“If there’s a word to describe the ETF market,” Waldron says, “it’s crowded.”

Since entering the business, the iShares and State Streets of the world have become fully entrenched in the ETF market space. As new players enter, they’re staking out their own corners of the market and that’s what First Trust is doing. [ETF Providers: Who’s Who?]

“We’re trying to find our own beachhead and we believe in the core domestic categories for alpha,” he says. “We sort of jumped the curve and jumped right into alpha looking at things like large-cap core and small-cap core.”

Waldron admits feeling frustration as other “hot” concepts like emerging markets and leveraged and inverse funds took huge inflows, but sticking to what they do best – domestic equities – has finally paid off.

“We feel completely vindicated. The headwinds have turned into tailwinds and the performance of domestic equities has turned around,” he says. “We feel good about our position in the industry.”

Some of First Trust’s biggest ETFs are:

  • First Trust ISE-Revere Natural Gas Index (NYSEArca: FCG)
  • First Trust NASDAQ -100 Tech Index (NASDAQ: QTEC)
  • First Trust ISE Chindia Index (NYSEArca: FNI)
  • First Trust Materials AlphaDEX (NYSEArca: FXZ)
  • First Trust Financials AlphaDEX (NYSEArca: FXO)

To read more interviews with other ETF industry leaders, visit our interviews page.

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