ETF Boot Camp: In the Glow of ETF Stars

Each segment of the investing business has its own star or stars, and this past week I had the opportunity to work in proximity to two of the major luminaries in the exchange-traded fund world.

So while I’m sure people at the exchanges, ETF sponsors, index firms and consulting firms will be miffed or think I’m a dunce for omitting one or more of the people at their organizations who belong in the ETF firmament, here are my ETF star picks: Tom Lydon, founder and publisher/editor of ETF Trends, and Deborah Fuhr, managing partner at ETFGI, the global ETF consulting firm.

Let me tell you why I picked them.

Tom has been writing about, commenting on and spreading the word about exchange-traded funds since the days most people who even knew what ETFs were thought of the products as weird, convoluted structures concocted to foster trading volume. Yes, to be honest, they were and are that — but they were and are much more. And Tom, who also manages money as head of Global Trends Investments, saw the potential and wanted to spread the word.

Considering the potential for conflict, orthodox journalists would consider Tom’s running businesses that employ ETFs, promote ETF usage and cover the ETF world to be a combination of activities that’s not exactly kosher. But Tom has satisfied, with integrity, an important need for information, data and insights about the ETF business and their use as an investment tool.

To help bring together the myriad of players that make up the ETF ecosystem — investment managers, exchanges, lawyers, data companies, indexers, custodians and advisors — Tom created ETF Boot Camp, a day-and-a-half conference held for the first time this past week, in New York.

Like all successful conferences, the ETF Boot Camp was a mix of interesting speakers, interesting attendees, topical formal sessions and good opportunities to chat informally (plus great food, thanks to the Conrad Hotel venue). That fertile mix often spawns the serendipity of being able to meet someone brilliant from a company you never knew existed, to the benefit of both. It seemed that just such connections were being forged at the conference.

So, Tom, for being a leading force in encouraging growth and innovation, you are an ETF luminary.