Balchunas on Speaking at Exchange and Building Community in ETF Terrordome

Eric Balchunas is Senior ETF Analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, where he leads the ETF and fund research and contributes to Bloomberg Opinion. He is a frequent speaker at industry events and conferences, as well as the co-creator of the Bloomberg podcast Trillions and Bloomberg TV’s ETF IQ. Eric is author of The Bogle Effect (2022) and The Institutional ETF Toolbox (2016). He will be one of the first speakers at Exchange to help kick off the educational content, so I wanted to check in with him ahead of the conference.  

Todd Rosenbluth: Why do you think 2022 was the best year ever despite the second-best year for U.S. net inflows?  

Eric Balchunas: It’s easy to take in cash when markets are up; it’s when they are down that tomorrow’s empires are built. ETFs had their best year in volume and second-best year in flows and launches in a year where stocks and bonds each one of their worst downturns of all time. That makes no sense and speaks to the incredibly bright future for the vehicle. We saw something similar in 2008, and assets have grown 11x since.  

Rosenbluth: You will speak at Exchange in a couple of weeks during an ETF University session for advisors where, in addition to getting Continuing Education credit, they will learn due diligence tips. Can you give us a teaser?  

Balchunas: I’ll be going over my 5-step list for ETF due diligence as well as some of our unique tools such as our smart-beta spectrum, thematic capture scores, and our Traffic Light system, which is our attempt to give investors important advanced information a la movie ratings.  

Rosenbluth: In addition to speaking on stage, I heard you will be doing a live broadcast of Bloomberg’s ETF IQ show and recording some content for your podcast for ETF Trillions. Why is Exchange a good place to have this happen?  

Balchunas: Because so many of the brightest people in the industry will be there. The content is also really good, because many of the people behind it are ETF analysts themselves.  

Rosenbluth: Eric, people regularly remark to me that they are surprised that despite being in competition with one another you, I, Ben Johnson of Morningstar, Cinthia Murphy of ETF Think Tank, and others can be friendly and even do the occasional lunch bet. What do you think makes our part of the ETF industry a community and not a part of the ETF ‘terrordome,’ as you call it?  

Balchunas: I think we all bonded because there just weren’t that many of us and so we shared the same unique job, albeit at different firms. There’s also a nice sense of coopetition between us as well as the issuers that is part of what makes the ETF ‘terrordome’ such a great industry to work in. 

To learn more about the event and register, please visit the Exchange website.