ARK’s Cathie Wood: “We’re Disrupting the Financial World and We’re Unsettling People”

Cathie Wood believes that if she’s been marginalized professionally, it’s because of her contrarian views, not her gender. Speaking with CNBC, the founder, CEO, and chief investment officer of ARK Investment Management says that she’s rarely reminded that she’s a woman.

“Other people say that I am attacked in the media because I’m a woman. I don’t think that is [the case]… I really think it’s because we’re disrupting the financial world and we’re unsettling people,” said Wood. “It’s the ideas and the research. They’re pretty provocative.”

In the media outlet’s profile on Wood, Arthur Laffer, an economist and Wood’s former teacher and mentor, explained: “I’ve seen people put her down and I’ve seen people praise her but neither of those descriptions of Cathie have focused on her gender.”

In 2020, ARK’s flagship fund, the ARK Innovation ETF (NYSEArca: ARKK), rallied nearly 150% due to its holdings outperforming during the coronavirus pandemic. But as the economy recovered, ARKK entered choppy waters, dropping in value by more than 54% over the past year.

Despite this, investors have stuck with ARKK — and Wood. As of March 15, investors had pumped nearly $1 billion in new capital into ARKK over the previous month.

“People like to bet on somebody and look someone in their face and see their conviction,” ETF Trends’ CEO Tom Lydon told Reuters. “That has helped override any concerns that this fund is broken.”

Despite recent losses, ARKK has returned an annualized average of 27.5% over the last three years, putting it in the top 2% of the 491 U.S. mid-cap growth funds tracked by Morningstar.

Recently, the fund had its best week ever, rising nearly 26% for the week ending March 18.

“There isn’t anyone who has done what she has done,” Laffer told CNBC. “That’s why her returns are unbelievably abnormal. It also works the other direction of course, but her returns over her career have been amazing because of her hard work.”

ARKK is an actively managed ETF that invests at least 65% of its assets in companies relevant to the investment theme of disruptive innovation. ARK defines “disruptive innovation” as the act of introducing a technologically enabled new product or service that potentially changes how the world works. This includes companies that rely on or benefit from the development of technological improvements and advancements in scientific research relating to the areas of DNA technologies and the “genomic revolution”; automation, robotics, and energy storage; artificial intelligence and the “Next Generation Internet”; and fintech innovation.

ARKK has an expense ratio of 0.75%.

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