therein; rather the underlying assets are often consumer or commercial debt contracts such as motor vehicle installment sales contracts, other installment loan contracts, home equity loans, leases of various types of property and receivables from credit card and other revolving credit arrangements. However, almost any type of fixed-income assets may be used to create an asset-backed security, including other fixed-income securities or derivative instruments such as swaps. Payments or distributions of principal and interest on asset-backed securities may be supported by non-governmental credit enhancements similar to those utilized in connection with mortgage-backed securities. Asset-backed securities, though, present certain risks that are not presented by mortgage-backed securities. The credit quality of most asset-backed securities depends primarily on the credit quality of the assets underlying such securities, how well the entity issuing the security is insulated from the credit risk of the originator or any other affiliated entities, and the amount and quality of any credit enhancement of the securities. To the extent a security interest exists, it may be more difficult for the issuer to enforce the security interest as compared to mortgage-backed securities.
Municipal Securities
Each of the Fixed-Income Funds, except the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund, may invest in municipal securities. Municipal securities include debt obligations issued by governmental entities to obtain funds for various public purposes, such as the construction of a wide range of public facilities, the refunding of outstanding obligations, the payment of general operating expenses, and the extension of loans to other public institutions and facilities. Private activity bonds that are issued by or on behalf of public authorities to finance various privately-operated facilities are deemed to be municipal securities, only if the interest paid thereon is exempt from federal taxes. 2017 legislation commonly known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”) repealed the exclusion from gross income for interest paid on pre-refunded municipal securities effective for such bonds issued after December 31, 2017.
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Other types of municipal securities include short-term General Obligation Notes, Tax Anticipation Notes, Bond Anticipation Notes, Revenue Anticipation Notes, Project Notes, Tax-Exempt Commercial Paper, Construction Loan Notes and other forms of short-term tax-exempt loans. Such instruments are issued with a short-term maturity in anticipation of the receipt of tax funds, the proceeds of bond placements or other revenues.
Project Notes are issued by a state or local housing agency and are sold by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. While the issuing agency has the primary obligation with respect to its Project Notes, they are also secured by the full faith and credit of the United States through agreements with the issuing authority which provide that, if required, the federal government will lend the issuer an amount equal to the principal of and interest on the Project Notes.
The two principal classifications of municipal securities consist of “general obligation” and “revenue” issues. The Funds may also acquire “moral obligation” issues, which are normally issued by special purpose authorities. There are, of course, variations in the quality of municipal securities, both within a particular classification and between classifications, and the yields on municipal securities depend upon a variety of factors, including the financial condition of the issuer, general conditions of the municipal bond market, the size of a particular offering, the maturity of the obligation and the rating of the issue. Ratings represent the opinions of an NRSRO as to the quality of municipal securities. It should be emphasized, however, that ratings are general and are not absolute standards of quality, and municipal securities with the same maturity, interest rate and rating may have different yields, while municipal securities of the same maturity and interest rate with different ratings may have the same yield. Subsequent to purchase, an issue of municipal securities may cease to be rated or its rating may be reduced below the minimum rating required for purchase. A Fund's portfolio management will consider such an event in determining whether a Fund should continue to hold the obligation.
An issuer’s obligations under its municipal securities are subject to the provisions of bankruptcy, insolvency, and other laws affecting the rights and remedies of creditors, such as the federal bankruptcy code, and laws, if any, which may be enacted by Congress or state legislatures extending the time for payment of principal or interest, or both, or imposing other constraints upon the enforcement of such obligations or upon the ability of municipalities to levy taxes. The power or ability of an issuer to meet its obligations for the payment of interest on and principal of its municipal securities may be materially adversely affected by litigation or other conditions.
General Obligation Bonds. General obligation bonds are secured by the issuer’s pledge of its full faith, credit and taxing power for the payment of principal and interest. The taxing power of any governmental entity may be limited, however, by provisions of its state constitution or laws, and an entity’s creditworthiness will depend on many factors, including potential erosion of its tax base due to population declines, natural disasters, declines in the state’s industrial base or inability to attract new industries, economic limits on the ability to tax without eroding the tax base, state legislative proposals or voter initiatives to limit ad valorem real property taxes and the extent to which the entity relies on federal or state aid, access to capital markets or other factors beyond the state’s or entity’s control. Accordingly, the capacity of the issuer of a general obligation bond as to the timely payment of interest and the repayment of principal when due is affected by the issuer’s maintenance of its tax base.
Revenue Bonds. Revenue bonds are payable only from the revenues derived from a particular facility or class of facilities or, in some cases, from the proceeds of a special excise tax or other specific revenue source such as payments from the user of the facility being financed; accordingly, the timely payment of interest and the repayment of principal in accordance with the terms of the revenue or special obligation bond is a function of the economic viability of such facility or such revenue source.
Revenue bonds issued by state or local agencies to finance the development of low-income, multi-family housing involve special risks in addition to those associated with municipal bonds generally, including that the underlying properties may not generate sufficient income to pay expenses and interest costs. Such bonds are generally non-recourse against the property owner, may be junior to the rights of others with an interest in the properties, may pay interest that changes based in part on the financial performance of the property, may be prepayable without penalty and may be used to finance the construction of housing developments which, until completed and rented, do not generate income to pay interest. Increases in interest rates payable on senior obligations may make it more difficult for issuers to meet payment obligations on subordinated bonds.
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Private activity bonds. Private activity bonds (“PABs”) are, in most cases, tax-exempt securities issued by states, municipalities or public authorities to provide funds, usually through a loan or lease arrangement, to a private entity for the purpose of financing construction or improvement of a facility to be used by the entity. Such bonds are secured primarily by revenues derived from loan repayments or lease payments due from the entity, which may or may not be guaranteed by a parent company or otherwise secured. PABs generally are not secured by a pledge of the taxing power of the issuer of such bonds. Therefore, an investor should understand that repayment of such bonds generally depends on the revenues of a private entity and be aware of the risks that such an investment may entail. The continued ability of an entity to generate sufficient revenues for the payment of principal and interest on such bonds will be affected by many factors including the size of the entity, its capital structure, demand for its products or services, competition, general economic conditions, government regulation and the entity’s dependence on revenues for the operation of the particular facility being financed.
Natural Disaster/Epidemic Risk
Natural or environmental disasters, such as earthquakes, fires, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis and other severe weather-related phenomena generally, and widespread disease, including pandemics and epidemics, have been and can be highly disruptive to economies and markets, adversely impacting individual companies, sectors, industries, markets, currencies, interest and inflation rates, credit ratings, investor sentiment, and other factors affecting the value of the Funds' investments. Given the increasing interdependence among global economies and markets, conditions in one country, market, or region are increasingly likely to adversely affect markets, issuers, and/or foreign exchange rates in other countries, including the U.S. These disruptions could prevent the Funds from executing advantageous investment decisions in a timely manner and negatively impact the Funds' ability to achieve their investment objectives. Any such event(s) could have a significant adverse impact on the value and risk profile of the Funds.
Operational and Technology Risk/Cyber Security Risk
A Fund, its service providers, and other market participants depend on complex information technology and communications systems to conduct business functions. These systems are subject to a number of different threats or risks that could adversely affect a Fund and its shareholders, despite the efforts of a Fund and its service providers to adopt technologies, processes, and practices intended to mitigate these risks.
For example, a Fund and its service providers may be susceptible to operational and information security risks resulting from cyber incidents. In general, cyber incidents can result from deliberate attacks or unintentional events. Cyber attacks 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 also may 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 or breaches by a Fund's adviser, and other service providers (including, but not limited to, Fund accountants, custodians, subadvisers, transfer agents and administrators), and the issuers of securities in which the Funds invest, have the ability to cause disruptions and impact business operations, potentially resulting in financial losses, interference with a Fund's ability to calculate its net asset value, impediments to trading, the inability of a Fund's shareholders to transact business, violations of applicable privacy and other laws, regulatory fines, penalties, reputational damage, reimbursement or other compensation costs, or additional compliance costs. In addition, substantial costs may be incurred in order to prevent any cyber incidents in the future. While a Fund and its service providers have established business continuity plans in the event of, and systems designed to reduce the risks associated with, such cyber attacks, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems including the possibility that certain risks have not been identified.
In addition, power or communications outages, acts of God, information technology equipment malfunctions, operational errors, and inaccuracies within software or data processing systems may also disrupt business operations or impact critical data. Market events also may trigger a volume of transactions that overloads current information technology and communication systems and processes, impacting the ability to conduct a Fund's operations.
The Funds cannot control the cyber security plans and systems put in place by service providers to the Funds and issuers in which the Funds invest. The Funds and their shareholders could be negatively impacted as a result.
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Preferred Stocks, Convertible Securities and Other Equity Securities
Each of the Funds, except for the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund, may invest in preferred stocks and other forms of convertible securities. In some instances, a Fixed-Income Fund (except the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund) may receive common stock, warrants or other types of equity securities resulting from a corporate action by or bankruptcy of an issuer of debt securities held by the Fund. In such instances, unless such equity securities are preferred stocks or convertible securities, the Fund will sell such equity securities as soon as reasonably practicable. Preferred stocks, like many debt obligations, are generally fixed-income securities. Shareholders of preferred stocks normally have the right to receive dividends at a fixed rate when and as declared by the issuer’s board of directors, but do not participate in other amounts available for distribution by the issuing corporation. In some countries, dividends on preferred stocks may be variable, rather than fixed. Dividends on the preferred stock may be cumulative, and all cumulative dividends usually must be paid prior to common shareholders of common stock receiving any dividends. Because preferred stock dividends must be paid before common stock dividends, preferred stocks generally entail less risk than common stocks. Upon liquidation, preferred stocks are entitled to a specified liquidation preference, which is generally the same as the par or stated value, and are senior in right of payment to common stock. Preferred stocks are, however, equity securities in the sense that they do not represent a liability of the issuer and, therefore, do not offer as great a degree of protection of capital or assurance of continued income as investments in corporate debt securities. Preferred stocks are generally subordinated in right of payment to all debt obligations and creditors of the issuer, and convertible preferred stocks may be subordinated to other preferred stock of the same issuer.
Convertible securities are bonds, debentures, notes, preferred stocks, or other securities that may be converted into or exchanged for a specified amount of common stock of the same or a different issuer within a particular period of time at a specified price or formula. Convertible securities have general characteristics similar to both debt obligations and equity securities. The value of a convertible security is a function of its “investment value” (determined by its yield in comparison with the yields of other securities of comparable maturity and quality that do not have a conversion privilege) and its “conversion value” (the security’s worth, at market value, if converted into the underlying common stock). The investment value of a convertible security is influenced by changes in interest rates, the credit standing of the issuer and other factors. The market value of convertible securities tends to decline as interest rates increase and, conversely, tends to increase as interest rates decline. The conversion value of a convertible security is determined by the market price of the underlying common stock. The market value of convertible securities tends to vary with fluctuations in the market value of the underlying common stock and therefore will react to variations in the general market for equity securities. If the conversion value is low relative to the investment value, the price of the convertible security is governed principally by its investment value. Generally, the conversion value decreases as the convertible security approaches maturity. To the extent the market price of the underlying common stock approaches or exceeds the conversion price, the price of the convertible security will be increasingly influenced by its conversion value. A convertible security generally will sell at a premium over its conversion value by the extent to which investors place value on the right to acquire the underlying common stock while holding a fixed-income security. While no securities investments are without risk, investments in convertible securities generally entail less risk than investments in common stock of the same issuer.
A convertible security entitles the holder to receive interest normally paid or accrued on debt or the dividend paid on preferred stock until the convertible security matures or is redeemed, converted, or exchanged. Convertible securities have unique investment characteristics in that they generally (i) have higher yields than common stocks, but lower yields than comparable non-convertible securities, (ii) are less subject to fluctuation in value than the underlying stock since they have fixed-income characteristics, and (iii) provide the potential for capital appreciation if the market price of the underlying common stock increases. Most convertible securities currently are issued by U.S. companies, although a substantial Eurodollar convertible securities market has developed, and the markets for convertible securities denominated in local currencies are increasing.
A convertible security may be subject to redemption at the option of the issuer at a price established in the convertible security’s governing instrument. If a convertible security held by a Fund is called for redemption, a Fund will be required to permit the issuer to redeem the security, convert it into the underlying common stock, or sell it to a third party.
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Convertible securities generally are subordinated to other similar but non-convertible securities of the same issuer, although convertible bonds, as corporate debt obligations, generally enjoy seniority in right of payment to all equity securities, and convertible preferred stock is senior to common stock of the same issuer. Because of the subordination feature, however, some convertible securities typically are rated below investment grade or are not rated, depending on the general creditworthiness of the issuer.
Certain Funds may invest in convertible preferred stocks that offer enhanced yield features, such as Preferred Equity Redemption Cumulative Stocks (“PERCS”), which provide an investor, such as a Fund, with the opportunity to earn higher dividend income than is available on a company’s common stock. PERCS are preferred stocks that generally feature a mandatory conversion date, as well as a capital appreciation limit, which is usually expressed in terms of a stated price. Most PERCS expire three years from the date of issue, at which time they are convertible into common stock of the issuer. PERCS are generally not convertible into cash at maturity. Under a typical arrangement, after three years PERCS convert into one share of the issuer’s common stock if the issuer’s common stock is trading at a price below that set by the capital appreciation limit, and into less than one full share if the issuer’s common stock is trading at a price above that set by the capital appreciation limit. The amount of that fractional share of common stock is determined by dividing the price set by the capital appreciation limit by the market price of the issuer’s common stock. PERCS can be called at any time prior to maturity, and hence do not provide call protection. If called early, however, the issuer must pay a call premium over the market price to the investor. This call premium declines at a preset rate daily, up to the maturity date.
A Fund may also invest in other classes of enhanced convertible securities. These include but are not limited to Automatically Convertible Equity Securities (“ACES”), Participating Equity Preferred Stock (“PEPS”), Preferred Redeemable Increased Dividend Equity Securities (“PRIDES”), Stock Appreciation Income Linked Securities (“SAILS”), Term Convertible Notes (“TECONS”), Quarterly Income Cumulative Securities (“QICS”), and Dividend Enhanced Convertible Securities (“DECS”). ACES, PEPS, PRIDES, SAILS, TECONS, QICS, and DECS all have the following features: they are issued by the company, the common stock of which will be received in the event the convertible preferred stock is converted; unlike PERCS they do not have a capital appreciation limit; they seek to provide the investor with high current income with some prospect of future capital appreciation; they are typically issued with three- or four-year maturities; they typically have some built-in call protection for the first two to three years; and, upon maturity, they will convert into either cash or a specified number of shares of common stock.
Similarly, there may be enhanced convertible debt obligations issued by the operating company, whose common stock is to be acquired in the event the security is converted, or by a different issuer, such as an investment bank. These securities may be identified by names such as Equity Linked Securities (“ELKS”) or similar names. Typically they share most of the salient characteristics of an enhanced convertible preferred stock but will be ranked as senior or subordinated debt in the issuer’s corporate structure according to the terms of the debt indenture. There may be additional types of convertible securities not specifically referred to herein, which may be similar to those described above in which a Fund may invest, consistent with its goals and policies.
An investment in an enhanced convertible security or any other security may involve additional risks to the Fund. A Fund may have difficulty disposing of such securities because there may be a thin trading market for a particular security at any given time. Reduced liquidity may have an adverse impact on market price and a Fund’s ability to dispose of particular securities, when necessary, to meet the Fund’s liquidity needs or in response to a specific economic event, such as the deterioration in the creditworthiness of an issuer. Reduced liquidity in the secondary market for certain securities may also make it more difficult for a Fund to obtain market quotations based on actual trades for purposes of valuing the Fund’s portfolio. Each Fund, however, intends to acquire liquid securities, though there can be no assurances that it will always be able to do so.
Certain Funds may also invest in zero coupon convertible securities. Zero coupon convertible securities are debt securities which are issued at a discount to their face amount and do not entitle the holder to any periodic payments of interest prior to maturity. Rather, interest earned on zero coupon convertible securities accretes at a stated yield until the security reaches its face amount at maturity. Zero coupon convertible securities are convertible into a specific number of shares of the issuer’s common stock. In addition, zero coupon convertible securities usually have put features that provide the holder with the opportunity to sell the securities back to the issuer at a stated price before maturity. Generally, the prices of zero coupon convertible securities may be more sensitive to market interest rate fluctuations than conventional convertible securities. For more information about zero coupon securities generally, see “Zero Coupon Securities, Step-Coupon Securities, Pay-In-Kind Bonds (“PIK Bonds”) and Deferred Payment Securities” below.
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Current federal income tax law requires the holder of zero coupon securities to accrue income with respect to these securities prior to the receipt of cash payments. Accordingly, to avoid liability for federal income and excise taxes, a Fund may be required to distribute income accrued with respect to these securities and may have to dispose of portfolio securities under disadvantageous circumstances in order to generate cash to satisfy these distribution requirements.
Contingent Convertible Securities. A contingent convertible security (“CoCo”) is a hybrid debt security typically issued by a non-U.S. bank that, upon the occurrence of a specified trigger event, may be (i) convertible into equity securities of the issuer at a predetermined share price; or (ii) written down in liquidation value. Trigger events are identified in the document’s requirements. CoCos are designed to behave like bonds in times of economic health yet absorb losses when the trigger event occurs.
With respect to CoCos that provide for conversion of the CoCo into common shares of the issuer in the event of a trigger event, the conversion would deepen the subordination of the investor, subjecting the Fund to a greater risk of loss in the event of bankruptcy. In addition, because the common stock of the issuer may not pay a dividend, investors in such instruments could experience reduced yields (or no yields at all). With respect to CoCos that provide for the write-down in liquidation value of the CoCo in the event of a trigger event, it is possible that the liquidation value of the CoCo may be adjusted downward to below the original par value or written off entirely under certain circumstances. For instance, if losses have eroded the issuer’s capital levels below a specified threshold, the liquidation value of the CoCo may be reduced in whole or in part. The write-down of the CoCo’s par value may occur automatically and would not entitle holders to institute bankruptcy proceedings against the issuer. In addition, an automatic write-down could result in a reduced income rate if the dividend or interest payment associated with the CoCo is based on par value. Coupon payments on CoCos may be discretionary and may be canceled by the issuer for any reason or may be subject to approval by the issuer’s regulator and may be suspended in the event there are insufficient distributable reserves.
CoCos are subject to the credit, interest rate, high-yield securities, foreign securities and market risks associated with bonds and equity securities, and to the risks specified to convertible securities in general. They are also subject to other specific risks. CoCos typically are structurally subordinated to traditional convertible bonds in the issuer’s capital structure, which increases the risk that the Fund may experience a loss. In certain scenarios, investors in CoCos may suffer a loss of capital ahead of equity holders or when equity holders do not. CoCos are generally speculative and the prices of CoCos may be volatile. There is no guarantee that the Fund will receive return of principal on CoCos.
Publicly Traded Limited Partnerships and Limited Liability Companies
Entities such as limited partnerships, limited liability companies, business trusts and companies organized outside the United States may issue securities comparable to common or preferred stock. Each of the Equity Funds may invest in interests in limited liability companies, as well as publicly traded limited partnerships (limited partnership interests or units), which represent equity interests in the assets and earnings of the company’s or partnership’s trade or business. Unlike common stock in a corporation, limited partnership interests have limited or no voting rights. However, many of the risks of investing in common stocks are still applicable to investments in limited partnership interests. In addition, limited partnership interests are subject to risks not present in common stock. For example, income derived from a limited partnership deemed not to be a “qualified publicly traded partnership” will be treated as “qualifying income” under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (“Internal Revenue Code”) only to the extent such income is attributable to items of income of the partnership that would be qualifying income if realized directly by the Funds. See “Additional General Tax Information for All Funds” below. Also, since publicly traded limited partnerships and limited liability companies are a less common form of organizational structure than corporations, their units may be less liquid than publicly traded common stock. Also, because of the difference in organizational structure, the fair value of limited liability company or limited partnership units in a Fund’s portfolio may be based either upon the current market price of such units, or if there is no current market price, upon the pro rata value of the underlying assets of the company or partnership. Limited partnership units also have the risk that the limited partnership might, under certain circumstances, be treated as a general partnership giving rise to broader liability exposure to the limited partners for activities of the partnership. Further, the general partners of a limited partnership may be able to significantly change the business or asset structure of a limited partnership without the limited partners having any ability to disapprove any such changes. In certain limited partnerships, limited partners may also be required to return distributions previously made in the event that excess distributions have been made by the partnership, or in the event that the general partners, or their affiliates, are entitled to indemnification.
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Put Bonds
Each of the Fixed-Income Funds, except the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund, may invest in “put” bonds. “Put” bonds are securities (including securities with variable interest rates) that may be sold back to the issuer of the security at face value at the option of the holder prior to their stated maturity. A Fund’s portfolio management intends to purchase only those put bonds for which the put option is an integral part of the security as originally issued. The option to “put” the bond back to the issuer prior to the stated final maturity can cushion the price decline of the bond in a rising interest rate environment. However, the premium paid, if any, for an option to put will have the effect of reducing the yield otherwise payable on the underlying security. For the purpose of determining the “maturity” of securities purchased subject to an option to put, and for the purpose of determining the dollar weighted average maturity of a Fund holding such securities, the Fund will consider “maturity” to be the first date on which it has the right to demand payment from the issuer.
Real Estate Investment Trusts
Although no Fund invests in real estate directly, the Equity Funds may invest in securities of real estate investment trusts (“REITs”) and other real estate industry companies or companies with substantial real estate investments and, as a result, such Funds may be subject to certain risks associated with direct ownership of real estate and with the real estate industry in general. These risks include, among others: possible declines in the value of real estate; possible lack of availability of mortgage funds; extended vacancies of properties; risks related to general and local economic conditions; overbuilding; increases in competition, property taxes and operating expenses; changes in zoning laws; costs resulting from the clean-up of, and liability to third parties for damages resulting from, environmental problems; casualty or condemnation losses; uninsured damages from floods, earthquakes or other natural disasters; limitations on and variations in rents; and changes in interest rates.
REITs are pooled investment vehicles which invest primarily in income-producing real estate or real estate-related loans or interests. REITs are generally classified as equity REITs, mortgage REITs or hybrid REITs. Equity REITs invest the majority of their assets directly in real property and derive income primarily from the collection of 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. Hybrid REITs combine the investment strategies of equity REITs and mortgage REITs. REITs are not taxed on income distributed to shareholders provided they comply with several requirements of the Internal Revenue Code. The Funds pay the fees and expenses of the REITs, which, ultimately, are paid by a Fund’s shareholders.
Repurchase Agreements
Each Fund may enter into repurchase agreements. In connection with the purchase by a Fund of a repurchase agreement from member banks of the Federal Reserve System or certain non-bank dealers, the Fund’s custodian, or a sub-custodian, will have custody of, and will earmark or segregate securities acquired by the Fund under such repurchase agreement. Repurchase agreements are contracts under which the buyer of a security simultaneously commits to resell the security to the seller at an agreed-upon price and date. Any portion of a repurchase agreement that is not collateralized fully is considered by the staff of the SEC to be a loan by the Fund. To the extent that a repurchase agreement is not collateralized fully, a Fund will include any collateral that the Fund receives in calculating the Fund’s total assets in determining whether a Fund has loaned more than one-third of its assets. Repurchase agreements may be entered into with respect to securities of the type in which the Fund may invest or government securities regardless of their remaining maturities, and will require that additional securities be deposited as collateral if the value of the securities purchased should decrease below resale price. Repurchase agreements involve certain risks in the event of default or insolvency by the other party, including possible delays or restrictions upon a Fund’s ability to dispose of the underlying securities, the risk of a possible decline in the value of the underlying securities during the period in which a Fund seeks to assert its rights to them, the risk of incurring expenses associated with asserting those rights and the risk of losing all or part of the income from the repurchase agreement. A Fund’s portfolio management reviews the creditworthiness of those banks and other recognized financial institutions with which a Fund enters into repurchase agreements to evaluate these risks.
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Restricted, Non-Publicly Traded and Illiquid Securities
Each Fund may not invest more than 15% (5% with respect to the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund) of its net assets, in the aggregate, in illiquid securities, including repurchase agreements which have a maturity of longer than seven days, time deposits maturing in more than seven days and securities that are illiquid because of the absence of a readily available market or legal or contractual restrictions on resale or other factors limiting the marketability of the security. Repurchase agreements subject to demand are deemed to have a maturity equal to the notice period.
Historically, illiquid securities have included securities subject to contractual or legal restrictions on resale because they have not been registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), securities which are otherwise not readily marketable and repurchase agreements having a maturity of longer than seven days. In addition, a security is illiquid if it 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. Securities which have not been registered under the Securities Act are referred to as private placements or restricted securities and are purchased directly from the issuer or in the secondary market. Unless subsequently registered for sale, these securities can only be sold in privately negotiated transactions or pursuant to an exemption from registration. The Funds typically do not hold a significant amount of these restricted or other illiquid securities because of the potential for delays on resale and uncertainty in valuation. Limitations on resale may have an adverse effect on the marketability of portfolio securities, and a Fund might be unable to dispose of restricted or other illiquid securities promptly or at reasonable prices and might thereby experience difficulty satisfying redemptions within seven days. A Fund might also have to register such restricted securities in order to dispose of them, resulting in additional expense and delay. Adverse market conditions could impede such a public offering of securities.
A large institutional market exists for certain securities that are not registered under the Securities Act including repurchase agreements, commercial paper, foreign securities, municipal securities and corporate bonds and notes. Institutional investors depend on an efficient institutional market in which the unregistered security can be readily resold or on an issuer’s ability to honor a demand for repayment. The fact that there are contractual or legal restrictions on resale to the general public or to certain institutions may not be indicative of the liquidity of such investments.
The SEC has adopted Rule 144A, which allows for a broader institutional trading market for securities otherwise subject to restriction on resale to the general public. Rule 144A establishes a “safe harbor” from the registration requirements of the Securities Act for resales of certain securities to qualified institutional buyers.
Any such restricted securities will be considered to be illiquid for purposes of a Fund’s limitations on investments in illiquid securities unless, pursuant to procedures adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Trust, a Fund’s portfolio management has determined such securities to be liquid because such securities are eligible for resale pursuant to Rule 144A and are readily saleable, or if such securities may be readily saleable in foreign markets. To the extent that qualified institutional buyers may become uninterested in purchasing Rule 144A securities, a Fund’s level of illiquidity may increase.
A Fund’s portfolio management will monitor the liquidity of restricted securities in the portion of a Fund it manages. In reaching liquidity decisions, the following factors are considered: (1) the unregistered nature of the security; (2) the frequency of trades and quotes for the security; (3) the number of dealers wishing to purchase or sell the security and the number of other potential purchasers; (4) dealer undertakings to make a market in the security; and (5) the nature of the security and the nature of the marketplace trades (e.g., the time needed to dispose of the security, the method of soliciting offers and the mechanics of the transfer).
Pursuant to Rule 22e-4 under the 1940 Act, a Fund (other than the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund) assesses, manages, and periodically reviews its liquidity risk. The Nationwide Government Money Market Fund manages its liquidity pursuant to the requirements of Rule 2a-7.
Private Placement Commercial Paper. Commercial paper eligible for resale under Section 4(2) of the Securities Act (“Section 4(2) paper”) is offered only to accredited investors. Rule 506 of Regulation D in the Securities Act lists investment companies as an accredited investor.
Section 4(2) paper not eligible for resale under Rule 144A under the Securities Act shall be deemed liquid if: (1) the Section 4(2) paper is not traded flat or in default as to principal and interest; (2) the Section 4(2) paper is rated in one of the two highest rating categories by at least two NRSROs, or if only one NRSRO rates the security, it is rated in one of the two
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highest categories by that NRSRO; and (3) the Fund’s portfolio management believes that, based on the trading markets for such security, such security can be 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.
Reverse Repurchase Agreements and Mortgage Dollar Rolls
The Funds may engage in reverse repurchase agreements to facilitate portfolio liquidity, a practice common in the mutual fund industry, or for arbitrage transactions discussed below. In a reverse repurchase agreement, a Fund would sell a security and enter into an agreement to repurchase the security at a specified future date and price. A Fund generally retains the right to interest and principal payments on the security. Since a Fund receives cash upon entering into a reverse repurchase agreement, it may be considered a borrowing under the 1940 Act (see “Borrowing”). When required by guidelines of the SEC, a Fund will segregate or earmark permissible liquid assets to secure its obligations to repurchase the security. At the time a Fund enters into a reverse repurchase agreement, it will establish and maintain segregated or earmarked liquid assets with an approved custodian having a value not less than the repurchase price (including accrued interest). The segregated or earmarked liquid assets will be marked-to-market daily and additional assets will be segregated or earmarked on any day in which the assets fall below the repurchase price (plus accrued interest). A Fund's liquidity and ability to manage its assets might be affected when it sets aside cash or portfolio securities to cover such commitments. Reverse repurchase agreements involve the risk that the market value of the securities retained in lieu of sale may decline below the price of the securities the Fund has sold but is obligated to repurchase. In the event the buyer of securities under a reverse repurchase agreement files for bankruptcy or becomes insolvent, such buyer or its trustee or receiver may receive an extension of time to determine whether to enforce the Fund’s obligation to repurchase the securities, and the Fund’s use of the proceeds of the reverse repurchase agreement may effectively be restricted pending such determination.
The Fixed-Income Funds also may invest in mortgage dollar rolls, which are arrangements in which a Fund would sell mortgage-backed securities for delivery in the current month and simultaneously contract to purchase substantially similar securities on a specified future date. While a Fund would forego principal and interest paid on the mortgage-backed securities during the roll period, the Fund would be compensated by the difference between the current sales price and the lower price for the future purchase as well as by any interest earned on the proceeds of the initial sale. A Fund also could be compensated through the receipt of fee income equivalent to a lower forward price. Mortgage dollar roll transactions may be considered a borrowing by the Funds (See “Borrowing”).
Mortgage dollar rolls and reverse repurchase agreements may be used as arbitrage transactions in which a Fund will maintain an offsetting position in investment grade debt obligations or repurchase agreements that mature on or before the settlement date on the related mortgage dollar roll or reverse repurchase agreements. Since a Fund will receive interest on the securities or repurchase agreements in which it invests the transaction proceeds, such transactions may involve leverage. However, since such securities or repurchase agreements will be high quality and will mature on or before the settlement date of the mortgage dollar roll or reverse repurchase agreement, the Fund’s portfolio management believes that such arbitrage transactions do not present the risks to the Fund that are associated with other types of leverage.
Securities of Investment Companies
As permitted by the 1940 Act, a Fund may generally invest up to 10% of its total assets, calculated at the time of investment, in the securities of other open-end or closed-end investment companies. No more than 5% of a Fund’s total assets may be invested in the securities of any one investment company nor may it acquire more than 3% of the voting securities of any other investment company. Notwithstanding these restrictions, each Fund may invest any amount, pursuant to Rule 12d1-1 under the 1940 Act, in affiliated or unaffiliated investment companies that hold themselves out as “money market funds” and which operate in accordance with Rule 2a-7 of the 1940 Act. In addition, a Fund may invest in other investment companies in excess of these limits pursuant to Rule 12d1-4 under the 1940 Act. A Fund will indirectly bear its proportionate share of any management fees paid by an investment company in which it invests in addition to the advisory fee paid by the Fund. Some of the countries in which a Fund may invest may not permit direct investment by outside investors. Investments in such countries may only be permitted through foreign government-approved or government-authorized investment vehicles, which may include other investment companies.
Exchange-Traded Funds. The Funds (except for the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund) may invest in exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”). ETFs are regulated as registered investment companies under the 1940 Act. Many ETFs acquire and hold securities of all of the companies or other issuers, or a representative sampling of companies or other issuers
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that are components of a particular index. Such ETFs typically are intended to provide investment results that, before expenses, generally correspond to the price and yield performance of the corresponding market index, and the value of their shares should, under normal circumstances, closely track the value of the index’s underlying component securities. Because an ETF has operating expenses and transaction costs, while a market index does not, ETFs that track particular indices typically will be unable to match the performance of the index exactly. ETF shares may be purchased and sold in the secondary trading market on a securities exchange, in lots of any size, at any time during the trading day. More recently, actively managed ETFs have been created that are managed similarly to other investment companies.
The shares of an ETF may be assembled in a block known as a creation unit and redeemed in-kind for a portfolio of the underlying securities (based on the ETF’s net asset value) together with a cash payment generally equal to accumulated dividends as of the date of redemption. Conversely, a creation unit may be purchased from the ETF by depositing a specified portfolio of the ETF’s underlying securities, as well as a cash payment generally equal to accumulated dividends of the securities (net of expenses) up to the time of deposit. ETF shares, as opposed to creation units, are generally purchased and sold by smaller investors in a secondary market on a securities exchange. ETF shares can be traded in lots of any size, at any time during the trading day. Although a Fund, like most other investors in ETFs, intends to purchase and sell ETF shares primarily in the secondary trading market, a Fund may redeem creation units for the underlying securities (and any applicable cash), and may assemble a portfolio of the underlying securities and use it (and any required cash) to purchase creation units, if the investment manager believes it is in the Fund’s best interest to do so.
An investment in an ETF is subject to all of the risks of investing in the securities held by the ETF and has the same risks as investing in a closed-end fund. In addition, because of the ability of large market participants to arbitrage price differences by purchasing or redeeming creation units, the difference between the market value and the net asset value of ETF shares should in most cases be small. An ETF may be terminated and need to liquidate its portfolio securities at a time when the prices for those securities are falling.
Short Selling of Securities
The Index Funds may engage in short selling of securities consistent with their respective strategies. In a short sale of securities, a Fund sells stock which it does not own, making delivery with securities “borrowed” from a broker. The Fund is then obligated to replace the borrowed security by purchasing it at the market price at the time of replacement. This price may or may not be less than the price at which the security was sold by the Fund. Until the security is replaced, the Fund is required to pay the lender any dividends or interest which accrue during the period of the loan. In order to borrow the security, the Fund also may have to pay a premium and/or interest which would increase the cost of the security sold. The proceeds of the short sale will be retained by the broker, to the extent necessary to meet margin requirements, until the short position is closed out. In addition, the broker may require the deposit of collateral (generally, up to 50% of the value of the securities sold short).
A Fund will incur a loss as a result of the short sale if the price of the security increases between the date of the short sale and the date on which the Fund replaces the borrowed security. A Fund will realize a gain if the security declines in price between those two dates. The amount of any gain will be decreased and the amount of any loss will be increased by any premium or interest the Fund may be required to pay in connection with the short sale. When a cash dividend is declared on a security for which a Fund has a short position, the Fund incurs the obligation to pay an amount equal to that dividend to the lender of the shorted security. However, any such dividend on a security sold short generally reduces the market value of the shorted security, thus increasing the Fund’s unrealized gain or reducing the Fund’s unrealized loss on its short-sale transaction. Whether a Fund will be successful in utilizing a short sale will depend, in part, on its portfolio management’s ability to correctly predict whether the price of a security it borrows to sell short will decrease.
In a short sale, the seller does not immediately deliver the securities sold and is said to have a short position in those securities until delivery occurs.
A Fund also may engage in short sales if at the time of the short sale the Fund owns or has the right to obtain without additional cost an equal amount of the security being sold short. This investment technique is known as a short sale “against the box.” The Funds do not intend to engage in short sales against the box for investment purposes. A Fund may, however, make a short sale as a hedge, when it believes that the price of a security may decline, causing a decline in the value of a security owned by the Fund (or a security convertible or exchangeable for such security), or when the Fund wants to sell the security at an attractive current price. In such case, any future losses in the Fund’s long position should be offset by a gain in
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the short position and, conversely, any gain in the long position should be reduced by a loss in the short position. The extent to which such gains or losses are reduced will depend upon the amount of the security sold short relative to the amount the Fund owns. There will be certain additional transaction costs associated with short sales against the box. For tax purposes a Fund that enters into a short sale “against the box” may be treated as having made a constructive sale of an “appreciated financial position” causing the Fund to realize a gain (but not a loss).
Short-Term Instruments
Each Fund may invest in short-term instruments, including money market instruments. Short-term instruments may include the following types of instruments:
shares of money market mutual funds, including those that may be advised by a Fund’s portfolio management;
obligations issued or guaranteed as to interest and principal by the U.S. government, its agencies, or instrumentalities, or any federally chartered corporation;
obligations of sovereign foreign governments, their agencies, instrumentalities and political subdivisions;
obligations of municipalities and states, their agencies and political subdivisions;
high-quality asset-backed commercial paper;
repurchase agreements;
bank or savings and loan obligations;
high-quality commercial paper (including asset-backed commercial paper), which are short-term unsecured promissory notes issued by corporations in order to finance their current operations. It also may be issued by foreign issuers, such as foreign governments, states and municipalities;
high-quality bank loan participation agreements representing obligations of corporations having a high-quality short-term rating, at the date of investment, and under which a Fund will look to the creditworthiness of the lender bank, which is obligated to make payments of principal and interest on the loan, as well as to creditworthiness of the borrower;
high-quality short-term corporate obligations;
certain variable-rate and floating-rate securities with maturities longer than 397 days, but which are subject to interest rate resetting provisions and demand features within 397 days;
extendable commercial notes, which differ from traditional commercial paper because the issuer can extend the maturity of the note up to 397 days with the option to call the note any time during the extension period. Because extension will occur when the issuer does not have other viable options for lending, these notes may be considered illiquid, particularly during the extension period; and
unrated short-term debt obligations that are determined by a Fund’s portfolio management to be of comparable quality to the securities described above.
Bank Obligations. Bank obligations include certificates of deposit, bankers’ acceptances and fixed time deposits. A certificate of deposit is a short-term negotiable certificate issued by a commercial bank against funds deposited in the bank and is either interest-bearing or purchased on a discount basis. A bankers’ acceptance is a short-term draft drawn on a commercial bank by a borrower, usually in connection with an international commercial transaction. The borrower is liable for payment as is the bank, which unconditionally guarantees to pay the draft at its face amount on the maturity date. Fixed time deposits are obligations of branches of U.S. banks or foreign banks which are payable at a stated maturity date and bear a fixed rate of interest. Although fixed time deposits do not have a market, there are no contractual restrictions on the right to transfer a beneficial interest in the deposit to a third party.
Bank obligations may be general obligations of the parent bank or may be limited to the issuing branch by the terms of the specific obligations or by government regulation. Bank obligations may be issued by domestic banks (including their branches located outside the United States), domestic and foreign branches of foreign banks and savings and loan associations.
Eurodollar and Yankee Obligations. Eurodollar bank obligations are dollar-denominated certificates of deposit and time deposits issued outside the U.S. capital markets by foreign branches of U.S. banks and by foreign banks. Yankee bank obligations are dollar-denominated obligations issued in the U.S. capital markets by foreign banks.
Eurodollar and Yankee bank obligations are subject to the same risks that pertain to domestic issues, notably credit risk, market risk and liquidity risk. Additionally, Eurodollar (and to a limited extent, Yankee) bank obligations are subject to certain sovereign risks and other risks associated with foreign investments. One such risk is the possibility that a sovereign
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country might prevent capital, in the form of dollars, from flowing across their borders. Other risks include: adverse political and economic developments; the extent and quality of government regulation of financial markets and institutions; the imposition of foreign withholding taxes, and the expropriation or nationalization of foreign issues. However, Eurodollar and Yankee bank obligations held in a Fund will undergo the same credit analysis as domestic issuers in which the Fund invests, and will have at least the same financial strength as the domestic issuers approved for the Fund.
Small- and Medium-Cap Companies and Emerging Growth Stocks
The Equity Funds may invest in small- and medium-cap companies and emerging growth stocks. Investing in securities of small-sized companies, including micro-capitalization companies and emerging growth companies, may involve greater risks than investing in the stocks of larger, more established companies, including possible risk of loss. Also, because these securities may have limited marketability, their prices may be more volatile than securities of larger, more established companies or the market averages in general. Because small-sized, medium-cap and emerging growth companies normally have fewer shares outstanding than larger companies, it may be more difficult for a Fund to buy or sell significant numbers of such shares without an unfavorable impact on prevailing prices. Small-sized and emerging growth companies may have limited product lines, markets or financial resources and may lack management depth. In addition, small-sized, medium-cap and emerging growth companies are typically subject to wider variations in earnings and business prospects than are larger, more established companies. There is typically less publicly available information concerning small-sized, medium-cap and emerging growth companies than for larger, more established ones.
Special Situation Companies
The Equity Funds may invest in “special situation companies,” which include those involved in an actual or prospective acquisition or consolidation; reorganization; recapitalization; merger, liquidation or distribution of cash, securities or other assets; a tender or exchange offer; a breakup or workout of a holding company; or litigation which, if resolved favorably, would improve the value of the company’s stock. If the actual or prospective situation does not materialize as anticipated, the market price of the securities of a “special situation company” may decline significantly. Therefore, an investment in a fund that invests a significant portion of its assets in these securities may involve a greater degree of risk than an investment in other mutual funds that seek long-term growth of capital by investing in better-known, larger companies. The portfolio management of such Fund believes, however, that if it analyzes “special situation companies” carefully and invests in the securities of these companies at the appropriate time, the Fund may achieve capital growth. There can be no assurance, however, that a special situation that exists at the time a Fund makes its investment will be consummated under the terms and within the time period contemplated, if it is consummated at all.
Standby Commitment Agreements
Except for the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund, each Fixed-Income Fund may enter into standby commitment agreements. Standby commitment agreements commit a Fund, for a stated period of time, to purchase a stated amount of fixed-income securities that may be issued and sold to the Fund at the option of the issuer. The price and coupon of the security is fixed at the time of the commitment. At the time of entering into the agreement the Fund is paid a commitment fee, regardless of whether or not the security is ultimately issued. A Fund may enter into such agreements for the purpose of investing in the security underlying the commitment at a yield and price that is considered advantageous to the Fund.
There can be no assurance that the securities subject to a standby commitment will be issued and the value of the security, if issued, on the delivery date may be more or less than its purchase price. Since the issuance of the security underlying the commitment is at the option of the issuer, a Fund may bear the risk of a decline in the value of such security and may not benefit from appreciation in the value of the security during the commitment period if the security is not ultimately issued.
The purchase of a security subject to a standby commitment agreement and the related commitment fee will be recorded on the date on which the security can reasonably be expected to be issued, and the value of the security will thereafter be reflected in the calculation of a Fund's net asset value. The cost basis of the security will be adjusted by the amount of the commitment fee. In the event the security is not issued, the commitment fee will be recorded as income on the expiration date of the standby commitment.
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Strip Bonds
The Fixed-Income Funds, except the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund, may invest in strip bonds. Strip bonds are debt securities that are stripped of their interest (usually by a financial intermediary) after the securities are issued. The market value of these securities generally fluctuates more in response to changes in interest rates than interest paying securities of comparable maturity.
Supranational Entities
The Fixed-Income Funds may invest in debt securities of supranational entities. Examples of such entities include the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank), the European Steel and Coal Community, the Asian Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. The government members, or “stockholders,” usually make initial capital contributions to the supranational entity and in many cases are committed to make additional capital contributions if the supranational entity is unable to repay its borrowings. There is no guarantee that one or more stockholders of a supranational entity will continue to make any necessary additional capital contributions. If such contributions are not made, the entity may be unable to pay interest or repay principal on its debt securities, and a Fund may lose money on such investments.
Temporary Investments
Generally, each of the Funds will be fully invested in accordance with its investment objective and strategies. However, pending investment of cash balances, in anticipation of redemptions or for other cash management purposes, or if a Fund’s subadviser believes that business, economic, political or financial conditions warrant, a Fund may invest without limit in high-quality fixed-income securities, cash or money market cash equivalents, as described herein and, subject to the limits of the 1940 Act, shares of other investment companies that invest in securities in which the Fund may invest. Should this occur, a Fund will not be pursuing its investment objective and may miss potential market upswings. Each Index Fund uses an indexing strategy and does not attempt to manage market volatility, use defensive strategies or reduce the effects of any long-term periods of poor securities performance, although each Index Fund may use temporary investments pending investment of cash balances or to manage anticipated redemption activity. See also “Short-Term Instruments.”
U.S. Government Securities and U.S. Government Agency Securities
Each of the Fixed-Income Funds may invest in a variety of securities which are issued or guaranteed as to the payment of principal and interest by the U.S. government (including U.S. Treasury securities), and by various agencies or instrumentalities which have been established or sponsored by the U.S. government. Each of the Equity Funds may invest in U.S. Treasury securities.
U.S. Treasury securities are backed by the “full faith and credit” of the United States. Securities issued or guaranteed by federal agencies and U.S. government-sponsored instrumentalities may or may not be backed by the full faith and credit of the United States. In the case of securities not backed by the full faith and credit of the United States, investors in such securities look principally to the agency or instrumentality issuing or guaranteeing the obligation for ultimate repayment, and may not be able to assert a claim against the United States itself in the event the agency or instrumentality does not meet its commitment. Agencies which are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States include the Export-Import Bank, Farmers Home Administration, Federal Financing Bank, and others. Certain agencies and instrumentalities, such as the GNMA, are, in effect, backed by the full faith and credit of the United States through provisions in their charters that they may make “indefinite and unlimited” drawings on the U.S. Treasury if needed to service its debt. Debt from certain other agencies and instrumentalities, including the Federal Home Loan Banks and FNMA, are not guaranteed by the United States, but those institutions are protected by the discretionary authority for the U.S. Treasury to purchase certain amounts of their securities to assist the institutions in meeting their debt obligations. Finally, other agencies and instrumentalities, such as the Farm Credit System and the FHLMC, are federally chartered institutions under U.S. government supervision, but their debt securities are backed only by the creditworthiness of those institutions, not the U.S. government.
Some of the U.S. government agencies that issue or guarantee securities include the Export-Import Bank of the United States, Farmers Home Administration, Federal Housing Administration, Maritime Administration, Small Business Administration, and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
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An instrumentality of a U.S. government agency is a government agency organized under Federal charter with government supervision. Instrumentalities issuing or guaranteeing securities include, among others, Federal Home Loan Banks, the Federal Land Banks, Central Bank for Cooperatives, Federal Intermediate Credit Banks and the FNMA.
The maturities of such securities usually range from three months to 30 years. While such securities may be guaranteed as to principal and interest by the U.S. government or its instrumentalities, their market values may fluctuate and are not guaranteed, which may, along with the other securities in a Fund's portfolio, cause the Fund’s daily net asset value to fluctuate.
The Federal Reserve creates STRIPS (Separate Trading of Registered Interest and Principal of Securities) by separating the coupon payments and the principal payment from an outstanding Treasury security and selling them as individual securities. To the extent a Fund purchases the principal portion of STRIPS, the Fund will not receive regular interest payments. Instead STRIPS are sold at a deep discount from their face value. Because the principal portion of the STRIPS does not pay current income, its price can be volatile when interest rates change. In calculating its dividend, a Fund takes into account as income a portion of the difference between the principal portion of the STRIPS’ purchase price and its face value.
In September 2008, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Housing Finance Administration (“FHFA”) placed FNMA and FHLMC into a conservatorship under FHFA. As conservator, the FHFA assumed all the powers of the shareholders, directors and officers with the goal of preserving and conserving the assets and property of FNMA and FHLMC. However, FNMA and FHLMC continue to operate legally as business corporations and FHFA has delegated to the Chief Executive Officer and Board of Directors the responsibility for much of the day-to-day operations of the companies. FNMA and FHLMC must follow the laws and regulations governing financial disclosure, including SEC requirements. The long-term effect that this conservatorship will have on these companies’ debt and equity securities is unclear.
The total public debt of the United States and other countries around the globe as a percent of gross domestic product has grown rapidly since the beginning of the 2008 financial downturn and has accelerated in connection with the U.S. government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although high debt levels do not necessarily indicate or cause economic problems, they may create certain systemic risks if sound debt management practices are not implemented. A high national debt level may increase market pressures to meet government funding needs, which may drive debt cost higher and cause a country to sell additional debt, thereby increasing refinancing risk. A high national debt also raises concerns that a government will not be able to make principal or interest payments when they are due.
Unsustainable debt levels can cause devaluations of currency, prevent a government from implementing effective counter-cyclical fiscal policy in economic downturns, and contribute to market volatility. In addition, the high and rising national debt may adversely impact the U.S. economy and securities in which a Fund may invest. From time to time, uncertainty regarding the status of negotiations in the U.S. government to increase the statutory debt ceiling could: increase the risk that the U.S. government may default on payments on certain U.S. government securities; cause the credit rating of the U.S. government to be downgraded or increase volatility in both stock and bond markets; result in higher interest rates; reduce prices of U.S. Treasury securities; and/or increase the costs of certain kinds of debt.
Inflation-Protected Bonds. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (“TIPS”) are fixed-income securities issued by the U.S. Treasury whose principal value is periodically adjusted according to the rate of inflation. The U.S. Treasury uses a structure that accrues inflation into the principal value of the bond. Inflation-indexed securities issued by the U.S. Treasury have maturities of five, ten or thirty years, although it is possible that securities with other maturities will be issued in the future. TIPS bonds typically pay interest on a semiannual basis, equal to a fixed percentage of the inflation-adjusted amount.
If the periodic adjustment rate measuring inflation falls, the principal value of inflation-indexed bonds will be adjusted downward, and consequently the interest payable on these securities (calculated with respect to a smaller principal amount) will be reduced. Repayment of the original bond principal upon maturity (as adjusted for inflation) is guaranteed in the case of U.S. Treasury inflation-indexed bonds, even during a period of deflation. However, the current market value of the bonds is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. The Funds may also invest in other inflation-related bonds which may or may not provide a similar guarantee. If a guarantee of principal is not provided, the adjusted principal value of the bond repaid at maturity may be less than the original principal.
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The value of inflation-indexed bonds is expected to change in response to changes in real interest rates. Real interest rates in turn are tied to the relationship between nominal interest rates and the rate of inflation. Therefore, if inflation were to rise at a faster rate than nominal interest rates, real interest rates might decline, leading to an increase in value of inflation-indexed bonds. In contrast, if nominal interest rates increased at a faster rate than inflation, real interest rates might rise, leading to a decrease in value of inflation-indexed bonds.
Investors in an inflation-indexed mutual fund who do not reinvest the portion of the income distribution that is attributable to inflation adjustments will not maintain the purchasing power of the investment over the long term. This is because interest earned depends on the amount of principal invested, and that principal will not grow with inflation if the investor fails to reinvest the principal adjustment paid out as part of a Fund's income distributions.
While these securities are expected to be protected from long-term inflationary trends, short-term increases in inflation may lead to a decline in value. If interest rates rise due to reasons other than inflation (for example, due to changes in currency exchange rates), investors in these securities may not be protected to the extent that the increase is not reflected in the bond’s inflation measure.
The periodic adjustment of U.S. inflation-indexed bonds is tied to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers (“CPI-U”), which is calculated monthly by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The CPI-U is a measurement of changes in the cost of living, made up of components such as housing, food, transportation and energy. Inflation-indexed securities issued by a foreign government are generally adjusted to reflect a comparable inflation index, calculated by that government. There can be no assurance that the CPI-U or any foreign inflation index will accurately measure the real rate of inflation in the prices of goods and services. Moreover, there can be no assurance that the rate of inflation in a foreign country will be correlated to the rate of inflation in the United States.
Any increase in the principal amount of an inflation-indexed bond will be considered taxable ordinary income, even though investors do not receive their principal until maturity.
Warrants and Rights
Each of the Equity Funds may invest in or hold warrants and rights. Warrants are securities giving the holder the right, but not the obligation, to buy the stock of an issuer at a given price (generally higher than the value of the stock at the time of issuance), on a specified date, during a specified period, or perpetually. Rights are similar to warrants, but normally have a shorter duration. Warrants and rights may be acquired separately or in connection with the acquisition of securities. Warrants and rights do not carry with them the right to dividends or voting rights with respect to the securities that they entitle their holder to purchase, and they do not represent any rights in the assets of the issuer. As a result, warrants and rights may be considered more speculative than certain other types of investments. In addition, the value of a warrant or right does not necessarily change with the value of the underlying securities, and a warrant or right ceases to have value if it is not exercised prior to its expiration date.
When-Issued Securities and Delayed-Delivery Transactions
Each of the Fixed-Income Funds may invest in when-issued securities and engage in delayed-delivery transactions. When securities are purchased on a “when-issued” basis or purchased for delayed delivery, payment and delivery occur beyond the normal settlement date at a stated price and yield. When-issued transactions normally settle within 45 days. The payment obligation and the interest rate that will be received on when-issued securities are fixed at the time the buyer enters into the commitment. Due to fluctuations in the value of securities purchased or sold on a when-issued or delayed-delivery basis, the yields obtained on such securities may be higher or lower than the yields available in the market on the dates when the investments are actually delivered to the buyers. The greater a Fund’s outstanding commitments for these securities, the greater the exposure to potential fluctuations in the net asset value of the Fund. Purchasing when-issued or delayed-delivery securities may involve the additional risk that the yield or market price available in the market when the delivery occurs may be higher or the market price lower than that obtained at the time of commitment.
When a Fund engages in when-issued or delayed-delivery transactions, it relies on the other party to consummate the trade. Failure of the seller to do so may result in the Fund incurring a loss or missing an opportunity to obtain a price considered to be advantageous.
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Zero Coupon Securities, Step-Coupon Securities, Pay-In-Kind Bonds (“PIK Bonds”) and Deferred Payment Securities
Each of the Fixed-Income Funds may invest in zero coupon securities and step-coupon securities. In addition, each of the Fixed-Income Funds, except the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund, may invest in PIK Bonds and deferred payment securities. Zero coupon securities are debt securities that pay no cash income but are sold at substantial discounts from their value at maturity. Step-coupon securities are debt securities that do not make regular cash interest payments and are sold at a deep discount to their face value. When a zero coupon security is held to maturity, its entire return, which consists of the amortization of discount, comes from the difference between its purchase price and its maturity value. This difference is known at the time of purchase, so that investors holding zero coupon securities until maturity know at the time of their investment what the expected return on their investment will be. Zero coupon securities may have conversion features. PIK bonds pay all or a portion of their interest in the form of debt or equity securities. Deferred payment securities are securities that remain zero coupon securities until a predetermined date, at which time the stated coupon rate becomes effective and interest becomes payable at regular intervals. Deferred payment securities are often sold at substantial discounts from their maturity value.
Zero coupon securities, PIK bonds and deferred payment securities tend to be subject to greater price fluctuations in response to changes in interest rates than are ordinary interest-paying debt securities with similar maturities. The value of zero coupon securities appreciates more during periods of declining interest rates and depreciates more during periods of rising interest rates than ordinary interest-paying debt securities with similar maturities. Zero coupon securities, PIK bonds and deferred payment securities may be issued by a wide variety of corporate and governmental issuers. Although these instruments are generally not traded on a national securities exchange, they are widely traded by brokers and dealers and, to such extent, will not be considered illiquid for the purposes of a Fund’s limitation on investments in illiquid securities.
Current federal income tax law requires the holder of zero coupon securities, certain PIK bonds and deferred payment securities acquired at a discount (such as Brady Bonds) to accrue income with respect to these securities prior to the receipt of cash payments. Accordingly, to avoid liability for federal income and excise taxes, a Fund may be required to distribute income accrued with respect to these securities and may have to dispose of portfolio securities under disadvantageous circumstances in order to generate cash to satisfy these distribution requirements.
THE INDEX FUNDS
Nationwide Bond Index Fund. The investment objective of the Nationwide Bond Index Fund is to match the performance of the Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Bond Index (the “Aggregate Index”) as closely as possible before the deduction of Fund expenses. The Aggregate Index is composed primarily of U.S. dollar denominated investment grade bonds of different types, including U.S. government securities; U.S. government agency securities; corporate bonds issued by U.S. and foreign companies; mortgage-backed securities; securities of foreign governments and their agencies; and securities of supranational entities, such as the World Bank. There can be no assurance that the investment objective of the Fund will be achieved.
Nationwide International Index Fund. The investment objective of the Nationwide International Index Fund is to match the performance of the MSCI EAFE® Index (the “EAFE Index”) as closely as possible before the deduction of Fund expenses. The EAFE Index is a market-weighted index composed of common stocks of companies from various industrial sectors whose primary trading markets are located outside the United States. There can be no assurance that the investment objective of the Fund will be achieved.
Nationwide Mid Cap Market Index Fund. The investment objective of the Nationwide Mid Cap Market Index Fund is to match the performance of the Standard & Poor’s Mid Cap 400® Index (the “S&P 400 Index”) as closely as possible before the deduction of Fund expenses. There can be no assurance that the investment objective of the Fund will be achieved.
Nationwide S&P 500 Index Fund. The investment objective of the Nationwide S&P 500 Index Fund is to seek to provide investment results that correspond to the price and yield performance of publicly traded common stocks as represented by the Standard & Poor’s 500® Index (the “S&P 500 Index”). There can be no assurance that the investment objective of the Fund will be achieved.
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Nationwide Small Cap Index Fund. The investment objective of the Nationwide Small Cap Index Fund is to match the performance of the Russell 2000® Index (the “Russell 2000”) as closely as possible before the deduction of Fund expenses. The Russell 2000 is a market-weighted index composed of approximately 2000 common stocks of smaller U.S. companies in a wide range of businesses chosen by Russell Investments based on a number of factors, including industry representation, market value, economic sector and operating/financial condition. There can be no assurance that the investment objective of the Fund will be achieved.
Nationwide NYSE Arca Tech 100 Index Fund. The investment objective of the Nationwide NYSE Arca Tech 100 Index Fund is to track the total return of the NYSE Arca Tech 100 Index before deducting for Fund expenses. The NYSE Arca Tech 100 Index, which consists of at least 100 individual technology-related securities, is a price-weighted index of stocks of companies from different industries that produce or deploy innovative technologies to conduct their business. There can be no assurance that the investment objective of the Fund will be achieved.
About Indexing. The Index Funds are not managed according to traditional methods of “active” investment management, which involve the buying and selling of securities based upon economic, financial, and market analyses and investment judgment. Instead, each Index Fund, utilizing essentially a “passive” or “indexing” investment approach, seeks to replicate, before each Fund’s expenses (which can be expected to reduce the total return of the Fund), the total return of its respective index.
Indexing and Managing the Funds. Each Index Fund will be substantially invested in securities in the applicable index, and invests at least 80% of its net assets in securities or other financial instruments which are contained in or correlated with securities in the applicable index (with the exception of the Nationwide NYSE Arca Tech 100 Index Fund, which invests at least 90% of its net assets in securities or other financial instruments which are contained in or correlated with the securities in the NYSE Arca Tech 100 Index).
Because each Index Fund seeks to replicate the total return of its respective index, its subadviser generally will not attempt to judge the merits of any particular security as an investment but will seek only to replicate the total return of the securities in the relevant index. However, the subadviser may omit or remove a security which is included in an index from the portfolio of an Index Fund if, following objective criteria, the subadviser judges the security to be insufficiently liquid, believes the merit of the investment has been substantially impaired by extraordinary events or financial conditions, or determines that the security is no longer useful in attempting to replicate the total return of the index.
An Index Fund subadviser may acquire certain financial instruments based upon individual securities or based upon or consisting of one or more baskets of securities (which basket may be based upon a target index). Certain of these instruments may represent an indirect ownership interest in such securities or baskets. Others may provide for the payment to an Index Fund or by an Index Fund of amounts based upon the performance (positive, negative or both) of a particular security or basket. The subadviser will select such instruments when it believes that the use of the instrument will correlate substantially with the expected total return of a target security or index. In connection with the use of such instruments, the subadviser may enter into short sales in an effort to adjust the weightings of particular securities represented in the basket to more accurately reflect such securities weightings in the target index.
The ability of each Index Fund to satisfy its investment objective depends to some extent on the subadviser’s ability to manage cash flow (primarily from purchases and redemptions and distributions from the Fund’s investments). An Index Fund subadviser will make investment changes to an Index Fund’s portfolio to accommodate cash flow while continuing to seek to replicate the total return of the target index. Investors should also be aware that the investment performance of each index is a hypothetical number which does not take into account brokerage commissions and other transaction costs, custody and other costs of investing, and any incremental operating costs (e.g., transfer agency, accounting) that will be borne by the Index Funds.
Each Index Fund’s ability to replicate the total return of its respective index may be affected by, among other things, transaction costs, administration and other expenses incurred by the Index Fund, taxes (including foreign withholding taxes, which will affect the Nationwide International Index Fund and the Nationwide Bond Index Fund due to foreign tax withholding practices), and changes in either the composition of the index or the assets of an Index Fund. In addition, each Index Fund’s total return will be affected by incremental operating costs (e.g., investment advisory, transfer agency, accounting) that will be borne by the Fund.
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Additional Information Concerning the Indices
Aggregate Index. The Nationwide Bond Index Fund is not promoted, sponsored or endorsed by, nor in any way affiliated with Bloomberg. Bloomberg does not have responsibility for and does not participate in the Nationwide Bond Index Fund’s management.
Russell 2000 Index. Russell Investment Group is the source and owner of the trademarks, service marks and copyrights related to the Russell 2000 Index. Russell® is a trademark of Russell Investment Group (“Russell Investments”).The Nationwide Small Cap Index Fund is not promoted, sponsored or endorsed by, nor in any way affiliated with Russell Investments. Russell Investments is not responsible for and has not reviewed the Nationwide Small Cap Index Fund nor any associated literature or publications and Russell Investments makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, as to their accuracy, or completeness, or otherwise.
Russell Investments reserves the right, at any time and without notice, to alter, amend, terminate or in any way change the Russell 2000 Index. Russell Investments has no obligation to take the needs of any particular fund or its shareholders or any other product or person into consideration in determining, composing or calculating the Russell 2000 Index. Russell Investments’ publication of the Russell 2000 Index in no way suggests or implies an opinion by Russell Investments as to the attractiveness or appropriateness of investment in any or all securities upon which the Russell 2000 Index is based. RUSSELL INVESTMENTS MAKES NO REPRESENTATION, WARRANTY, OR GUARANTEE AS TO THE ACCURACY, COMPLETENESS, RELIABILITY, OR OTHERWISE OF THE RUSSELL 2000 INDEX OR ANY DATA INCLUDED IN THE RUSSELL 2000 INDEX. RUSSELL INVESTMENTS MAKES NO REPRESENTATION OR WARRANTY REGARDING THE USE, OR THE RESULTS OF USE, OF THE RUSSELL 2000 INDEX OR ANY DATA INCLUDED THEREIN, OR ANY SECURITY (OR COMBINATION THEREOF) COMPRISING THE RUSSELL 2000 INDEX. RUSSELL INVESTMENTS MAKES NO OTHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTY, AND EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ANY WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, ANY WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE WITH RESPECT TO THE RUSSELL 2000 INDEX OR ANY DATA OR ANY SECURITY (OR COMBINATION THEREOF) INCLUDED THEREIN.
EAFE Index. The Nationwide International Index Fund is not sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by MSCI Inc. (“MSCI”), any of its affiliates, any of its information providers or any other third party involved in, or related to, compiling, computing or creating any MSCI index (collectively, the “MSCI Parties”), including the EAFE Index. The EAFE Index is the exclusive property of MSCI. MSCI and the EAFE Index are service mark(s) of MSCI or its affiliates and have been licensed for use for certain purposes by Nationwide Fund Advisors, as the investment adviser to the Nationwide International Index Fund. None of the MSCI Parties makes any representation or warranty, express or implied, to the issuer or shareholders of the Nationwide International Index Fund or any other person or entity regarding the advisability of investing in funds generally or in the Nationwide International Index Fund particularly or the ability of any MSCI index to track corresponding stock market performance. MSCI or its affiliates are the licensors of certain trademarks, service marks and trade names and of the MSCI indices which are determined, composed and calculated by MSCI without regard to the Nationwide International Index Fund or its shareholders or any other person or entity. None of the MSCI Parties has any obligation to take the needs of the Nationwide International Index Fund or its shareholders or any other person or entity into consideration in determining, composing or calculating the MSCI indices. None of the MSCI Parties is responsible for or has participated in the determination of the timing of, prices at, or quantities of the Nationwide International Index Fund to be issued or in the determination or calculation of the equation by or the consideration into which the Nationwide International Index Fund is redeemable. Further, none of the MSCI Parties has any obligation or liability to the Nationwide International Index Fund or its shareholders or any other person or entity in connection with the administration, marketing or offering of the Nationwide International Index Fund.
Although MSCI shall obtain information for inclusion in or for use in the calculation of the MSCI indices from sources that MSCI considers reliable, none of the MSCI Parties warrants or guarantees the originality, accuracy and/or the completeness of any MSCI index or any data included therein. None of the MSCI Parties makes any warranty, express or implied, as to results to be obtained by the Nationwide International Index Fund, its shareholders, or any other person or entity, from the use of any MSCI index or any data included therein. None of the MSCI Parties shall have any liability for any errors, omissions or interruptions of or in connection with any MSCI index or any data included therein. Further, none of the MSCI Parties makes any express or implied warranties of any kind, and the MSCI Parties hereby expressly disclaim all
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warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, with respect to each MSCI index and any data included therein. Without limiting any of the foregoing, in no event shall any of the MSCI Parties have any liability for any direct, indirect, special, punitive, consequential or any other damages (including lost profits) even if notified of the possibility of such damages.
No purchaser, seller or holder of shares of the Nationwide International Index Fund, or any other person or entity, should use or refer to any MSCI trade name, trademark or service mark to sponsor, endorse, market or promote this security without first contacting MSCI to determine whether MSCI’s permission is required. Under no circumstances may any person or entity claim any affiliation with MSCI without the prior written permission of MSCI.
S&P 500 Index and S&P 400 Index. Standard & Poor’s 500®, S&P 500®, Standard & Poor’s MidCap 400®, S&P MidCap 400®, and S&P 400® are trademarks of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Pursuant to an agreement with McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., on behalf of the Nationwide S&P 500 Index Fund and Nationwide Mid Cap Market Index Fund, the Funds are authorized to use the trademarks of the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. The Nationwide S&P 500 Index Fund and the Nationwide Mid Cap Market Index Fund are not sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by Standard & Poor’s, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. (“S&P”). S&P makes no representation or warranty, expressed or implied, to the shareholders of the Funds or any member of the public regarding the advisability of investing in securities generally or in the Funds particularly or the ability of the S&P 500® Index or the S&P 400® Index to track general stock market performance. S&P’s only relationship to the Funds, the adviser or subadvisers is the licensing of certain trademarks and trade names of S&P and of the S&P 500® and S&P 400® indices which are determined, composed and calculated by S&P without regard to the Funds. S&P has no obligation to take the needs of the Funds or their shareholders into consideration in determining, composing or calculating the S&P 500® and S&P 400® Indices. S&P is not responsible for or has not participated in the determination of the prices and amount of the Funds’ shares or the timing of the issuance or sale of Fund shares or in the determination or calculation of the equation by which Fund shares are redeemed. S&P has no obligation or liability in connection with the administration, marketing or trading of the Funds. S&P does not guarantee the accuracy makes no warranty, expressed or implied as to the results to be obtained by the Funds, shareholders of the Funds, or any other person or entity from the use of the S&P 500® or S&P 400® Indices or any data included therein. Without limiting any of the foregoing, in no event shall S&P 500® and S&P 400® Indices have any liability for any special, punitive, indirect, or consequential damages, including lost profits even if notified of the possibility of such damages.
NYSE Arca Tech 100 Index. “Archipelago®”, “ARCA®”, “ARCAEX®”, “NYSE®”, “NYSE ARCASM” and “NYSE Arca Tech 100SM” are trademarks of the NYSE Group, Inc. and Archipelago Holdings, Inc. and have been licensed for use by Nationwide Fund Advisors, on behalf of the Nationwide NYSE Arca Tech 100 Index Fund. The Nationwide NYSE Arca Tech 100 Index Fund is not sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by Archipelago Holdings, Inc. or by NYSE Group, Inc. Neither Archipelago Holdings, Inc. nor NYSE Group, Inc. makes any representation or warranty regarding the advisability of investing in securities generally, in the Nationwide NYSE Arca Tech 100 Index Fund particularly, or the ability of the NYSE Arca Tech 100 Index to track general stock market performance.
NYSE GROUP, INC. MAKES NO EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, AND HEREBY EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE WITH RESPECT TO THE NYSE ARCA TECH 100 INDEX OR ANY DATA INCLUDED THEREIN. IN NO EVENT SHALL NYSE GROUP, INC. HAVE ANY LIABILITY FOR ANY SPECIAL, PUNITIVE, INDIRECT OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING LOST PROFITS), EVEN IF NOTIFIED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.
Portfolio Turnover
The portfolio turnover rate for each Fund is calculated by dividing the lesser of purchases and sales of portfolio securities for the year by the monthly average value of the portfolio securities, excluding securities whose maturities at the time of purchase were one year or less. High portfolio turnover rates generally will result in higher brokerage expenses, and
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may increase the volatility of the Fund. The table below shows any significant variation in the Funds' portfolio turnover rate for the fiscal years ended October 31, 2022 and 2021, or any anticipated variation in the portfolio turnover rate from that reported for the last fiscal year:
Fund
For the Fiscal
Year Ended
October 31, 2022
For the Fiscal
Year Ended
October 31, 2021
Nationwide Amundi Global High Yield Fund1
48.45%
111.54%
Nationwide Amundi Strategic Income Fund1
75.11%
101.89%
Nationwide Bailard Cognitive Value Fund2
283.03%
199.77%
Nationwide Bond Fund2
145.73%
119.56%
Nationwide Bond Index Fund1
66.27%
151.19%
Nationwide Global Sustainable Equity Fund1
28.25%
39.73%
Nationwide GQG US Quality Equity Fund2
221.61%
97.43%
Nationwide Inflation-Protected Securities Fund2
44.89%
17.65%
Nationwide International Index Fund1
10.02%
25.24%
Nationwide International Small Cap Fund2
85.43%
73.74%
Nationwide Janus Henderson Overseas Fund2
104.12%
19.84%
Nationwide Loomis All Cap Growth Fund2
47.91%
13.72%
Nationwide Loomis Core Bond Fund2
342.05%
222.10%
Nationwide Loomis Short-Term Bond Fund2
172.73%
156.80%
1 The portfolio managers for the Funds are not limited by portfolio turnover in their management style, and a Fund’s portfolio turnover will fluctuate based on particular market conditions and stock valuations. In the fiscal year ended October 31, 2022, the portfolio managers made fewer changes than they deemed necessary during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2021.
2 The portfolio managers for the Funds are not limited by portfolio turnover in their management style, and a Fund’s portfolio turnover will fluctuate based on particular market conditions and stock valuations. In the fiscal year ended October 31, 2022, the portfolio managers made more changes than they deemed necessary during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2021.
 Investment Restrictions
The following are fundamental investment restrictions of each Fund which cannot be changed without the vote of the majority of the outstanding shares of the Fund for which a change is proposed. The vote of the majority of the outstanding shares means the vote of (A) 67% or more of the voting securities present at a meeting, if the holders of more than 50% of the outstanding voting securities are present or represented by proxy or (B) a majority of the outstanding voting securities, whichever is less.
Each of the Funds:
May not (except the Nationwide GQG US Quality Equity Fund) purchase securities of any one issuer, other than obligations issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, its agencies or instrumentalities, if, immediately after such purchase, more than 5% of the Fund’s total assets would be invested in such issuer or the Fund would hold more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of the issuer, except that 25% or less of the Fund’s total assets may be invested without regard to such limitations. There is no limit to the percentage of assets that may be invested in U.S. Treasury bills, notes, or other obligations issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, its agencies or instrumentalities. The Nationwide Government Money Market Fund will be deemed to be in compliance with this restriction so long as it is in compliance with Rule 2a-7 under the 1940 Act, as such Rule may be amended from time to time.
May not (except the Nationwide BNY Mellon Disciplined Value Fund, Nationwide GQG US Quality Equity Fund and Nationwide Janus Henderson Overseas Fund) borrow money or issue senior securities, except that each Fund may enter into reverse repurchase agreements and may otherwise borrow money and issue senior securities as and to the extent permitted by the 1940 Act or any rule, order or interpretation thereunder.
May not act as an underwriter of another issuer’s securities, except to the extent that the Fund may be deemed an underwriter within the meaning of the Securities Act in connection with the purchase and sale of portfolio securities.
May not purchase or sell commodities or commodities contracts, except to the extent disclosed in the current Prospectus or Statement of Additional Information of the Fund.
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May not (except the Nationwide Bailard Technology & Science Fund and the Index Funds (except the Nationwide S&P 500 Index Fund)) purchase the securities of any issuer if, as a result, 25% or more (taken at current value) of the Fund’s total assets would be invested in the securities of issuers, the principal activities of which are in the same industry. This limitation does not apply to securities issued by the U.S. government or its agencies or instrumentalities. The following industries are considered separate industries for purposes of this investment restriction: electric, natural gas distribution, natural gas pipeline, combined electric and natural gas, and telephone utilities, captive borrowing conduit, equipment finance, premium finance, leasing finance, consumer finance and other finance.
May not lend any security or make any other loan, except that each Fund may in accordance with its investment objective and policies (i) lend portfolio securities, (ii) purchase and hold debt securities or other debt instruments, including but not limited to loan participations and subparticipations, assignments, and structured securities, (iii) make loans secured by mortgages on real property, (iv) enter into repurchase agreements, and (v) make time deposits with financial institutions and invest in instruments issued by financial institutions, and enter into any other lending arrangement as and to the extent permitted by the 1940 Act or any rule, order or interpretation thereunder.
May not purchase or sell real estate, except that each Fund may (i) acquire real estate through ownership of securities or instruments and sell any real estate acquired thereby, (ii) purchase or sell instruments secured by real estate (including interests therein), and (iii) purchase or sell securities issued by entities or investment vehicles that own or deal in real estate (including interests therein).
For those Funds listed above as exceptions to the investment restrictions, see the discussion below regarding each such Fund’s applicable investment restriction.
The Nationwide S&P 500 Index Fund:
May not purchase securities of one issuer, other than obligations issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, its agencies or instrumentalities, if at the end of each fiscal quarter, (a) more than 5% of the Fund’s total assets (taken at current value) would be invested in such issuer (except that up to 50% of the Fund’s total assets may be invested without regard to such 5% limitation), and (b) more than 25% of its total assets (taken at current value) would be invested in securities of a single issuer. There is no limit to the percentage of assets that may be invested in U.S. Treasury bills, notes, or other obligations issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, its agencies or instrumentalities.
The Index Funds (except the Nationwide S&P 500 Index Fund):
May not purchase the securities of any issuer if, as a result, 25% or more than (taken at current value) of the Fund’s total assets would be invested in the securities of issuers, the principal activities of which are in the same industry; provided, that in replicating the weightings of a particular industry in its target index, a Fund may invest more than 25% of its total assets in securities of issuers in that industry.
The Nationwide BNY Mellon Disciplined Value Fund, Nationwide GQG US Quality Equity Fund and Nationwide Janus Henderson Overseas Fund:
May not borrow money or issue senior securities, except that each Fund may sell securities short, enter into reverse repurchase agreements and may otherwise borrow money and issue senior securities as and to the extent permitted by the 1940 Act or any rule, order or interpretation thereunder.
The following are the non-fundamental operating policies of the Funds, which may be changed by the Board of Trustees without shareholder approval:
Each Fund may not:
Except the Nationwide GQG US Quality Equity Fund and Nationwide Janus Henderson Overseas Fund, sell securities short unless the Fund owns or has the right to obtain securities equivalent in kind and amount to the securities sold short or unless it segregates or earmarks other liquid assets it owns as required by the current rules and positions of the SEC or its staff, and provided that short positions in forward currency contracts, options, futures contracts, options on futures contracts, or other derivative instruments are not deemed to constitute selling securities short.
Purchase securities on margin, except that the Fund may obtain such short-term credits as are necessary for the clearance of transactions; and provided that margin deposits in connection with options, futures contracts, options on futures contracts, transactions in currencies or other derivative instruments shall not constitute purchasing securities on
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margin. In addition, the Nationwide BNY Mellon Disciplined Value Fund, Nationwide GQG US Quality Equity Fund and Nationwide Janus Henderson Overseas Fund, may use margin to the extent necessary to engage in short sales of securities.
Purchase or otherwise acquire any security if, as a result, more than 15% (5% with respect to the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund) of its net assets would be invested in securities that are illiquid.
Pledge, mortgage or hypothecate any assets owned by the Fund except as may be necessary in connection with permissible borrowings or investments and then such pledging, mortgaging, or hypothecating may not exceed 33  13% of the Fund’s total assets.
Except the Nationwide Bond Index Fund, Nationwide International Index Fund, Nationwide Mid Cap Market Index Fund, Nationwide S&P 500 Index Fund and Nationwide Small Cap Index Fund, purchase securities of other investment companies except (a) in connection with a merger, consolidation, acquisition, reorganization or offer of exchange, or (b) to the extent permitted by the 1940 Act or any rules or regulations thereunder or pursuant to any exemptions therefrom.
The Nationwide BNY Mellon Disciplined Value Fund, Nationwide GQG US Quality Equity Fund and Nationwide Janus Henderson Overseas Fund may not:
Sell securities short unless it covers such short sales or segregates or earmarks liquid assets as required by the current rules and positions of the SEC or its staff, and provided that short positions in forward currency contracts, options, futures contracts, options on futures contracts, or other derivative instruments are not deemed to constitute selling securities short.
A Fund’s obligation not to pledge, mortgage, or hypothecate assets in excess of 33  13% of the Fund’s total assets with respect to permissible borrowings or investments, as described above, is a continuing obligation and such asset segregation and coverage must be maintained on an ongoing basis. For any other percentage restriction or requirement described above that is satisfied at the time of investment, a later increase or decrease in such percentage resulting from a change in net asset value will not constitute a violation of such restriction or requirement. However, should a change in net asset value or other external events cause a Fund’s investments in illiquid securities including repurchase agreements with maturities in excess of seven days, to exceed the limit set forth above for such Fund’s investment in illiquid securities, a Fund will act to cause the aggregate amount of such securities to come within such limit as soon as reasonably practicable. In such event, however, such Fund would not be required to liquidate any portfolio securities where a Fund would suffer a loss on the sale of such securities.
Certain Funds have adopted a non-fundamental policy, as required by Rule 35d-1 under the 1940 Act, to invest, under normal circumstances, at least 80% the Fund’s net assets in the type of investment suggested by the Fund’s name (“80 Percent Policy”). The scope of the 80 Percent Policy includes Fund names suggesting that each Fund focuses its investments in: (i) a particular type of investment or investments; (ii) a particular industry or group of industries; or (iii) certain countries or geographic regions. For purposes of the 80 Percent Policy, 80% of the Fund’s net assets shall mean 80% of the Fund’s net assets plus the amount of any borrowings for investment purposes. Each Fund that has adopted the 80 Percent Policy also has adopted a policy to provide its shareholders with at least 60 days’ prior written notice of any change in such investment policy.
Internal Revenue Code Restrictions
In addition to the investment restrictions above, each Fund must be diversified according to Internal Revenue Code requirements. Specifically, at each tax quarter end, each Fund’s holdings must be diversified so that (a) at least 50% of the market value of its total assets is represented by cash and cash items (including receivables), U.S. government securities, securities of other U.S. regulated investment companies, and securities of other issuers, limited so that no one issuer has a value greater than 5% of the value of the Fund’s total assets and that the Fund holds no more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of such issuer, and (b) not more than 25% of the value of the Fund’s assets is invested in the securities (other than those of the U.S. government or other U.S. regulated investment companies) of any one issuer or of two or more issuers which the Fund controls and which are engaged in the same, similar, or related trades or businesses, or, in the securities of one or more qualified publicly traded partnerships.
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Disclosure of Portfolio Holdings
The Board of Trustees has adopted policies and procedures regarding the disclosure of portfolio holdings information to protect the interests of Fund shareholders and to address potential conflicts of interest that could arise between the interests of Fund shareholders and the interests of the Funds' investment adviser, principal underwriter or affiliated persons of the Funds' investment adviser or principal underwriter. The Trust’s overall policy with respect to the release of portfolio holdings is to release such information consistent with applicable legal requirements and the fiduciary duties owed to shareholders. Subject to the limited exceptions described below, the Trust will not make available to anyone non-public information with respect to its portfolio holdings until such time as the information is made available to all shareholders or the general public.
The policies and procedures are applicable to NFA and any subadviser to the Funds. Pursuant to the policy, the Funds, NFA, any subadviser, and any service provider acting on their behalf are obligated to:
Act in the best interests of Fund shareholders by protecting non-public and potentially material portfolio holdings information;
Ensure that portfolio holdings information is not provided to a favored group of clients or potential clients; and
Adopt such safeguards and controls around the release of client information so that no client or group of clients is unfairly disadvantaged as a result of such release.
Portfolio holdings information that is not publicly available will be released selectively only pursuant to the exceptions described below. In most cases, even where an exception applies, the release of portfolio holdings is strictly prohibited until the information is at least 15 calendar days old. Nevertheless, NFA’s Leadership Team or its duly authorized delegate may authorize, where circumstances dictate, the release of more current portfolio holdings information.
Except for the Nationwide GQG US Quality Equity Fund, each Fund posts onto the Trust’s internet site (nationwide.com/mutualfunds) substantially all of its securities holdings as of the end of each month. Such portfolio holdings are available no earlier than 15 calendar days after the end of the previous month, and generally remain available on the internet site until the Fund files its next portfolio holdings report on Form N-CSR or Form N-PORT with the SEC. The Nationwide Government Money Market Fund posts onto the Trust's internet site, no later than the fifth business day of each month, a schedule of its investments as of the last business day or subsequent calendar day of the prior month and maintains such portfolio holdings information for no less than six months after posting. All Funds (including the Nationwide GQG US Quality Equity Fund) disclose their complete portfolio holdings information to the SEC using Form N-PORT within 60 days of the end of the third month of the first and third quarters of the Funds' fiscal year and on Form N-CSR on the second and fourth quarters of the Funds' fiscal year. The Nationwide Government Money Market Fund discloses its complete portfolio holdings information to the SEC on Form N-CSR and files monthly reports using Form N-MFP. Shareholders receive either complete portfolio holdings information or summaries of Fund portfolio holdings with their annual and semiannual reports.
Exceptions to the portfolio holdings release policy described above can only be authorized by NFA’s Leadership Team or its duly authorized delegate and will be made only when:
a Fund has a legitimate business purpose for releasing portfolio holdings information in advance of release to all shareholders or the general public;
the recipient of the information provides written assurances that the non-public portfolio holdings information will remain confidential and that persons with access to the information will be prohibited from trading based on the information; and
the release of such information would not otherwise violate the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws or the Funds' fiduciary duties.
Under this policy, the receipt of compensation by a Fund, NFA, a subadviser, or an affiliate as consideration for disclosing non-public portfolio holdings information will not be deemed a legitimate business purpose.
The Funds have ongoing arrangements to distribute information about the Funds' portfolio holdings to the Funds' third-party service providers described herein (e.g., investment adviser, subadvisers, registered independent public accounting firm, administrator, transfer agent, sub-administrator, sub-transfer agent, custodian and legal counsel) as well as Wolters Kluwer Financial Services, Inc. (GainsKeeper); SunGard Financial Systems (Wall Street Concepts); Style Research, Inc.; Ernst & Young, LLP; Institutional Shareholder Services, Inc.; Lipper Inc., Morningstar, Inc.; Bloomberg LP; Global Trading Analytics; RiskMetrics Group, Inc.; FactSet Research Systems, Inc.; the Investment Company Institute; ICE Data Pricing &
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Reference Data LLC; GTA Babelfish, LLC; KPMG LLC; Qontigo (Aximoa Risk System); and, on occasion, to transition managers such as BlackRock Institutional Trust Company; Fidelity Capital Markets (a division of National Financial Services, LLC); Capital Institutional Services; State Street Bank and Trust Company; Electra Information Systems; Virtu Americas LLC; Russell Investments Implementation Services, LLC; or Macquarie Capital (USA) Inc.; where such transition manager provides portfolio transition management assistance (e.g., upon change of subadviser, etc.). These organizations are required to keep such information confidential, and are prohibited from trading based on the information or otherwise using the information except as necessary in providing services to the Funds. No compensation or other consideration is received by the Funds, NFA or any other party in connection with each such ongoing arrangement.
NFA conducts periodic reviews of compliance with the policy and the Funds' Chief Compliance Officer provides annually a report to the Board of Trustees regarding the operation of the policy and any material changes recommended as a result of such review. NFA’s compliance staff also will submit annually to the Board of Trustees a list of exceptions granted to the policy, including an explanation of the legitimate business purpose of the Fund that was served as a result of the exception.
Trustees and Officers of the Trust
Management Information
Each Trustee who is deemed an “interested person,” as such term is defined in the 1940 Act, is referred to as an “Interested Trustee.” Those Trustees who are not “interested persons,” as such term is defined in the 1940 Act, are referred to as “Independent Trustees.” The name, year of birth, position and length of time served with the Trust, number of portfolios overseen, principal occupation(s) and other directorships/trusteeships held during the past five years, and additional information related to experience, qualifications, attributes, and skills of each Trustee and Officer are shown below. There are 47 series of the Trust, all of which are overseen by the Board of Trustees and Officers of the Trust. The address for each Trustee and Officer is c/o Nationwide Funds Group, One Nationwide Plaza, Mail Code 5-02-210, Columbus, OH 43215.
Independent Trustees
Kristina Junco Bradshaw
Year of Birth
Positions Held with Trust and
Length of Time Served1
Number of Portfolios Overseen in
the Nationwide Fund Complex
1980
Trustee since January 2023
132
Principal Occupation(s) During the Past Five Years (or Longer)
Retired. Ms. Bradshaw was a Portfolio Manager on the Dividend Value team at Invesco from August 2006 to August 2020.
Prior to this time, Ms. Bradshaw was an investment banker in the Global Energy & Utilities group at Morgan Stanley from
June 2002 to July 2004.
Other Directorships held During the Past Five Years2
Board Member of Southern Smoke Foundation from August 2020 to present, Advisory Board Member of Dress for Success
from April 2013 to present, Trustee/Executive Board Member of Houston Ballet from September 2011 to present and
President since July 2022, and Board Member of Hermann Park Conservancy from August 2011 to present, serving as
Board Chair since 2020.
Experience, Qualifications, Attributes, and Skills for Board Membership
Ms. Bradshaw has significant board experience; significant portfolio management experience in the investment
management industry and is a Chartered Financial Analyst.
Lorn C. Davis
Year of Birth
Positions Held with Trust and
Length of Time Served1
Number of Portfolios Overseen in
the Nationwide Fund Complex
1968
Trustee since January 2021
132
Principal Occupation(s) During the Past Five Years (or Longer)
Mr. Davis has been a Managing Partner of College Hill Capital Partners, LLC (private equity) since June 2016. From
September 1998 until May 2016, Mr. Davis originated and managed debt and equity investments for John Hancock Life
Insurance Company (U.S.A.)/Hancock Capital Management, LLC, serving as a Managing Director from September 2003
through May 2016.
58

Other Directorships held During the Past Five Years2
Board Member of Outlook Group Holdings, LLC from July 2006 to May 2016, serving as Chair to the Audit committee
and member of the Compensation committee, Board Member of MA Holdings, LLC from November 2006 to October
2015, Board Member of IntegraColor, Ltd. from February 2007 to September 2015, Board Member of The Pine Street Inn
from 2009 to present, currently serving as Chair of the Board, Member of the Advisory Board (non-fiduciary) of
Mearthane Products Corporation from September 2019 to present, and Board Member of The College of Holy Cross since
July 2022.
Experience, Qualifications, Attributes, and Skills for Board Membership
Mr. Davis has significant board experience; significant past service at a large asset management company and significant
experience in the investment management industry. Mr. Davis is a Chartered Financial Analyst and earned a Certificate of
Director Education from the National Association of Corporate Directors in 2008.
Barbara I. Jacobs
Year of Birth
Positions Held with Trust and
Length of Time Served1
Number of Portfolios Overseen in
the Nationwide Fund Complex
1950
Trustee since December 2004
132
Principal Occupation(s) During the Past Five Years (or Longer)
Retired. From 1988 through 2003, Ms. Jacobs was a Managing Director and European Portfolio Manager of CREF
Investments (Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association—College Retirement Equities Fund). Ms. Jacobs also served as
Chairman of the Board of Directors of KICAP Network Fund, a European (United Kingdom) hedge fund, from January
2001 through January 2006.
Other Directorships held During the Past Five Years2
Trustee and Board Chair of Project Lede from 2013 to present.
Experience, Qualifications, Attributes, and Skills for Board Membership
Ms. Jacobs has significant board experience and significant executive and portfolio management experience in the
investment management industry.
Keith F. Karlawish
Year of Birth
Positions Held with Trust and
Length of Time Served1
Number of Portfolios Overseen in
the Nationwide Fund Complex
1964
Trustee since March 2012; Chairman
since January 2021
132
Principal Occupation(s) During the Past Five Years (or Longer)
Mr. Karlawish is a Senior Director of Wealth Management with Curi Capital which acquired Park Ridge Asset
Management, LLC in August 2022. Prior to this time, Mr. Karlawish was a partner with Park Ridge Asset Management,
LLC since December 2008 and also served as a portfolio manager. From May 2002 until October 2008, Mr. Karlawish was
the President of BB&T Asset Management, Inc., and was President of the BB&T Mutual Funds and BB&T Variable
Insurance Funds from February 2005 until October 2008.
Other Directorships held During the Past Five Years2
None
Experience, Qualifications, Attributes, and Skills for Board Membership
Mr. Karlawish has significant board experience, including past service on the boards of BB&T Mutual Funds and BB&T
Variable Insurance Funds; significant executive experience, including past service at a large asset management company
and significant experience in the investment management industry.
Carol A. Kosel
Year of Birth
Positions Held with Trust and
Length of Time Served1
Number of Portfolios Overseen in
the Nationwide Fund Complex
1963
Trustee since March 2013
132
Principal Occupation(s) During the Past Five Years (or Longer)
Retired. Ms. Kosel was a consultant to the Evergreen Funds Board of Trustees from October 2005 to December 2007. She
was Senior Vice President, Treasurer, and Head of Fund Administration of the Evergreen Funds from April 1997 to October
2005.
Other Directorships held During the Past Five Years2
None
59

Experience, Qualifications, Attributes, and Skills for Board Membership
Ms. Kosel has significant board experience, including past service on the boards of Evergreen Funds and Sun Capital
Advisers Trust; significant executive experience, including past service at a large asset management company and
significant experience in the investment management industry.
Douglas F. Kridler
Year of Birth
Positions Held with Trust and
Length of Time Served1
Number of Portfolios Overseen in
the Nationwide Fund Complex
1955
Trustee since September 1997
132
Principal Occupation(s) During the Past Five Years (or Longer)
Since 2002, Mr. Kridler has served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of The Columbus Foundation, a
$2.5 billion community foundation with 2,000 funds in 55 Ohio counties and 37 states in the U.S.
Other Directorships held During the Past Five Years2
None
Experience, Qualifications, Attributes, and Skills for Board Membership
Mr. Kridler has significant board experience; significant executive experience, including service as president and chief
executive officer of one of America’s largest community foundations and significant service to his community and the
philanthropic field in numerous leadership roles.
Charlotte Tiedemann Petersen
Year of Birth
Positions Held with Trust and
Length of Time Served1
Number of Portfolios Overseen in
the Nationwide Fund Complex
1960
Trustee since January 2023
132
Principal Occupation(s) During the Past Five Years (or Longer)
Self-employed as a private real estate investor/principal since January 2011. Ms. Petersen served as Chief Investment
Officer at Alexander Capital Management from April 2006 to December 2010. From July 1993 to June 2002, Ms. Petersen
was a Portfolio Manager, Partner and Management Committee member of Denver Investment Advisors LLC.
Other Directorships held During the Past Five Years2
Investment Committee for the University of Colorado Foundation from February 2015 to June 2022.
Experience, Qualifications, Attributes, and Skills for Board Membership
Ms. Petersen has significant board experience including past service as a Trustee of Scout Funds and Director of Fischer
Imaging, where she chaired committees for both entities; significant experience in the investment management industry
and is a Chartered Financial Analyst.
David E. Wezdenko
Year of Birth
Positions Held with Trust and
Length of Time Served1
Number of Portfolios Overseen in
the Nationwide Fund Complex
1963
Trustee since January 2021
132
Principal Occupation(s) During the Past Five Years (or Longer)
Mr. Wezdenko is a Co-Founder of Blue Leaf Ventures (venture capital firm, founded May 2018). From November 2008
until December 2017, Mr. Wezdenko was Managing Director of JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Other Directorships held During the Past Five Years2
Independent Trustee for National Philanthropic Trust from October 2021 to present. Board Director of J.P. Morgan Private
Placements LLC from January 2010 to December 2017.
Experience, Qualifications, Attributes, and Skills for Board Membership
Mr. Wezdenko has significant board experience; significant past service at a large asset and wealth management company
and significant experience in the investment management industry.
Interested Trustee
M. Diane Koken3
Year of Birth
Positions Held with Trust and
Length of Time Served1
Number of Portfolios Overseen in
the Nationwide Fund Complex
1952
Trustee since April 2019
132
60

Principal Occupation(s) During the Past Five Years (or Longer)
Self-employed as a legal/regulatory consultant since 2007. Ms. Koken served as Insurance Commissioner of Pennsylvania,
for three governors, from 1997–2007, and as the President of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)
from September 2004 to December 2005. Prior to becoming Insurance Commissioner of Pennsylvania, she held multiple
legal roles, including vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of a national life insurance company.
Other Directorships held During the Past Five Years2
Director of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company 2007-present, Director of Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company
2007-present, Director of Nationwide Corporation 2007-present, Director of Capital BlueCross 2011-present, Director of
NORCAL Mutual Insurance Company 2009-2021, Director of Medicus Insurance Company 2009-present, Director of
Hershey Trust Company 2015-present, Manager of Milton Hershey School Board of Managers 2015-present, Director and
Chair of Hershey Foundation 2016-present, and Director of The Hershey Company 2017-present.
Experience, Qualifications, Attributes, and Skills for Board Membership
Ms. Koken has significant board experience and significant executive, legal and regulatory experience, including past
service as a cabinet-level state insurance commissioner and general counsel of a national life insurance company.
1
Length of time served includes time served with the Trust’s predecessors. The tenure of each Trustee is subject to the Board’s retirement policy, which states that a Trustee shall retire from the Boards of Trustees of the Trusts effective on December 31 of the calendar year during which he or she turns 75 years of age; provided this policy does not apply to a person who became a Trustee prior to September 11, 2019.
2
Directorships held in: (1) any other investment companies registered under the 1940 Act, (2) any company with a class of securities registered pursuant to Section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), or (3) any company subject to the requirements of Section 15(d) of the Exchange Act, which are required to be disclosed in this SAI. In addition, certain other directorships not meeting the aforementioned requirements may be included for certain Trustees such as board positions on non-profit organizations.
3
Ms. Koken is considered an interested person of the Trust because she is a Director of the parent company of, and several affiliates of, the Trust’s investment adviser and distributor.
Officers of the Trust
Lee T. Cummings
Year of Birth
Positions Held with Funds and Length of Time Served
1963
President, Chief Executive Officer and Principal Executive Officer since
September 2022
Principal Occupation(s) During the Past Five Years (or Longer)
Mr. Cummings is Senior Vice President and Head of Fund Operations of Nationwide Funds Group, and is a Vice President
of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.1 He previously served as the Trust’s Treasurer and Principal Financial Officer.
David Majewski
Year of Birth
Positions Held with Funds and Length of Time Served
1976
Treasurer and Principal Financial Officer since September 2022
Principal Occupation(s) During the Past Five Years (or Longer)
Mr. Majewski previously served as the Trust’s Assistant Secretary and Assistant Treasurer.
Kevin Grether
Year of Birth
Positions Held with Funds and Length of Time Served
1970
Senior Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer since December 2021
Principal Occupation(s) During the Past Five Years (or Longer)
Mr. Grether is Senior Vice President of NFA and Chief Compliance Officer of NFA and the Trust. He is also a Vice
President of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.1 He previously served as the VP, Chief Compliance Officer for the
Nationwide Office of Investments and its registered investment adviser, Nationwide Asset Management.
Stephen R. Rimes
Year of Birth
Positions Held with Funds and Length of Time Served
1970
Secretary, Senior Vice President and General Counsel since December 2019
Principal Occupation(s) During the Past Five Years (or Longer)
Mr. Rimes is Vice President, Associate General Counsel and Secretary for Nationwide Funds Group, and Vice President of
Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.1 He previously served as Assistant General Counsel for Invesco from 2000-2019.
Steven D. Pierce
Year of Birth
Positions Held with Funds and Length of Time Served
1965
Senior Vice President, Head of Business and Product Development since March
2020
61

Principal Occupation(s) During the Past Five Years (or Longer)
Mr. Pierce is Senior Vice President, Head of Business and Product Development for Nationwide Funds Group, and is a Vice
President of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.1
Christopher C. Graham
Year of Birth
Positions Held with Funds and Length of Time Served
1971
Senior Vice President, Head of Investment Strategies, Chief Investment Officer
and Portfolio Manager since September 2016
Principal Occupation(s) During the Past Five Years (or Longer)
Mr. Graham is Senior Vice President, Head of Investment Strategies and Portfolio Manager for the Nationwide Funds
Group, and is a Vice President of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.1
1
These positions are held with an affiliated person or principal underwriter of the Funds.
Responsibilities of the Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees (the “Board”) has oversight responsibility for the conduct of the affairs of the Trust. The Board approves policies and procedures regarding the operation of the Trust, regularly receives and reviews reports from NFA regarding the implementation of such policies and procedures, and elects the Officers of the Trust to perform the daily functions of the Trust. The Chairman of the Board is an Independent Trustee.
Board Leadership Structure
The Board approves financial arrangements and other agreements between the Funds, on the one hand, and NFA, any subadvisers or other affiliated parties, on the other hand. The Independent Trustees meet regularly as a group in executive session and with independent legal counsel. The Board has determined that the efficient conduct of the Board’s affairs makes it desirable to delegate responsibility for certain specific matters to Committees of the Board (“Committees”), as described below. The Committees meet as often as necessary, either in conjunction with regular meetings of the Board or otherwise. The membership and chair of each Committee are appointed by the Board upon recommendation of the Nominating and Fund Governance Committee.
This structure is reviewed by the Board periodically, and the Board believes it to be appropriate and effective. The Board also completes an annual self-assessment during which it reviews its leadership and Committee structure, and considers whether its structure remains appropriate in light of the Funds' current operations.
Each Trustee shall hold office for the lifetime of the Trust or until such Trustee’s earlier death, resignation, removal, retirement, or inability otherwise to serve, or, if sooner than any of such events, until the next meeting of shareholders called for the purpose of electing Trustees or consent of shareholders in lieu thereof for the election of Trustees, and until the election and qualification of his or her successor. The Board may fill any vacancy on the Board provided that, after such appointment, at least two-thirds of the Trustees have been elected by shareholders. Any Trustee may be removed by the Board, with or without cause, by action of a majority of the Trustees then in office, or by a vote of shareholders at any meeting called for that purpose. In addition to conducting an annual self-assessment, the Board completes biennial peer evaluations, which focus on the performance and effectiveness of the individual members of the Board.
The Officers of the Trust are appointed by the Board, or, to the extent permitted by the Trust’s By-laws, by the President of the Trust, and each shall serve at the pleasure of the Board, or, to the extent permitted by the Trust’s By-laws, and except for the Chief Compliance Officer, at the pleasure of the President of the Trust, subject to the rights, if any, of an Officer under any contract of employment. The Trust’s Chief Compliance Officer must be approved by a majority of the Independent Trustees. Subject to the rights, if any, of an Officer under any contract of employment, any Officer may be removed, with or without cause, by the Board at any regular or special meeting of the Board, or, to the extent permitted by the Trust’s By-laws, by the President of the Trust; provided, that only the Board may remove, with or without cause, the Chief Compliance Officer of the Trust.
62

Board Oversight of Trust Risk
The Board’s role is one of oversight, including oversight of the Funds' risks, rather than active management. The Trustees believe that the Board’s Committee structure enhances the Board’s ability to focus on the oversight of risk as part of its broader oversight of the Funds' affairs. While risk management is the primary responsibility of NFA and the Funds' subadvisers, the Trustees regularly receive reports from NFA, Nationwide Fund Management LLC (“NFM”), and various service providers, including the subadvisers, regarding investment risks and compliance risks. The Committee structure allows separate Committees to focus on different aspects of these risks and their potential impact on some or all of the Funds and to discuss with NFA or the Funds’ subadvisers how they monitor and control such risks. In addition, the Officers of the Funds, all of whom are employees of NFA, including the President and Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Compliance Officer and Chief Operating Officer, report to the Board and to the Chairs of its Committees on a variety of risk-related matters, including the risks inherent in each Officer’s area of responsibility, at regular meetings of the Board and on an ad hoc basis.
The Funds have retained NFA as the Funds' investment adviser and NFM as the Funds' administrator. NFA and NFM are responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Funds. NFA has delegated the day-to-day management of the investment activities of each Fund, with the exception of the Fund-of-Funds, to one or more subadvisers. NFA and NFM are primarily responsible for the Funds' operations and for supervising the services provided to the Funds by each service provider, including risk management services provided by the Funds' subadvisers, if any. The Board also meets periodically with the Trust’s Chief Compliance Officer to receive reports regarding the compliance of each Fund with the federal securities laws and the Fund’s internal compliance policies and procedures. The Board also reviews the Chief Compliance Officer’s annual report, including the Chief Compliance Officer’s compliance risk assessments for the Funds. The Board meets periodically with the portfolio managers of the Funds to receive reports regarding the management of the Funds, including each Fund’s investment risks.
Committees of the Board
The Board has three standing committees: Audit and Operations Committee, Nominating and Fund Governance Committee, and Investment Committee. The function of each Committee is oversight. In addition, each Committee may from time to time delegate certain of its functions to an ad hoc committee comprised of members of the Board that will report to the Committee or the Board with its recommendations, as determined at the time of such delegation.
The purposes of the Audit and Operations Committee are to: (a) oversee the Trust's accounting and financial reporting policies and practices, its internal controls and, as appropriate, the internal controls of certain of its service providers; it is the intention of the Board that it is management’s responsibility to maintain appropriate systems for accounting and internal control, and the independent auditors’ responsibility to plan and carry out a proper audit–the independent auditors are ultimately accountable to the Board and the Committee, as representatives of the Trust’s shareholders; (b) oversee the quality and integrity of the Trust's financial statements and the independent audit thereof, including periodic review of the performance of the independent auditors; (c) ascertain the independence of the Trust's independent auditors; (d) act as a liaison between the Trust's independent auditors and the Board; (e) approve the engagement of the Trust's independent auditors; (f) meet and consider the reports of the Trust's independent auditors; (g) oversee the Trust’s written policies and procedures adopted under Rule 38a-1 of the 1940 Act and oversee the appointment and performance of the Trust’s designated Chief Compliance Officer; (h) review information provided to the Committee regarding SEC examinations of the Trust and its service providers; (i) to review and oversee the actions of the principal underwriter and investment advisers with respect to distribution of the Funds’ shares including the operation of the Trust’s 12b-1 Plans and Administrative Services Plans; (j) review and evaluate the transfer agency services, administrative services, custody services, and such other services as may be assigned from time to time to the Committee by the Board; (k) assist the Board in the design and oversight of the process for reviewing and evaluating payments made from the assets of any of the Funds to financial intermediaries for sub-transfer agency services, shareholder services, administrative services, and similar services; (l) assist the board in its oversight and evaluation of policies, procedures, and activities of the Trust and of service providers to the Trust relating to cybersecurity and data security; (m) review and evaluate the services received by the Trust in respect of, and the Trust’s contractual arrangements relating to, securities lending services; (n) assist the Board in its review, consideration and oversight of any credit facilities entered into for the benefit of the Trust or any of the Funds and the use thereof by the Funds, including any interfund lending facility; (o) assist the Board in its review and consideration of insurance coverages to be obtained by or for the benefit of the Trust or the Trustees of the Trust; and (p) undertake such other responsibilities as may be delegated to the
63

Committee by the Board. The Audit and Operations Committee met five times during the past fiscal year, and currently consists of the following Trustees: Ms. Bradshaw, Mr. Karlawish, Ms. Kosel (Chair) and Mr. Wezdenko, each of whom is not an interested person of the Trust, as defined in the 1940 Act.
The purposes of the Nominating and Fund Governance Committee are to: (a) assist the Board in its review and oversight of governance matters; (b) assist the Board with the selection and nomination of candidates to serve on the Board; (c) oversee legal counsel; (d) assist the Board in its review and oversight of shareholder communications to the Board; and (e) undertake such other responsibilities as may be delegated to the Committee by the Board. The Nominating and Fund Governance Committee met four times during the past fiscal year, and currently consists of all the Independent Trustees.
The Nominating and Fund Governance Committee has adopted procedures regarding its review of recommendations for trustee nominees, including those recommendations presented by shareholders. When considering whether to add additional or substitute trustees to the Board, the Trustees shall take into account any proposals for candidates that are properly submitted to the Trust's Secretary. Shareholders wishing to present one or more candidates for trustee for consideration may do so by submitting a signed written request to the Trust's Secretary at Attn: Secretary, Nationwide Mutual Funds, One Nationwide Plaza, Mail Code 5-02-210, Columbus, OH 43215, which includes the following information: (i) name and address of the shareholder and, if applicable, name of broker or record holder; (ii) number of shares owned; (iii) name of Fund(s) in which shares are owned; (iv) whether the proposed candidate(s) consent to being identified in any proxy statement utilized in connection with the election of Trustees; (v) the name, background information, and qualifications of the proposed candidate(s); and (vi) a representation that the candidate or candidates are willing to provide additional information about themselves, including assurances as to their independence.
The purposes of the Investment Committee are to: (a) assist the Board in its review and oversight of the Funds’ performance; (b) assist the Board in the design and oversight of the process for the renewal and amendment of the Funds' investment advisory and subadvisory contracts subject to the requirements of Section 15 of the 1940 Act; (c) assist the Board in its oversight of a liquidity risk management program for the Funds pursuant to Rule 22e-4 under the 1940 Act; (d) assist the Board in its review and oversight of the valuation of the Trust’s portfolio assets; (e) assist the Board with its review and oversight of the implementation and operation of the Trust’s various policies and procedures relating to money market funds under Rule 2a-7 under the 1940 Act; (f) review and oversee the investment advisers’ brokerage practices, including the use of “soft dollars”; (g) assist the Board with its review and oversight of the implementation and operation of the Trust’s various policies and procedures relating to transactions involving affiliated persons of a Trust, or affiliated persons of such affiliated persons; (h) assist the Board in its review and oversight of proxy voting by the series of the Trust; and (i) undertake such other responsibilities as may be delegated to the Committee by the Board. The Investment Committee met four times during the past fiscal year, and currently consists of the following Trustees: Mr. Davis, Ms. Jacobs, Mr. Kridler (Chair) and Ms. Petersen, each of whom is not an interested person of the Trust, as defined in the 1940 Act, and Ms. Koken, who is an interested person of the Trust, as defined in the 1940 Act.
Ownership of Shares of Nationwide Mutual Funds as of December 31, 2022
Name of Trustee
Dollar Range of Equity Securities and/or
Shares in the Funds
Aggregate Dollar Range of Equity Securities
and/or Shares in All Registered Investment
Companies Overseen by Trustee in Family of
Investment Companies
Independent Trustees
Kristina Bradshaw1
None
None
Lorn C. Davis
Over $100,000
Over $100,000
Barbara I. Jacobs
Over $100,000
Over $100,000
Keith F. Karlawish
Over $100,000
Over $100,000
Carol A. Kosel
Over $100,000
Over $100,000
Douglas F. Kridler
Over $100,000
Over $100,000
Charlotte Petersen1
None
None
David E. Wezdenko
Over $100,000
Over $100,000
Interested Trustee
M. Diane Koken
Over $100,000
Over $100,000
1
Mses. Bradshaw’s and Petersen’s terms as Independent Trustees commenced effective January 1, 2023.
64

Ownership in the Funds' Investment Adviser1, Subadvisers2 or Distributor3 as of December 31, 2022
Trustees who are not Interested Persons (as defined in the 1940 Act) of the Trust
Name of Trustee
Name of Owners and
Relationships to Trustee
Name of Company
Title of Class
of Security
Value of Securities
Percent of Class
Kristina Bradshaw4
N/A
N/A
N/A
None
N/A
Lorn C. Davis
N/A
N/A
N/A
None
N/A
Barbara I. Jacobs
N/A
N/A
N/A
None
N/A
Keith F. Karlawish
N/A
N/A
N/A
None
N/A
Carol A. Kosel
N/A
N/A
N/A
None
N/A
Douglas F. Kridler
N/A
N/A
N/A
None
N/A
Charlotte Petersen4
N/A
N/A
N/A
None
N/A
David E. Wezdenko
N/A
N/A
N/A
None
N/A
1
Nationwide Fund Advisors.
2
As of December 31, 2022, subadvisers to the Trust included: American Century Investment Management Inc.; Amundi Asset Management US, Inc.; Bailard, Inc.; BlackRock Investment Management, LLC; Brown Capital Management, LLC; Diamond Hill Capital Management, Inc.; Dreyfus, a division of BNY Mellon Investment Adviser, Inc.; Geneva Capital Management LLC; Goldman Sachs Asset Management, L.P.; GQG Partners LLC; Insight North America LLC; Jacobs Levy Equity Management, Inc.; Janus Henderson Investors US LLC; Loomis, Sayles & Company, L.P.; Mellon Investments Corporation; Nationwide Asset Management, LLC; Newton Investment Management North America, LLC; UBS Asset Management (Americas) Inc.; WCM Investment Management; Wellington Management Company LLP; and Western Asset Management Company, LLC.
3
Nationwide Fund Distributors LLC or any company, other than an investment company, that controls a Fund’s adviser or distributor.
4
Mses. Bradshaw’s and Petersen’s terms as Independent Trustees commenced effective January 1, 2023.
Compensation of Trustees
The Independent Trustees receive fees and reimbursement for expenses of attending board meetings from the Trust. The Compensation Table below sets forth the total compensation paid to the Independent Trustees, before reimbursement of any expenses incurred by them, for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2022. In addition, the Compensation Table sets forth the total compensation paid to the Independent Trustees from all the funds in the Fund Complex for the twelve months ended October 31, 2022. Trust officers receive no compensation from the Trust in their capacity as officers. The Adviser or an affiliate of the Adviser pays the fees, if any, and expenses of any Trustees who are interested persons of the Trust. Accordingly, Ms. Koken was not compensated by the funds in the Fund Complex and, therefore, is not included in the Compensation Table below.
The Trust does not maintain any pension or retirement plans for the Officers or Trustees of the Trust.
Name of Trustee
Aggregate
Compensation
from the Trust3
Pension
Retirement
Benefits Accrued
as Part of Trust
Expenses
Estimated Annual
Benefits Upon
Retirement
Total Compensation
from the Fund
Complex1
Paula H.J. Cholmondeley2
$98,472
N/A
N/A
$372,500
Lorn C. Davis
94,501
N/A
N/A
357,500
Phyllis Kay Dryden2
94,501
N/A
N/A
357,500
Barbara I. Jacobs
98,472
N/A
N/A
372,500
Keith F. Karlawish
127,293
N/A
N/A
467,500
Carol A. Kosel
113,765
N/A
N/A
402,500
Douglas F. Kridler
108,879
N/A
N/A
397,500
David E. Wezdenko
99,501
N/A
N/A
362,500
1
As of October 31, 2022, the Fund Complex included two trusts comprised of 134 investment company funds or series.
2
Mses. Cholmondeley and Dryden retired as Independent Trustees effective December 31, 2022.
3
In addition, the Trust compensated Mses. Bradshaw and Petersen, nominees as Independent Trustees, for their attendance at two meetings of the Board during the fiscal year ended October 31, 2022. Mses. Bradshaw and Petersen were nominated to the Board on June 15, 2022 and joined the Board effective January 1, 2023.
65

Each of the Trustees and officers and their families are eligible to purchase Class A shares at net asset value without any sales charge. Each Trustee is also eligible to purchase Class R6 shares at net asset value. Class R6 shares are sold without a sales charge and are not subject to Rule 12b-1 fees or administrative services fees.
Code of Ethics
Federal law requires the Trust, each of its investment advisers and subadvisers, and its principal underwriter to adopt codes of ethics which govern the personal securities transactions of their respective personnel. Accordingly, each such entity has adopted a code of ethics pursuant to which their respective personnel may invest in securities for their personal accounts (including securities that may be purchased or held by the Trust). Copies of these Codes of Ethics are on file with the SEC and are available to the public.
Proxy Voting Guidelines
Federal law requires the Trust and each of its investment advisers and subadvisers to adopt procedures for voting proxies (the “Proxy Voting Guidelines”) and to provide a summary of those Proxy Voting Guidelines used to vote the securities held by a Fund. The Funds' proxy voting policies and procedures and information regarding how the Funds voted proxies relating to portfolio securities during the most recent 12-month period ended June 30 are available without charge (i) upon request, by calling 800-848-0920, (ii) on the Funds' website at https://www.nationwide.com/personal/investing/mutual-funds/proxy-voting/, or (iii) on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. The summary of such Proxy Voting Guidelines is attached as Appendix B to this SAI.
Investment Advisory and Other Services
Trust Expenses
The Trust pays, on behalf of the Funds, the compensation of the Trustees who are not interested persons (as described in the 1940 Act) of the Trust, and all expenses (other than those assumed by the Adviser), including governmental fees; interest charges; taxes; membership dues in the Investment Company Institute allocable to the Trust; investment advisory fees and any Rule 12b-1 fees; fees under the Trust’s Fund Administration and Transfer Agency Agreement, which include the expenses of calculating the Funds’ net asset values; fees and expenses of independent certified public accountants and legal counsel of the Trust and to the Independent Trustees; expenses of preparing, printing, and mailing shareholder reports, notices, proxy statements, and reports to governmental offices and commissions; expenses connected with the execution, recording, and settlement of portfolio security transactions; short sale dividend expenses; insurance premiums; administrative services fees under an Administrative Services Plan; fees and expenses of the custodian for all services to the Trust; expenses of shareholder meetings; and expenses relating to the issuance, registration, and qualification of shares of the Trust. NFA may, from time to time, agree to voluntarily or contractually waive advisory fees, and if necessary reimburse expenses, in order to limit total operating expenses for certain Funds and/or classes, as described below. These expense limitations apply to the classes described; if a particular class is not referenced, there is no expense limitation for that class.
Investment Adviser
NFA, located at One Nationwide Plaza, Mail Code 5-02-210, Columbus, OH 43215, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nationwide Financial Services, Inc. (“NFS”), a holding company which is a direct wholly owned subsidiary of Nationwide Corporation. All of the common stock of Nationwide Corporation is held by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, which is a mutual company owned by its policy holders.
Under the Investment Advisory Agreement (“Agreement”) with the Trust, NFA manages the Funds in accordance with the policies and procedures established by the Board of Trustees. NFA operates primarily as a “Manager-of-Managers” under which NFA, rather than managing most Funds directly, instead oversees one or more subadvisers.
NFA provides investment management evaluation services in initially selecting and monitoring on an ongoing basis the performance of one or more subadvisers who manage the investment portfolio of a particular Fund. NFA is also authorized to select and place portfolio investments on behalf of such subadvised Funds; however, NFA does not intend to do so as a routine matter at this time. The Adviser and the Trust have received two exemptive orders from the SEC for a multi-manager structure. The first order allows the Adviser, subject to the approval of the Board of Trustees, to hire, replace or terminate a
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subadviser (excluding hiring a subadviser which is an affiliate of the Adviser) without the approval of shareholders. The first order also allows the Adviser to revise a subadvisory agreement with an unaffiliated subadviser with the approval of the Board of Trustees but without shareholder approval. The second order allows the aforementioned approvals to be taken at a Board of Trustees meeting held via any means of communication that allows the Trustees to hear each other simultaneously during the meeting.
If a new unaffiliated subadviser is hired for a Fund, shareholders will receive information about the new subadviser within 90 days of the change. The exemptive orders allow the Funds greater flexibility, enabling them to operate more efficiently.
All of the Funds to which this SAI relates are subadvised.
NFA pays the compensation of the officers of the Trust employed by NFA and pays the compensation and expenses of any Trustees who are interested persons of the Trust. NFA also furnishes, at its own expense, all necessary administrative services, office space, equipment, and clerical personnel for servicing the investments of the Trust and maintaining its investment advisory facilities, and executive and supervisory personnel for managing the investments and effecting the portfolio transactions of the Trust. In addition, NFA pays, out of its legitimate profits, broker-dealers, trust companies, transfer agents and other financial institutions in exchange for their selling of shares of the Trust’s series or for recordkeeping or other shareholder related services.
The Agreement also specifically provides that NFA, including its directors, officers, and employees, shall not be liable for any error of judgment, or mistake of law, or for any loss arising out of any investment, or for any act or omission in the execution and management of the Trust, except for willful misfeasance, bad faith, or gross negligence in the performance of its duties, or by reason of reckless disregard of its obligations and duties under the Agreement. The Agreement continues in effect for an initial period of no more than two years and thereafter shall continue automatically for successive annual periods provided such continuance is specifically approved at least annually by the Trustees, or by vote of a majority of the outstanding voting securities of the Trust, and, in either case, by a majority of the Trustees who are not parties to the Agreement or interested persons of any such party. The Agreement terminates automatically in the event of its “assignment,” as defined under the 1940 Act. It may be terminated at any time as to a Fund, without penalty, by vote of a majority of the outstanding voting securities of that Fund, by the Board of Trustees or NFA on not more than 60 days’ written notice. The Agreement further provides that NFA may render similar services to others.
For services provided under the Agreement, NFA receives an annual fee paid monthly based on average daily net assets of the applicable Fund according to the following schedule:
Fund
Assets
Investment Advisory Fee
Nationwide Amundi Global High Yield Fund
$0 up to $500 million
$500 million and more
0.64%
0.62%
Nationwide Amundi Strategic Income Fund
$0 up to $500 million
$500 million and more
0.55%
0.50%
Nationwide Bailard Cognitive Value Fund
$0 up to $500 million
$500 million and more
0.75%
0.70%
Nationwide Bailard International Equities Fund
$0 up to $1 billion
$1 billion and more
0.75%
0.70%
Nationwide Bailard Technology & Science Fund
$0 up to $500 million
$500 million up to $1 billion
$1 billion and more
0.75%
0.70%
0.65%
Nationwide BNY Mellon Core Plus Bond ESG Fund
$0 up to $500 million
$500 million up to $1 billion
$1 billion up to $1.5 billion
$1.5 billion and more
0.45%
0.425%
0.40%
0.39%
Nationwide BNY Mellon Disciplined Value Fund
$0 up to $1 billion
$1 billion and more
0.60%
0.575%
Nationwide BNY Mellon Dynamic U.S. Core Fund
$0 up to $5 billion
$5 billion and more
0.45%
0.425%
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Fund
Assets
Investment Advisory Fee
Nationwide Bond Fund
$0 up to $250 million
$250 million up to $1 billion
$1 billion up to $2 billion
$2 billion up to $5 billion
$5 billion and more
0.41%
0.385%
0.36%
0.335%
0.31%
Nationwide Bond Index Fund
$0 up to $1.5 billion
$1.5 billion up to $3 billion
$3 billion and more
0.185%
0.145%
0.135%
Nationwide Fund
$0 up to $250 million
$250 million up to $1 billion
$1 billion up to $2 billion
$2 billion up to $5 billion
$5 billion and more
0.54%
0.53%
0.52%
0.495%
0.47%
Nationwide Geneva Mid Cap Growth Fund
$0 up to $250 million
$250 million up to $500 million
$500 million and more
0.65%
0.60%
0.55%
Nationwide Geneva Small Cap Growth Fund
$0 up to $250 million
$250 million up to $500 million
$500 million and more
0.84%
0.79%
0.74%
Nationwide Global Sustainable Equity Fund
$0 up to $250 million
$250 million up to $500 million
$500 million up to $1 billion
$1 billion and more
0.75%
0.70%
0.68%
0.65%
Nationwide Government Money Market Fund
$0 up to $1 billion
$1 billion up to $2 billion
$2 billion up to $5 billion
$5 billion and more
0.30%
0.28%
0.26%
0.24%
Nationwide GQG US Quality Equity Fund
Up to $1 billion
$1 billion and more
0.45%
0.42%
Nationwide Inflation-Protected Securities Fund
$0 up to $1 billion
$1 billion and more
0.25%
0.23%
Nationwide International Index Fund
$0 up to $1.5 billion
$1.5 billion up to $3 billion
$3 billion and more
0.245%
0.205%
0.195%
Nationwide International Small Cap Fund
Up to $500 million
$500 million up to $1 billion
$1 billion and more
0.95%
0.925%
0.90%
Nationwide Janus Henderson Overseas Fund
$0 up to $200 million
$200 million up to $500 million
$500 million and more
0.70%
0.68%
0.65%
Nationwide Loomis All Cap Growth Fund
$0 up to $1 billion
$1 billion and more
0.80%
0.775%
Nationwide Loomis Core Bond Fund
$0 up to $250 million
$250 million up to $1 billion
$1 billion up to $2 billion
$2 billion up to $5 billion
$5 billion and more
0.41%
0.385%
0.36%
0.335%
0.31%
Nationwide Loomis Short Term Bond Fund
$0 up to $500 million
$500 million up to $1 billion
$1 billion up to $3 billion
$3 billion up to $5 billion
$5 billion up to $10 billion
$10 billion and more
0.35%
0.34%
0.325%
0.30%
0.285%
0.275%
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Fund
Assets
Investment Advisory Fee
Nationwide Mid Cap Market Index Fund
$0 up to $1.5 billion
$1.5 billion up to $3 billion
$3 billion and more
0.195%
0.175%
0.165%
Nationwide NYSE Arca Tech 100 Index Fund
$0 up to $50 million
$50 million up to $250 million
$250 million up to $500 million
$500 million and more
0.448%
0.248%
0.198%
0.148%
Nationwide S&P 500 Index Fund
$0 up to $1.5 billion
$1.5 billion up to $3 billion
$3 billion and more
0.125%
0.105%
0.095%
Nationwide Small Cap Index Fund
$0 up to $1.5 billion
$1.5 billion up to $3 billion
$3 billion and more
0.19%
0.17%
0.16%
Nationwide Small Company Growth Fund
$0 up to $500 million
$500 million and more
0.84%
0.79%
Nationwide WCM Focused Small Cap Fund
$0 up to $500 million
$500 million and more
0.75%
0.70%
Limitation of Fund Expenses
In the interest of limiting the expenses of the Funds, NFA may from time to time waive some, or all, of its investment advisory fee or reimburse other fees for any of the Funds. In this regard, NFA has entered into an expense limitation agreement with the Trust on behalf of certain of the Funds (the “Expense Limitation Agreement”). Pursuant to the Expense Limitation Agreement, NFA has agreed to waive or limit its fees and to assume other expenses to the extent necessary to limit the total annual operating expenses of each class of each such Fund to the limits described below. The waiver of such fees will cause the total return and yield of a Fund to be higher than they would otherwise be in the absence of such a waiver.
NFA may request and receive reimbursement from the Funds for the advisory fees waived or limited and other expenses reimbursed by NFA pursuant to the Expense Limitation Agreement at a later date when a Fund has reached a sufficient asset size to permit reimbursement to be made without causing the total annual operating expense ratio of the Fund to exceed the limits that were in the Expense Limitation Agreement at the time that NFA waived the fees or reimbursed the expenses. No reimbursement will be made to a Fund unless: (i) such Fund’s assets exceed $100 million; (ii) the total annual expense ratio of the class making such reimbursement is less than the limit set forth above; and (iii) the payment of such reimbursement is made no more than three years from the date in which the corresponding waiver or reimbursement to the Fund was made. Except as provided for in the Expense Limitation Agreement, reimbursement of amounts previously waived or assumed by NFA is not permitted.
Until at least February 29, 2024, NFA has agreed contractually to waive advisory fees and, if necessary, reimburse expenses in order to limit total annual fund operating expenses, excluding any taxes, interest, brokerage commissions and other costs incurred in connection with the purchase and sale of portfolio securities, acquired fund fees and expenses, short sale dividend expenses, Rule 12b-1 fees, fees paid pursuant to an Administrative Services Plan, fees paid to JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (as the Trust’s sub-administrator) related to the SEC’s Financial Reporting Modernization and Liquidity Risk Management Program Rules, as provided for in Amendment No. 10 to the Sub-Administration Agreement between JPMorgan and Nationwide Fund Management LLC, dated July 1, 2018, other expenditures which are capitalized in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, expenses incurred by a Fund in connection with any merger or reorganization and may exclude other nonroutine expenses not incurred in the ordinary course of the Fund’s business, for all share classes of the following Funds of the Trust:
Nationwide Amundi Global High Yield Fund to 0.70%
Nationwide Amundi Strategic Income Fund to 0.49%
Nationwide Bailard Cognitive Value Fund to 1.07%
Nationwide Bailard International Equities Fund to 1.10%
Nationwide Bailard Technology & Science Fund to 1.05%
Nationwide BNY Mellon Core Plus Bond ESG Fund to 0.70%
Nationwide BNY Mellon Disciplined Value Fund to 0.66%
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Nationwide BNY Mellon Dynamic U.S. Core Fund to 0.50%
Nationwide Bond Fund to 0.44%
Nationwide Bond Index Fund to 0.22%
Nationwide Geneva Mid Cap Growth Fund to 0.98%
Nationwide Geneva Small Cap Growth Fund to 1.22%
Nationwide Global Sustainable Equity Fund to 0.90% until September 30, 2023
Nationwide Government Money Market Fund to 0.59%1
Nationwide GQG US Quality Equity Fund to 0.49%
Nationwide Inflation-Protected Securities Fund to 0.30%
Nationwide International Index Fund to 0.29%
Nationwide International Small Cap Fund to 0.89% until May 31, 2023
Nationwide Janus Henderson Overseas Fund to 0.72%
Nationwide Loomis All Cap Growth Fund to 0.82% until May 31, 2023
Nationwide Loomis Core Bond Fund to 0.65%
Nationwide Loomis Short Term Bond Fund to 0.45%
Nationwide Mid Cap Market Index Fund to 0.30%
Nationwide NYSE Arca Tech 100 Index Fund to 0.68%
Nationwide S&P 500 Index Fund to 0.21%
Nationwide Small Cap Index Fund to 0.28%
Nationwide Small Company Growth Fund to 0.94%
Nationwide WCM Focused Small Cap Fund to 0.80%
1In addition, with respect to the Service Class of the Nationwide Government Money Market Fund, effective until at least February 29, 2024, the Fund Operating Expenses including the Rule 12b-1 fees and fees paid pursuant to an Administrative Services Plan shall be limited to 0.75%.
In addition to the foregoing, until at least February 29, 2024, NFA also has agreed contractually to waive advisory fees in respect of the following Funds, equal to the amounts shown in the table below, calculated monthly based on each Fund’s average daily net assets. NFA shall not be entitled to reimbursements of amounts waived pursuant to these separate fee waiver agreements.
Name of Fund
Amount of Advisory Fee Waiver
Nationwide BNY Mellon Core Plus Bond ESG Fund
0.0379% per annum
Nationwide Fund
0.045% per annum
Nationwide Government Money Market Fund
0.027% per annum
Nationwide Mid Cap Market Index Fund
0.01% per annum
Nationwide Small Cap Index Fund
0.02% per annum
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Investment Advisory Fees Paid
During the fiscal years ended October 31, 2022, 2021, and 2020, the Funds listed below paid NFA fees for investment advisory services, after waivers and reimbursements,
as follows:
 
Years Ended October 31,
 
2022
2021
2020
Fund
Gross Fees
Net Fees
Gross Fees
Net Fees
Gross Fees
Net Fees
Nationwide Amundi Global High Yield Fund
$582,568
$409,185
$777,158
$597,990
$754,738
$567,372
Nationwide Amundi Strategic Income Fund
780,527
446,395
848,424
477,612
862,692
491,022
Nationwide Bailard Cognitive Value Fund
746,610
746,610
723,612
723,612
428,655
385,214
Nationwide Bailard International Equities Fund
1,320,806
1,320,806
1,536,900
1,536,900
1,426,372
1,426,372
Nationwide Bailard Technology & Science Fund
1,092,841
1,092,841
1,400,479
1,400,479
1,091,447
1,091,447
Nationwide BNY Mellon Core Plus Bond ESG Fund
3,202,990
2,995,605