Principal Financial Group’s (NYSE: PFG) Principal Global Investors signaled its intent to join the rapidly-growing exchange traded funds industry with the recent hiring of Paul Kim as managing director and head of ETF strategy.

“In this newly created role, Kim is responsible for the launch and growth of The Principal’s active ETF business. Kim will help shape and execute The Principal’s global ETF strategy, playing a key role in ETF product development, the building of operational and capital markets support, and the distribution and marketing of The Principal ETFs. Kim will also help develop relationships with ETF market makers, intermediaries, investors and service providers,” according to a statement issued by Iowa-based Principal Financial.

Previously, Kim was a senior vice president and ETF product manager at PIMCO, one of the largest managers of actively managed ETFs.

At the end of 2014, Principal had $80.1 billion in client assets. The firm’s clients include public and private pension funds, central banks, sovereign wealth funds, life insurance companies, multi-manager platforms, foundations and endowments.

Although the statement did not confirm as much, it appears likely that Principal would pursue actively managed funds as its entry into the ETF business. In a recent commentary on small-caps, Principal Global notes active small-cap managers “have the ability to add value” and that when investors buy index funds and ETFs, “they’re blindly buying in bulk.”

Principal joins a growing number of large financial firms with roots in active management that are mulling entries into the ETF space.

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