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The Friday List: 10 Interesting Things We Learned at Inside ETFs

Today, we offer our “Friday List,” an occasional feature summarizing a topic significant to investment management professionals interested in regulatory issues.  Our Friday Lists are an expanded “Our Take” on a particular subject, offering our unique (and sometimes controversial) perspective on an industry topic.

We made it down to Hollywood, Florida this week for Inside ETFs, the annual self-congratulatory industry confab of everything ETFs.  We saw issuers big and small, service providers, advisers, and technologists.  There were also some pretty cool special guests like Barney Frank and Derek Jeter.  We took in a lot of information over three days of sessions and networking.  For those that couldn’t make it (or for those that may have, ahem, missed a few of the sessions), we offer the ten most interesting things we learned at the conference.

10 Interesting Things We Learned at Inside ETFs

  1. Zero fees: Competition helps firms with scale but investors should consider hidden costs.
  2. Service matters: Many investors/RIAs are willing to pay more for service.
  3. Quality: Low expenses get you in the game, but performance may ultimately keep you there.
  4. Active and non-transparent: Active ETFs are not new, but non-transparent ETFs are changing the industry.
  5. ESG. ESG is a screen applied to almost any equity strategy rather than a strategy unto itself.
  6. Model portfolios. Model portfolios are better tools that RIAs can use; they don’t replace the RIA.
  7. Niche marketing. Smaller firms have to define a niche to attract clients.  A niche is a small enough cohort to differentiate but large enough to sustain growth.
  8. Fixed income. With uncertain economic conditions, fixed income ETFs are likely to become a more significant part of the industry.
  9. Mission investing. Interest group-focused products such as the LGBTQ fund will target investors looking to use their money for more than just yield.
  10. Our daughters will rule the world. Julian Guthrie’s Alpha Girls provides a “see it so you can be it” template for high-performing women in male-dominated industries.