As VettaFi’s Head of Thematic Strategy, I am excited to be moderating an afternoon panel session on Monday, February 12th, from 4:10 – 5 pm on the Sparkle Stage at VettaFi’s ETF Exchange Conference.
The topic will be “Thematic Investing in 2024: Big Tech, Big Medicine, and Big Ideas”.
Two industry experts on the topic will join me:
- Jay Jacobs, U.S. Head of Thematics and Active Equity ETFs at BlackRock, and
- Ryan McCormack, Sr. Factor & Core Equity ETF Strategist at Invesco US.
As the moderator, I will also share some of VettaFi’s insights on the topic of thematic investing.
Thematic Resurgence of 2023
2022 marked a dismal year for the equity and bond markets and risk assets, challenged by rising interest rates and stubborn inflation. But thematic investing experienced something of a resurgence in 2023. Among technology themes, artificial intelligence, and more specifically “generative AI” applications, captured the investor imagination and attention, and the so-called “Magnificent 7” stocks came along for the ride. Interestingly, some “non-tech” themes, like infrastructure, also experienced impressive inflows in 2023.
Big Thematic Tech
Of course, one of the topics I intend to ask the panelists about is Artificial Intelligence. Is AI truly a big tech “anchor technology” with massive disruptive potential? Or is it now overhyped? Have valuations gotten ahead of themselves? I am sure we will have a lively discussion on the topic of AI.
I also hope to discuss some of the potential derivative plays arising from AI adoption, such as cyber security, processing power, and cloud infrastructure. Will some of those be the big tech themes of 2024? And ultimately, will AI lead to disruption or destruction? We will get our panelists’ views.
I am also interested in talking about healthcare themes. Last year, post-Covid, “big medicine” was overshadowed by “big tech.” Will 2024 be the year of “big medicine” and healthcare themes?
I will ask our panelists to share their thoughts on potential big medical themes like genomics, medical research breakthroughs, and how this fits in demographically in a world of aging Baby Boomers and rising Millennials.
Big Thematic Ideas
Finally, you cannot talk about “big ideas” without mentioning that early this year marked the milestone approval of the first spot Bitcoin ETF. Blackrock and Invesco are among the firms in the race to bring these historic ETF products to market, so I am sure they will offer unique insights into how “big of an idea” a Bitcoin ETF actually is and what comes next.
And what other “big ideas” are coming down the thematic product pipeline? It has become harder and harder to come up with new, novel thematic investment ideas. What qualities must a thematic ETF have to succeed in the ever-demanding and competitive ETF marketplace?
Additionally, what new thematic investment ideas are our panelists thinking about? What past investment themes failed or might flounder this year, either due to waning relevancy, too narrow a focus, or just plain bad timing? I will ask our panelists’ opinions on who will be this year’s thematic winners and thematic losers.
On Stage at Sparkle
I cannot wait to climb up on stage at Exchange and talk about thematic investing with our esteemed panelists, Jay Jacobs and Ryan McCormack. It will be a lively and informative discussion. I hope if you are attending the conference, you will make time to join us among the many other great sessions on the agenda. Hope to see you at Exchange at the Fountainbleu in Miami!
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